Communal violence is the sad reality
of South Asian states. India in particular has been witnessing
this violence more so after the coming of British. British in
pursuance of their policy of ‘Divide and Rule’, introduced
communal historiography and sections of population who wanted to
preserve their feudal privileges, picked up this version of
History and used religion as a cover for their politics.
Both Hindu and Muslim communalism,
in a way played a supplementary role to the British policy of
divide and rule. The communal violence, which has been stalking
the streets of India is due to numerous factors and is causing
immense suffering to the society. Many a social group and many an
individuals are doing their bit to ensure that the flames of
communal violence are doused and amity prevails in the society.
In this light, it was heartening to note the observance of ‘Peace
and Harmony’ day, on the anniversary of Vasant–Rajab on 1st July
in Ahmadabad. Vasant Rao Hegiste and Rajab Ali Lakhani were two
friends who were working for the amity in the society. In the
communal conflagration which broke out in Ahmadabad in the wake of
post partition tragedy, both of them went in the city to restore
peace and amity. The crowd, maddened by the feeling of hate,
killed them. The day of their martyrdom is being celebrated in
Gujarat by various groups.
One recalls there have been many
outstanding individuals, thinkers, social activists who have
sacrificed their lives on the altar of communal peace. The name of
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi comes to one’s mind for his selfless work
in the Kanpur violence of 1931.
For Gandhi, father of the nation,
the Hindu Muslim amity was on the top of agenda and when whole
nation was celebrating the release from the clutches of colonial
powers he was doing his best in the riot ravaged Noakhali and
other places. His efforts were superhuman, as he did not care for
his safety, what was paramount for him was as to how to restore
the sanity amongst the violent mobs. It is because of this that
Lord Mountbatten the last Viceroy of British Empire and First
Governor General of Independent India called him as the ‘one man
One is sure there must be various glorious examples of such
superhuman efforts in our community, who need to be remembered
with respect. One needs to learn a lot from their values while
celebrating their anniversaries. It is all the more important in
today’s India as communal violence is, unfortunately marching with
relentless speed, changing it’s form and nature constantly.
One has seen that since the decade
of 1980s the violence in many a north Indian cities, Meerut,
Malyana, Bhagalpur and Delhi was in a way revival of this
horrendous phenomenon in the Independent India. The massacre in
Nellie and Delhi were too dangerous in their extent and damage to
human lives. Further down the Mumbai violence of 1992-93 gave us a
warning signal that things are worsening on the front of
intercommunity relations. This was followed by targeting another
minority, the Christians, and brutal murder of Pastor Stains and
later the Kandhmal violence came as yet another eye opener for us.
The root cause of the communal violence is the politics in the
name of religion. In this the political, social, economic agenda
of vested interests are presented in the language of religion.
Unfortunately in India this phenomenon is running parallel to the
process of global aims of Imperial powers that in pursuit of their
control over oil wells have promoted fundamentalism and terrorism
in the name of religion. The Imperial power has also demonized one
of the major religious communities of the World. This present era
has been the one where the deeper process of ‘alliance of
civilizations’ has been undermined and the flagship of the vested
interests has been the thesis of’ ‘Clash of civilizations’, which
is a falsification of the reality of the human history.
One knows that human society has
progressed due to alliance of diverse civilizations and cultures.
While the rulers and affluent have been fighting for increasing
their power and wealth, the average people of the world have been
allying, intermixing with each other leading to high degree of
synthesis in all aspects of human culture, be it food habits,
clothing, language, literature, architecture, or be it even the
religious traditions followed by people. Social interaction is the
moving engine of Human progress.
The divisive politics in the name of religion begins by changing
the paradigm of human understanding from the socio economic
differences to religious one’s. The core aspect of human
stratification runs around economic and social factors while the
politics in the name of religion presents it as if the differences
amongst the practices preached by clergy are the core points of
From last some time the syncretic
aspects of society are being undermined and the divisive aspects
are being highlighted. The communal politics has the base in the
spread of Hate other propaganda. This hate other sentiments are
the foundation on which innocent people are killed during the
carnages. The carnages also polarize communities along religious
lines and ghettoization of minorities follows. This ghettoization
further traps the communities in to becoming inward looking and
being further demonized. Today we in India are witnessing a very
concerted attempt to marginalize the religious communities.
The way out is very hard and a long struggle to restore the
humanism of our society. We, people of different religious
communities have a common heritage and our aspirations for better
society are also common. What prevents our efforts for a better
society is the hysteria created by religion based politics. This
hysteria is created around the emotive issues.
There is a dire need to change the
paradigm of social thought, the one from identity based issues to
the one revolving around the rights and livelihood of weaker
sections of society. There is a need to overcome the impact of
prevalent myths about minorities and stereotypes about them and
strengthening the tradition of syncretism, which is our basic
There is a need to uphold the values
of Bhakti and Sufi traditions, there is need to uphold the values
of likes of Gandhi, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, Vasant-Rajab and
their tribe. We do salute this spirit of peace and amity in our
traditions and hope this will show us the path to progress and
peace in the long run.