Sowing the seeds of hatred


By: Satyakam Bharti

No longer would we Hiamchalis be termed lethargic, living a laid-back life, uncaring for the rat race. Yes, the rat race because one fine morning we decided to burn our own house watching our neighborhood on fire. Perhaps, Himachal would never be the same again after three religious structures belonging to a minority community were set ablaze in retribution to the killing of a bovine. We will have to finally admit that seeds for politics of hate have already been sown in the state, and they are set to sprout every now and then.

Following the manslaughter of Partition, the only shameful incident of communal violence in the state has been the 1984 ‘pogrom’, besides stray instances of localised sectarian turmoil. The Nerwa madness, followed by show-of-strength in Shimla by those in power, and rumours of another religious shrine being torched in Solan, together declare end of the age of innocence, which already was stained by a marked incident of high-profile ‘political kidnapping’ long ago, increasing cases of corruption in greater proportions and, of course, the sleaze games captured in CDs.

There are all the reasons to believe that the incident was aided and abetted by the state, or how else can it be justified that the government failed to act to prevent vandalism despite having ample time, and intervened only when the damage had been done. There are reasons to doubt that such a huge crowd could be mobilized at a small hamlet without any external support. To add to it, top functionaries of the government supported and participated in the Shimla protest, shouting slogans like ‘Gaaye mata ham sharminda hain tere katil zinda hain.’ The state BJP chief went on record to state that their party supported the protest. The Chief Minister made a ‘fervent appeal’ to the people to keep restraint and not allow rise of communal disharmony, but then why was the protest allowed in the first place, after all, the incident of cow slaughter was just an overreaction by a hapless peasant towards frustrations of his daily struggle to earn a living, and the issue could have been sorted out at the local level itself. Even if BJP is given the benefit of doubt as a victim of its own identity, the government should at least have mobilized its machinery to prevent such a blot. The Congress, if it had nothing to do with the happenings, hardly reacted because ‘fighting the communal forces’ is not yet a bankable slogan in the state.

History is witness how a cigarette butt or a cow tail wrecked havoc in the minds of a whole generation in our neighborhood, but luckily Himahcal remained untouched by the communal seductiveness of electoral politics for a long time. Alas, partial industrialisation of the state has opened the floodgates for political and material ambitions and the resultant social churning may bring forth distorted community equations.

The responsibility now lies with the common Himachali to either pretend to be unaffected, (that is hardly an option now) or express their outrage and commitment towards communal harmony in measures equal to the indignation of those who have dared to disturb the tranquility of the hills. And why not start with a peace march, involving for sure a greater mass of humanity, right here in Shimla, this Valentine’s Day. But act we must before it is too late.

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  1. Sad to see politicians making such an issue out of it. I have heard stories about communal incidents in Himachal undertaken by Jan Sangh few decades back and have felt the grief in voice of my grandfather. I don't want to see my state or any place in India dismayed by communal violence . It is a cheap attempt to distract media and people from the other important events shaping up in the state.

  2. although not a very religious person, i do understand why and how the nerwa situation could have unfolded the way it did. cow-slaughter is illegal in India, to start with. keeping in mind what significance it has in Hinduism, im quite surprised it actually took three days for violence to flare. now, HP has always been one of the better places to be in when it comes to a madhouse such as india but violence in Nerwa was not only inevitable, but something very close to a natural response in a situation like this. 

    what's really important is that the person responsible for it should have been arrested and brought to justice ASAP – which didnt happen. 

    having said that, i know this would've been very bad if we were talking UP or one of those states… not much happened in HP compared to that which still tells us a lot about the people in HP. 

    communal violence is stupid, senseless and usually motivated by dirty politics. you're right, these things shouldnt happen in HP and a peace-march sounds like a good idea.

  3. Is the person who killed the cow arrested? We have a foolish habit of ignoring the spark which led to this ugly situation and researching it deeply. If the person who killed the cow is not punished, it will be a case of denied justice and people whose religious sentiments have been hurt by this heinous crime of killing a cow will look naturally for revenge.

  4. I am outraged at how one can kill a cow in HP and get away with it. The person who killed the cow should be tried and sentenced harshly. Media should focus on this rather than non living beings such as buildings and structures.

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