Dear Prime Minister Modi,
The Hindutva brigade, which has been nurtured by the Bharatiya Janata Party, is getting out of hand. Both its intentions and actions run afoul. In a series of petitions against ‘Islamic’ structures and practices, the latest wants to dig the Taj Mahal and find out whether it was a temple. Even the Qutub Minar in Delhi hasn’t been spared. Facts and evidence for such claims are usually found in WhatsApp forwards.
Similarly, the list of mosques with ‘temple-underneath’ claims keeps increasing with each petition gaining maximum media attention. There’s the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi and then there’s the Shahi Idgah in Mathura. Not to mention Mohammadpur becoming Madhavpuram and 40 other villages whose names Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta wants to be changed into more Hindu-sounding ones.
All of this for what? Just to get your attention and get into the BJP? After all, the saffron mob gone wild has enough examples. BJP MP Jayant Sinha, Union Minister at the time, felicitated and garlanded seven men convicted of murdering a Muslim meat trader after the high court suspended their sentence and released them on bail. MP Giriraj Singh has often told Muslims of India to ‘go to Pakistan’. Kapil Mishra’s provocative speeches just before the Delhi riots go unpunished while MP Anurag Thakur can fearlessly lead a BJP campaign rally with the chant ‘Desh ke gaddaron ko…’, which his supporters complete with ‘Goli maaro saalon ko.” Soon after, Thakur is made minister of sports (youth affairs) and minister of information and broadcasting. Clearly, such things give members of the saffron brigade a hope to make it big in the BJP.
How come former Dumariyaganj MLA Raghvendra Pratap Singh can organise a rally in Uttar Pradesh, whose CM Yogi Adityanath credits himself for improving the law and order situation in the state, where people chant “Jab katue kaate jaayenge, tab Ram Ram chillayenge (when Muslims will be killed, they will shout Ram’s name)?” Do they think doing such things will increase their chances of getting an invite from you to meet them at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg for discussion on their elevation in the ranks of BJP?
Isn’t it time you speak up, Mr PM?
The question is, when are you going to tell them that this isn’t what sets your soul on fire? Because if it did, why would you only speak of vikas (development) or vishwas (trust) in your bid to become the Prime Minister of India. Twice! Home Minister Amit Shah’s anecdotes of your compassion are just about all right because not everyone gets “feeding peacocks” as a message of kindness. I won’t be surprised if BJP workers start putting up videos of force feeding peacocks just to draw your attention. The Hindu Right really needs you to spell some things out for them. Maybe just put out a ‘Mann ki Baat’ and tell everyone to stop going after the lives, monuments, mosques, food, hijabs, marriages of Muslims.
What you must understand, Mr Prime Minister, is that India cannot get rid of its almost 204 million Muslims or its long tryst with Islam, which was brought to this land in the 7th century. Muslims had settled here by the 12th century when India was a mass of land with diverse kingdoms. If the Hindutva mob thinks it can wipe away the 900-year-long history, then it’s just not possible. Through your silence, Mr PM, you are only enabling these anti-Muslim narratives and letting these lunatics create expectations among your voters that can simply not be met.
Hatred against Muslims spread on TV and social media is perhaps changing hearts rapidly on ground too. It was widely believed that the lust for civilisational dominance would end with the Ayodhya dispute being settled in the favour of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement followed by a grand temple being built there. But who knew this was just the beginning of a long temple run with many mosques ready to be stomped upon and erased. But history would remember such acts only in the manner that we remember the demolition of Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban today. They, too, did it in the name of ‘aastha’ or faith. Mr PM, India can’t go down the same rabbit hole because the consequences will be disastrous for all, not just Muslims.
Speak up and put an end to this madness by the Hindutva brigade. Your silence will not do good to anyone, least of all your image.
The author is a political observer who tweets @zainabsikander. Views are personal.
(Edited by Prashant)