Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Shoaib Daniyal - Mass murder as mundane

On Sunday, yoga guru Baba Ramdev addressed a sadbhavana, peace and understanding rally organised by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Haryana. The aim of the function was to bring back peace after the brutal Jat reservation riots in February. But Ramdev doesn't seem to have got the full memo. Instead of focussing on peace, he seemed to hint at mass murder and the decapitation of lakhs of people who refuse to say “Bharat Mata ki jai”.

“Some person wears a cap and stands up,” began Ramdev referring to Muslims. “He says I will not say 'Bharat Mata ki jai' even if you decapitate me. This country has a law, otherwise let alone one, we can behead lakhs. But we respect this country’s law. If somebody stands up and speaks like this, that gives strength to hooligans. We respect this country’s law and Constitution. Otherwise if anybody disrespects Bharat Mata, we have the capability of beheading not one but thousands and lakhs.”

Muslims and other minority groups that believe in monotheism have pointed out that they can be nationalistic without invoking India as a goddess.

Ramdev's comments came just a day after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavais demanded Indians who woudn't say "Bharat Mata ki jai" to be expelled from the country.
In both cases, the religious nationalism of the demand that all Indian chant “Bharat Mata ki jai” as a proof of their patriotism is a convenient smokescreen to hide behind given the BJP’s massive failures in governance. 

Ramdev’s call to turn Haryana’s attention to Muslims who refuse to chant a slogan is a poor cover for the BJP’s complete faiure to control the terrible violence during the recent agitation for reservations by Jats. So scandalous was the official response that the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Haryana – apprehensive of more riots – meeklyagreed to be arm-twisted into actually awarding the quota. In Maharashtra, Fadnavis's rhetoric is a cynical attempt to distract attention from the crushing drought in the state.

In 2013, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen legislator Akbaruddin Owaisi was arrested for hate speech. Were the same standards applied to Baba Ramdev, the police would be pursuing him with equal vigour. But given the climate of majoritarianism today, that seems an unlikely prospect.