Extremists not necessarily the sole riders of communal disharmony

By Surbhi Moudgil

Is it the faith to be blamed or the politics of polarisation?

Cities in India known for their peaceful environment are now engulfed in communal tension created on petty issues. Is this a reflection of intolerance, bad governance, mob mentality, illiteracy or simply a strategy of communal polarisation?

Undoubtedly no propaganda can succeed without a sum of the above-mentioned points, for these cities have historically been culturally rich and peaceful, governed by royal lineages. They have been renowned for their humble habits and therefore, such occurrences raise a doubtful perspective.

Incidents of violence were reported in Gwalior, the city of Scindia’s, on Saturday during a Muharram procession between members of two communities, leading to imposition of curfew in the city.

According to the police, the passing of a procession was opposed in front of a Hindu religious site, leading to clashes between members of both communities on the eve of Muharram on Friday. The incident was repeated the next afternoon on Saturday and led to heavy brick-batting between the two communities, compelling the police to use force for dispersing the mobs.

Similar incidents took place in the cities of Sri Dungargarh and Bhilwara in the royal hub of India, Rajasthan. These otherwise peaceful towns witnessed communal clashes due to objection on loud music being played.

I would like to quote Mahatma Gandhi here to display an ideal answer to my question, “I am convinced that the masses do not want to fight, if the leaders do not. If, therefore, the leaders agree that mutual rows should be, as in all advanced countries, erased out of our public life as being barbarous and irreligious, I have no doubt that the masses will quickly follow them. Both (Hindus and Muslims) will act simultaneously (i.e., do the right thing without expecting reciprocation), as soon as the workers become true to themselves. Unfortunately, they are not. They are mostly ruled by passion and prejudice. Each tries to hide the shortcomings of his co-religions and so the circle of distrust and suspicion ever widens.
If we, the so-called leaders, have no control over our fighting elements, our agreement must be held to be unreal and useless.”

So what is the reason behind rising communal tension in these peaceful regions? Is it the extremists or all political parties have some interest in keeping India’s communal pot boiling in their greed for power?

The tussle between political parties can create an illusion of them being concerned about situations of distress by providing aid to affected people, but should they allow ministers, such as Sakshi Maharaj to deliver statements like, “The temple was there and will exist forever. No person will be allowed to keep even a brick in the name of Babri mosque.”

He also added that construction of Ram temple was “inevitable” and that it’s been only a year since BJP came to power at the center and has another 4 years to go.

Thus, should any party compromise on the peace and safety of the society just to achieve their goals which they assert to be bothered about, while indirectly harnessing the political narcissists to spread religious prejudice among people?