aitzaz hasan bangash was a pakistani boy whose story not many in india know. he was killed in 2014 while preventing a suicide bomber from attacking his school that was being attended by 2000 students. there is another name, bibi aisha, an afghan woman. she was given to a talibani fighter by her family when she was 12 and a few years later she was found with her nose and ears cut off. but why cite these incidents when talking about india which is the world’s largest democracy and has a thriving economy?
it is because the aforementioned cases can be juxtaposed with many recent happenings in india, although one can term this as extrapolation. mobs all across the country have inhumanly killed members of a minority faith on suspicion of cow slaughter. not only this, members from the backward caste were brutally thrashed when performing their job of skinning dead cows. and in yet another incident in uttar pradesh’s ghaziabad, a team of municipal contractors was beaten up while they were transporting dead cattle. in all cases, the perpetrators were motivated by religious fundamentalism and were found raising religious slogans.
but wait. this isn’t the sole issue. what exacerbates the problem is the ruling bjp’s unwillingness to cleanse indian politics. after coming to power in 2014, the party also went on to win many state polls but in the course they admitted virtually every aspirant who wanted a career in politics, for self-service. this has led to a new brass at the bottom level that comprises of young leaders who feel religious conservatism and evoking of faith is the easiest way to garner support of the electorate.
take another case of the recently held science congress. the speakers, who hold prominent positions in state institutions, did not shy away from disregarding proven scientific principles and making a case for ancient indian scientific prowess. sadly, their assertions were totally unfounded and were made only to find some patronage from the ruling party. this trend now exists in almost every sphere, from rbi to niti aayog.
next, the party is adopting an all new style of propagating its ideology and personality cult. a recently released motion picture that depicts the former prime minister, manmohan singh, as a mere puppet controlled by the nehru-gandhi family is not a film but a political propaganda and even film critics have admitted this. a short film based on narendra modi’s struggle during childhood days was also released some time back and a new commercial-style film is being produced with modi as the central character.
from disregarding the supreme court’s verdict in the sabrimala temple case to bringing amendments to the citizenship act where non-muslim minorities of some neighbouring countries are to be naturalized as indian citizens, the bjp government is not only subverting the ‘rule of law’ but is also destroying india’s liberalism and secularism. sadly, they call others’ secularism as pseudo-secularism.
the case of aitzaz hasan bangash and bibi aisha must be studied in depth to understand what religious orthodoxy and impunity of communal elements can produce, and how they can plunge a nation into crisis. for this, one must also study soviet invasion of afghanistan, the rise of taliban and the roots of terrorism in pakistan.
for india to become a cosmopolitan, developed economy, much like the west where almost every indian aspires to settle. and where rule of law shall prevail, religion has to be separated from politics, else we may unwantedly and unknowingly tread into a dark future as is the case today with iran, afghanistan pakistan and many others.