By S. M. Hali
Growing intolerance by rabid Hindu chauvinists Shiv Sena and religious extremists being abetted by RSS hardliner and onetime listed in Google’s top ten world’s most wanted terrorist and now India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has caused sensible Indians to take notice of the wave of despicable actions.
In its most recent acts of violence, bigotry and hatred, the Hindu extremist group Shiv Sena has threatened Pakistani cricket umpire Aleem Dar to stop him from officiating the fifth ODI between India and South Africa to be played in Mumbai, despite the fact that he is on the panel of ICC’s elite set of umpires, which is based on professionalism and not his nationality. Earlier, activists from Shiv Sena stormed the headquarters of the Indian cricket board in Mumbai. The odious act by the hardliner Hindu nationalist party led to the cancellation of the meeting between Indian cricket officials and their Pakistani counterparts to revive cricketing ties between the two countries.
Ever since Narendra Modi, the butcher of Gujarat, was voted to power, riding a crest of anti Muslim and anti Pakistan rhetoric, India has been gripped in a fever of the revival of India’s pre partition and early post partition era when marauding bands of fundamentalist Hindus would raid, attack, loot, murder and rape Muslims in a frenzy of hate. The same ferocity and vehement hate was observed when Modi was Chief Minister of India’s province of Gujarat and violent Hindu hooligans raising bloodcurdling cries of odium, waving their Trishuls (a type of Indian weapon shaped like a trident, symbolizing Hindu rage) had set upon peace loving Muslims. Aided by state machinery, they slaughtered more than 2000 Muslims, not sparing old persons, babies and even pregnant women. Till Modi became India’s Prime Minister, he was barred from entry into the US or Europe because of his support of abhorrence and revulsion towards Indian minorities including Christians.
Pakistani analysts and media have been crying hoarse over the madness that has obsessed the Indian government and its agents of doom and gloom but the world remains criminally oblivious to the Indian war cries and acts of horror, which comprise rape, murder, wanton killing and subjugation of minorities and women.
A little belatedly but better late than never, Indian intelligentsia has taken a serious note of the hate crimes being conducted on their home turf under Modi’s watch and decided to act. According to October 17, 2015 “New York Times” story titled ‘With Return of Prize, India’s Literary Stars Protest Rising Intolerance’, dozens of writers have returned India’s highest literary honour to protest what they call a growing climate of intolerance in the country since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government took office. The same story also reported by the “Independent” of even date, titled: ‘41 Indian writers return highest literary honour to protest against PM Narendra Modi’ states that “So far 41 novelists, essayists, playwrights and poets had returned the awards they received from India’s prestigious literary academy, saying they cannot remain silent about numerous incidents of communal violence or attacks on intellectuals across the country over the past year.”
The writers, who write in English as well as regional languages, are also angry that India’s National Academy of Letters has said little about the attack on the well-known rationalist Malleshappa Kalburgi, an award-winning writer in the Kannada language gunned down in August for his writings against superstition and false beliefs.
Prominent among those writers, picking up the cudgel for tolerance and shunning of hate and bigotry include Uday Prakash, a Hindi writer who won the award for his 2010 masterpiece “Mohandas”;Nayantara Sahgal, 88, writer and niece of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who returned the award given to her in 1986 for her historical novel, “Rich Like Us”; Ashok Vajpeyi, A Hindi poet and essayist who was the chairman of Lalit Kala Akademi, India’s National Academy of Fine Art. Awarded in 1994 for his poetry collection “Kahin Nahin Wahin”; Ghulam Nabi Khayal, a Kashmiri writer, poet and journalist who has written dozens of books, winning the coveted award for his 1975 publication “Gashik Minaar” stated that that he joined the protest over rising intolerance and threats against minorities in India. Referring to attacks against Muslims, including the killing of a man who had been suspected of slaughtering a cow, he said, “This is not the country that our great leaders had envisioned.”
Joining this sensitive and cultured group of intellectuals is Gurbachan Singh Bhullar, 75, a Punjabi short-story author, who received the award for a 2005 collection of short stories, “Agni-Kalas”; Krishna Sobti, 90, a Hindi fiction writer and essayist born in Gujarat, Punjab, which is now part of Pakistan and the recipient of numerous awards. Ms. Sobti’s novel “Mitro Marjani” depicts a free-spirited and determined woman living in a conservative Punjabi family. Ms. Sobti, 90, won the award in 1980 for her novel “Zindaginama.” In 1996, she was awarded the highest honor of the academy, the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship. She said she was giving the award back to protest the recent attacks.
Interestingly, the internationally renowned but controversial novelist Sir Salman Rushdie, who was born in Mumbai, has come out strongly in support of the Indian writers, saying the government’s silence is allowing a new “degree of thuggish violence” in India.
As expected, the Modi government has dismissed the writers’ protests, questioning their motives and accusing them of being politically motivated. “If they say they are unable to write, let them stop writing,” Mahesh Sharma, India’s minister for culture, told reporters, further aggravating the writers’ angst.
Some of the members of this group of writers, who have seen the world, had propagated against Modi during Loksabha elections, assuming that the entire nation will become filthy because of massacres, if Modi comes to the power. If the Modi sarkar is encouraging the slaughter of Muslims under the pretext of eating beef and people are being butchered for their faith, such a government can only be stopped by its intellectuals who are its conscience.
Sep 28, 2016 0
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