The usually crowded Jama Masjid in Delhi during the coronavirus lockdown | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
The usually crowded Jama Masjid in Delhi during the coronavirus lockdown | Representational Image | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
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At a time when the stress levels of managing the killer coronavirus pandemic are highest, trouble from a flare-up between communities is the last thing the Narendra Modi government would want. The call for boycott of Muslim traders and street vendors in some sections of Indian society comes months after former JNU student Sharjeel Imam made a call to “cut off Assam from the rest of India” during the anti-CAA protests.

Such distrust between communities won’t help the country’s fight against the coronavirus. But it’s important to understand where these differences stem from.

The sudden increase in cases of animosity towards Muslims can be directly attributed to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz. The meeting was called off but the participants who had congregated were allowed to return to their respective hometowns all over India — a serious error by the administration, which couldn’t envisage the fallout, both socially and in terms of the spread of coronavirus.


Also read: Covid lockdown has ended only opposition politics in India. BJP’s shop is very much open


When logic takes a back seat

This incident sparked a strong social reaction and combined with the fact that lockdown was the only effective solution to the Covid-19 crisis, any violation of the lockdown was perceived as an anti-social act. When such issues come to be judged by the public, logic and reasoning most likely take a back seat.

On top of social media messages, unrestricted news items and videos of highly despicable and contemptible treatment of medical workers, doctors and nurses, attacks on police personnel and stone-pelting on medico-social workers were freely reported. Some of the incidents were found to be unrelated to the current crisis while some news and videos were fake and doctored. But when credible information is not available in time, such highly enraging messages gain credibility.

It is in this background that one must look at the boycott calls, which came from random sources and whose writ does not run beyond a limited geography and sphere of influence. Given their penchant for quick and ugly craving for publicity, it is not unusual for such elements to hog limelight through issues that attract the attention of the “man bites dog” media.

It would be worthwhile recalling the sane words of Sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Mohan Bhagwat, who emphasised on the need for concern for national interest to override petty political consideration. At an event in Nagpur on 26 April, Bhagwat spoke about the importance of an inclusive approach and to treat the entire population as one unit where no one is left out of the relief work.

His assertion that the mistake of one individual should not result in creating a distance from the entire community assumes great significance in the light of increasing bogey of Islamophobia and calls to boycott Muslims. Coming from the highest office of the RSS, these words of advice should be taken seriously by those who attempt to vitiate the atmosphere by their irresponsible statements and illogical suggestions.


Also read: Covid an excuse to push Indian Muslims out of informal sector jobs. Apartheid the next step


Trade boycott: easy route but counterproductive

Ironically, trade boycott seems to be the go-to measure of even countries that seek to act in a retributive manner against behaviours inimical to their national or religious beliefs and interests. China initiated a boycott of Japanese goods in 1930 following an attack on its shores. Most recently in 2012, the Chinese imposed a ban on Japanese goods after the boat collision incident in Senkaku Islands took an ugly turn, bringing the two countries on the verge of conflict.

Boycott of South Africa as a punishment for apartheid is well recoded in recent history. Then there was the boycott of Danish goods by some Muslim-majority countries following the publication of controversial cartoons by Jyllands-Posten newspaper in 2005. Even the US had officially announced a boycott of French goods during the Iraq war. The several US sanctions against Iran over the past four decades, against India after the second nuclear test and against Myanmar military leaders are only some of the boycotts at international level that have ultimately proved to be counter-productive.

But in all adverse scenarios, the social bonding and unity has withstood the test of time. To achieve that, though, the responsible and saner elements in both HIndu and Muslim communities must come together and look for more opportunities to impress upon everyone the need for unity, especially so in a crisis situation like the current one.

The author is a member of the National Executive Committee of the BJP and former editor of Organiser. Views are personal.

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11 Comments Share Your Views

11 COMMENTS

  1. Mr Chari, your homilies are well taken but as Executive member of BJP , please inform the public what your party has done against people like Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma and Anurag Thakur for inciting the majority population. That will surely help in building the trust. Otherwise , these are empty words.

  2. RSS Chief Mohan Bahgwat’s comments are welcome and much needed. But it’s mere lip service unless he puts those thoughts into action within his own organisation.

    RSS has been the primary spreader of hate against Muslims in India. Even people who do not know any Muslims, nor live near them have clear opinions that Muslims are like this, and like that. Credit for this goes singularly to the RSS. Why must the acts of some Muslims a few hundred years ago drive your opinion of them today?!

    Also violence – such training is part of RSS, and must change. And change is always welcome. It’s a sign that you’re alive and not becoming archaic.

    The BJP under Modi has torn India’s social fabric apart. The cohesiveness that had been evolving since independance has been halted, and he has taken Indian society a few deacdes back. The bigoted, superstitious and narrow-minded thoughts that people were becoming ashamed to voice have made a comeback. They are now voiced with pride. His government is doing ISI’s job for free. Oh sorry – I mean for votes!

    And look who’s in the line of succession?! Amit Shah, the thug who’s looking to form his own dynasty. He’ll try to take us a century or so behind. And then there’s Nakli Yogi Adithyanath. He’s waiting to take us even more back in time. Under which definiition can you call a man of his voilent, bigoted, and hate driven actions a Yogi?!

    I hope the RSS Chief can impress upon Modi that a lot of us wish we had a PM like Uddhav Thackaery instead!!

  3. Modi and Bhagwat say one thing and do something else. The BJP knows that communal discord helps it win in elections. Since its governance will not win any elections, it has to fall back on promoting communal hatreds.

  4. This “religious” dichotomy can’t be set right by any political action. On the contrary politics will always exploit this dissonance as will criminals. Religions have to evolve with time. Even the Pope has now allowed use of condoms, in special circumstances. There is a debate in the church on allowing Priests in certain geographies to marry. These developments are a result of followers from within wanting change.

  5. Chari sahab;
    Totally agree with you but there are elements inimical to India, NDA and even muslims who are hell bent to create divide and harm this nation.

  6. TJ is a recent phenomenon. Why visas were issued, why the congregation was not disallowed, as Maharashtra had already done, these are contentious issues one will not wade into. 2. The communal virus has been spreading and mutating for six years. Lynchings the most visible, painful manifestation. Here again one will not traverse familiar, well documented ground. 3. Things have come to a head. The global reactions are coming thick and fast. Time to take a deep breath and reimagine many things that have been taken for granted. The Constitution does not allow a Hindu Rashtra to be created. TheMuslims are no longer turning the other cheek. The economy, more so after Covid 19, looks like the morning after an ICBM has struck. Indians want the promised Achhe Din.

  7. A division in the society on any basis, especially religious basis is in nobody’s interest. Regrettably, the history goes back to late 1980s, when Rajiv Gandhi bent backwards to appease the Muslims by overturning Shah Bano judgment and opened Ayodhya Ram Mandir to please the Hindus. In 1990-91, the government and the Muslim society kept studied silence when Kashmiri Hindus were persecuted in Kashmir valley. The rapine, pillage and mass murder of Hindus did not stir Muslim conscience. Same attitude continued when Mumbai was bombed by the terrorists in 2006, 26/11 attack on Mumbai in 2008. During the 1990s, the support of leftist intellectuals to Muslim cause and strident criticism of Hindu society further divided the chasm. Home grown Islamic terrosism practiced by SIMI, Indian Mujahideen buttressed the mistrust about the Muslims. The silence of Muslim community on all these issues has been perceived as tacit support to all these anti-India work is Islamic extremists. Of course, these days, some sections of Muslims are quite outspoken about anti-India rhetoric. The recalcitrant attitude of Tablighis worsened the distrust. Now, how can any bridge be built across such a wide chasm? Being a so-called minority, does not mean the community can be divested of conscience.

    • Very true. The basic ideology of islam that ‘there is no god but allah’and conversion of all kafir to islam mandatory for muslim dont allow them to peacefully coexist with other religion allover world. Problem not related only with India but also with europe, africa siutheast asia. The huge and strong network of masjids and madarsa supported by OIC and international support from islamic countries. Appeasement by media and political class due fear of violent action by consolidated muslim force are real reason which were always ignored liberals.

  8. I hope and pray for a Muslim mukht Bharat. India was Muslim free before 1200 AD. Muslims are invaders and are not part of the 5,000 year old Indian civilization.

  9. eminently well reasoned Mr.Chari But where were you when the Sangh parivar went overdrive to demonise Muslims for a pandemic? Now why do you dole out such a charming offensive against hatred? As recently as in this very week your Arnab was hellbent on milking Palaghar? what was your response? Is it not downright hypocrisy sir to suddenly spread peace messages to both Muslims and Hindus?
    Pavendan
    Tiruchirappalli

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