A youth named Sameer Shahpur was killed on 17th January according to reports in various news papers. According to reports there seem to have been a running tension since November 21 when it is alleged there was an altercation between some Hindus and Muslims. There are allegations and counter allegations from both sides. Most of the reports state that there have been multiple attacks or harrasments of Muslim communbity members by some Hindu organizations. Names of RSS, Bajarang Dal and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parshad are mentioned.
None of the reports go into the details of how the whole thing started. The Hindu writes that “Trouble began five days ago in Nargund following an altercation between two groups. Police filed two cases against 75 persons, including some Bajrang Dal members and some Muslim youth who were charged with insulting Lord Ram and Lord Krishna.” So this time is in the name of Lord Ram and Lord Krishna.
The News Minute states that according to the the SP said.“The incident comes after a series of communal altercations in Nargund. Speaking to TNM, the Gadag SP Shiv Prakash Devaraju said that the conflict goes back to November 2021 when one of the accused men was attacked by a group of Muslim men. “This is the third altercation since November. We made arrests in the first case and booked the men under section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC. Though Sameer and Shamsher were present in this altercation, they were not directly involved”.
It is very difficult to find out the actual sequence of events and real trigger. But the increasing animosity, distrust and ill-will between the who communities involved in this incident is clear enough. In such a situation any small incident or altercation between people belonging to two communities can ignite the flame of hate and violence.
Religion invariably comes up either as a trigger or as an explanation. We as a society need to reflect calmly, rationally and impartially on these incidents, and try to find a remedy and soon, before it is too late. Or is it already too late?
We need to think at the least about three issues here. One, how long the killings for saying something or drawing or videos about Mohammad will continue? We should be aware that the attitude of violence or restriction on expressions feigned to be offensive to one’s religion is spreading. It has to be resisted. Recently there was a news that MP Minister has ordered a probe on remarks by a celebrity that “Bhagwan” is taking the size of her bra. One can see that this feigned religious hurt is spreading. Whats wrong in this remark? And whats wrong in posting a video or picture of Mohammad? This is supremacist attitude that is stating clearly that either abide by what my prophet or Bhagwan said or you will be killed or punished. In other words your life in this country is safe only under conditions we state. Completely against freedom of thought and expression.
The second issue I see is the manner such news items are reported in. What the reader comes to know is “offensive remarks”, “offensive picture”, “offensive video” etc. “Offensive” is not a descriptive but evaluative term. It is someone’s, the killer’s and his ilk’s, judgment on an object, that is, on comment, or picture or video. The media actually forces the reader to accept the killer’s judgment by not sharing that supposed to be offensive article. The whole thing becomes a tilted discourse in which those who want to kill freedom of expression through violent means are privileged over common peaceful people. A reader is given no choice but to side by one or the other opinion blindly, without actually knowing the contents of the controversial item. This opaqueness does not allow the society to learn about what is considered offensive by some members of it, and why. It gives free reign to belligerence of this or that group. If the supposed to be offensive material is shared widely there can be a debate in the society regarding the limits of publications. I know there must be some law or protocol about not re-publishing the supposed to be offensive material but that actually works in favor of the belligerent. If the media starts presenting the material for wider public’s judgment the supposed to be offended will hesitate killing or taking other actions because that will make the same object more widely observed or known.
Third, in my reckoning The Hindu is the most objective and fair national news paper. And yet, it states “The murder acquired a communal colour as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other outfits gave a bandh call”. We should think about this kind of remarks, the logic behind them and their impact on the readers. Let’s note that the newspapers itself says that the murder is supposed to be because of remarks posted which are offensive to a particular minority group. The murder is alleged by members of that ‘particular minority group’. The remarks or video was about a person some consider their prophet. All these things make it clear that the whole episode is communal right from its genesis. Then what does the remark that it “acquired a communal colour” as some doings of VHP and other outfits? Was it not communal before these outfits gave a call for bandh? Would it have remained non-communal if these outfits did not give a call for the bandh? What does the newspaper exactly wants to convey? I seems to me it wants to give an impression that it is the VHP and other outfits which are making it a communal issue. The murder itself was non-communal, should we say ‘secular’ as well, though non-communal does not necessarily imply that?
As we say in Hindi “कबूतर के आंख बंद करने से बिल्ली गायब नहीं होती”. Now many new billies are developing their appetite for pigeons emulating an old one’s gains through such practices.
I bumped into this video (Video No.1) on YouTube by chance. The person being interviewed is Harish Sharma, who taught in Digantar. The name of the interviewer is (perhaps) Vikas. I have not met (as far as I remember) Mr. Vikas, and did not know about this video prior to this morning. The video describes pedagogy and organisation of Digantar schools from 5 mins to 45 mins. I was surprised and admired the skill and understanding of the interviewer to elicit information and the articulation of the teacher in responses. This is detailed and authentic description of pedagogy in Digantar schools. I thank Harish ji and Vikas ji for a very good job.
Video No. 2:
The second video (Video No. 2) is a film on Digantar made by Jagjyot Singh. He is a professional film maker and did his job very well in this short documentary.
Both these videos put together give a lot of information about Digantar and its functioning.