Only Hindus can make India secular

How close we are to becoming an oppressive regime in which we refuse to provide equal space and opportunity to all citizens. To start with eliminate them from governance by denying them all elected posts, second create conditions in which they are denied opportunities for education, so that opportunities for growth and employment are denied to them. They are confined to living in separate colonies. In short creating conditions where they become second class citizens.

Brij Bhardwaj

This has been done in Pakistan. Has been followed by prosecution of minorities like Hindus, Christians and even Shia Muslims. The attacks on their places of worship are common and some are even prosecuted in the religious courts where fair trial is impossible and you are presumed to be guilty even before you are heard. India is not close to where Pakistan has moved but there are growing signs of intolerance, Cow Vigilante groups are operating with impunity, Love Jihad has become the war cry of some groups who object to young men and young women from choosing persons belonging to different religion as their life partners.

The text books are being rewritten. We want to show that everything started in India like medical science, aircraft that could fly, doctors who could outdo plastic surgeons of today. Latest addition is that law of gravity was discovered hundreds of years ago in India and not by Newton. The approach is to close our eyes to what happened in any other part of the world. If the current thought process of those engaged in important jobs like education, culture is to believed, Greek Civilisation, Egyptian Civilisation or role of communities like Muslims or Christians did not exist.

They also believe that Greeks, Muslims or any other foreigners who came to India made no impact on us. Thousands of monuments built by Muslim rulers, Britishers never took place. With one stroke they want to do away with hundreds of years legacy left for us by writers, poets, builders, and rulers. They would like us to believe that Rana Pratap won the battle at Haldighati in Rajasthan, even though Mughal army was led by Raja Man Singh, another Rajput Warrior.

The element of fear has been spread among the minority community by such actions and cries by some who want the word secularism to be removed from the Constitution. There is no denying the fact that during long rule of Congress Party Muslim community did not get equal opportunity and suffered. It is also a fact while doing little to improve the lot of Muslims, Congress leaders did swear by secularism and tried to put some minority leaders in elected offices. More so we did not have cow vigilante groupsoperating or those guilty of killing some openly going unpunished.

Even BJP Government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee didnot give full freedom to fringe groups as they are enjoying at present. It goes to credit of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that after Gujarat riots he reminded the Gujarat Government to follow “Raj Dharam” and to do its duty as ruler. At present little is heard when some people are killed on suspicion that they are cow smugglers. Some leaders of the ruling party make no secret of their dislike for minority community if not hatred. A BJP leader recently commented that Hindus should vote for BJP and Muslims for Congress.

We have no leaders like Mahatma Gandhi or Jawahar Lal Nehru to come forward indefence of secular values enshrined in our Constitution. The current leadership of Congress Party, however, has decided to fight BJP by claiming that Hinduism is not the monopoly of BJP as they are also Hides but secular in outlook being broadminded and tolerant of other communities. It is no secret that India decided to be secular because Hindus were secular and leadership wanted the country to give equal opportunity to all irrespective of caste, colour or religion. The BJP leadership, at least few, are advocating the change in Constitution. The Congress party has changed its stance because it was being painted as pro-Muslim or anti-Hindu. An attempt was made to change this stance during elections to Gujarat Assembly and will be the strategy in days to come when poll is held for Karnataka Assembly.

BJP is not very happy with this change as it has made it difficult to polarise the voters on communal lines. How far it will work is not easy to predict. In the meantime, campaign against Beef trade is continuing. Even in a state like Goa Beef traders had to go on strike to persuade the Government to check the activities of Cow Vigilante Groups and relax unnecessary formalities imposed on import of Beef from Karnataka. This was done despite the fact that large population consumes Beef as well the tourists who visit Goa in large numbers.

The BJP is willing to make compromises in States like Goa, North East and some States in South, but in rest of India campaign to save cows will continue even if it hurts poor farmers. How BJP will explain this contradiction in days to come will be watched with interest. In the meantime, battle between RSS guided Hindus and Secular Hindus will be fought in streets of Karnataka and other States.

(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)