Today marks the 19th and the final day of curfew in Udaipur. We have been living under a full and or a partial curfew ever since the brutal killing of Late Shri Kanhaiyalal ji. This dastardly act has and will forever remain a black spot on the otherwise peaceful and harmonious home town of mine.
Having lived thru the carnage brought about by ‘The Rath Yatra’ of LK Advani and the aftermath of demolition of The Babri Masjid, I can safely vouch that the recent distrust and discord amongst communities has no parallel in Udaipur’s history.
Early 1990’s we were at the cusp of the cable TV explosion. The nascent news channel industry bought the images live in our homes as we watched in horror the tearing away of the communal harmony of India. Even all thru the above Udaipur remained peaceful and if my memory doesn’t fail me there was hardly any untoward incident then and curfew imposed was more precautionary than anything else.
We the people of Mewar have an icon in Maharana Pratap whose trusted aide was Hakim Khan Suri. These were the people who defeated the mighty Mughal forces without making it communal. But does that even hold true anymore?
Last month’s incident and the unravelling of the conspiracy by the NIA have left me heartbroken. Within a span of 30 years we as a community have dipped deeper in the murky waters of communal hatred and blame game. The narrative has become about us and them, about two separate communities at logger heads with each other.
As a proud Hindu who believes in the idea of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which means “The World Is One Family”, I have always been vocal in my opposition of hatred and venom spewing towards other communities in the name of my religion even at the expense of antagonizing some friends and family members.
I have always raised my voice of the religious persecution of the minorities but I am baffled by the silence of this very class when an innocent man was killed in the name of their religion. Otherwise super active social media timelines of the so called ‘modern liberal face’ went silent on their criticism of the killing. Their silence is doing more disservice to their cause then they can currently fathom.
As the poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar has once said:
गलत बातों को खामोशी से सुनना हामी भर लेना
बहुत हैं फायदे इसमें मगर अच्छा नहीं लगता
Isabel Wilkerson in her brilliant book – CASTE, The lies that Divide Us writes that in the summer of 2016 an unaccustomed heat wave struck the Siberian tundra resulting in the children of the indigenous herdsmen fell sick from a mysterious illness that many people alive had never seen and did not recognize.
Russian authorities declared a state of emergency and began airlifting hundreds of the sickened herding people, the Nenets, to the nearest hospital in Salekhard. Scientists then identified what had afflicted the Siberian settlements. The aberrant heat had chiseled far deeper into the Russian permafrost than was normal and had exposed a toxin that had been encased since 1941, when the world was last at war. It was the pathogen anthrax.
A thawed and tainted carcass rose to the surface that summer, the pathogen awakened, intact and as powerful as it had ever been. The pathogen spores seeped into the grazing land and infected the reindeer and spread to the herders who raised and relied upon them. The anthrax, like the reactivation of the human pathogens of hatred and tribalism in this evolving century, had never died. It lay in wait, sleeping, until extreme circumstances brought it to the surface and back to life.
I just hope and pray to The Almighty that this deep-rooted hatred, bigotry remains confined in the deep permafrost where no fringe, political and religious leaders can reach and that the religious harmony, brotherhood and compassion act as an agent to permanently seal them away for good.