The Dadri lynching incident, which led to the death of Mohammad Akhlaq has united our increasingly diverse and in parts even aggressive nation.
The deed seems to have shaken us all. What has happened will certainly continue to haunt Akhlaq’s IAF corporal elder son and his younger son, Danish, who is still recovering from life threatening injuries and unspoken brutality. The memories will continue to live for generations to come in Bisada village in Uttar Pradesh and the entire country. The President of India has called for tolerance and efforts to prevent “our core values” from withering away. If this incident has shown us anything, then it is that the core values of our society no longer exist in many of our citizens. They died long back. Many of the youth of this country no longer believe in these core values; the only thing they believe in is that those who consume beef are committing a crime as heinous as rape. Who is responsible for such radical ideas and their spread among the youth of this country? Is it the political parties who are raking up an atmosphere of hate and revenge, or the self-styled godmen and women like Sadhvi Prachi, who want to, or are rather forcing us, to conform to their world view? This is the question we need to ask ourselves.
Let the youth of the country not stand for statements that are not only regressive, but highly condemnable. Both Asaduddin Owaisi and his younger brother are doing much harm by making speeches that stink of revenge, hatred and call upon the youth to take action. Asaduddin Owaisi did much harm to the campaign of those who wanted to defer Yakub Memon’s death penalty by highlighting the fact that he is a Muslim and so was being targeted. Such statements are made to highlight distinctiveness among communities and instil a sense of fear among the youth that they are bound to be targeted because they belong to a particular community. It is these statements that are widening the gap in society and adding to the atmosphere of hatred and revenge. We are bound to be affected for decades to come. The Shiv Sena in Maharashtra has stirred up a hornets’ nest by demanding and succeeding in getting noted ghazal singer Ghulam Ali’s concert cancelled. It is only going to add to the feeling that Muslims are deliberately being targeted.
The question that needs to be posed here is: why should everything in this country be reduced to a Hindu-Muslim issue? For how long will we continue to fool ourselves that Muslims butcher cows deliberately and Hindus do not consume beef or any other meat? To what extent will we allow these prejudices and stereotypes to govern us? It is not a government issue anymore, rather the problem lies with our society. Why should we expect the government to reform us and constantly tutor us?
Why are we selective in our choices on the way we want to live and how we want others to live? This sort of an arrogant, one-sided view of our society is dangerous and we are already bearing the brunt of our actions. It is not a question of arresting BJP MLA Sangeet Som for making hate speeches, for there are several like him. His speeches are dangerous for the only reason that they have an effect on the youth and he wants to stir them in a direction. All those who have been arrested for allegedly killing Mohammad Akhlaq are all young men, including one juvenile. The situation is still tense even a week after the incident and we have clearly not learnt our lessons from the Muzaffarnagar communal riots of 2013. Sangeet Som has allegedly referred to the incident as a “routine killing and nothing communal in nature”. Not only is he contradicting himself, but he is also insulting the deceased. What sort of a society do we live in where people are just killed as a routine? Do we really need to kill and hate each other to survive? Is this the only way forward? What is the point of having constant debates on news channels condemning these incidents when they continue year after year and when it does nothing to deter the rioters or the hate-mongers?
This is not an isolated incident and should not be treated like one. It has the potential to weaken our society and nation as a whole. It is a tragedy that should serve as a reminder to all, as otherwise, we are at risk of losing our new generation to hatred and revenge.