From country for all to 'lynchistan", the very idea of India has come at the threshold of a difficult decision. The recent spate of mob lynching across many states has brought to focus many unpleasant questions about minorities including Muslims and Dalits in India. Consolidation of Hindu vote by polarization has emboldened all the Hindu fringe elements especially in BJP ruled states.
Civil society, media and all secular political parties are still busy in coining moderate phrases and names for naked Hindu terrorism on streets. The words like cow vigilantism, unruly mobs and miscreants are being used in print and electronic media against Hindu terrorism which has been unleashed on Muslims and Dalits without any letup. Feeble appeals by a strong Prime Minister like Narendra Modi to his fringe brigade not to take law in their hands has only compounded the problem on the streets. They have such strong patronage from ruling BJP that even after the latest appeal by Prime Minister to the mobs, hours after the appeal a Muslim was lynched to death in Jharkhand by VHP workers at the behest of BJP. When the pressure mounted on the police to act they have arrested a local BJP leader for instigating the mob to lynch this Muslim on the street of Jharkhand.
As the India is marching form being secular to core as a country to a Hindu Rashtra, the gong of it is being heard only by Muslims and Dalits in the country. There is a disturbing trend in the mob lynching of Muslims a growing tacit support of majority community to the Hindu terrorists to go for such illegal killings. It was evident when in the holy month of Ramadan 15 year old Junaid was stabbed and lynched to death in the train, the entire group of passengers in the compartment participated in it. Has the Hindu majority finally decided to teach Muslims and other minorities a lesson? Is the silent majority still for the secular values and upholding of constitution? It seems from Not In My Name campaign that most of the people in India irrespective of their religion are at least against the brutal killing of Muslims by mobs on the streets. This campaign started by the citizens was bereft of any political color and was galvanized actually by some citizens whose hearts churned by the brutal killing of Junaid.
BJP and its fringe elements have been able to bring cow in the political discourse of the country and they have shown that after they have assumed power, Muslims will have to change their food habits and behave in a Hindu majority country. The secular political parties including Congress and Leftists have not organised any public campaign against such senseless killings of Muslims. The new UP experiment of BJP as they were able to "de-franchise" 17 percent of Muslims in UP has dispatched a chilling message to Muslims that they are no longer needed in the arithmetic of winning the elections. It was a message to the Muslims that in the growing Hindu cult of majoritarianism, they will have to contend themselves as "second class citizens', to live at the mercy of how the majority wants them to live.
The campaign like Not In My Name needs to get broad-based and needs huge participation of those citizens who are still waiting on the edge to see exactly how the events unfold themselves. If the majority of the people will not stand against Hindu terrorism and demand their booking under law like TADA, POTA and demand exemplary punishment against this terrorists, such senseless violence against Muslims will not only increase but can take turn to worse as it has potential to trigger communal riots. Such fears were expressed by All India Muslim Majlis Mushawarat an umbrella body of Muslim Organizations and eminent personalities. In an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi it said, "Trishuls are being distributed in an open expression of hostility and incitement to violence on part of so called Gow Rakshaks. They are collecting protection money and creating law and order problems. Police is suffering as these illegal groups are working under the orders from senior ministers in the state government and powerful party men". Addressing the Prime Minister they said, "On social media who you follow or encouraging and condoning this lawlessness. In this unfolding environment of distress assault and violence India citizens are bound to ask your government to fix a monthly quota of lynching of innocent Muslims". It speaks volumes about the fear and about the state of mind of Muslims who are feeling really on edge as the terror against them is only becoming visible. The people of India will have to decide if they are OK with 'Modi dictatorship' and free hand to Hindu terrorist or they want the constitution and secularism to be the guiding principles of rule in the country.
(The author teaches at Media Education Research Centre, MERC, University of Kashmir)