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Nasiruddeen Shah "mustn't" stop speaking: Silence in these times would be "criminal"

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
What Naseeruddin Shah said the other day was the reflection of the fear humanists and secularists have in all those societies which are today polarising on religious identities. It is easier to get around that and cry. The cinema in India has remained a vehicle for the Brahmanical hegemony over culture till date, with its leading lights behaving spinelessly before the power-that-be, even as getting benefits from it.
But why does it shock us when he says: "Death of a cow is more important than death of a police officer?" What is wrong in this statement? Hasn't the Uttar Pradesh government showed its callous attitude on the issue? Two young sons of inspector Subodh Kumar Singh -- who was murdered by Hindutva-inspired goons having open allegiance to Bajrang Dal -- have spoken of the threat to their lives and their mother.
More than 50 Muslims and Dalits have been killed in cow-related lynching cases, but there is not a single conviction so far. The trial court hearing to the Sohrabuddin case, meanwhile, has released all the accused, with the judge apologizing to the family that there was not enough evidence to punish the accused.
Our jails are filled with Muslims, Dalits and Adivasi activists, and Hindutva goons have a free day to kill, lynch anything, challenge the Constitution openly, with complete immunity. In such a situation, any right-thinking person would say what Naseeruddin Shah has said.
Things become more for difficult for people like him, because they say things openly, pointing out that their children got secular education, that time and again they have spoken out against evils within the Muslims community. But then Hindutva politics doesn't bother about your political ideology; it only identifies your birth-based identity.
A Muslim, in their scheme of things, has no right to speak about India. Naseeruddin Shah, after speaking on the fear about his children, has become a 'Muslim' for them, and that too may be 'anti-national'. Some are asking him questions about Rohingiyas, others about Islamic countries, as if he is their spokesperson!
The whole thinking of Hindutva and the politicians inspired by it is to defend all the rubbish and continue to flood India with their idiocies so that people don't discuss any other things but fall in their trap.
One has to only see how different voices in their party are now giving different castes to Hindu God Hanuman. The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister started it by suggesting that Hanuman was a Dalit, followed by a Hindutva Muslim leader suggesting that Hanuman was a Muslim, as he has a 'man' in his name, adding, only Muslims have 'man' in their names -- Salman, Rehman, Suleiman, and so on. Another joker was not to left behind; he came out with a new idea that Hanuman must have been a Jaat. Now these are the political discourses in India which reflect the situation and the level of our discourses. Surely, all this is deliberate.
The Brahmanical media is doing its duty. It must to protect the Brahmanical system. So, it dutifully paints things entirely differently. It would raise the question as to why Naseeruddin Shah spoke like that. "People of India give these Muslims so much of respect and yet they speak like Pakistanis", they suggest, as if Muslims have no right to speak, question or fight for their rights.
That is where Hindutva protagonists have taken every debate in India to, with the active support of the corrupted media houses and their doubly corrupt anchors. They want to debate India in the Hindu-Muslim binary, which suits the power elite among Hindus and Muslims, while all those who speak from a caste angle are sidelined. The 'secularist' media too falls in this trap, because a majority of the bosses in these secular houses are Brahmanical in nature and avoid speaking beyond these binaries.
Now we are hearing lots of issues being raised about Naseeruddin Shah. He can't move out as there are protests. His travel to Ajmer has been cancelled. He is being abused and condemned. This unashamed trolling is the biggest contribution of the Sanghi-inspired online rogues, who want rights of immigrants and minorities in the developed world, but don't want this for others.
Naseeruddin Shah and others must not stop. Everything is political, and they must stand for secular voices for social justice and social change. They should continue, regularly speak on such issues which confront the nation. The trolls want them not to speak, and it is time they mount their attack against such goons, who want every saner voice to get silenced. We must not remain silent, as silence in these times would only be criminal.
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*Well-known human rights defender. Source: Author's Facebook timeline

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