By Ananya S Guha
The brutal killing of Ankit Saxena brings to the fore certain rather intriguing questions about Indian society that we have to face. Did the father of the girl he loved kill him because he was a Hindu? Or did the father object to the match because he thought it was inappropriate that they get involved (too young, not a good match, not from a ‘good’ background, etc.)? Of course, we have already jumped to the conclusion that Ankit’s murder was a result of Hindu-Muslim rift. The issue has been reduced to the gulf that exists between these two communities. The young man did not give a thought to it nor did the girl. But we do. We are convinced about the reason why Ankit was killed.
Meanwhile, there will be more hatred: an eye for an eye. Why are ‘ordinary’ things like love going awry in India? It does not happen because of one incident. The genesis for such incidents lies in the past as we have seen in the cases of lynching over cow, love jihad, etc. And with each incident, the divide becomes wider, the wounds cut deeper. And such wounds morph into hatred, even murder. The context leads to a bizarre text, where sheer hatred is the protagonist.
In the case of Ankit’s murder, caution is advocated by no less than Ankit’s father. The hatred, however, is being sowed deeper and deeper. The chasm is becoming wider. But the formula for hatred necessitated by political expediency is clear. The writing is on the wall: hatred for the other. But no one is interested to find out the reason, to examine the country’s checkered history since Independence or before. Within India, different nations exist. Such diversity is the soul of the country. And if the soul is hurt, the body will wince, the body will rebel, and the body will retrograde.
Poor Ankit did not understand that he fell in love with the ‘wrong’ person, a Muslim. His was the text, not the context. Trapped in this vicious cycle of history and present developments, it is only innocent people, the bulwark of the country, who are mauled and murdered. An entire community suffers because of it. It is a long chain of opprobrium, hatred, and surrender. The ordinary people suffer because of such mindless, hateful violence. But the backlash comes from the people who can be exploited – the unemployed – by the people masquerading as leaders. Even love has been anatomized in the most bizarre and brutal manner. Inter-faith marriages have been dubbed as ‘love jihad’. Before Ankit, Afrajul was killed on the pretext of ‘love jihad’. Things concocted to produce hatred become reality, a reality purged of truth. This then becomes the pretext for murder. And this slow poison of hatred gnaws at the innards of an otherwise organic society.
It is in this context that Ankit Saxena’s brutal murder has to be viewed. The cause again was love, an antidote to jihad. The perpetrator thought that his daughter and her lover were perversely deviant. Ankit loved wrongly and had to pay the price.
Underneath the apparent order, our society has become so fractious and hateful that neighbors cannot tolerate each other. Walls have been built and our prismatic chains tether us to the worst kind of malice. Otherwise how can such an insane murder take place in broad daylight?
Ankit’s father is a symbol of tolerance, despite his personal tragedy. We have to now reinforce things beyond religion, caste, and community. We have to reappraise and readmit love. We have to perceive individuals as individuals. If political expediency transcends everything else, what is left of the country? If religiosity trumps everything else, how could we rescue our essential humanity? Where are our ancient virtues that we proclaim again and again? Can wrongs be answered only by wrongs?
For once and all, the context of such hateful acts must be reorganized and dismantled. For once, we must realize our fundamental values, which consist of societal good, well-being, and decent living. Instead of basic necessities of life, we have been made to believe that religion is the most important source of value in society. The common good has been misrepresented. The common good lies in imagining a diverse society striving for unity. Victims like Ankit, young as they are, have fallen prey to the vicious deceits and lies of a polity, which has a long history of distrust and suspicion. India’s long civilizational past, which has experienced pilfering, destruction as well as absorption, cultural mutation should be our source of inspiration for a shared living.
And we have to abide by this cultural osmosis if we are to endure as a nation.
Ananya S Guha is Regional Director, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Shillong.
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