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Sunday, July 12, 2020

Competitive communalism


RANJIT BHUSHAN | New Delhi, February 23, 2013 17:54
Tags : Hyderabad bomb blasts | Asaduddin Owaisi | MIM | Akbaruddin Owaisi | |

The Hyderabad bomb blasts this week have merely helped to underline that India is perhaps sitting on one of the big ethno-political fault lines in the world. The mix is potentially combustible: vote bank politics, hate speeches, irresponsible statements by people in authority, a policing system which is archaic and needs immediate upgradation, a rotting criminal justice system that requires overhaul and the shrill rhetoric of activists hell bent on muddying waters and bashing institutions to make them even more ineffective than they actually are.

Hyderabad has been an old site of bomb blasts and recurring communal tensions. As one of the important cities of south India, it is now a booming commercial centre, one of the country’s leading IT-ITES cities which has modernised the old kasbah of the Nizam into a jazzy global hub.

But beneath the calm of city life, there is always the lurking hint of violence, particularly communal violence. The political situation in the state has been sufficiently communalised over the last year or so.  In November 2012, the one-member Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) MP Asaduddin Owaisi quit the UPA protesting against what it called Congress’s communal politics. The ruling Congress in the state had allowed a shed over the Bhagyalakshmi temple, abutting the historic Charminar, to be covered with a tarpaulin. When four MIM MLAs had tried to march towards the historic structure to lodge a protest, they were picked up by police.

The Congress did not think much of one MP and a few MLAs withdrawing support and said it as much, both at Delhi and Hyderabad. A couple of months later, Asaduddin’s younger brother Akbaruddin Owaisi was involved in one of the famous anti-Hindu hate speeches in recent times - his lines have been subsequently been immortalised on TV cameras and talk shows.

Just while Hyderabad was smouldering in this rash of communal disharmony, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde came up with his own spin on saffron terror – now he appears to be trying to backtrack – adding to the war of words. In such a charged political atmosphere, it was only a question of time before someone pulled the trigger – and that is precisely what appears to have happened in Hyderabad.

In competitive communal politics, it is often difficult to say `who started it’ but there is little doubt that both feed on each other. Communal mobilisation is based on arousing age old mythical fears, misplaced bravado and a sense of alienation that could be more economic than political.

Equally relevant to ask is the following: if Owaisi can be arrested for hate speeches, why not Praveen Togadia, after all both of them stand accused of the same crime? There is logic in the argument that national security concerns have be delinked from electoral considerations. Unfortunately in a large country with only a few – if any – pan-Indian leaders, the idea of what a modern India should be, is getting distorted. Security agencies, stressed and pulled apart at the seams as they are, can only offer some kind of prevention, but they are by no means the cure. If politicians of all hues continue to rock the boat with trying to mobilise supporters only on ethnic lines, then serious trouble lies ahead. Hyderabad is just the latest example of this mocktail.


(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Sunday Indian)
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017