India, a plural society is undergoing the pangs of communalization at a rapid pace. In this process the religious minorities are targeted and subjected to violence, which is overtly justified. This communalisation did begin with the British introduced communal historiography, has a long journey and now any incident or tragedy is given a communal turn with ease as the communal forces are strong and they have built up a massive formal and informal media network. We saw this in case of Corona pandemic, when a section of media and many communal functionaries blamed Tablighi Jamaat for being Corona spreaders, for preparing Corona bomb and for undertaking Corona Jihad.

Back on the heels of this another tragedy which struck the nation has been given a communal turn. A 15 year old pregnant elephant Soumya, died in tragic circumstances on 27th May 2020 in Palakkad, Kerala. She had accidently eaten the fruit (Pine apple/Coconut?) filled with crackers. Her mouth burnt as crackers exploded, her lower jaw was damaged and she lost her life. There are many dimensions of the issue. Firstly the fruit was filled with crackers to scare off wild boars that damage the crops and farms. Elephant was the accidental victim. Pouncing with ferocity the BJP MP and former Minster of Environment and Forests, Maneka Gandhi lashed out with a tweet, full of inaccuracies and fully laced with communal biases, She attributed the event to have taken place in Malappuram, the Muslim majority district of Kerala and tweeted, “Mallapuram is known for its intense criminal activity, specially with regard to animals. No action has ever been taken against single poacher or wildlife killer so they keep doing it.”

In her statement to ANI (https://sabrangindia.in/article/malappuram-not-wild-west-madam-maneka-gandhi-open-letter) she said Malappuram is the most disturbed district in the country. As per her everyday something horrible is reported from the district. Not only all types of animals are killed, people are also killed in communal incidents. That happens there almost every day. Her tweet and the statement together picture Malappuram and Kerala in the most negative light but are totally based on falsehoods.

To begin with why she could not name Palakkad and named Malappuram? It is mostly due to the fact that Malappuram is a Muslim majority district. It was formed as a separate district in the second EMS Namboodripad ministry. The move was opposed by Bharatiya Janasangh, the previous avatar of BJP. So many districts have been formed in the country since then, not once BJP opposed that, but a Muslim majority district cannot be accepted by this party. Maneka also went to criticize Kerala for poaching and abuse of elephants in the state. One will partly agree with her that as elephants are put to use in religious functions and in other difficult tasks. But the point is; that is a phenomenon all over, more so in the neighboring Karnataka. One recalls Verappan and his smuggling of ivory. Even the religious use of elephants is there in many other states as well. Here the ex-Minister is quiet as Karnataka is currently being ruled by her party, while in Kerala with all the efforts for decades her party is not able to get any electoral foothold, while its parent organization, RSS, has fairly strong roots in the state.

Her statements about Malappuram are purely a concoction. The crime rate in this district is much lower than the worthy MPs own electoral constituency Sultanpur. As far as communal disturbance is concerned, just a sample will do. When in the wake of Babri demolition Mumbai, Surat, Bhopal were burning and many places in North India were experiencing the pangs of violence, Malappuram did not witness any violence.

As far as her statement that thousands of women are killed there, lesser said the better. Kerala is one state in the country, where sex ratio is the best. On the top of that among Muslims the sex ratio is better as the practice of female feticide is negligible, compared to the same among the Hindus.

Backing up her tweet the current Environment and Forest minister Javdekar added that, such incident, which has taken place in Malappuram are against Indian culture. The Minister with all information under his command did not even know that incident took place in Palakkad and not Malappuram. But of course as biases rule the roost currently Mr. Javdekar also wanted to target a Muslim majority district. Apart from the communal angle which has been instilled by these two worthies from BJP, the incidence has raised many and issues related to our treatment of animals.

The hypocrisy of BJP and company is very obvious. On one side it has unleashed the agenda of ‘Cow as Mother”, but at the same time the condition of cows in many a cowsheds in BJP ruled states is abysmal. One recalls the incidence of Hingonia in Rajasthan when during BJP regime, hundreds of cows in this cowshed died due to starvation and illnesses (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/cows-died-of-malnourishment-sickness-at-hingonia-last-year/articleshow/57696871.cms). At a time when India is peaking in the incidents of lynching in the name of cow, India is also coming to the forefront as the leading exporter of beef. Interestingly many or most of the exporters are non Muslims!

At the time of writing while the major focus of ruling party is to practice divisive politics, the need is to formulate norms for use of animals, which are kind and compassionate. Incidentally when all this is being talked about in the society, one appreciates the concern for the pregnant, would be mothers and the unborn child, one is reminded of Gujarat where the pregnant mothers’ womb was pierced and the unborn child was hung on Trishul (Trident). Also one is deeply concerned about another would be mother, Safoora Zargar, an M Phil Student at Jamia, who is behind the bars, denied bail for participating in the anti CAA protests. Where is our compassion? Is it reserved only for elephants of Kerala?


Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

Country is under lockdown. Most of the activities related to production and construction have come to a standstill barring few. One such is the construction of the Ram temple. The path for this has been cleared by the Supreme Court judgement. This judgement has been not widely debated as ‘Muslim side’ had conceded that whatever be the decision of SC, they will accept it. The Hindu side, RSS and its progeny, had hinted times and over again that come what may the temple will be constructed at the site only. SC in its wisdom did not much go into the legal ownership of land. As in earlier Allahabad High Court Judgment (2010) ‘the faith of Hindus’ that Lord Ram was born there was given primacy and land was divided into three parts. As such Sunni Muslim Waqf Board has been in legal possession of the land. That apart to the jubilation of the Hindu nationalists, the Government took over the job of temple construction.

Amit Shah of BJP went on to declare that the temple will be grand and will be touching the sky. The work began this May 11 and in the levelling work which is going on, it was claimed by VHP spokesperson Vinod Bansal that many objects have come up while leveling the land, which “includes many objects of archaeological importance like flowers made of stone, Kalash, Aamalak, Dorjamb etc. Apart from this, during this work 5 feet Shiva Linga, 7 pillars of black touchstone, 6 pillars of red sandstone and broken idols of gods and goddesses were also discovered.”

This elicited two types of responses. One was the criticism that the left Historians particularly Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib have misguided the nation and created the controversy of Babri mosque. While as K.K. Muhammad, one of the archaeologists had pointed out that there were remnants of a temple below the mosque. One twitter trend went hammer and tongs to denigrate these two outstanding historians at the same time intensifying the Hate against the Muslim kings as temple destroyers.

The second response may worry the Hindu nationalists. Seeing the photographs of the artefacts, a large section of Buddhist groups raised their voice that what has been found is not Shiv Linga, it a pillar of Buddhist culture and the carvings on the stone found are similar to the one which are there in Ajanta and Ellora. They cite the Ayodhya judgement “Carnegy has mentioned that the Kasauti pillars, which were used in the construction of mosque, strongly resembled Buddhist pillars which he had seen at Benaras.” Many a Buddhist groups are coming forward and planning to approach the Courts to intervene. They also plan to appeal to UNESCO heritage body to take up the issue and get the excavation done under their supervision as Ayodhya, Saket was also a place of Buddhist importance.

Their basic argument emerges from what Ambedkar had observed “India’s history is nothing but mortal conflict between Buddhism and Brahmanism.” (Revolution and Counter-revolution in Ancient India,

- Dr. B.R. AMBEDKAR#BuddhismVsBrahmanism, (Part 2, Chapter 7)) in contrast to the communal understanding that the basic conflict has been between Hindus and Muslims.

Ambedkar sees Indian history as being Revolution and counter revolution. He presents Buddhism as revolution as it founded itself on equality and non-violence. For him coming of Manu Smriti, ideology of Shankar and the actions of the likes of Pushyamitra Shung aimed to wipe out Buddhism ideologically and physically. This he called as counter revolution In this counter revolution thousands of Viharas were destroyed along with physical elimination of the Buddhist monks.

Where do we go from here, the Hindu communal forces through a sustained campaign in the decade of 1980s have constructed a version of history which is a mix of British planted narratives ‘temple might have been there’ in the description of Babri Masjid to there was a temple and this temple was the birth place of Lord Ram was a clever journey of Hindu communalists. The fact is that there are many a temples in Ayodhya, whose pujaris also claim that it was in their temple that the Lord was born. Archeological efforts have not been holistic. So Muhammad could write that there were remnants of the temple underneath the mosque, while there were many differing opinions from other professional archeologists. SC refrained itself in commenting on this aspect.

Will our legal system and UNESCO heritage give credence to the total picture of history as Ambedkar sees it. One interpretation is that the Brahmanical counter reaction destroyed the places of Buddhist heritage and later some Muslim Kings plundered these. What is propagated is that Muslim plunderers destroyed these places. Muslim kings, as extensively demonstrated in rational historiography mainly destroyed the holy places either for wealth or for power rivalry. This is a case where the attack on Buddhist places begins at ideological and physical level and is followed by the plunder by succeeding Muslim Kings. Hiding this earlier attack on Buddhism also hides the reasons for elimination of Buddhism from India, the place of its birth.

The heritage of Buddhism is a valuable treasure of India, and the World as a whole. As such when the Ram temple is being built by the state one is reminded of the incident of Somnath Temple. Immediately after independence there was a demand that state should construct this temple. Gandhi, the great Hindu, said that Hindu society is capable to build its temple. State should not involve itself in such works.

His disciple, the builder of Modern India, Jawaharlal Nehru did not approve the first President of India, Rajendra Prasad, to inaugurate it. Later same Nehru who laid the foundations of industries, dams, and Universities, called these as temples of Modern India! What a contrast from present times, where the the state is building the temple while the health, education and mechanisms to take care of society, are being left in the private hands, whose major aim is profit making rather than social welfare!


Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED