How ‘Hindu-Muslim’ lollipop has lulled us into silence

Reason for our not speaking out even as the living conditions of the jailed and others are fast deteriorating is that the masses don’t realize that communal politics will breed a whole generation of haters

The  news that caught my attention this  morning –25  May,  the day I’m filing this column, is  AAP leader and former Delhi minister Satyendar Jain collapsing in the bathroom  in Tihar Jail,” due to dizziness’.  Not to overlook the fact that this is the second time Jain has fallen in the Tihar jail bathroom during his imprisonment. Jain has been lodged in prison since his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a money laundering case.

Bring to the fore the vital and basic queries – What are the prevailing jail conditions not just in one particular jail but jails across the country? What if Jain wasn’t a senior AAP leader and a former minister, then would the news of his collapsing in the confines of the jail come to the fore? What are the prevailing conditions for the prisoners’ well-being and upkeep?  How do we get to know the physical and mental health of those lodged behind those high walls? Why should prisoners be deprived of the facilities; not to overlook the significant fact that a large percentage of those imprisoned are under-trials, so technically innocent. But even if they are convicted they should be given humane treatment. After all, they were not born criminals but circumstances and conditions drove them towards crime with disastrous offshoots. Another factor is that petty criminals could be mere foot soldiers, seemingly under the control of the political mafia, with the master players roaming about freely, untouched and un-arrested.

The wellness-cum-development of a land can be judged on the basis of how its government treats the women and children and the young, and also how it treats its prisoners. We seem lagging… what with rapists, molesters, killers and hate speech givers, roaming round rather too freely.

Nah, we aren’t reacting, not speaking out, even as the living conditions of the jailed and even of the not-so-jailed are fast deteriorating.

We all seem to have given a lollipop called: Hindu- Muslim! To cause deep communal divisions between the two communities under the various garbs and guises and alibis and camouflages. Conned and quiet we sit.

I don’t  have one specific answer for this collective quiet. Just a series of ‘perhaps’!

Perhaps, the masses don’t realize that communal politics will breed a whole generation of haters! Haters and destroyers who will create havoc.

Perhaps, the  masses have  not  viewed the film , Hotel Rwanda,  which  bares those  grim  details  of  civil  strife …the two warring  tribes   not  just  start  killing  each other but  destroying just about  any structure, human and otherwise! And then it’s just about too late for the destruction to halt.

Perhaps,  the masses  haven’t  heard these  lines of   German  pastor, who was  persecuted  by the   Nazis   –  Reverend  Martin  Niemoller’s  lines: ‘In  Germany, they  first  came for the / communists, and  I  did  not  speak  up /  because  I was  not a  communist.  Then /they came for the  Jews  and  I did  not / speak  up  because  I was  not a  jew/Then they  came for the trade / unionists,  and  I did  not speak  up  / because  I was  not a   trade  unionist  /Then they  came   for the   homosexuals /  and  I did  not  speak  up because  I was / not a    homosexual  /Then they came for the Catholics / and  I did   not speak  up  because   I was  / Protestant /  Then they came for me  …but  by / that time  there was   no  one  left to / speak  up.’

Perhaps, my countrymen  haven’t  seen  images of  the  wreckage  that  civil  strife can unleash. Years  back, when I had asked  actor turned politician Sunil  Dutt  what  can be  that one possible  solution to  halt communal  violence, he  had  said :“There can  be one solution. Only  last  night  I was going through the  latest  ‘Time’  magazine  and the  horror photographs of the  civil war ridden  Somalia  shocked  me  so much that  I couldn’t eat. It was dinner time but I couldn’t touch a morsel. Just couldn’t! Those  horrifying  pictures of human  beings  dying , sitting injured and  ill, crawling about,  rendered  so frail  and weak  that they couldn’t even walk. Those human disasters because of the  ongoing civil strife in Somalia. I’m  going to   suggest that  those  pictures  be  displayed  all  over our towns and  cities, at all public  places. And  displaced  with  this caption: See what internal  war  or  strife or  unrest  can do  to you, to your  country, to your fellow countrymen!”

Perhaps, we prefer to sit in that so-called safe positioning, under the notion that we just got to keep on living, somehow or anyhow!

Ending with this verse of Nida Fazli whose own life was ruined because of the Partition upheavals.

These lines from Nida Fazli’s ‘Just keep on Living’ (Translated  from Urdu  by Baidar  Bakht and Lesilie Lavigne):


‘Just keep on living /

Just keep on living like this /

Say nothing /

When you get up in the morning /

Take a head count of the family /

Slouch in the chair and read the paper /

There was a famine there /

And a war raged somewhere else /

Be thankful that you are safe/

Switch on the radio and listen to the new pop songs /

When you leave the house /

Paste a smile on your face/

Pack handshakes in your hands /

Keep a few meaningless phrases on your lips /

Be passed through different hands like a coin/

Say nothing /

A white -collar /

Social respect /

A few drinks everyday/

What else do you need /

Just keep on like this /

Say nothing.’