Calling someone "terrorist" is not a joketext_fields
November 26 is the anniversary of the day on which the Indian Constitution was designed to structure a country that is a sovereign, socialist, secular democratic republic. This is intended to ensure socio-economic and political justice to all people along with freedom of thought, expression, belief, religion and worship, equality of honor, and opportunity. Fostering a brotherhood that ensures honour and dignity of every individual and the unity and integrity of the nation was also among the goals. On the day when lectures and campaigns were going on all over the country about the protection of constitutional values, a teacher of a famous science and technology college in Karnataka expressed mock suspicion, based on his name, that one of his students was a terrorist. When the student called him out on his tasteless statement, the teacher said it was a joke, in an apparent attempt to placate the young student. In a moment, his teacher and classmates became strangers to the student. The silence of some of his classmates and the tumultuous laughter of another show that he alone has the heaviest onus in present-day India to prove that he is not a terrorist. The incident came to light only because of the mobile footage captured by someone. This is not the first time such an incident has happened, nor is it likely to be the last though one may wish it to be. In many parts of secular democratic India (especially in UP, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan), school-going children who have not turned even eight years old are often addressed by teachers and classmates with nicknames such as 'terrorist' and 'Pakistani' as was determined by their names or places of residence. And when any complaint is lodged, the standard practice was to dismiss them as exaggerations or isolated incidents.
Calling Muslims "terrorists" is not an unusual occurrence in educational institutions, workplaces, public spots, election speeches, and even in social media comments. Union Ministers, State Chief Ministers, and Members of Parliament all take up the mike, abuse people as a form of 'acceptable national crime' and their supporters follow the same behaviour. Hate speech is often followed by atrocious acts as well. No one expects a case to be filed, except in Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Chattisgarh, against those who address the citizens of India as terrorists and loyal to the neighboring country, even in Kerala.
A similar incident took place in Kerala a few days ago and it was against a state minister. The struggle against the Vizhinjam Port is being curbed hand in hand by the BJP which rules at the Centre and the Left Front government ruling Kerala. Almost all BJP leaders, Left Ministers, and leaders are coming forward with accusations against the committee leading the protest. However, the minister in charge of the fisheries department V. Abdur Rahman's statement was criticised by a priest, who is also the leader of the strike committee, who said that there is a terrorist lying in the very name of the minister. Perhaps the Minister does not feel this constitutes hate speech, being on who stood by when the left-wing leaders and friends of the cabinet had portrayed the people's protests in Muslim-dominated places like Malappuram, Punnol, Pettipalam, Kothi, and Avikal as terrorist interventions. He is not a lot different from the indifferent silent classmates of the student who had to endure insults in class. The minister's colleagues who had accused the protesters of Malappuram as terrorists may also hesitate to issue a statement on the matter. But that is not the case with the common Muslim masses in the country who are hurt by hate speech every day.
"Calling someone a terrorist is a reflection of your attitude," said the student in Karnataka with bravado. His words demonstrate the feelings of the dominant minority living in India. Experiences like this, which Muslims have to face on a daily basis while being active participants in the process of building this nation, are not just a joke.