An Anti-Saddam’s execution, Anti-Bush rally by the Muslims
A Hindu maha-procession
Impending State elections
Recipe for doom? So it seems at the moment
On Friday the 19th was held a massive rally by Muslims in the Muslim dominated area of Shivajinagar. It was attended by a great audience and by prominent local Muslim leaders. The rally was targeted to denounce the unfair(!) execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussain. The focal point of the rally was peaceful and no untoward incidents were noticed. Then, on the dispersion of the meeting, some miscreants pulled down banners that had been put up in may locations to advertise the Hindu-mahasabha scheduled for Sunday the 21st. This probably opened the floodgates and led to the violence and unrest that dominated this area for the next few days.
On Sunday, the Hindu procession came on the streets with great fervor and fanfare. And as if in retribution, they burnt down a reported 10 public transport buses, a few autorickshaws apart from causing physical damage to whatever caught their line of sight. The cops had made full preparations for such an eventuality, since this area is prone to communal riots, but as always, that was severely inadequate. The dilemma lies with the police. If they side with one community, the other is bound to paint the police too in communal colors and accuse them of favoritism. In this scenario, although damage was done, it was probably best that the police did not take too pro-active a stance.
[Activists of Vishwa Hindu Parishat going in a procession to the venue of Virat Hindu Samajotsava in Bangalore on Sunday. — Photo courtesy: Sampath Kumar G.P., The Hindu]
Some accuse the Politicians for making fiery, provocative speeches which might have stoked the fire. But whatever be the reason, it is unfortunate that in a country that prides itself in its Secular status and boasts of it’s so called Unity in Diversity, that such an incident should have happened. Due to the foolish actions of a few, two communities are at loggerheads, and each aims to outdo the other. This is all very pedestrian. If one believes in their religion in the right manner, then why does he/she have to come to he streets to prove its superiority? An eye for an eye. Is that what they are looking for? It is very unfortunate
The area of my residence lies close to the region of conflict. That Sunday morning when I left the area, I saw the single largest platoon of cops ever in my life stationed at Ulsoor lake. Behind them stood the huge mob eager to carry on with the Hindu procession. From what I heard later, the procession was quite peaceful till it reached Mosque road, mere minutes from my house. This is where the procession turned violent in a bid to avenge the events of Friday. And it resulted in a chain reaction which caused destruction and imposition of shoot-at-sight orders in some regions and a curfew in others. By the time I got back in the evening, the roads were death-empty. I reach home and in rush my flatmates, who’ve just escaped bludgeoning at the hands of some of the mobs outside. I have to attend a wedding, and therefore must venture out again. I take all precautions, take the supposedly correct routes and make it for the wedding of good friend, Sakshi. I meet many juniors there and as always, it takes me on a nostalgic trip down memory’s lane.
The journey back is as desolate as the one preceding it. There are violent images on all news channels, and I thank my stars that I was not part to any of it. The epicenter of violence wasUlsoor, Shivajinagar and Bharathinagar, all very close to my house. By this time the curfew has been lifted and there are only stray incidents of trouble here & there. I speak to a friend about the deplorable state of events, and she says something that strikes a nerve. She says that all day all she’s been hearing from everyone is how pathetic it is to have communal riots, and how poor Hindu-Muslim relations can turn out to be at times. Everyone is out to blame everyone – the politicians, the public – but no one has even thought of what part they can play in making things better. This embarrasses me to no end because I was doing (and probably am doing now) what we Indians are so adept at – bitching about everything under the sun rather than find a solution for our troubles, and what troubles us. If we cannot rectify it, then maybe we have no right to criticize it either. It is so easy to call the kettle black, but it is difficult to see the blackness in our own hearts, or to make efforts to clean the kettle.
At the end of the day, the question still haunts me. What is our part? And why do I have to ask this? Shouldn’t I already be aware of my responsibilities? Or have we, as Indians become so conditioned to atrocities around us that we have resigned ourselves to bitch about it and then let it be lost in the recesses of our mind, only to pick up some new topic for criticism?
The questions linger on…