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Relationships are Not the Monopoly of the State and Its Appendages

Photograph Source: irumge – CC BY 2.0

Human for those who labor under the delusion that the curtailment of civil liberties in Kashmir and persecution of minorities in Delhi are “internal” matters: India chose democracy, secularism, and socialism as its goals in 1947.

The first milestone on this road is democracy.

Democracy entails a lot more than merely conducting elections every five years. In substance, democracy is a way of life and a way of thinking.

In a democracy, the majority will prevail, but it is equally incumbent on the majority to respect and defend the legitimate interests and sentiments of minorities and to dispel their apprehensions.

The greatest test of the success of democracy lies in the extent to which its minorities feel secure.

Democracy and secularism in India will remain failed experiments so long as minorities are marginalized and brutalized.

I am not saying this as a Muslim, but as a South Asian and, more so, because I have never reconciled with the communalization of politics.

Muslims are part and parcel of South Asia’s history—past and future, and I am of the firm conviction that every inhabitant of India must be given a sense of participation in the country’s affairs.

In light of the complex political history of India, it becomes all the more important to ensure that the minorities of the country are satisfied with their relationship with mainland India.

It is regrettable that this complex political history has been ignored or left uncared for by the BJP as well as the Congress.

This grave lapse is responsible for breeding extremist national chauvinism, thereby weakening the secular character of the constitution and the country.

Amidst the bedlam and madness in Delhi, several unsung heroes are fighting to protect our common humanity.

From the Hindu man who sacrificed his life saving his six Muslim neighbors from the conflagration that engulfed them, to the Muslims who formed a human chain around a temple to prevent its desecration, humanity hasn’t perished.

Despite the apathy of law enforcement in Delhi and incendiary speeches of head honchos of the Bhajpa, several people have kept themselves away from the despicable influence of communalism.

Communalism and its propagation should be regarded as a serious offense.

Even today, there are people who do not tolerate an outlook that makes a distinction between communities.

Many of us were taught not to discriminate between Hindus and Muslims. We were taught that the life of a Hindu was as sacred to us as that of a Muslim. We were taught that any harm to a Hindu should be prevented at the cost of our lives, for our religion teaches us that it is our duty to defend and help our neighbor. I am proud to see people like the Muslims of Chand Bagh, who chose to protect a Hindu religious site, amidst the inferno.

Stories of Muslims saving Hindus and protecting their religious sites; Hindus warding off frenzied mobs, and giving refuge to endangered Muslims; and Sikhs opening relief camps for the sick, wounded, and vulnerable are manifestations of the indivisibility of the human bond.

People who recognize the inherent dignity of one another and are not swept away by the brutality of the mob are the real heroes. They ensure that the state and its appendages cannot claim monopoly of every human relationship.

 

More articles by:

Nyla Ali Khan is the author of Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism, Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir, The Life of a Kashmiri Woman, and the editor of The Parchment of Kashmir. Nyla Ali Khan has also served as an guest editor working on articles from the Jammu and Kashmir region for Oxford University Press (New York), helping to identify, commission, and review articles. She can be reached at nylakhan@aol.com.

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