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When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.
There were two hijab clad ladies travelling in the same coach as me. The older one looked hurt with both her arms bandaged. The younger one was the daughter taking care of her. The mother wanted some water, and the daughter took out a bottle to give her some.
Suddenly there came a middle-aged woman, about 50-55 years old, and started hurling abuses at her. This lady stated how the metro belongs to her since she belongs to this country unlike them! She claimed to be a regular tax payer, hence a "valid" citizen of India. Therefore, she wouldn't allow anybody to drink water in the metro.
While I understand eating and drinking is not allowed in the metro, I'm sure, an old and ailing woman can be offered some water. As they were foreigners from Afghanistan, they got really shocked and scared at this behaviour.
When I intervened, judging me by my looks, she told me that since I'm a Bengali, I don't have the right to speak about matters pertaining to Delhi, and that, this is not Bengal. I was shell shocked that someone can scream and say such abhorrable things in a public space such as the Delhi metro.
I asked her which country is this, that doesn't consider Bengal a part of it? I have heard umpteen times statements such as these about Kashmir. This got me thinking about the new definition of India in geographical terms: (parts of) Uttar Pradesh, (definitely) Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and some parts of Maharashtra.
The rest of India is definitely cut off from the mainland through ideological boundaries set in the minds of people. Such despicable thoughts are not just a threat to national integrity but also a shameful act in front of foreigners.
This lady got off at Rajiv Chowk with that glass of water after a disgraceful display of psuedo nationalism. There she spoke to some metro officials about her sense of "entitlement" and "service towards the nation". Unfortunately nobody dared to say a word or challenge her on her act of snatching water from a sick and thirsty person, which is completely against basic humanity!
Like every nation, India can also be defined in terms of a certain ideology or value system. One of the most beautiful aspects of this country is its ability to absorb different cultures and communities and make them a part of the complete whole, that we call "India"!
We all have grown up singing the national anthem in school which talks about the lengths and breadth of this country, it's rivers and mountains, languages and people, all coming together as one.
However in recent times I have started doubting that. There are different nations for different people. For some, Kashmir is an integral part of India, when it comes to the “Azadi-Azadi" slogans being shouted in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), but the moment it is about having a Kashmiri Muslim being a part of our shared social system, whether in school, college, hospital or neighbourhood, the attachment to Kashmir reverses. It becomes, " Kashmiris should stay in Kashmir", or worse, "Muslims should go to Pakistan".
Indeed, our beautiful national anthem in this process has been reduced to becoming a symbol of aggressiveness that can give any person the right to physically and verbally abuse those in movie theatre, who do not wish to stand up for it, even though there's no law stating so.
Since I was not quick to make a video of it, I have requested DMRC to check if the incident has been captured in their cameras and have subsequently filed a complaint on their online portal, but to no avail as of now.
Delhi weather is really hot and it is going to get worse in the coming days. Drinking of water is one of the basic needs for survival. I personally believe it would be against the ethos of our country to refrain it's citizens and others as well, from drinking water in the name of cleanliness.
It is time metro authorities look into their announcements and make necessary amendments so that it cannot be misused by miscreants in our society to create disharmony and chaos.
---
*Faculty at Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University's School of Architecture and Planning, Dwarka, National Capital Region

Comments

Unknown said…
It sickens me that such incidents are on the rise , where none comes forward to protest such contemptible behaviour of some psychogenic individuals and when one does , he/she is subjected to similar prejudice. Perhaps ,people should be sensitised about such issues but again some are so thick skinned , they won't understand.
We ourselves are the image makers/breakers of our country. Felt extremely sorry for the Afghanistan nationals to have experienced this situation.
Glad that you took the matter upfront and hope the DMRC officials take due cognizance of this and take disciplinary action against the lady.
Anonymous said…
Great that you raised your voice. Kudos to you. Don't let it bother you that others didn't. We have to keep at it even if we are alone. We can't let this country go to dogs because of some uneducated, narrow minded people. Let me also tell you that their is no restriction on drinking water in Delhi Metro.
Rama said…
I doubt the truthfulness of the whole incident. It seems to emanate from a certain anti-Hindu mindset , bent on disparaging the Hindu Right wing. Since this writer belongs to -- "Sabooth lao gang " , We too demand sabooth dikhao .
Aditi Kundu said…
This article is an outcome of my search for proof (video recording in metro coach) in a complaint letter filed by me to DMRC. (Saboot enclosed as screen shot. URL: https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-kO211SNJlw0/XOeOFL2uLEI/AAAAAAAAhWU/KvWbViHUWJsbsKdB98ejqMudBDAwb7eEgCLcBGAs/s1600/Screenshot_20190524-105153.png).
I can emphasize with the fact that there's no evidence to support the incident witnessed by me, hence one may find the article fabricated. The story is not important, the message is. If we closely look around, there are numerous such incidents that have become a part of our spectrum of acceptability. Like people getting bullied for not standing at theatres for the national anthem, Kashmiris being targetted after Pulwama, being lynched if suspected of possessing beef. All of this has happened in crowded public places while people supporting or not supporting it haplessly look on. And the empowering force for the oppresser is their definition of nationalism. So what is this new found nationalism and how is it enabling the bullies of our society to attack people, is what I've tried to question through the article. Also I felt that of we all stand up against such atrocities then it will be one step towards stopping it.
Anonymous said…
It is interesting to note that a person who doubts the truthfulness of this story automatically recognizes and associates boorish and aggressive behavior with the Hindu Right Wing.

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