Few happenings have the momentum to shake the society to its very core, to disrupt the harmonious co-existence of its population and create havoc and discord. The Dadri incident of 28th September is one such incident. The tragedy of the murder of Akhlaq and his son Danish sent shock waves across the nation, presenting a horrific picture of the growing communal animosity. As I talked of the questions that the incidents arose in my last article, the nation seems to answer them.
The immediate consequence of the Dadri incident was a political chaos which ranged from a blame game between the BJP government in the Centre and the SP government in the state of Uttar Pradesh and a deafening silence of the Prime Minister. For more than a fortnight after the incident, even after constant implorations from media, Mr. Modi did not consider the killing of Akhlaq sorrowful enough to be condemned or the man important enough to be mourned. In fact, he considered the merciless murder of a human being so inconsequential that it was, according to him fair to club it with a mere cancellation of a concert of Ghulam Ali, when he told the Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika, “The Dadri incident or the opposition to Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali are sad and undesirable,” in an interview. The obliviousness of his government stooped to the lowest when Bharatiya Janata Party leaders claimed that Akhlaq was a Pakistani agent. They demanded for a criminal case against Akhlaq, threatened the law against biased victimisation Hindu villagers, and promised ‘jan-dhan-gun’ (manpower, money and firepower) to the “innocent” Hindus of Dadri who were being framed by the prejudiced administration. They did everything except guaranteeing Akhlaq’s family of justice.
And the most suitable adjective Mr. Modi could find to describe the lynching of a man, the usurpation of law into their own hands by the mob, and the rising tension of communal disharmony was- ‘unfortunate!’
Even senior politicians of the Bharatiya Janata Party patronised the same behaviour towards the dreadful lynching of Akhlaq. The vice-president Uttar Pradesh unit of the BJP, Shrichand Sharma insisted that Akhlaq’s family be tried for cow slaughter whereas BJP legislator and Muzaffarnagar riots suspect Sangeet Som, warned to give a ‘befitting reply’ to Muslims if ‘innocent Hindus were framed’ for the killing. However, the most appalling example of the insignificance of human life in the eyes of our leaders came when the Union Minister of Culture Mahesh Sahrma said, pardoning the mob, that the death of Akhlaq was an ‘accident’ and the family should be thankful that the mob had only killed him but not molested his daughter.
But wasn’t it expected of Modi to react in the manner that he did? After all, was his reaction to Dadri any different from his reaction to the Gujarat riots that killed 2,000 Muslims 13 years ago? Is it not possible that his speech on Pink Revolution in Ghaziabad, which is barely 20 km from Dadri, played a crucial role in encouraging the mob which lynched Akhlaq?
But in the wake of the discord that was the repercussion of the catastrophe of Dadri, a few examples of communal harmony around the country and in the city itself emerge as a gleaming ray of hope, outshining the tumult and turmoil of the tragedy.
In Lucknow, two students of the Lucknow University, Sahaduddin Ahmed and Abdul Kalim observed a fast on the first day of Navratri and also plan to fast on the last day. Sahaduddin also distributed fruits and ‘falahaar’ to his Hindu friends at the university hostel and performed the aarti with them, reciting the Durga Chalisa. He plans to light up the houses of people who cannot afford to buy a ‘diya’ on Diwali!
According to a report on Mid-Day, a 53 year old businessman Kale offered his shop to his Muslim neighbours in Mumbai for namaaz since the local mosque was under renovation. And not only this, he also installed marble flooring, lights, fans and taps so that his neighbours could offer prayers in comfort and peace. However, the most heart-warming news came from Dadri, where Hindus not only joined their Muslim brothers to prepare for two Muslim weddings but also assured the families who were thinking about changing the wedding venue outside the village till a few days ago, of security and protection.
Such examples of friendship and concord symbolize the true essence of India’s secular and democratic structure, reaffirming the principles of a diverse but unified nation, a country where one’s choice of food, clothes and love is respected, where freedom of thought, religion and expression is appreciated and where human life is valued.