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What will India gain if it also follows the path of Gen Zia? Of partition horrors day

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

India is much older than 75 years. Hence our leaders need to speak the language of maturity and reasoning. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister and his government are least bothered about governance and more about elections. To declare August 14 as the 'partition horrors day’ is nothing but a deliberate effort to create an atmosphere of mistrust and disharmony. We all know the horrors of partition and there are issues which can be discussed.
History is becoming a tool to settle scores today, and it seems Narendra Modi and his team are still not satisfied with the huge mandate they got. Both Muslims and Christians history in India is over 700 years old, and we have fought and we lived together. If there are examples of hatred, killings and communal disturbances, there are also examples of mutual love, affection and care.
It is up to you which example you would like to pick up and narrate. Of course, people learn from the wrongs of the past, but to harass and humiliate others for historical wrongs, about which everyone has a different narrative, would only divide the society further.
Whether one likes it or not, Pakistan is a neighbour, and it cannot really be 'deleted', even if one wishes to. One shouldn’t forget, Afghanistan is in a bigger crisis and will bring more headache for India than Pakistan. With Taliban growing its head, India must prepare for a long-term strategy, but the hate-Muslim politics of the Sangh Parivar will only defeat India's foreign policy.
In 75 years we have debated a lot as to who opposed partition and who did not. We have identified heroes and villains. We all have our own narratives. In the process, history has become the biggest casualty. If our Prime Minister wants us to remember the 'horrors of partition', the only way one can learn from it is to honour the rule of law, build an inclusive society and eliminate inequality and prejudices.
Yes, partition brought horrors. Yes, we need to learn our lessons. But is it not a fact that India decided to move ahead forgetting about it? Our constitutional forefathers were aware of it and they never 'accepted' it. India did not decide to become a Hindu Rashtra despite Pakistan openly becoming an Islamic state. The best lessons from both the states are clear.
Pakistan degenerated because the Muslim fanatics there ignored the wise words of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who wanted an inclusive Pakistan. India was fortunate enough because of the visionary leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru, who ensured India remained a democracy despite all its flaws and faults. In this age, when Nehru is being decried for everything, it is important to give credit to him for this. If India is a democracy today in whatever shape, you must give credit to Nehru.
Indeed, it would have been quite different in case Nehru, as the first Prime Minister of independent India, had said something like 'remembering the horrors of partition'. He had all the strength to condemn and reject extremism of any variety – Hindus or Muslim. He was the person who could stand in front of his car during the riots in Delhi and tell people to shoot at him first before touching the minorities.
A call in this regard from Nehru would mean, we should not allow history to judge people. We should not allow historical incidents to humiliate people. After all, the Sangh Parivar and its elements had not played any glorious role to bring us freedom.
But when Narendra Modi wants us to remember these horrors of partition, what does it mean? What is the meaning of it? We all know that the only research the Sangh Parivar and its 'experts' are doing these days to bring the 'Hindu-Muslim' binary for the upcoming elections. That suits them well. So, you discuss the horrors and tell the world that Muslims created Pakistan. While this theory itself is questionable, the point is, whom are you by aiming at by humiliating our own citizens?
The problem is the Prime Minister does not speak when required. His party does not utter a single word when an Indian citizen is wounded by hatred. Akhlaq, Pehlu Khan, Danish and so many have been murdered; humiliation is happening in the name of cow slaughtering and beef eating, yet we have not heard a single statement of condemnation.
India was fortunate because of visionary leadership of Nehru, who ensured that we remained a democracy despite all our flaws and faults
Even if one says that they were anonymous killers, it is the duty of state leaders to speak up against such incidents. What you are creating is partition in the minds of people everyday, which is much more dangerous than what would have happened in 1947.
The story of partition only tells us that you cannot divide a civilisation on the basis of religion. Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs have their motherland here. They have lived here for centuries. They contributed to our growth. Their identity is indivisible from the idea of India.
Pakistan became a nation on religious basis but could not sustain because East Pakistan decided to get away from it and we saw the rise of Bangladesh in 1971. The religious rights have made the life of common Pakistanis hell. The Islamic laws unleashed by General Zia ul-Haq only hurt Muslims and gave him an authority to rule the country.
Before Zia, Pakistan was economically better off than India, but thereafter the Islamic zealots destroyed Pakistan. Its economy is in a shambles. Its elite class has returned to Pakistan from the US and the UK to just fight elections and rule the country. Pakistan is the best example for all of us to see as to how a theocratic society destroys itself.
India grew up because it did not become a Hindu Pakistan. It grew up because its leadership opted for a secular socialist republican Constitution which is inclusive and gave opportunity to all. It grew up because it did not impose one nation, one language and one culture on all. It grew up because it was relatively governed through the rule of law.
But where are we heading to? When people come closer to each other and forget those painful tales, you decide to create more divisions? When polarisation and division become 'governance', then what happens? What will India gain if we too follow the path of General Zia-ul Haq? Pakistan failed because its leaders were obsessed with India. They wanted to prove that the two nation theory was right, but they could not do so, because a large number of Pakistani liberals actually appreciated Jawaharlal Nehru.
Today, we have become obsessed with Pakistan. Division, polarisation and rabble rousing only help those who shout in the same language as they do in Pakistan against Hindus. A theocratic society will only kill itself; it oppresses women and the marginalised, as feudal caste supremacists run the day. It creates multiple layers of powerful people, whose only work is to keep the pot boiling so as to enjoy power. In the end, it hurts the interest of the nation.
If a nation is not at peace with itself, how will it progress? Mere rhetoric will not take us further. India will only progress and become stronger if it is inclusive and if the Constitution of India is implemented in letter and spirit, and our political executive behaves more maturely and respects the rule of law.
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*Human rights defender

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