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Subverting Gandhi's non-violence, Modi govt "beating" all records of atrocities on minorities

By Syed Mujtaba*
Gandhi’s vision of ideal society was that of a non-violent and democratic social order, in which there would be a just balance between individual freedom and social responsibility. He had a very high regard for ideals in human life. Without ideals, he said, life could have no meaning because there would be no goals towards which human endeavour could be directed.
In Gandhi’s ideal society, satyagraha is particularly stressed as a means (which he describes as “love force” or “soul force”). This force, he wrote, is indestructible; the force of arms is powerless when matched against the force of love or the soul. He, however, admitted that there was no historical evidence of any nation having risen through the use of this force.
It is in this sense that Gandhi put so much emphasis on gradual, peaceful, non-violent change. He believed that a new social order could not be forced, if change was brought through force, it would be a remedy worse than the disease. Gandhi did not wish to slacken the pace of change, but it had to be an organic growth, not a violent superimposition. The organic growth itself was to result in a thoroughgoing, radical social reordering.
The present Government in India has not only undermined whatever Gandhi stood for regarding secular and tolerant India, but has surpassed all the records of state-sponsored atrocities on religious as well as social minorities.
In Kashmir, every alternate day, there are incidents of gashing of eyes, use of ever-new methods of persecution during unending curfews, torching of villages along with crops, and destruction of their business as well as economic life in utter defiance of international human rights laws.
The present government is attempting to change the demography of Kashmir. It is pertinent to mention that on June 14, 2018, UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein released first ever report on the “human rights situation” in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) from July 2016 to April 2018 based on “allegations of widespread and serious human rights violations were received, notably excessive use of force by Indian security forces that led to numerous civilian casualties”.
Released by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s report calls upon “Indian security forces to exercise maximum restraint, and strictly abide by international standards governing the use of force when dealing with future protests.” He also advises that “it is essential the Indian authorities take immediate and effective steps to avoid a repetition of the numerous examples of excessive use of force by security forces in Kashmir”. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres backed the human rights commissioner.
Although the Constitution of India protects freedom of religion and prohibits discrimination based on one’s faith, instances of violence against religious minorities have been increasing in recent years.
Religious minority groups in India are being consistently subjected to inhuman and intolerant treatment at the hands of growing violent and extremists. Violence and denial of constitutional rights are the usual tools with which Indian minorities are preyed by extremists.
Recently, at an event titled ‘Religious Freedom in India’, religious freedom activists from across the US criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his failure to stop violence carried out by Hindutva groups against religious minorities, including Muslims and Christians.
At a briefing, organised by the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) on the Capitol Hill in Washington DC, activists urged the Indian prime minister to condemn violence against religious minorities, asking him to take all necessary measures to curb the rise of Hindutva extremism and punish those involved in violence.
Hamid Ansari, former Vice President of India, who had served the chair for 10 years, said, “The Muslims in the country are experiencing a feeling of unease. A sense of insecurity is creeping in as a result of the dominant mood created by some and the resultant intolerance and vigilantism.”
In Uttar Pradesh , ever since Yogi Adityanath became chief minister, a new wave of intolerance and vigilantism has begun with increasing activities of extremist outfits. Threats are manifesting in different shapes. Schools and other educational institutions, including curriculum, are being systematically changed. If earlier ban on beef took centrestage, now it is change in “Muslim-sounding” names.
Syed Mujtaba
Muslims are facing lynchings, Christians are subjected to vandalism of Churches, the Sikh community is being denied separate socio-religious status, whereas, Scheduled Castes and other communities face different intimidation tactics at cruel and barbaric hands.
Threats of communal violence increase when local forces wait for orders before acting, or worse, are instructed not to act. These problems are compounded when responsible officials are not held accountable after the act. No democracy can be a real democracy where the constitutional secular fabric of society and pluralistic tradition face such serious challenges.
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*Human right defender, observer of socio-political contexts. Contact: jaan.aalam@gmail.com

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