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Islam and Politics ( 3 Aug 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Visceral Anti-Muslim Hatred of Chetan Singh is Just a Symptom, The Disease is More Widespread

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

3 August 2023

A Large Part Of The Blame Should Be Borne By The Indian Media, Who Are Peddling Non-Stop Hate Against Muslims

Main Points:

1.    Chetan Singh, a railway protection force constable killed his superior and three Muslims.

2.    This was not a random killing; he chose his victims on the basis of their religious identity.

3.    The media channels are directly to blame for fomenting hatred against the Muslim identity.

4.    The Muslim today is all alone, increasingly vulnerable and feeling very insecure.



Undated picture of Chetan Singh, the suspected killer/ PTI


It is not less than a terror strike. Despite the reluctance of most of us to call it as one. The intention, whether conscious or unconscious was to cast terror in the hearts of Muslims. All terror strikes are partly performative; so was this one. The speech that Chetan Singh gave after killing Muslims was designed for the wider consumption of an ideology of hatred to which he subscribed. In the widely circulated video, the stunned audience does not resist, making it very clear that in all other such situations, Muslims will not be protected.

The killing was designed to tell Muslims that they should live on the mercy of the majority Hindus. No visible markers of Muslimness would be tolerated. It is not without reason that the terrorist targeted only those sporting a beard. A new condition has been attached now to let Muslims to live in this country: that they should invisibilise their religious markers. In a country where the highest offices are infused with religious symbols, one community is being terrorized into giving up its religious markers. Visibly religious Muslims are supposed to give up their beards, their Kurta-Pajama-Topi, their prayers at a public place. I am not even asking the question why? But am very sure that this very rational hatred is not going to stop even after the community gives up its visible religious markers. Next you can be asked to give up your language and finally your very name.

One is not at all surprised that Chetan Singh did this heinous act despite being a uniformed constable of the Indian Railways. Yes, the protector did turn into a killer but this is not the first time that this has happened, not will it be the last. The role of the police has been all too partisan when it comes to ‘riots’; we have seen it in the various anti-Muslim pogroms during the 1980s and more recently during the anti-CAA protests. When it comes to Muslims, there is little difference between the predominantly Hindu mob and the officers of the state. And one is not just talking about lower- level functionaries but this rot goes to the very top.

What is surprising though is the manner in which various stakeholders have responded. The railways, following the Hindu right eco-system first said that Chetan Singh was suffering from mental illness and then hurriedly withdrew the statement. It is entirely possible that the killer was suffering from mental issues; but the manner in which he targeted his victims, pacing the length of the train to identify Muslims and then kill them only tells us that there was some method to his madness. Mental health and social health are closely related. The more important question that we should be asking is this: what made this young man hate Muslims so much? What were the societal reasons due to which he absolutely believed that Muslims were the enemy? If the society all around is so sick with anti-Muslim hatred, it is only logical to argue that people like Chetan Singh are the symptoms but not the cause of that sickness.

The fact that he killed his own superior should not distract us from the fact that his primary and intentional victims were Muslims, whom he hunted down in different bogies. It is entirely possible that he killed his superior, Tikaram Meena, as the latter might have objected to his plan of killing Muslims. Therefore, we should not mistake this to be an act of a demented individual. Rather, it appears to be a premediated hate crime, very much like the killing of Kanhaiya Lal.

It is certainly not surprising to see the silence of our very educated railway minister who normally tweets very regularly. Nor is it surprising to see the radio silence of the dear leader. In fact, it is not even surprising anymore to see the silence of the opposition on the issue. When it comes to Muslims and their marginalization and wanton killing, every one hedges their bets before stating anything. After all, who wants to speak about the mleccha, an unwanted mass of people, whose very association is bound to repel hosts of others. When Muslims are being killed because of their religion, it is downright hypocritical to speak of love and brotherhood. Slogans like Muhabbat ki Dukan are utterly useless when Muslims are singled out and brutalized because of their religious identity. Not naming the evil, which in this case in Hindu majoritarianism, is tantamount to making it invisible. In this sense, the opposition is as complicit in the obliteration of Muslims as is the ruling dispensation.

But it is not just in politics alone that the reasons for such pathological hatred towards Muslims should be located. I do not believe that one person or a group of people from the top are responsible for what is happening to Muslims today. India is too complex a country; the assumption that a select group of people is making all this happen is too facile to say the least.

A large part of the blame should be borne by the Indian media, who are peddling non-stop hate against Muslims. Muslims and Islam have become the favourite topics for most of the channels where they are painted as the proverbial fifth columnists. One TV channel recently wanted to know if there was a “permanent solution” to the Muslim question. Hatred for Muslims is now mainstream on most of these channels and social media handles. Just like the media in Rwanda exhorted its audience kill the minorities, the Indian media has taken over a similar role. Some of them are not even fit to be called journalists; they are simply vile propagandists.

There is a bit of lamentation over the state of India media and most of these reflections come from seasoned journalists who were once star anchors themselves. Lest they forget, it is important to remind them that this nonsense started under their watch in the first place. Fake news, malicious videos targeting vulnerable individuals were all started when these so-called “real journalists” called the shots. During their heydays, the prime-time stories where those of ghosts and snakes! It doesn’t take much to descend from snakes to Muslims, both are dangerous and both have to dealt with. In fact, these so- called “real journalists” are the major culprit because it was under their watch that the dumbing down of television audiences started. An uneducated, non-critical, gullible people will consume whatever nonsense comes in its way, including Muslim hatred. Today, some of these old school journalists are aghast at what is happening. But let us be under no illusion that they are part of the problem.

In this never-ending season of viciousness and hatred, the Muslim is all alone. Hindu majoritarianism has dropped all pretence that as a “big brother”, it is going to protect Muslims. The very fine distinction between Hinduism and militant Hindu nationalism is very nearly effaced. Not because the distinction is not real but because, as Chetan Singh reminds us, Hindus are only going to watch as the rabid ochlocracy keeps killing us.      


A regular contributor to, Arshad Alam is a writer and researcher on Islam and Muslims in South Asia.




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