An archeological survey on the walls of worship, petitions challenging different worship practices, property disputes, court cases and lots of media attention – not a single year goes by in India without a controversial religious case. The case of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi is a prime case showing how citizens of a developing nation in the 21st century prioritise religion over all else.
After 75 years of Independence and celebration of freedom with Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, we are still quarrelling with each other over religion. Discussions over who has the authority to worship in which religious place and rules carefully weaved with ancient beliefs and century-old stories will not conclude anytime soon. Religion and faith are quite important and there is no denying the fact that we all want our religion to be respected equally. But the conflict between the Hindus and Muslims in this country has been proving it all wrong for the youth and future generations. The Ayodhya dispute and the demolition of Babri Masjid not only showcased the inferiority complex of religious groups but also led to a lot of unanswered questions about India’s authorities, the law and basic rights. The Gyanvapi mosque case is nothing new or different.
Also read: Gyanvapi case reopens the politics of religion that Supreme Court had sealed shut in Ayodhya
Five women filed a petition seeking permission to worship a shivling claimed to be located in the mosque complex. This accelerated pretty quickly with the media, laws of worship and dedication of people involved in the case. Without undermining the value and emotions of people attached to this case, are we as a country focusing our attention on the right things? Or have distractions become a part of our lifestyle?
The media undoubtedly has a responsibility to report these kinds of incidents. But a line has to be drawn somewhere, and the power of media has to be taken seriously. Especially during these times when social media is consumed by the Indian public who have limited media literacy. The repercussions of a news channel repeatedly showing the Hindu-Muslim conflict in a controversial tone has to be analysed by the audience and the organisation themselves. The way media channels report these types of cases and the intensity with which they focus on them certainly affect their viewers in more ways than known. Therefore, instead of waiting on news channels to correct their narratives, we the viewers must sharpen our critical thinking skills to navigate through this mess.
As a youth of this country, cases of religious conflict are disheartening, pitiful and increase doubt about development, growth and well-being of the nation. At the time of economic crisis, unemployment, population control and several other social issues, religion has topped the chart for all the wrong reasons. Every time a citizen of this country does a marvellous act to take the name of this nation forward, religious conflicts pull us back again. Every time when we get a moment to call ourselves proud Indians, there is a Hindu-Muslim conflict to prove us wrong all over again.
Ikla Subba is a student at Sikkim University, Gangtok. Views are personal.