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Communalism gaining ground in North India

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By Syed Ali Mujtaba

There is a series of communal riots of low intensity happening in north India. The latest was in Tonk, Rajasthan, where one person died due to police firing. In Merrut some mischievous elements tried to tease Muslims at evening prayers of Ramazan, playing loud music in front of the mosque leading to communal tension. In Allahabad, event like kite flying by kids vitiated communal atmosphere. In Lucknow communal tension is smearing for long. So are some other cities in north that’s on boil.

All this is a matter of concern of any Indian citizen but the so called national media is soft paddling such news? Even the social media that’s free from any one’s control is too ignoring such news. Even the champions of secularism are maintaining stoking silence on these developments and that’s something really worrisome.

The macro-picture in Uttar Pradesh regarding communal polarization is alarming. The Samajwadi Party's pro-minority politics versus the Bharatiya Janata Party's pro-Hindutva politics versus the Bahujan Samaj Party's pro caste based politics is pulling the state in three directions.

The overt desperation of the Samajwadi Party to keep the Muslims in good humour is evoking sharp reaction from the saffron party. They are evident signs of staging small communal riots for a sharper religious polarization at the grassroots level.
The cow slaughter issue is again being raked up, with slogan like "Na perh katenge, na gaye kategi (neither trees will be cut nor will cows be slaughtered)" being visible at several places. Is it not Hindu communalism at its very best?

The cow slaughter issue was raised up by Hindu right wing elements there during the freedom struggle. It was raised in the 1930’s that pushed some disgruntled Muslims at that time to demand for Pakistan.

The situation has changed now but the issue has not. With such calls being given the helpless puppies are sure to incur the wrath of Hindutva juggernaut and likely to come underneath, with some shedding crocodile tears of feeling hurt.

What is seen is the saffron party’s protests have become louder with Narender Modi’s fortune on an upswing. His henchman Amit Shah, who is in charge of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh is orchestrating the communal polarization. It appears that the new guard has instructed the cadres to maintain a hard line against the Muslims in UP. This is to vitiate the UP politics once again on communal lines so that the BJP gains mileage out of it.

Uttar Pradesh is a communal tinder box that can be blow any time with slightest spark. With 80 Lok Sabha seats at stake, the communal polarization taking place in India’s most populous state is indeed an alarming trend and no one is making a note of it.
In developing communal polarization the way the suspension of Noida SDM Durga Shakti Nagpal by the UP government is projected is again a disturbing development.

While the so called national media projected Ms Nagpal as an upright IAS officer who was trying to take on the powerful sand mafia that incurred the wrath of the political bosses who suspended her to protect the wrong doers, the contrary facts that has come out about this is really startling.

The new facts suggest acts of communalism by the IAS officer that has totally changed the perspective of her suspension. According to UP government, Ms Nagpal went out of the way and presided over the demolition of the boundary wall of a mosque in her administrative area in Noida. The wall of the mosque was reportedly being built on government land that was allegedly demolished by the villagers. The villagers were emboldened as they received protection from Ms Nagpal who was present with a large pose of police force there. It’s only the restrained attitude of the aggrieved Muslims that prevented communal riots.

UP Chief Minister Akilesh Yadav has come out in defence of his suspension orders; "The officers have equal responsibility in maintaining harmony in the state. How could the officers demolish the wall of a mosque during the month of Ramzan?" he asked.

This development has sparked off a big debate in the country and the issue of communalism is once again being brought on the centre stage. While some view that Samajwadi Party wants to send the political message that it has saved another mosque from being demolished, others feels that an upright IAS officer is being haunted and her suspension is arbitrarily.

In building this opinion the role of media is very significant. The media has all along projected Ms Nagpal an upright officer, who is up in arms against corrupt political leaders, without even mentioning the actual cause of suspension. The one sided reporting has left the readers with little choice to make the judgement based on the given facts. However this is contrary to the official reasons of her suspension.

The true colours of so called national media are exposed in the reportage of Ms Nagpal suspension. The media by doing so has not done any service to journalism. It’s sad commentary on our country.

It’s high time that such issues should be put on national radar and the concern raised should be nipped in the bud. Brushing them under that carpet could be convenient way out, but when we relate it with the statement of a political leader that some political parties are planning Hindu- Muslim communal riots in north India before 2014 general elections then alarm bells must ring.

The conspiracy of silence about the communal developments in north India is the most worrisome thing that’s happening at the moment.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com]
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