Skip to main content

Yes, it is time to face our demons!

Cedric Prakash
By Cedric Prakash*
(In response to article Time to Face our Demons by well-known litterateur Chetan Bhagat)
Dear Chetan,
Your article ‘Time To Face Our Demons’ in a National English Daily (February 25, 2013) was indeed very interesting. As always, you need to be congratulated for your brilliant simplicity in communicating a message.
There are several good points in your article which the average reader will surely welcome; however, I cannot help but express my discomfort, in at least three areas, at the way you have skillfully nuanced your piece.
The selective use of words:
In the opening para itself, you write about ‘the Godhra train carnage’ and ‘the subsequent riots’ ……there is something extremely misleading in this statement. Let’s accept that the burning of the train was a carnage, then to put things in perspective what followed were NOT riots but also a carnage, if not a genocide.
Later on you write ‘if Hindu groups target a few innocent Muslims in a few stray attacks…..’ I honestly fail to understand if Malegaon, the Samjautha Express, Ajmeri Sharief among others, were just ‘stray’ attacks?
One certainly does not have to quibble about words, but when an author of your eminence writes a piece, the choice of words is important, as they are undoubtedly very carefully selected.
The theory, 'not to point fingers at some':
It is a good theory to hold “all of us” responsible. But one has “to attach villains to the incident”, as this is an incontrovertible fact, even if you don’t agree with it.
Someone is responsible for the killing, the loot, the rapes; someone who presides over it or gives the order that it should happen or perhaps someone who can stop it, but does nothing.
We know that all over and particularly in India, mobs are manipulated. Someone calls the shots, be it in the carnage of the Sikhs in 1984 or in the Gujarat carnage of 2002. In the latter we know, nothing happened in Gujarat or anywhere else in the country for full twenty four hours after the burning of the train; besides, when the violence took place, it happened only in Gujarat. We certainly need to ask why and who was responsible?
The fact that ‘wounds need to be healed’:
I certainly agree with you when you categorically write that “wounds need to be healed”. But wounds can be healed when the person who is hurt forgives the one who caused the hurt. I am a Catholic priest and one of the important Sacraments we have in the Church is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We believe that our God is a forgiving one, whose love transcends every narrow confine; but we also believe that forgiveness is always a consequence of realisation of the sin and of deep remorse. We have the famous parable by Jesus called the ‘Prodigal Son’, wherein the wayward son realises that what he has done was totally wrong and unacceptable and in true contrition, he says to himself, ‘I will arise and go to my father and tell him that I have sinned against Heaven and against thee’.
Forgiveness results in healing, but then one does not forgive in a vacuum. Only when those responsible for a wrong have realised the enormity of their acts and are willing to show remorse, can one actually forgive them!
Some years ago, Australia set the world a classic example when it instituted a ‘National Sorry Day’ (May 26th) to remember and commemorate the crimes that the white Australians had committed on the aborigine population over several years. In 2008, the then Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd moved a motion of apology to Australia’s indigenous peoples in Parliament and apologized for the past laws, policies and practices that literally devastated the aboriginal people.
Having said this, you rightly acknowledge that for you “this has to be the most difficult piece to write.” There is no doubt about that. It is always difficult to write about another’s pain and trauma. Yes, wounds need to be healed but wounds are only healed when those who are wounded can truly experience caring, acceptance, a sense of justice and are able to live without fear.
Until this takes place, we will continue to allow the demons to haunt us!
Terror knows no religion. We all agree on that but there are certainly some who take their diktats in the name of their religion. And civil society needs to act on this and put a stop to it. Every act of terror (including the recent Hyderabad blasts), is totally unacceptable. None of us should hold a brief for anyone (however powerful the person may seemingly be) who commits or encourages such acts.
We surely need to transcend the narrow confines of the religious, ethnic and caste divide. As a people, we do have a long way to go. To ‘put the nation first’, would mean guaranteeing to every single citizen the non-negotiables of Truth, Justice and Inclusiveness. Only if we put our hearts and minds to ensure this for all, will we have arrived at the time to squarely face our demons.
Satyameva Jayate!

*Human rights activist

Comments

TRENDING

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

UN experts object to GoI move to 'reinforce' trend of prosecution, eviction of tribals

Counterview Desk
In a report sent to the Government of India, three United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs, expressing "concerns" over the failure to ensure "adequate" implementation of the India Forest Rights Act (FRA), have regretted that the Government of India has not cared to reply their previous communications on this.

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

As submergence stares Narmada valley, Patkar says: With powerful in throne, we're helpless

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), plans to begin its “Resist Illegal Submergence in Narmada Valley” satyagraha on August 21 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, amidst news that the situation in the valley is “critical”, with two persons having already died in flood-related incidents in the upstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.

RTI Act holy cow for Govt of India? Official insists, don't ask why, when, what, where

By Pankti Jog*
The Government of India appears to have begun treating the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a holy cow. Its officials seem to believe that the Act is a sacred law, under which people shouldn't be questioning its functioning. One recalls what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing an RTI convention in 2015: “Why should government wait for people to ask information, we will have all information out in the domain, we have nothing to hide."

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

Central Gujarat effluent channel 'releasing' highly polluted industrial wastewater: PM told

Counterview Desk
Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Gujarat chief minister, the Gujarat chief secretary, and senior Government of India and Gujarat government officials dealing with environment, pollution and climate change have said that the authorities’ response their pleas to take action against the leakages and flow of polluted wastewater from the effluent channels of Central Gujarat industrial areas has met with complete inertia.