(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
The first of 36 Rafale jets of the first batch was acquired on Tuesday. It was a seminal day, not just because India acquired a massive defence shield but also since it coincided with Vijaydashmi or Dusshera, the day which Indians have celebrated as the win of Good over Evil for centuries now.
Somehow, matters which warm the hearts of millions of Indians causes heart-burn amongst a few who are well-identified now. “The Hindu” mocked the celebrations with “Wait-Its-Due-Only-Next-Year” front page headline; the (Rajdeep) Sardesais and Ghoses (Sagarika) and Dutts (Barkha) were silent as if in a funeral and so were the Gandhis: Priyanka is showing off her Hindi skills on twitter and Rahul Gandhi, well, he is heard less these days than even his brother-in-law. Yet, one of Congress’ leaders, Sandeep Dikshit, couldn’t hold back and reflected the grumpiness of this brigade: “Why link the acquisition (Rafale) in a religious context,” he contended.
Dikshit was upset that defence minister Rajnath Singh had done a “shastra puja” of Rafale which involved putting lemons in front of its wheels, placing a coconut on its nose and drawing an “Om” on its side cheek. In Dikshit’s book, it was a religious assertion, an assertion of Hindutva, and a “secular” state indulging in communalism. (Err, Mr Dikshit, your thoughts on the then prime minister Manmohan Singh, choosing the day of Sonia Gandhi’s birthday–December 9, 2006—to declare that Muslims have the first right on the resources of the country. Was it secular?).
Understandably, it found echo amongst the young and impressionable. So here it is, an attempt for rationale to prevail over outbursts:
“Shastra Puja” is a routine marker with our armed forces on new inductions of weaponry. It happened when MiGs, Jaguars, Tejas, practically every new addition, was made to the Indian Air Force. Every ship which slides off keels is always launched with coconut-breaking ceremony. Even the Supreme Court has said that “Shastra Puja” doesn’t impinge on secularism.
The induction of Rafale happened on the 87th anniversary of Indian Air Force. “Vijaydashmi” might’ve been coincidental and not necessarily the reason for choice of date.
It’s a flawed approach to view “shastra puja” as an assertion of Hindu identity. As it would be to view the reading of “kalma”as Islamic when Tejas was inducted on July 2, 2016. When soldiers are greeted with garlands and tilak on return to their villages, is it communal? Besides, placing of lemons in front of tyres, applying “Om” on its steering and breaking a coconut in front of the vehicle are common actions millions of us do before a newly bought vehicle reaches home.
But trust our spoilsports to keep taking the matter to absurd lengths. A twitterati argued thus: “But buying a car and doing all this is personal. Whereas in Rafale was an act by the ruling government. Don’t they know that India is secular and state and religion must not cross each other’s path?”
First thing first. India wasn’t a secular state to begin with. This happened when our Constitution was arbitrarily changed by a chaffed Indira Gandhi during the Emergency without the consent of the lawmakers of the Parliament. There are various articles in the Constitution—like freedom of propagation of own faith for monotheist religions like Islam and Christianity—which can’t be termed secular.
Now, if the Indian state indeed is “secular”why does it interfere and control Hindu temples? As writer and scientist Anand Ranganathan points out : Governments of five southern states control 90,700 temples; TN Temple Trusts own 478,000 acres of land. Tamil Nadu state government alone controls 36,425 mutts: It gives them billions of rupees. By a rough estimate, the total revenue earned from temples by state government till now would be somewhere between Rs 10-15 lakh crores.
Is this secularism? That Tamil Nadu government has a temple in its logo is secular? If you want religion should be out of bounds for the State then the State should also keep out of religion.
Famous Indologist David Frawley has posted a YouTube video where the “war-cry” of various battalions are mentioned. For Gorkha Rifles it’s “Jai Maa Kaali.” Rajput Regiment exhort with “Bol Bajrangbali ki Jai”; Rajputana Rifles with “Raja Ram Chandra Ki Jai.” For Dogra regiment, the full-throated call of “Jwala Mata Ki Jai” is the motivator; Jammu & Kashmir infantry enjoin with “Durga Mata Ki Jai.” So it is with Naga regiment (Jai Durga Naga); Bihar regiment (Jai Bajrang bali) and Kumaon regiment (Kalika Mata Ki Jai). Yet these traditions would be communal in the eyes of pseudo-seculars.
On a different note, the in-your-face “Shastra Puja” hasn’t gone unnoticed to the discerners. A confident Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is no longer embarrassed in asserting the cultural identity of the nation. And to hell with those who portray it as tyranny of the majority, communal Hindutva and minority-in-crisis narrative.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
So, nobody threw the skullcap. Nobody taunted Mohammad Barkat Alam in Gurugram for being a Muslim. Nobody asked him to chant “Jai Shri Ram.”
Don’t take my word for it. Nor of the police. You haven’t seen CCTV footage too. But at least believe Alam on whose behalf Lutyens Media reserved headlines as big as they would if World War III has broken out.
Alam, in his FIR, doesn’t say that his skull cap was thrown on the street. He doesn’t complain that he was asked to chant “Jai Shri Ram.” Lutyens Media had quoted Alam that two people, and four on motorcycles, had cornered him. CCTV footage shows only one person. The entire incident is of 1.30-2 minutes.
There is such daylight between what media reported Alam to have said and what he actually reported in his FIR that police has no doubt “somebody tutored him (Alam).” Police is emphatic: “It’s not a communal incident.”
In short, IT WAS A HOAX.
But google search Barkat Alam. You would only find headlines of Barkat Alam and his skullcap, how Gautam Gambhir is indignant at this communal attack. Ask your friends, relatives any common man. All of them would froth at the injustice to Barkat Alam, only because he was a Muslim.
This is not a one-off incident. Swati Goel Sharma of Swarajyamag has compiled a twitter thread on hoax hate-crimes against Muslims reported in Lutyens Media. These are the crimes where Muslims have raised the bogey of victimhood and Lutyens Media have spun a yarn.
But lo and behold: the nation stops. Sardesais and Shekhars grid up the lions. Sagarikas and Barkhas have their lipsticks smudged due to mouthfuls. Rahul Gandhis and Arvind Kejriwals are never far off. Cameras whir; mikes glisten in sun and celebrities are on the street with placards (The picture in this article is of Shabana Azmi and hers “Not In My Name” on the tragic death of Junaid–but not on beef narrative that Liberals had run away with).
Like Barkat Alam, there is Misbah Qadri, a Muslim woman in Mumbai. After BJP came to power in 2014, Qadri claimed she was being forced to leave her rental flat by a property broker. The broker went underground, fearing for his life.
Soon the facts emerged. Qadri wasn’t vacating her rented house. Property-broker had filed a case against her a month before Qadri whipped her narrative. The very building housed several Muslims and none had a complaint against the property-broker. The police concluded there was no evidence in support of Qadri.
The fallout? None. Lutyens Media behaved as if nothing had happened. No sorry for a hoax story, no apology to the broker who could’ve been killed. The hate-Muslim narrative is too nourishing for a few, you see.
Then there is this 22-year-old Umam Khanam, a law student in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. She had taken the social media by storm in narrating her ordeal: how she was molested by fellow students in a bus for being a Muslim, for not wearing a “Lotus” cap. She blamed her teachers for allowing students to get away with vulgarity and lewd comments. You would remember the indignation amongst our liberals. Indeed, everyone, including you and me, was offended. Saffron and lotus had another brush with the “outcast” syndrome. The heavens fell.
Then the facts emerged. It was again a Muslim-hate-crime hoax. Nothing supported Khanam’s claims. When the Muslim-girl was asked to show up for an internal inquiry committee, she skipped it. Most students gave written statements calling out her lies. Indeed, investigations revealed that she was a rabid Muslim zealot and hated BJP. Her social media posts corroborated her profile: hatred for “bhakts” to the extent she wished death for them. Her tweets wished for the lynching of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She asked BJP supporters to go and dring “gau mutra” (cow-urine).
Nobody approves of hate crimes. The perpetrators must pay for such crimes. But equally criminal is to make a distinction between Muslim and Hindu victims. See crime from the communal lenses. Every day an incident or two happens in a nation of 1.3 billion people. Sometimes Hindus suffer, sometimes Muslims. But it ought not to be a pretext to cook up hate-Muslim crimes. Western media is ever-ready to make a meal out of it. To show Hindus are rabid. Minority is in danger in India. India is back to Dark AGes. The India of Nehru is over. But when the lie is called out, all guns fall silent. Lutyens Media move on to next hate-Muslim crime-hoax as if nothing happened. No course-correction, no apology, NOTHING.
As an aside, check the tweets of Lutyens Media and its’ crusaders if they have reacted to the assault on “Freedom of Press” in Karnataka where an editor is facing jail for doing a story on Gowdas. Do imagine if it was a BJP government and not of Congress-JD(S).
(P.S: Again, do read to the admirable thread of Swati Goel Sharma. Such are journalists who are the real “chowkidars” of India).