Pulwama Tragedy: Does It Prick Your Conscience?

By: R. Veera Raghavan, Advocate, Chennai

Loving your motherland, you should be quite disturbed over the massacre witnessed at Pulwama three days ago – when a nineteen-year old Islamic terrorist triggered explosives and killed more than forty of India’s security forces moving on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway. You will have some troubling questions too.

A chief reason for India not decisively succeeding in the war on terror in Kashmir is this: much of the regional population, including local political leaders in the Valley, are more beholden to separatists and extremists than to India. When militants hold sway over there, and many local politicians too have open or concealed allegiance to them – out of choice and out of fear – people will also tend to trust militants as their true protectors and saviours more than a law-abiding Indian government.  So, militants appear even more powerful to all, and people growing up in Kashmir naturally look up to militants as heroes and saviours.  Pakistan too trains and aids those militants and has gained a soft corner among Muslims of Kashmir. This is well known.

We are repeatedly failing to win over much of the local population in the Kashmir Valley, alienate the terrorists and vanquish terrorism in the Valley. After all, as a huge nation India is capable of ushering in development in Jammu and Kashmir state, including the Kashmir Valley, on a larger scale and faster pace than what a decadent Pakistan or J&K’s selfish local politicians and chieftains could do. This should be obvious to everyone including the Kashmiris. Why is a great nation continuously faltering in Kashmir and suffering such a loss of honour and authority in a tiny part of its land, in the Kashmir Valley?

Assume for a moment that Kashmir, its people and its militancy stay, but that the geography of the rest of India is composed of the United States of America, with Americans living here and Trump ruling from Delhi. Do you think a Delhi-based American government will be failing for long to stamp out terrorism on its own territory, Kashmir Valley, and losing its soldiers like Indians who actually rule from Delhi? No is the answer you’ll get.

In the US, Americans take pride in being Americans, as simply belonging to that country. Their Christianity plays no part here. They feel proud as a nation which is affluent and dominating the world in many spheres.  They would feel ashamed to let any group of people in a miniscule part of their own territory hold the nation to ransom and kill or injure American troops for long. The whole of American people and Opposition politicians will also back their government in any stern action on terrorists to impose government’s authority on disturbed areas. India is not strong that way, and we have problems among people too.

In India, Hindus form 80% of the population.  Here, Hindus take pride being in the Hindu religion and revere the many temples, holy places, holy rivers and holy mountains that dot the Indian landscape. They derivatively love India which houses such venerable kshetras or localities. They look upon their land as a protective mother, and almost worship their land as Mother India or Bharat Mata. It is this sentiment of being Hindus that holds them together, and it is that way Indian Hindus love being Indians – not the way of Americans in the US.

Now, look at Muslims of India who form about 13% of the country’s population. They do not revere the land of India for the presence of any place they consider holy, and have no such religious or emotional attachment to the land of India. Their allegiance to their religion is a stand-alone, and it stops there. They don’t have much of relish being Indians for non-religious reasons, like Americans love being Americans. Not being idol worshippers, they don’t relish calling their country as Mother India and do not share any such sentiment with Hindus.  Still however, many of them would like to multiply and expand their presence in India and diminish the presence of Hindus, which is simply a desire to subjugate Hindus in the land of their origin.

Sadly, from a very young age many Muslims get infused with a passion to consolidate among themselves and not bond with Hindus. Since it is difficult for anyone to pull away from one’s religious masters, especially among a preaching-oriented Islam, the mental divide between Hindus and Muslims of India is not easy to bridge. This phenomenon is most pronounced in Kashmir, where Muslims vastly outnumber Hindus and the urge to dominate Hindus and distance themselves from a Hindu India is proportionately intense.  Separatists, militants and terrorists among those Muslims appear as protectors of the common people and rule their minds. With all this, when India’s Constitution too supports a special status to Jammu and Kashmir and sanctions exclusive privileges to persons considered permanent residents in that state, the militants and separatists in the Valley feel more entrenched – because, for them, this legal provision automatically separates their state from the rest of India half-way. It is like thrusting an AK47 in the hands of someone who is just wielding a lathi. These combined realities in Kashmir stand in the background of the Pulwama tragedy.

Let the Indian government act against the plotters of the Pulwama carnage. It should know when and how. But Hindus across India have an important thing to do. They must bond among themselves in a deeper and more demonstrative way.  They must not remain disjointed or loosely-joined in their mutual relations. This is not to cause any harm to Muslims of India, but to signal to them that India is the land of origin for the Hindus and that the Hindu character of India cannot be weakened by anyone, but is to be respected by all others in India practising other religions.  This will announce that Hindus are a giant in India, though gentle, and that a giant is not to be teased and tossed. Nothing is a greater tragedy than a giant mentally cowering before a pigmy and not looking a giant. Nothing is a pleasanter sight than a giant treating a pigmy gently and honourably – not also letting the pigmy ride on the shoulders of the giant to look taller and stronger than the biggie. Hindus of India must come together and show such an image of a giant which they are.

Centuries back, when alien Muslims invaded India and killed and humiliated Hindus, the invaders held strong swords and had their way.  Now Muslims of India hold strong nerves and overawe Hindus in the same India. So there is a need for a robust psychological unity among Hindus themselves for a just equation to settle among all in Indian society. If that happens, wily politicians will realise that taking Hindus for granted and appeasing Muslims for narrow politicking will not be rewarding. We have already seen the benefits of Hindu unity in the protests against Tamil lyricist Vairamuthu who denigrated Goddess Andal, and in the recent Sabarimala solidarity movement in Kerala.

Indian Muslims, including their mullahs, should know that their ancestors were Hindus, and in any case Indian Muslims live in a Hindu majority nation. They cannot hope to live a better life elsewhere, even in a Muslim majority nation – least of all in Pakistan – and should be grateful for being in India.

Recognising the strength of the majority people of a nation where one lives as a minority group is no insult, and is the normal courtesy to be shown to the majority. Indian Hindus living in the US or Britain as a minority do it and are happy for it – enjoying no special privileges in those nations. Indian Hindus living in Saudi Arabia or Dubai have also no special privileges for them in those countries and they could be subject to some restrictions over there, and are still contended.

With a healthy and honourable outlook, Indian Muslims too can live with dignity in India without causing anxiety or suffocation to Hindus of India. This awareness among Indian Muslims will promote a true fellow-feeling among Hindus and Muslims who have to co-exist in this nation. So, in different ways Pulwama should prick the conscience of India’s Hindus and Muslims and prod them to introspect for their mutual good. But first, the giant should fully wake up, realise his strength and stature and reveal the same, so his gentleness is not abused. He has to help himself, and no government can do it for him. Will he? That’s the big question.

Copy right @ R. Veera Raghavan 2019

This article is thankfully borrowed from HERE

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