& occasionally about other things, too...

Monday, June 26, 2017

If there's no place for Junaids in India, whither India?

Fifteen-year-old Hafiz Junaid was lynched in a railroad coach a day before Eid by a mob that saw in him only a Muslim and therefore an enemy. They didn’t see him as a child that he was, a mere lad, callow and uncertain, with a long life before him that they – the ferocious mob – extinguished with such force that the photographs of the railroad coach in which he was lynched seemed bathed in blood. The murderers were remorseless. They killed him because they suspected he was a beef eater, and because he was of a different religion. The police didn’t see any religion in Junaid’s murder and blandly reported a death.

In India, murders of the minorities whether religious or caste-based are commonplace, and so Junaid’s death will quickly become a statistic and forgotten. But let everyone who believes in the idea of India as a place where differences are accepted (as opposed to merely tolerated) and allowed to flourish protest in every which way they can. This is not how you treat a 15-year-old lad. If a 15-year-old wants to sit down in a railroad coach, you offer him a seat; you don’t launch a murderous attack on him and his brothers. A people who allow this to happen have ceased to be human, and are complicit in Junaid’s murder. A leadership that remains unperturbed over such a heinous crime is diabolical and complicit in Junaid’s murder.

What exactly is my right to voice concern when I’m thousands of miles away in a remote city in North America, safely ensconced in my home, secure in a society that at least seemingly respects the law of the land and protects my rights as a visible minority? Perhaps I don’t have any right to talk, leave aside question or protest what is happening in India, a place which is inside me despite the nine years I’ve lived away from it. India doesn’t leave you, ever. I’ve tried hard, I try hard every day. But it stays embedded inside you, hardwired in your brains. And so, whether the Indians recognise my right or doesn’t grant me one, I will protest in the only way I can – by writing about it, by talking about it, by telling everyone who will listen, and everyone who won’t.

Let Junaid’s murder awaken all those who believe that right to a dignified and safe life is a prerequisite of a civilised society. If a society cannot ensure dignity and safety of its citizens, it has no place in a civilised world, howsoever exalted its hoary past may have been. India must end this madness of hatred against Muslims. Every Indian – whether living in India or outside – must realise that this hatred is destroying India, and do all that is necessary to stop this hatred.

Junaid could well have been your son, your grandson, your brother. How would you feel is your son, grandson, brother had been so mercilessly lynched?

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