No reaction is perhaps the second worst sort of reaction after violence. This is exactly the type of reaction that came from India’s largest minority — Muslims — when mob lynchings took place, during the Ayodhya Verdict, and then during the introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Somewhere amidst all of this, the Muslim community started to believe itself to be ‘inferior’, and even began behaving as ‘inferior’.
Had the ruling government been, if not more, then at least as concerned for its own largest minority as it claims to be for the minorities of ‘other countries’, Indian Muslims would never have felt so insecure and unsafe. A feeling of suppression and oppression is building within the community, and the community has started to lose even the iota of hope it had in the system. Mere words can never heal nor bridge the gap that has been created over the past five years.
A Disappointing Opposition
In the present, no one can deny the fact that Muslims are indeed living under fear. The doubts regarding this fact, if any, were cleared when Home Minister Amit Shah, speaking in the lower house of Parliament, said that the ‘Muslims of the country need not fear’.
We are not only trying to, but are actually heading towards becoming the mirror image of the nation that we detested the most for so long, and the same sentiment became one of the many reasons why the Narendra Modi-led BJP government came back to power in 2019. In 2014, the BJP came to power riding on the mass movements of Anna Hazare against corruption, amidst other factors.
The most worrying part is that at this hour, when the Opposition of the country should be on the roads regarding everything from onion and fuel prices to defending the very idea of India, they are fighting the battle mainly through social media.
Though these platforms have huge bearings on the minds of the voters, no battle of such scale can be won or even fought merely on virtual platforms. The liberals and intellectuals (as they are often referred to), have however taken matters into their own hands, and have shown the Opposition even today, how a ‘battle’ is really fought.
Muzzling of Dissent, Pandering to the Majority
To summarise, the highly-debated Citizenship Amendment Act has just reduced the definition of ‘India’. India was about the people of India but this Act – and for that matter, even the downgrading of J&K’s status to that of a Union Territory, and the five-month-long shutdown in the Valley – has confined the definition of India to its geographic boundaries.
The worst among these things is a systematic attempt to muzzle the voice of dissent. If anyone is in disagreement with the majoritarian view, they are not only termed as ‘anti-national’, but a sharp comparison is also drawn between them and Pakistan.
What we are witnessing is not merely the suppression of minorities but a disservice to the nation in every sense.
The government should and must always take sides – that of the oppressed, and not the oppressor, of the tormented and not the tormentor, of the victims and not the culprits – but unfortunately, we are witnessing exactly the opposite. Keeping only your majority happy might be a political milestone but keeping your minorities safe and secure is something to actually be proud of.
(Syed Kamran is a Lucknow-based commentator. This is a personal blog, and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)