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A question to Gujarati friends: Is attacking a person weakened by fasting honourable?

By Suranya Aiyar* 
A question for all Gujarati friends...
For the last three years I have been working closely with the Jain Gujarati community and BJP supporters regarding the racist and cruel snatching of the child of a tech family from Gujarat in Germany. For years I have been helping them write their appeals to Indian and German officials pleading for the religious and cultural rights of the baby to be respected.
For months I took time talking to them about World War 2, the United Nations, human rights, the rights of foreigners in Europe and the rights to protection of religion, culture and language. I showed them the laws and gave them the context.
It took over a year to make them understand how to make the case against the cultural erasure of an Indian minor in a foreign country, and what a serious violation that was of international laws and the ethos of democratic nations.
I noticed that there was not a very high level of knowledge of history of other countries, of human rights and civil rights among the people who came to me. But they finally understood and they have seen how powerful the intervention on this basis for the baby has been.
Recently, the German Embassy received a Jain delegation, and I saw from their statement that they had raised these issues regarding the taken child.
Many Gujaratis, especially Jain brothers and sisters, keep writing to me asking about the progress in the case, they repost my tweets to the German Ambassador for Germany's racist and cruel treatment of the baby. They have friended me on Facebook. So I think I can speak to them as a friend and sister. I want to ask them: are you not ashamed of what a Hindutvavadi mob shouting "Jai Shri Ram" slogans has done against foreign students in Gujarat University last night?
With what face can you ask for Indians' religious and cultural rights to be respected abroad when foreign Muslim students are attacked here -- with knives and stones -- for offering namaz during Ramzan?
Did the young misguided men in the mob know that the evening namaz is offered after a day of strict fasting? How can you attack a person when they are weakened by fasting? Is that brave? Is that honourable?
Does it give Hinduism a good name for attacks to be done in its name under cover of the night and against people who are subdued in fasting and prayer? Do you know that in the Ramayana and Mahabharata, Ram, Lakshman, Arjun and other great warriors would never attack someone who had fallen down or lost his weapon -- even in the midst of battle?
In Ramayana and Mahabharata, Ram, Lakshman, Arjun and other great warriors would never attack someone who had fallen down
I am asking you all this as someone who has worked with Gujarati brothers and sisters as though I was one of them. Indeed, I was as pained as any Gujarati by the German actions. Over the last three years, I have made efforts to understand Jain history and the Gujarati way of life to help you articulate the hurt to your community by the Germans.
Suranya Aiyar, Gujarat Varsity VC Neerja Gupta
I spent days and nights helping you without asking for anything in return. I shared in your pain like your own sister, and now I ask you to heed mine.
Please tell me, is this how you want our country to be? Will you teach your hot-headed youngsters what I have taught you about respecting foreigners and other religions and cultures? Will you stand up and tell fellow Gujaratis that enough is enough and we all have to draw the line against aggression and bullying in the name of Hindutvavad?
The Gujarat University Vice Chancellor has tried to make excuses for the incident. Instead of condemning the mob she has said that the foreign students need to undergo cultural sensitisation.
Is this not a travesty of justice? Can such a person be considered fit to lead a university with international students, or, for that matter, any university? I am appealing to you to educate your people in restraint and civic behaviour before it gets too late. If for no other reason, I say that this must be done for your own sake as Indians now live all over the world.
The case of the Jain baby showed me that there are substantial Gujarati communities in Germany and all other countries of Europe and North America. There you are a tiny minority in a culturally insensitive and often hostile environment. If Indians are to be happy and secure abroad, they must insist on the universal recognition of freedom of expression, freedom of religion and respect for cultural diversity.
But charity begins at home. I respectfully submit that vote for whom you like, but it is high time that you cleaned up your society. Gujarat is the state of Mahatma Gandhi -- one of the greatest and noblest men ever to walk this earth. Do not allow these young thugs to degrade you in this way. Please write to the international students in Gujarat University and apologise on behalf of all of Gujarat for the incident. Please write to the Vice Chancellor for her to undergo cultural sensitisation instead of blaming the victims.
Your sister and fellow Indian,
Suranya
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*Source: Author's Facebook timeline

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