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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Inspector Sujata Patil, You Were Anguished, Feeling Helpless But, You're NOT Communal

"Bhool Gaye Woh Ramzan, Bhool Gaye Woh Insaaniyat" Translation: "They've forgotten [the Muslim festival of] Ramzan [Ramadan], They forgotten humanity"


[In response] Arif Naseem Khan, minorities affairs minister: "This is shocking. Its very sad to hear that a police officer is promoting communalism."


[In response] Muslim "Activist" Ameen Mustafa Idrisi: "We want a case of spreading communal hatred registered; if they fail to do so, we will file a PIL"


noun /kəˈmyo͞onlˌizəm/  /ˈkämyənəˌlizm/

Allegiance to one's own ethnic group rather than to the wider society


The first paragraph of this post quotes a line from a poem, penned by a police officer [seen in the picture above, holding a baby she helped deliver while on duty] in Mumbai, in the aftermath of the barbaric Azad Maidan riots that took place on August 11 2012. The rioters, who happened to be Muslims, desecrated the memorial of martyred soldiers, molested women police personnel & carried out arson & violence, destroying property worth Rs. 27.5 million INR, leaving 2 dead in firings believed to have been carried out by the rioters, 76 police personnel injured, all within a span of a few hours. Such had been the ferocity of their assault on the economic capital of India. It was later found, these brainwashed rioters were provoked into carrying out carnage, using doctored visuals & imageries of persecution that largely occurred in a different country. So much for the genuineness of grievance.

The line quoted is highly significant, for it establishes her outlook towards other faiths. Here is a police officer, Hindu by faith, who has equated celebration of a Muslim festival with practises that enforces belief in humanity. It does not take much intelligence to figure out that no individual would say such a thing about a different faith, had he/she been poisoned with communally intolerant feelings. It, unequivocally, establishes her secular credentials. The poet goes on, branding the rioters "traitors",Azad-Maidan-Riots-Police-Victim calling them "snakes". Is it unnatural to consider people 'traitors', who destroy memorials honouring soldiers who laid down their lives for the nation? The vile & poisonous mind-set of individuals who molest & inflict violence on women, isn't it comparable to snake venom?

Yet, no sooner was this poem published, that "activists", which includes one of the Azad Maidan rioters himself [ironies died a million death], pounced on her, branding her "communal" [read: Anti-Muslim], and have gone ahead, demanding filing of criminal charges against her for, believe it or not, inciting religious violence, along with making public their intent to target her by dragging this issue in the court of law. Swayed by the misguided sentiments being promoted among the religious community in question, politicians, as the one quoted above, have joined ranks with their constituents [read: ghettoised vote-banks] in targeting an individual lady government servant. All this "outrage" & call for action against her because Inspector Sujata Patil does not hold rioters, molesters, desecraters & arsonists in high-esteem!

Yes, it is true, she called for perpetrators of the violence to have their hands chopped off, a form of "justice", not uncommonly, meted out in the Islamic 'Kingdom of Saudi Arabia'. However, the justice system in India, rooted in progressive thoughts, has no provisions for such punishments. Under fire for their kid glove, anaemic approach towards confrontation of the marauding rioters, she suggests a more hardline approach, that she, as wont in poetic expressions, paraphrases as 'Khoon Ki Holi'1. "Khoon Ki Holi", incidentally, was exactly how the minority Sunni royal family of Bahrain silenced protestors belonging to the kingdom's majority Shia population, an approach now being replicated in Syria. For all the outrage & carnage Muslim political parties & activists unleashed upon the death of Muslims in Myanmar, not one pipsqueak of protest can be heard from them expressing anguish over on-going genocidal slaughtering of Muslims taking place, incidentally, at the hands of a fellow Muslim. The scale of killings that is taking place in Syria presently, and earlier in Egypt & Bahrain would obliterate the number of dead Muslims & Buddhists put together in the neighbourhood. Yet, we witness a total subservient silence among those who incited these "Muslim outrage" communal violence earlier in India.

Yes, Inspector Sujata Patil is angry - at the assault on the memories of India's guardians, at the assault on womanhood, at the assault on a city that symbolises India's economic prosperity. In her helplessness, plainly apparent in the poem, she responds with hypothetical measures in retribution, currently practiced in Islamic monarchies but, to our greatest relief, foreign to India's law & order machinery. To the extent that she has suggested measures India does not recognise, she is out of line & be proportionately reprimanded through the police forces' internal mechanisms.


A much greater transgression than the one she has committed, however, is the decision, of those in-charge, to approve her poem for publication. One must be more concerned by the display of extremely poor sense of judgement by the officers higher-up, than a low-level grunt who, in her darkest hours, penned down her thoughts clouding her mind at that moment, divorced from propriety. To slip into doubt & dark desires is one of the most fundamental of human traits. The best of us are prone to such failings. Even a Christian Missionary, Mother Teresa, at a point in her life questioned her faith, a feeling she shared with a confidant. However, despite expressing her doubts,she continued to remain engaged in her socially beneficial activities. Point to be highlighted here is that she did not let her personal misgivings influence her public conduct, one for which she is cherished & revered by so many. Could there have been a greater endorsement of her actions than the fact that she won a Nobel Peace Prize for it. Nobody crucified for her thoughts. Inspector Patil has had her moment in darkness, that shouldn't have been made public in the first place. But to use this to launch a witch-hunt against her speaks volumes of the maliciousness of those behind this vendetta campaign.

She has subsequently tendered her apology in writing for this, so as not to let matters be aggravated, however suspect be the merit of the ones "outraging". Anyone familiar the modus operandi of these "activists", can guarantee, therefore, that there would be no let up, till the time the feel they can derive mileage out of her predicament.

It takes a particularly venal mind to twist this issue, conflagrating it into a communal, anti-Muslim contention. If one would have read the poem, in its entirety2, it would be apparent to all that her anguish was directed towards the perpetrators & their misdeeds, independent of their religion. At no point in the poem does she associate their religious belief with their barbarity. On the contrary, as seen from the opening paragraph, she blames the carnage on the the possibility that, perhaps, the rioters have lost their religion. One, therefore, has to be poisoned with an extreme sense of religious bigotry to view her poem in communal light. The rioters, in this case, happened to be Muslims. Her thoughts would have resonated just as much, if the rioters belonged to a different religion. There are no reports, other than desperate attempts to use this one, to suggest that she holds ill-feelings towards religions not her own - as should be amply evident from the first line of this post itself, she respects other religions. Therefore, to try utilise this incident to paint a communal picture, may only point to a maliciously motivated undertaking at, what could be described as attempt to balance equally, the blame for religious intolerance, being sporadically witnessed in India, over the recent past.


In the past couple of weeks, we've witnessed a highly influential leader of a Muslim-focussed political party in India, a college dropout Akbaruddin Owaisi, openly mocking Hindu religion & customs & threatening violence against Hindus, all on camera, at a public rally. The riot, which prompted this poem, was itself carried out by individuals bearing allegiance to Islam, purportedly protesting against the death of Muslims in Myanmar [Burma], in which, incidentally, Buddhists too lost their lives, & death of illegal migrant Bangladeshis in the state of Assam, during their clash with Indian citizens, resenting their presence. In light of these incidences, the poet & her poem have become a convenient, albeit untenable, lightning rod for those with vested & suspect interests, to project an impression of intolerance emanating from individuals of other religions too. Some recent op-eds & columns have also attempted to equate this poem with Owaisi's communally bigoted, hate speech. At this point in the post, it perhaps, needs no more explanation as to why there is absolutely no comparison between the two. Nevertheless, to ensure that the point is driven home: the poem expresses disgust for the perpetrators of the heinous crime wave, independent of their religious beliefs, while Mr. Akbaruddin Owaisi specifically singles out the Hindu religion for denigration.

As unfounded as the allegations of communalism is, in this case, it is critical that all well-meaning, law abiding individuals in India use all the resources available at their disposal to raise their voices against this blatant attempt at manipulating an incident to serve wrongful purposes. In a multi-faith India, that has rightly enshrined the cherished concept of 'Secularism', the toxic nature of communalism poses the single largest threat to its internal cohesion. Therefore, to wrongly brand a person communal is the greatest injustice curse one can inflict on an Indian. The leading lights of India's independence movement envisioned an India where people, irrespective of their religion, would live & prosper in peace & harmony, enjoying the joys and pleasures respective religious customs & traditions bring with them. It is, therefore, not uncommon for Hindus to be seen partaking in delicacies served, post-sunset, in the holy month of Ramadan, or for a Muslim to attend midnight mass on Christmas eve, on invitation of a Christian friend. Examples are innumerable. As for the Hindu festival of Diwali, partaking in this festival of light transcends religious barriers in India. Safeguarding the secular nature of the Indian society hinges on a well-integrated population, which can be enabled by barrier-free celebration of each others customs & cultures & rising up, collectively, to forcefully oppose any denigration or wrongful vilification of individuals or collective entities, in the name of religion.


1 = Holi being a festival of colours & water

2 = easily available online, hence not reproducing it here

Related: NAC's Harsh Mander's link with Pakistan's ISI [Ghulam Nabi Fai "interface"]