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Bewildering liberal silence when a lady got rape, murder threats for her 'unholy' remarks

By Ajit Singh*

Democracy and diversity that defined India for the last 75 years are steadily losing its shine. In the last few days we have witnessed violent bloodthirsty mobs calling for public beheading of 'blaspheme Nupur Sharma', the BJP government's unconstitutional action in Uttar Pradesh to bulldoze the homes of riot accused and as usual deafening silence of the Prime Minister on the issue.
BJP's spokespersons remark on the Prophet Mohammad also received the diplomatic fury of Islamic countries, especially the Gulf nations who as of now for the business profits have preferred to ignore the vile anti Muslim hate campaign in India.
The controversy has flooded social media with discussions pertaining to the extent of free speech deemed fit in a multicultural society, what constitutes hate speech and whether blasphemy laws are needed to discourage anti-religious rants.
The well known faces of right wing intelligentsia have argued how just the mere quoting of religious scriptures can be reason to put a person behind bars and if it's valid then similar action must be initiated against individuals who shared derogatory memes on Hindu Gods.
Right 'intellectuals' are naive in their approach to seize this opportunity to declare it to be India's Charlie Hebdo moment. Technically it might be true that Nupur Sharma only reiterated what is already mentioned in the Islamic text, but her derogatory tone was wildly offensive to millions of practicing Muslims.
Supporters of the current dispensation who are now advocating for freedom of expression in absolute terms have on multiple occasions actually celebrated the arrest and detention of 'so-called fifth column' under draconian charges by their chosen government. 
The party that curtails the media to report on uncomfortable issues and uses its active machinery to muzzle even valid criticism is not worthy to become a beacon of free speech in India.
This also marks a day of reckoning for the coterie of liberals. When a lady got rape and murder threats for her remark on holy personality not a single sane voice from our tribe stood against such intimidations. Then comes a few media outlets who went a step ahead and justified what she is facing as a consequence of her own doing.
It's an undeniable fact that hatred against religious and caste based minority groups has crossed all barriers of decency and rule of law. BJP's sinister efforts to push Muslim towards the brink of severe marginalization resembles the resurgence of new apartheid wave in the Indian sub-continent and we time and again have taken a firm stand against the incidents of hate directed towards the vulnerable sections of the society such as banning of hijab in educational institutions, boycott of halal food, vandalizing the shops and heckling of Muslim traders, illegitimate bulldozing of Muslim owned property and heinous lynchings on the mere suspicion of trading beef. And that's just to name a few.
But does that mean we should not speak against the fundamentalists and radical conservative ideologies flourishing in the community for the reason that it may implicitly help the Hindu nationalist party to fulfill its unholy agenda of othering of Muslims in India or is it possible to fight on both fronts? We must ask ourselves.
There is also greater need for scrutiny to regulate the Prime Time TV debates on news channels. For higher TV ratings and adhering to the whims and wishes of their political masters the grand media circus do not shy to amplify the consistent hullabaloo and communal rhetoric by a thousand folds. The amalgamation of the fourth pillar of democracy with other political pillars will prove to be detrimental for press freedom that is already counting its passing days under Modi's second term.
The blind rage against Muslims has made the far right in India so delusional that they couldn't care less about issues hurting their own pockets. Inflation is sharply rising, food and fuel prices are going through the roof, unemployment is at record high level but despite these economic anomalies and government's utter failure to revive the dead economy, BJP has managed to win in four out of five states in recently held legislative elections. A big majority of those who vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party feel contended that at least Modi has shown Muslims their true place in the forthcoming Hindu Rashtra.
For Indian muslims, the worry is not about infringement of rights and freedom anymore but now their very survival is at stake. Religious minorities are searching for a savior among us, our collective inaction will add to the anguish and deprive them from a life of liberty and dignity.
While keeping these liberal values intact, it's imperative for the secular faction to acknowledge that democratic principles and plurality can only be defended if we stop tiptoeing around the obvious wrongs, and in the meantime defend our country against majoritarian anarchy of Hindutva forces.
---
*Hobbyist writer based in Central India, interest intersection of religion, caste, class and politics, has written on a wide range of issues from education to economics and social justice

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