Speak up against Hate NOW!

A call to the comfortable majority of India

Imagine waking up on the morning of New Year’s Day 2022, and finding a photo of yourself, your mother, friend, sister, daughter, a woman you know and admire - including the mother of Najeeb, a young student went missing after being assaulted by ABVP goons in Delhi - all Muslims, obscenely morphed and put up for auction on an app!

Imagine not being able to attend Church during Christmas, not because of Covid restrictions, but due to the looming threat of disruption of services and violence by right-wing goons. Imagine the message it sends to minorities when a call for mass slaughter of all Muslims is given from one of Hinduism’s Holy Cities, Haridwar. Did one feel a sense of revulsion and shame, given how one’s religion was being misused to spread hate against minorities by vested interests? Did it bother those of us who form the majority? Did we even react?

The tragic reality is that for you, and us, the possibility appears remote because we are safe and secure in this country where you are in majority. Right? There is 60 % of us in this country – minus the minority and Dalits and Adivasis – secure behind the numbers. Barely a few of us so much as squeak.

The silence stems from both fear and complicity. This silence needs to end, and the focus needs to be on protests that aim to bring about change on the ground – in society, in our hearts, and in our homes. The failure to break the silence will ensure that this Hate consumes us.

This Hate that has swirled in our midst peripherally for decades, has now permeated all spaces both public and personal: Parliament, streets, public meetings, newsrooms, offices, living rooms and bedrooms. We hear and read of public confessions of how it has wrenched apart families.

This Hate is an integral part of State project and policy to demonise and denigrate a whole section of Indians to invisibility and second-class status.

Is it not about time that the silent complicity of the Hindu majority is addressed, directly challenged, cajoled even, provoked if need be, to take a stand? At all levels of the social stratum, state non state etc. We all need to speak up - judges, lawyers, businessmen, doctors, teachers, artists, filmmakers, writers, activists of all hues, academics, journalists, farmers, workers, ALL OF US!

The majority needs to speak up for the minority because it is the right thing to do! Minorities have after all coexisted peacefully with us for thousands of years and contributed to the rich tapestry of Indian culture, whether it is in the field of music, science, healthcare, education, art or cinema. The names are innumerable, but what cannot be questioned is the pride they too have taken in being Indian. It is this India we need to defend and protect.

Why do we need to protest – loudly and creatively? Is it for decency, for democracy, for the Constitution, or also for ourselves?

When the infamous ‘Dharam Sansad’ called for annihilation of the minority, it was the final call that began with systematic hate calls (Corona Jihad, Muslims as Traitors etc etc), socio-economic boycott, acts of bias, institutionalised bias etc. There has been an overall legitimisation of this hatred that needs to be challenged by the people and broken.

When the pernicious Bulli Bai App, (which followed six months after the Sulli Deals App) came to light on New Year’s Day 2022, it was a direct assault on articulate, autonomous womens’ voices from the Muslim minority who had challenged majoritarian fascism at its roots. The echo in the form of a tweet by CT Ravi (national executive member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) late evening January 5 (Goli Maron S***on Ko) reveals that Hate as a political project has cynical sanction from the absolute top of the ruling political spectrum.

The Mumbai police has acted, arrested some; the Haridwar police compelled by a measure of public revulsion have registered an FIR against Yati Narsinghanand. The question is that for you and me, is that enough?

When people in positions of power speak up, they have the influence to check the poison, check the onset of violence because that is what Hate propaganda is - the onset of a long arrow that finally results in targeted lynching or mob violence. Hence whoever you are and wherever you are, a doctor, an artist, a nurse, a lawyer, industrialist, corporate leaders, most importantly judges, actors, filmmakers, artists, writers, mediapersons - its time we make our collective outrage and protest felt. Now!

Remember when #BlackLivesMatter protests broke out across the United States. It was the white majority, many of them in powerful positions, that spoke in unison demanding justice for their fellow black citizens. In India though there has been a deafening silence. It is we the majority who need to speak up, protest in a million ways and make ourselves heard.

This should boil our blood, certainly. Our country has never seen so much hatred against women, or any minority for that matter, unleashed at such a large scale. Such hate needs to be countered on a massive scale, to show the hate mongers that they are outnumbered by peacemakers, and we as a country are united in the spirit and vision our forefathers fought with when they demanded Independence. “Unity in diversity” is not just a value lesson for school children but it has to be now served as a reminder to each one of us that “united we rise” else, as a country we will soon fall.

Wake up, speak up, make a fist and let it rise in revolution to call for a new India where everyone has equal opportunity and nobody has to fall victim to hatred. It is our Duty as Indians, to speak up, before it is too late.

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