By : Ajay Shukla

Has the world’s largest democratic country turned into a mob system? This question is presently extant. In July 2017, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, while hearing a petition filed by Tushar Gandhi and Tehseen Poonawalla, the great-grandsons of the Father of the Nation, observed that “a citizen cannot be a law in itself, mob lynching cannot be allowed in a democracy”. Chief Justice Dipak Misra had also said, “In a democracy, horrific acts are not allowed to become the norm. It should be strictly suppressed”. Senior Justice Anand Narayan Mulla of the Allahabad High Court, in the judgment in State of UP v. Mohd.

Naeem had beheld that “police is an organized gang of criminals”. Responding to the question of Rajya Sabha member Abdul Wahab in March, Union Minister of State for Home Kishan Reddy told Parliament that from 2015 to 2019, 5128 cases were registered under UAPA and 229 for sedition. Recently, a Bangalore court acquitted Mohammad Habib, an auto driver arrested five years ago under a dozen sections, including UAPA, as innocent. The police had put him in jail on the basis of suspicion, calling him a terrorist. In the meantime, his entire family was shattered. Similarly, out of the 16 Muslim youths arrested by the NIA in the October 2013 blast at Narendra Modi’s Patna rally, 14 were granted bail after six months by the court as there was no evidence against them. NIA filed charge sheet against 11 but till now the allegations have not been proven.

We take a trip down memory lane during the 1990s, whenever a turbaned Sikh youth was seen in UP, people used to call him a terrorist in mutual discussions. More or less the same situation is now in the case of Muslim youths. When a Muslim girl is gang-raped by Hinduists in Kathua, the extremists try to prove her a lie. When the daughter of their community is molested, the skies raise their heads. Such incidents happen to any caste or community, it is disgusting. Crime should not be seen through the prism of bigotry. We also hark back to the case of Vishnu Tiwari of Jalaun, despite being innocent, he had to spend 20 years in jail for Dalit harassment and rape. When his life was ruined, he was released from prison. Now he was left with nothing but sorrow. Neither the investigating officer responsible, nor the SHO who corroborated the charge sheet, nor the senior police officer who allowed the charge sheet to be filed in the court. The Government acts for being dumb and deaf, which neither listens to the people nor speaks for their rights. You might recall the latter-day movement against CAA and NRC and the student movement of the country’s most prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. During these movements, cases of sedition were registered against all the students.

Dozens were jailed under the UAPA. In Assam, Mr. Akhil Gogoi was superfluously arrested in UAPA two years ago. The special NIA court, in its 58-page judgment, clarified that why was he accused even though there was no evidence or facts against him? Even though Gogoi was released from jail, and while in jail, he won the election of MLA, but an innocent two years behind bars, the gang of organized criminals of the country, i.e., kept getting caught in the game of police. You might recollect the brave daughters Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and son Ashif Tanhan Iqbal, who tried to stop New Delhi’s sponsored riots, who were forcibly made traitors and tortured in jail during the Corona period. In this sorrow, someone lost his father and some other family member. There are Supreme Courts that do not listen to the voice of such people, they are looking for power. Even such courts that are lawless are no less than an emergency. Bigotry has also been seen in the language and proceedings of the courts at times.

Majeed Bhat of Srinagar had a rift with an officer. The police gang projected him arrested from Delhi but kept him in jail for six years. By the time he was acquitted, a lot had been lost. UP STF picked up Javed Ahmed from Rampur as a terrorist and sent him to jail. After spending 11 years in jail, there is nothing left in his life. Journalist Siddiq Kappan was going with his three companions to fight for justice in the Hathras case. To break the spirits of these youths, the UP Police imposed UAPA and put them in jail. They are fighting a battle with gangs of power and police but believe that justice would find its way to them. A journalist Ayub Rana, Shaba Naqvi, Zubair, Congress spokesperson Dr Shama Mohammad, Salman Nizami are booked for sedition and IT Act for tweeting the video of this elder for raising the matter of forcibly calling a Muslim elder to be called Shri Ram. Their mere fault is that they identify themselves as Muslims. The same police force does not take any action against the big newspapers of the country including PTI, which are reporting the parallel facts.

A few days ago, a case of sedition was registered against artist Ayesha Sultana in Lakshadweep. His crime was that he had opposed the Tughlaqi decision of the administrator. Thousands of youths opposing the policies of the government in Kashmir have been imprisoned innocently in all the jails of the country for the last two years. Now before the UP elections, once again the hype of conversion has been left to heat up the bigotry. The police are making new stories every day. Some time ago similar stories were made for Christians. The Constitution of our country gives the right to change religion to anyone as per his wish. Be it, deaf children or elders, the police make anyone responsible by writing arbitrary statements. Such victims may all be acquitted by the courts, but till then the political parties who make bigotry a weapon, take advantage.

Since the 1990s, we have seen that 97 percent of the accused were found innocent of those sent to jail by the UP police and central investigative agencies on what they called Pakistan funded activities. The Union Home Ministry said that it is going to redefine fundamentalism by amending the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 to check religious fundamentalism. Our constitution provides freedom of expression and religion to everyone, yet why is it happening as if we are fighting a religious war.

South Asia is becoming a hotbed of religious fundamentalism. The countries here work in a democratic process. In order to appease the majority, the political parties there use bigotry as their weapon. This is the reason why the Taliban speaks in Afghanistan, while in Nepal the people of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and RSS again create ruckus about the Hindu Rashtra. In Sri Lanka too, these people are trying to spread communalism. Muslim fundamentalism is dominating in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Hindu fundamentalists are becoming a threat to peace in our country. Somewhere on the procession of Muharram, somewhere there are riots, mob lynching in the name of hymns in the mosque and the slaughter of cows. The seeds of religious fanaticism that have been sown in our country in the last few years are threatening the future of the youth and unity in diversity. The anarchy arising out of bigotry has had a negative impact on our industry, business, business as well as public interest. Employment opportunities are decreasing and the country’s economy is collapsing.

The hatred arising in the minds of children to elders is acting as poison, due to which political parties are more concerned about religious appeasement than development. It is also true that there is mutual friendship among all the perpetrators of religious fanaticism because when Muslim bigotry comes to the fore, the Hindu vote comes together. When Hindu bigotry is evident, Muslims come together. This applies to casteist bigotry. This is where the vote bank of political parties is formed. They enjoy power, not development, but from the fanaticism of caste religion.

In return, we get nothing but the satisfaction of religious and caste superiority. South Asian countries, especially India, are in a diabolical state of poverty, illiteracy and backwardness. Global statistics embarrass India in every field. In lieu of grappling with them, our political parties and power are making life dark by pushing us into religious fundamentalism. The job of the State is not to administer religion but to protect the common man from fanaticism. It is necessary that we think and beware of those who sow poison in the name of caste and religion. Let us not become a vote bank victim of bigotry and casteism. When we think about this, then only the future of our children will be salvaged.

(Writer ITV Network Chief Editor)