Time to stand against the violence in India

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Time to stand against violence in India by Mari Marcel Thekaekara

India has seen a lot of Hindu-Muslim hostility, linked to the many invasions by Muslim leaders hundreds of years ago. The partition of India did not help.

There have been a few riots, but generally, ordinary people, Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Adivasis and others have been friendly to each other. Often their lives and work are connected. We learnt from our history books that this is ‘unity in diversity’.

But in the last few years we have seen many people trying to make communities violent and hate each other, for example by social media. They make people angry and start riots. There is a group that says it is protecting Hinduism – they say Islam and Christianity are attacking it.

Groups with the name ‘gau rakshas’, (cow protectors), travel around India, killing people if they think they have broken their rules. No-one punishes them.

Most attacks have been against Muslims – the ‘gau rakshas’ say the Muslims have eaten or killed or sold beef. This is not allowed in several states. And now they are attacking Dalits too. Dalits are the group, or caste, who have the job of taking dead animals away and skinning them. In Una, Gujarat, ‘gau rakshas’ violently beat two dalit boys because they killed a cow. Dalits have orders to pick up dead animals in villages all over India. Dalit school teachers and government officials have to do this too. They have no choice. If they refuse, they are violently attacked.

There is now a campaign of hate that tries to make Adivasi (indigenous) people kill each other. They are generally peaceful people. But people tell them to kill the Adivasis who covert to Christianity.

And no-one is punished for this.

For example, on 1 April, 55-year-old farmer Pehlu Khan was killed on a busy road in Alwar, Rajasthan. In Una, attackers proudly shared videos of them whipping dalit boys accused of killing a cow. People cheered and joined in.

A couple of years ago, neighbours killed Mohammad Akhlaq in Uttar Pradesh because some people had said that his family had eaten beef at home – but the meat in his fridge was mutton, not beef.

Junaid Khan, a teenager, was stabbed 30 times on a crowded train between Delhi and Mathura. The other people watched and did nothing to stop it.

Hindus who believe that India should be secular (not connected to one religion) are often afraid that fundamentalist Hindus will call them unpatriotic. But all over India, ordinary Hindus are starting to say they do not agree with these crimes.

Many important Indians have joined the ‘Not in my Name’ campaign and many other protests.

Harsh Mander, an activist, has started a protest like this.

Gandhi marched for unity just before he was assassinated. And Mander has brought together people from all over the country who want to say, ‘Enough. End the hate’.

On 4 September, Mander, with a group of other people, started a Caravan of Love, Karawan e Mohabbat (KeM) – a journey across parts of India where more of these killings happen. They visit the families of the people who have been killed.

Mander says to all Indians, especially Hindus: ‘Why are we silent? Why are we not speaking out?’

We cannot see the country we love become like the killing fields of Rwanda or Kosovo.

I believe in the people of this country. Most Indians, the silent majority, are shocked at what is happening. They’ve shown, many times that they can, and will do something.

I think that time is now. I hope things will change.

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: https://newint.org/blog/2017/09/07/Karawan-e-Mohabbat-India