JUBAIL, SAUDI ARABIA: Why did Mumtaz Qadri kill Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer? Only because he considered the governor’s statements to be blasphemous. It is the same mentality that the Shiv Sena and other right-wing extremist outfits are displaying by slamming Aamir Khan, for his remarks about growing intolerance in India. The irony is that their behaviour is, in fact, proving Khan’s point. India is a large country, home of various religions, colourful cultures, customs and languages. The only way it can remain united is by adhering to its secular credentials. By and large, India has been able to prove its inclusiveness over the decades, but the recent rise of the right wing to power is shattering the values on which India always took pride. Narendra Modi was not voted in because he oversaw the killings of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat. He was voted in due to the prosperity that Gujarat witnessed under his rule. The rest of the country expects the replication of the Gujarat model, not the dark model of massacre and intolerance towards religious minorities.
Instead of brushing aside its critics as conspiracy theorists, the BJP government needs to ponder upon whether Modi’s silence over these incidents is akin to giving tactical approval to whatever is going on in the name of Hindutva. People trust and follow their leaders. The tacit approval of intolerance is slowly changing the mindset of the Indian public. Apologists need to take a back seat. One may feel that the elections results in Delhi and Bihar would be sufficient to ring the alarm, but perhaps that’s not the case. India needs to learn from its neighbours — once the genie of hatred and intolerance is out of the bottle, then it is very difficult to put it back. Prove Khan wrong by showing love and compassion, not by offering money to whoever slaps him!
Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2015.