IN THE NAME OF MAHATMA
Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to occasionally have stings of conscience and blurts out against the Hindutva agenda of Sangh Parivar. Such an occasion was when he rebuked the cow-vigilantes who lynched Mohammed Akhlaq in Dadri in August last year. Then he said the gourakshaks were 'anti-social' elements running 'shops' in the name of cow protection.
After Prime Minister's reprimand, it was expected the BJP state governments and their police would act against the cowvigilantes. But nothing of the sort happened; lynching and killing of Muslims in the name of beef-eating or transporting cows continued quite often. There were even some grumblings in the RSS camp against Modi rebuking the Gourakshaks.
And now, Modi had another bout of the sting of conscience and woke up to the truth. This was at the Sabarmati Ashram in Gurarat established by the apostle of truth and nonviolence, Mahatma Gandhi. Addressing a public meeting at the Ashram, Modi said: "What are we doing? Cow protection and cow worship are something that Mahatma Gandhi spoke about... Killing of people in the name of gaubhakti is not something Mahatma Gandhi would approve. Violence never has and will never solve any problem."
The immediate provocation of Modi's outburst was the killing of Junaid Khan, a 15-year-old on a train in Haryana. The boy, along with his brothers, was coming back from Delhi after shopping for Eid. Some Hindutva enthusiasts demanded their seats which the Muslim brothers conceded. But their anger against the Muslims did not subside; they beat them, pulled Junaid out of the train and lynched him accusing of having eaten beef.
If only some liberal secular intellectuals and the feeble political opposition had protested the lynching, Modi would not have minded. But common people, especially the young all over the country rising in protest under the tagline #Notinmyname condemning the incidents in India's cities, worried Modi.
Meanwhile, atrocities against Muslims by Gourakshaks had continued unabated. The BJP- ruled state governments under RSS influence were partial to the Gourakshaks and enacted more rules against Muslims suspected of beef eating.
Secular India, unlike Islamic state of Pakistan, is not a Hindu Rashtra. It is a democratic republic. It has millions of Muslims, a sizeable portion of population scattered all over the country. They cannot be pushed into the Arabian Sea or the Bay of Bengal. Nor can creating another Pakistan is feasible. Coexistence is the only solution to India's Minority problem for which the Constitution has made enough safeguards.