By Ananya S Guha
The death of 16-year-old Junaid was an example of a murder in broad daylight by fanatics targeting a minority population. This has become the order of the day, especially after the BJP came to power and started gaining ascendancy in some states, the latest being Uttar Pradesh. In fact, this is happening for the last three years against Muslims, Dalits, and Christians. The killing of Junaid is a continuation of this series of concerted attacks against minorities. The murder of Mohammed Akhlaq was another incident in which his supposed beef eating was made a political capital.
If we believe that politicians are behind such incidents, then it is necessary to examine how and to what extent politics and life are interwoven in India. If again, it is a mad rush of hatred against the ‘other’, then such brazen killings are done, because the perpetrators know that there is some support somewhere. The ‘Not In My Name’ protest held spontaneously in the country on 28th June 2017 is not a rhetorical stance, but a plea for sanity, in a land where people are becoming insane, stripped of logic, and looking out for faces and habits of people not their ‘own’. That this difference is spilling blood and spouting the worst kind of diatribes again minority communities is also the hallmark of a nation in benighted regress and wallowing in darkness. Mob violence and lynching directed against particular minority groups are a common phenomena today, perhaps as never before.
What has gone wrong? Was it always there? Has this murderous lynch mentality resurfaced because of a friendly political dispensation at the centre? Or is it inversion of history? We are no longer the infidels; they called us so once upon a time. They are the infidels now. So in this interplay of ‘us’ and ‘them’, the other has been entangled in a furious web of malice. But then, could this lead to killings? Yes, when it is mob lynching. But mobs constitute each individual, and such individuals find time to gather and connect, which shows that their feelings of hatred for someone are in sync with one another. What is really dangerous is the instinctive presupposition that we hate ‘them’ and must lynch them.
The ‘Not In My Name’ protest must be seen as an attempt to transcend barriers of caste, religion or race. If the teeming millions of India can come together without a name, then there is a possibility that the monolithic India will give way to that of quintessence. To put it in another way, the anonymity embodied in the movement rejects division between ‘us’ and ‘them’. The ‘us’ signifies the composite reality of a country despite cultural diversity. This is the Indian ethos, which challenges a monolithic structure bent on confounding history, myth, and religion.
Caste, class, and religious obnoxiousness are working in devilish ways in India as never before. The animosity towards the working class, the ‘un-religious’ and Dalits, are sure signs of a regressive atavistic society. ‘Not In My Name’ will or should obliterate all these, because the markers of name are doing or undoing all rights. The name tag is a dismal admission of divisiveness among the votaries of misplaced power and bellicosity.
The lynching is done in someone’s name and on someone, who has a different name: a Muslim or a Dailit. The power of #NotInMyName lies in its anonymity.
Ananya S Guha is Regional Director, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Shillong.
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