The debate over increasing intolerance in the country continues unabated and becomes more heated. As the days pass by new angles are added. The latest is the storm raised over superstar Shah Rukh Khan joining the voices that say that the intolerance is on the rise.
Speaking with a TV channel on his 50th birthday he said, “There is intolerance, there is extreme intolerance. It is stupid to be intolerant and this is our biggest issue. Religious intolerance and not being secular in this country is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot.”
He also said India,”will never be a superpower if we are not going to believe that all religions are equal” and added that he respected the people who have returned awards in protest.
He is not alone what he has said. He is one among the host of writers, historians, scientists, film personalities, economists and businessmen who have expressed their concerns over the deteriorating communal and social harmony that is leading to murders and lynching of people. They include RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy and Chairman of Biocon Kiran Mazumdar Shaw. Many of these conscientious eminent personalities have returned their awards as a mark of protest over government inaction to check the country’s slide into darkness.
These protesters believe in what Maulana Abul Kalam Azad said in a speech in 1942. Maulana Azad, one of the frontline personalities in the movement for freedom of India from colonial rule, said, “Our common life of over a thousand years had shaped a united nationalism. Such moulds cannot be ordinarily fabricated. The secret hands of Nature have shaped them automatically in the course of centuries. The die has been cast and destiny has set her seal upon it.”
The makers of the constitution of India have endorsed what Maulana and numerous others have said during freedom struggle and incorporated its spirit in the statute which is the most sacred document in the governance of the country. But the country also have such people who show disregard to the constitution and say and do things that scare the people. Unfortunately, there are also those who remain silent when sections of the constitution are violated.
The leaders of Sangh Parivar have singled Shah Rukh Khan from a long list of protesters. The reason is obvious. The Parivar mindset about Muslims could be seen from a recent statement of Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (independent charge) of Culture. Said he, Abdul Kalam (late president) was a nationalist “despite being a Muslim.” This line of thinking becomes more virulent in case of Shah Rukh Khan. BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargia said, Khan was ‘anti-national’ and his soul was in ‘Pakistan.’ While taking back his tweet under pressure from his superiors, he said, “If India was ‘intolerant’ then Khan would not be the most popular actor in the nation after Amitabh Bachchan.”
Mahant Yogi Adityanath, BJP Member of Parliament from Gorakhpur since 1996, asked Khan to stop making ‘anti-national’ remarks and said his comments were like Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed. He also said that if Hindus did not watch his movies he would wander on roads like other Muslims. Finally, he said if India was so intolerant he should go to Pakistan.
Earlier, Sadhvi Prachi of Vishwa Hindu Parishad had made similar comments against Shah Rukh Khan.
Adding fuel to the fire, Hafiz Saeed asked Khan to come away to Pakistan because he was being targeted in India for being a Muslim. For Pakistani spy agency ISI and hardcore extremists, Indian Muslims are a fair game in their hatred against India. They do not care if, in the process, the Indian Muslims are dislocated, tortured or killed.
It is unfortunate that even after nearly 70 years of India’s independence, the Muslims are asked time and again by Parivar mindset people to go away to Pakistan. Whether it is BJP Minister at the Centre Mukhtar Abbas Naqwi or Adityanath they have no compunction in making nasty remarks against Muslims for eating beef or using freedom of speech as other Indian citizens.
True, the BJP is not in power in UP where a man was lynched on the rumours that he has eaten beef or murders of those three writers in Karnataka who dared to speak their minds. But these murders have been reportedly carried out by persons associated with Parivar outfits. The Centre is trying to pass the buck by closing its eyes to the fact how much damage such rash of incidents have been causing domestically and internationally. The Dalits and Muslims are disturbed and many of them are feeling insecure. So is a large section of the intelligentsia. The only way this situation could be tackled is by the BJP to take action against its functionaries for making dangerously irresponsible statements and the Central government to demonstrate zero tolerance to growing intolerance.