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The 'Intolerant' Ghosts Of Godhra

Sutanu Guru argues how all of us are complicit in encouraging intolerance in India

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Fifteen years this day, 59 citizens were roasted and burnt alive inside the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express in Godhra. This barbaric act of brutality triggered even more barbarity as riots broke out in Gujarat and hordes of Hindus in many places deliberately targeted and butchered Muslims. Like it or not, prime minister Narendra Modi will always be associated with what happened 15 years ago.

The year 2002 should have been a wakeup call. But have things improved? Not at all. In fact, things have become worse, far worse. And all of us are responsible for it. Why do I say that? Simply because we Indians now consider what is good or evil depending on what our ideology and whom we detest. What we are now witnessing is competitive hatred and prejudice of the worst kind.

Look at what the ABVP is doing across many campuses across India. Brazenly misusing "nationalism" and "patriotism", it is simply not prepared to hear dissenting voices. All dissenting voices are being branded anti national. The recent fracas and eruption of violence in Ramjas College in Delhi University once again shows how intolerant the ABVP has become. This author is no fan of Umar Khaled, whose presence the ABVP was protesting. But unless he has specifically broken a law, who has given the right and the power to the ABVP to dictate where he can speak or even spew venom against India?

But ABVP cannot be singled out. The so called Leftist organizations are equally if not more intolerant of a thought or person whom they have decreed to be a " Hindutva fascist bigot". They will heckle their own professor Makarand Paranjpe at JNU and not even allow him to speak simply because he refuses to subscribe to their ideology. They will not allow Baba Ramdev entry into the JNU campus. Of course, where they have real muscle power, like in Kerala, they will indiscriminately kill RSS supporters and even their family members.

Far worse than the ABVP and the Leftists are the so called independent intellectuals, academicians and media professionals. One group will try to paper over and even justify the goondaism of many ABVP supporters. The other group will paper over and even justify the goondaism of Leftist goons. If a young girl or an adult woman openly supports Modi, she will be trolled and subjected to the worst kind of sexist abuse, including rape threats. The "liberal" and "feminist" analysts will respond with thundering silence. If a young girl or woman openly opposes Modi, she will be subjected to the same vile treatment. This time the "right" thinkers will keep quiet. The liberal intellectual will almost never call out the hatred and bigotry of Islamists who issue fatwas to behead Tarek Fateh. The right wing intellectual will try and find excuses to justify the violence unleashed by some Sena on film makers.

That's the stark reality of Indian intolerance as we mark 15 years of Godhra. Truly independent thinking has been massacred by our prejudices and ideological blinkers.

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Ranjas College Violence ABVP delhi university jnu Godhara