Shameful religious extremism on the rise…



Over some time, I’ve been pondering over some disturbing trends that are evolving in the Indian society. These trends are so very hazardous that if they are left to themselves, then they are potent enough to completely destroy the secular and democratic fabric of our society. The bigger concern is that both the government and the civil society (the elite) are so engrossed in themselves, that they seem to be purposefully overlooking this problem. They are least bothered as these developments nowhere affect them directly. And this conspiracy of silence from all quarters is what is so very bothersome, and is giving leeway to the ones who stand to challenge every aspect of our democratic setup, at will! For they know that there is nothing that can contain them, and in the given environment, they are increasingly becoming more conspicuous with their acts. My concerns are with respect to religious extremism and its most dangerous manifestation in the form of collective vandalism. Unfortunately, with active media attention on them, and in the absence of any control mechanism, extremist organisations and institutions have become more audacious, and their acts have taken up monumental proportions. The greater the damage, the bigger is their recognition!!

Let me start with a couple of recent acts of collective vandalism. Recently, it was reported that a dozen miscreants vandalised some seven of MF Hussain’s paintings in a recently held exhibition at Constitution Club at Rafi Marg, New Delhi (in fact, at the heart of Delhi). The exhibition was a three-day affair, a silent protest for not including the master’s paintings in the recently held India Art Summit at Pragati Maidan. What is startling is the fact that these miscreants carried out their vandalism in the heart of Delhi, in broad daylight and that too, in front of people who had come to visit and appreciate the collection. Hussain has been in exile for quite sometime now, for some of his own creations had hurt the sentiments of Hindus.

So the myriad Hindu extremist organisations have not only made it a point of keeping Hussain out of his own nation, but also have left no stone unturned to destroy his paintings at will. Another incidence that caught my attention was the manner in which some miscreants vandalised a Christian orphanage in Orissa. Though it is not the first time that something like this is happening in the state, yet, it seems the magnitude of the damage is rising by the day. On account of the killing of a senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader, along with four other members, activists of various Hindu organisations not only burnt the orphanage, killing a woman and injuring the priest, but also held the entire state to ransom!

Both these recent incidents, along with a plethora of others at disturbingly regular intervals, confirm the fact that collective vandalism is not only on the rise but it has even dared to show its ugly face in the very heart of the capital of India – Delhi. I can only say two things. First, with the Congress government in power, the least one expects is very strong and immediate steps that completely deter the rise of such vandalism. And second, in the recent past, we saw the judiciary quite overactive in many instances – this then, at least, is one genuine cause that requires some judicial activism with very strong verdicts and clear directives that such things would not be tolerated or taken lightly in India. After all, the fact is that behind all these kinds of vandalism is the unwitting support of the judiciary for a criminal system – because when the judiciary becomes as dysfunctional as it is in India due to the snail-paced process of justice, criminals and vandals rule the roost, for they know there is no one who might eventually catch up!

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