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Kashmir Files to Karnataka hijab row, India needs to change its policy of ‘sympathy politics’

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As far as the Karnataka High Court verdict is concerned, the debate over wearing hijab in schools and colleges is concluded. The court’s decision addressed all of the concerns surrounding it by addressing four fundamental questions. The problem should never have escalated to the point where an institution’s right to maintain uniformity was challenged by any community member, leading to political hysteria. On this very issue, if we look at the act of Hindu students wearing saffron dupattas, we can see that it was a reaction not just to another community’s failure to adhere to institutional rights, but also to our education system’s inability to reconcile with the truth.

On any problem involving the identity of Muslims or Hindus, India has always taken the path of ‘sympathy politics.’ Take, for example, the release of the film Kashmir Files, (2022) which has left many people weeping and grateful that the genocide is being documented after being politically ignored for so long. But there has also been a lot of dismissiveness and name-calling to denigrate everyone involved in the process of making and supporting the film.

In India, academics and narratives have always operated on a client-patron model. It is essential that the nation’s academics and discourse provide space for all. We are seeing a lot of books and scholarly work that is not dominated by one viewpoint alone, and this indicates that people are ready for the truth. The Left, which is always outraged by riots and communal violence, needs to re-read history and understand academia better. In the name of contemporary peace, one cannot dismiss, disregard, or vilify others for attempting to reconcile with the past.

It is an injustice to withhold the truth and facts from people and manipulate academics to change history to suit one idea of truth. Merely screaming ‘freedom of expression’ while simultaneously cancelling people/scholars because they don’t conform to a certain ideology is the cause of all the rage and communal unrest. It is impossible to achieve and maintain peace while aggressively disregarding and refusing to confront the past and the facts around it.

Also read: The Kashmir Files tries showing 1990 exodus ‘truth’ but Vivek Agnihotri gives it death blow

Reclaiming history

In South Africa, Nelson Mandela spearheaded the restoration of historical wrongs. Similarly, the Jews never let the world forget the atrocities perpetrated on them. People all across the globe remember how Hitler executed so many people and yet we, the people of India, are uninformed and unaware of our history. It’s time for academia to make room for truth and not for appeasement. If people are educated about their nation on principles of sympathy and appeasement, divisiveness and hatred will never be eliminated from the country.

Not only have people suffered from physical and mental violence but their culture, but heritage and civilisation have also been repeatedly plundered, resulting in immeasurable injustice. Therefore, whataboutery and incidents of violence will be a continued path for politics and society in Bharat unless the truth is told without whitewashing. India is a civilisational state and nothing but truth and reconciliation can restore the faith, belief and harmony among its people.

The author is a student at Indraprastha College for Women, Delhi University. Views are personal.

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