The Financial Express

Intolerance on the rise

| Updated: October 24, 2017 14:06:22

Evaly and Fianancial Express Evaly and Fianancial Express
Intolerance on the rise
India is sucked into a whirlpool of debate over the comment made by one of its finest actors, Aamir Khan on the raging intolerance in the land of Gandhi, the non-violence guru. So violent is the reaction that even a Shiv Sena leader from Punjunjab has announced a reward of Rs .1.0 million for landing a slap on the face of film Lagaan and TV show Satyamev Jayate-famed actor. He has been branded an anti-nationalist by the rabid Hindu fundamentalists. 
The killing of Dr MM Kalburgi, a renowned Kannada writer-scholar and the Dadri lynching of a family leading to the death of a Muslim for unfounded allegation of killing a cow and eating its meat have exposed India's growing intolerance to expression of different opinions and the right to make a choice of foods. India known for diverse cultures, religions, languages and Ahimsa (non-violence) has never faced a greater threat in modern times from such a tribal mindset. Aaamir spoke of this threat and the resultant despondency many like him experience. 
Asma Jahangir, a leading human rights lawyer-activist and recipient of several national and international awards, is also labelled as a traitor for criticising the Pakistan government for its unacceptable stand on the hanging of Ali Ahsan Mujaheed and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury for their crime against humanity during the liberation war in Bangladesh. She legitimately questioned the importance the two condemned men were given by the government of her country. Her objection to the death sentences handed down by the military court in Pakistan and the death penalty awarded to Pakistanis through 'unfair trials' in Saudi Arabia has not earned her many friends as well. She has been asked to leave Pakistan.
In Bangladesh, too, leading intellectuals, writers and litterateurs have been issued death threats. This is in addition to the killing and attack on a few foreign nationals as well as bloggers or free thinkers. But the sectarian and religious hatred as demonstrated by the attacks on the Tajia procession of the Shiites and their mosque of late indicates a new dimension of intolerance here. Attacks on Buddhist temples, Christian priests and idols in Hindu temples are no less disturbing. The latest lethal attack on Alok Sen, a leader of Hindu-Boudha-Christian Oikya Parishad, in Faridpur makes the matter even more alarming.  
Yet the people in Bangladesh have reasons to consider themselves lucky not to have a government that gives tacit support to the religious zealots. How can a leader of a political outfit, no matter how resplendent (in fact pitch dark) its party hue is, announce in public a reward of Rs .1.0 million for slapping a popular actor and still remain a free man? The majority of the Pakistanis have proved what they are by opposing Bangladesh. But still some rare but bold voices are raised there. Asma Jahangir's father Malik Ghulam Jilani, a civil servant and a politician after retirement, was one such soul and thus imprisoned for his criticism of the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh. He even endorsed the cause of Bangladesh's liberation. Asma will not have many to stand by herself. 
However in India, progressive writers, artists, film makers, scientists and historians have expressed their no-confidence in their government's sincerity to fight intolerance. Many of the high profile recipients of top national awards have returned those in protest. But the Modi government has done little to allay their fear. This is certainly a cause for serious concern. Hopefully the Bangladesh government will continue to employ all its forces to root out the seed of communal hatred and violence.

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