I was walking on the road last week when I noticed something unusual, at least to me. A young boy, not more than 8 years old, had a religious flag attached to his cycle and was walking with his friend. He was shouting something along with the group he was walking with. It was Hanuman Jayanti and it was celebrated all through Hyderabad with men on motorbikes and cars running amok shouting at the top of their heads. Well, it is not something uncommon. Muslims do the same thing too on certain days. Anyway, what struck me was the fact that a little boy was dragged into the affair. That young innocent boy will probably grow up learning to hate other religions if he lives among fundamentalists who like to celebrate with such audacity. Muslim or Hindu or any other religion, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that even children are not left out of right-wing organizations. I remember that as a child it is very easy to sway to one side easily, believing only what we see. Children learn to hate or love soon. And if the children of our city, state and nation are learning to go along with fundamentalists who teach them to breed hatred against other communities, I can only imagine what’s going to happen in the future.
I don’t think any religion preaches violence. Every religion preaches harmony and tolerance towards other religions. So what drives such people to take such provocative stances against other religions? It’s surely not their religion which asks them to act that way; perhaps in religion they try to find a way to cause disturbances and breed hatred. Whatever it is, it’s not something that people want. We call ourselves citizens of a secular nation and then we watch communities clash on the basis of religion. I think considering what is established in our constitution, we live in a paradox where people of certain religions feel restrained. The term ‘religious tolerance’ is negative in itself. Why should we be ‘tolerant’? Peace, harmony, those are the words that need to be in effect. People get swayed by religion easily, often getting irked by the slightest provocation. Citizens need to wake up and grasp the fact that religions are made to clash to cause communal disharmony by anti-social elements. When the time comes, they will not hold back even from harming people from their side.
Having witnessed religious aggression and violence myself since I was young, I can vouch for the fact that the everyday citizen has no hatred whatsoever when it comes to other religions. I have seen Hindus celebrating Eid with Muslims and vice versa. And who doesn’t love Christmas? So the question is why does communal violence always recur? The aggressive fundamentalists who look to cause breed communal hatred have no side, they are on the side of hate; hate against peace. Such ruckus creators can be found everywhere. As a student of Osmania University, I have watched violence eschew between two sides time and time again. Most of the times, it is all politically instigated. Why will ordinary people or students want to waste their time and indulge in the pleasure of clashes? As citizens, all of us must act responsibly and understand the fact that any sort of act that violates any religion, must be dealt with calm and perpetrators must be taken to task, instead of people fighting it out on the streets like barbarians.
The question I’ve frequently asked people and myself often is not ‘Why we fight?’, but ‘Who makes us fight?’. Till that question is answered and understood; that more or less everything is politically linked to gain mileage, and people must not react harshly to such gimmicks instigated by certain groups. In fact we must identify the culprits, publicly humiliate them and trace their backgrounds. That is just one way, but, the point is culprits should not be allowed to walk scot-free. Gone are the days when people from different communities didn’t mix with others, today members of all communities live together in society and walk hand over shoulder forgetting boundaries. This is what probably irks religious zealots who can’t tolerate the amicable environment and look to create hostile ones entrenched in hatred. So let us wake up and fight back, and uphold the secular nature of society.