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Define limitations of media channels promoting "They vs Us" psychosis: Minority rights activist writes to Modi

Counterview Desk
Abdul Hafiz Lakhani, a Gujarat minority rights activist, who is editor of the fortnightly Gujarati newspaper, "Gujarat Siyasat" and and news portal "Siyasat" in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Independence Day, has said that the “us versus them” psychosis, currently being promoted by the powers-that-be, will only make matters worse for the country, and that dividing people into specific groups inevitably leads to divided lands.

Text of the letter:

Our great country India is celebrating its 72nd Independence day.
Famous Urdu poet Allama Iqbal sahib had described our beloved country India in his own words “Saaray Jahan Sey Achcha, Hindustan Humara, Hum Uske Passban Hai, Woh Pasbaan Humara”.
Mr Prime Minister, you represent the whole of India, even the 69 per cent who did not vote for your party. As a tax-paying, law-abiding citizen of India, I have every right to question governance when I feel disconcerted or threatened. Isn’t it something that the Constitution guarantees me?As the past has shown, even the Grand Old Party of India was shown the door when it became complacent. Your remedy against corruption resonated with those who voted for you. It was a decisive mandate to turn things around.
Sir, unfortunately, many of your party workers, even central and state ministers took this as an opportunity to avenge the Muslim appeasement that happened under previous governments. Since then a counter-narrative has been created, with a measure of success, in order to bring Hindus under one umbrella. This “Us versus Them” psychosis will only make matters worse. As world events have shown, dividing people into specific groups inevitably leads to divided lands.
Amid the government’s attempts to curb the increasing incidents of mob lynching across the nation, a report by the human rights advocacy group Amnesty International has put Uttar Pradesh at the top of the list of states witnessing hate crimes.
Respected Sir, According to a "Times of India" report, Amnesty International says that out of the 100 hate crimes, reported in the first six months of 2018, which have been committed against people from marginalised groups including Dalits and religious minority groups, 18 have been committed in Uttar Pradesh, followed by Gujarat with 13 such cases. Rajasthan witnessed eight, and Tamil Nadu and Bihar witnessed seven cases each.
Thirty people believed to have been part of the mob have been arrested, along with three others who spread the child-lifting rumours on WhatsApp, including the administrator of the group. Lynching incidents on similar suspicions, often based on rumours spread on social media, have been reported over the past several months. The Amnesty report said that in the first six months of 2018, a total of 67 hate crimes against Dalits and 22 against Muslims were reported across the country.
The report showed that cow-related violence and honour killings were among the most common reasons behind the hate crimes. It further said that in Uttar Pradesh, the western part of the state witnessed the most number of incidents of hate crimes triggered over religion and caste.
Abdul Hafiz Lakhani
Hate crimes are on the rise in our country. According to IndiaSpend, India’s first data journalism initiative, 11 deaths resulting from cow-related hate crimes have been reported in 2017. This is the highest since 2010 and the minorities have been at the receiving end mostly. An Indian killing another Indian, driven by an extreme view of his faith, should be a cause of worry for us all.
Sir, Since the 2019 general elections are not far away, it is time for you to take a clear and unequivocal stand. Good governance (or a certain interpretation of the term) is not for a privileged few as it seems to be becoming. In our national interest – please do not let the fringe become the new norm. I leave you with this quote from Mahatma Gandhi:
“The conception of my patriotism is nothing if it is not always, in every case without exception, consistent with the broadest good of humanity at large. Not only that, but my religion and my patriotism derived from my religion embrace all life.”
Sir, Muslims, Dalits and the other OBCs are defenseless and marginalized sections of Indian society. All these communities put together form a big chunk. Of course, they lack education and other expertise unlike other forward communities but still their contributions, at lower levels can’t just be marginalized. As office assistants, technicians, plumbers, electricians, welders, carpenters, laborers, scavengers, drivers, cleaners, cart-pullers, and porters their contributions are invaluable for all those in white-collar jobs. Every one of us is duty bound to recognize with due importance every single contribution?
Muslim community is threatened with Uniform Civil Code in violation of Art 25 and 26. Nation is being misguided of National Unity through implementation of UCC. In fact, UCC will convert peaceful India into a battle field because for Muslim community Shariah is more superior than their own life. Muslims would never ever compromise with Shariah? Of course, undercover criminals should be sternly punished but denying the fundamental rights of law abiding citizens can’t be acceptable. Efforts are on to take away the minority status of reputed Muslim institutions like Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI).
We find refusal of permission for AMU’s campus in Kerala and other parts of the country; witch hunting of Muslim leaders under the hype of terrorism and ISIS; and foisting of false cases against innocent Muslims, Dalits and OBCs and keeping them behind bars illegally without trail indefinitely. Atrocities are being unleashed against Muslims, Dalits and OBCs in the name of “Cow Protection” while law enforcing agencies remain mute spectators. Draconian, undemocratic, unconstitutional and anti-people AFSPA emboldens disproportionate use of force resulting in mass pellet injuries with loss of eyesight for several children.
Media in its capacity as the fourth pillar of the Constitution, should actually work for keeping different sections of our multi-culture society united. We must record with deep regret that media channels are working like unquestionable extra constitutional wings, they can humiliate anyone, they can pass strictures against anyone and they can pronounce judgments against anyone? We don’t understand, under which authority these media channels trespass within the authority levels of the Executive and the Judiciary?
If Media channels can run trails prior to Investigations and pronounce verdicts then we don’t require Investigation agencies and courts? Irresponsible performance of media channels adversely impacts our peaceful co-existence. We need to define their limitations and accountabilities.
Access to justice has become scarce. Non-fulfillment of vacant positions of Judges, non-availability of professional training for young lawyers has left delivery of justice in peril. Around Three Crore cases are pending in various courts in the country. Department of Law and Justice and Bar Councils, should initiate necessary steps to train young lawyers under the supervision of senior lawyers so that the pending cases could be settled through Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996.
This would gradually relieve the burden of our courts. Appointment of honorary Judges and introduction of arguments through emails, creating awareness of Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 would help amicably settle disputes. These are the few steps which would help faster delivery of Justice. Petty criminal cases should be reviewed so that accused could be released under Sec 436 (A) of the CrPC.
Free access for, Education and training for all professional courses, healthcare, control of pollution, rehabilitation of wine & drug addicts, rehabilitation of those involved in kidnapping, bonded labors, forcible flesh trade and other underworld activities are some useful measures but possible only through active participation of society.
Sir, If each one of us would come forward to contribute whatever little we can easily afford, then, surely, we can convert our “Multi-Culture Society” into a “Multi-Pleasure Society”. We must be extremely cautious that any attempt to enforce such laws which are not acceptable to any section of Indian society would be disastrous. Such blunders would convert our peaceful society into a “Multi-Problem Society”.
Only those who derive lessons from history will succeed rest all would miserably fail. Now the ball is in BJP’s court to decide what’s best for their long term political survival?
Thanking you for your patient hearing. May Allah bless you with the best of health in order to serve the country more dynamically.
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A story based on the above letter has been withdrawn because of certain inaccuracies pointed out by the writer of the letter. We regret the same. -- Editor

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