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Those who build thrones over intolerance

Those who build thrones over intolerance

As hate-mongering against religious minorities is intensifying in the country, especially in states ruled by Hindutva forces, the extremist RSS leader and Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar has demanded that Muslims in the state should stop offering prayers in public places, and instead should use mosques or eidgahs for the same, or personal places. His utterance went along expected lines.

In the industrial area of Gurgaon bordering Delhi, for years Muslims have been assembling for performing their Friday noon prayers in public places. His statement came in the wake of incidents of skirmish when in ten such venues, Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, formed by extremist Hindutva outfits prevented their prayer. Khattar said that if the space in mosques and eidgahs was insufficient, prayers should be offered only in private property, and also remarked that these things are not to be put in public display. It was about a dozen Hindu organizations including Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, and Hindu Jagaran Manch that are the chief constituents of the Sangharsh Samiti which prevented the Friday, and as such the response of Manohar Lal Khattar could not be otherwise.

Gurgaon, being the sixth largest city of Haryana, and an industrial city bordering Delhi, is inhabited by a large number of Muslim wage-earners and small traders who come from far off places. Although the area has 22 make-shift mosques, none of them has a capacity of more than 300 devotees. The construction of a fairly big mosque has been lying entangled in legal knots. And the ordinary Muslims there do not have private vehicles or public transport to travel to mosques situated far away. Therefore, they assemble on Fridays in government's open land and offer prayers there. Althouigh Hindus form the majority of the local population, until now there has not been any objection raised from their side. But now in Gurgaon, Sangh parivar has started employing its customary tactic of creating provocations from nothing. It can reasonably be suspected that in the build-up to the 2019 general elections they are aiming at the same communal polarization in Haryana-Delhi region which they had successfully tried in Muzaffarnagar just before the last Lok Sabha elections.

As per news indications, if the Muslims there do not succeed in obtaining the long-awaited approval of district authorities and police, naturally the majority of them would rather leave the area. They are not prepared for staking any claims or for confrontation. From the response of the chief minister, there is scant chance for approval from authorities. Muslims are not unaware of the fact that collective prayer is to be performed within mosques. All the same, the existing mosques are not adequate for it; and they don’t own the land to build new places of worship. Even if that becomes available, the government is unlikely to give permission to build mosques. Hence their resort to offering prayers peacefully for years in uninhabited vacant public places causing no loss or damage to any one. But the reason cited by the extreme right forces for their direct action is the fear that Muslims would try to capture government land in due course.

What was seen in places like Muzaffarnagar was that Muslims were not able to protect their own land in their ownership and possession, and therefore had to flee the area forgoing their ownership. And even after years, most of them have not been able to return or to get rehabilitated, leave alone minority communities daring to capture government land, that too in Hindu-majority areas! The picture is clear: Sangh parivar has no agenda of winning elections by finding solutions to people's problems or through welfare activities; instead they target creating anti-minority sentiments to the utmost. This hollowness will be clear, if we watch the tone and tenor right from that of prime minister Narendra Modi and Amit Sha down to the BJP leaders, in Karnataka assembly poll scene with electioneering in its crescendo.

The main promise of the BJP in Karnataka is that if they come to power, they will strictly enforce ban of cow slaughter. The main plank of the prime minister of the country in stirring popular anger against the Congress government is that it celebrated the centenary of Tipu Sultan - who died a martyr in battlefield while fighting against British rule. If the government and the main ruling party of the country is finding gratification in breeding intolerance that can vitiate India's socio-cultural, the less said about the bright future of the country, the better.

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