Double Standards are dangerous to the national fabric

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If Nupur Sharma’s case shows one thing it is this: We are living in a partisan environment where all are equal but some are more than equal. The law applies differentially to the supporters and opponents of the regime. And Nupur Sharma is not one case: there is a pattern of immunity to supporters and imprisonment for opponents. First of all, FIRs are not filed against supporters, no matter how provocative, malicious and abusive their statements are. When they are filed, it is done for the sake of filing, and not for action.

Where mobs of the regime’s supporters carry out violent attacks on its opponents, cases are filed but mostly against ‘unknown persons’. What happened to the BJP leader Kapil Mishra? During the anti-CAA protests in February 2020 he gave highly toxic speeches against protesters and threatened to take the law into his own hands. “Three days ultimatum to Delhi police—clear the roads, after that, we won’t listen to you,” he said publicly. What happened to Union Minister Anurag Thakur who made the crowd in a rally chant, “Desh ke gaddaron ko/ Goli maro saalon ko” (How to deal with traitors?/Put them to death!)? What happened to the members of the masked mob who stormed the hostels of the Jawaharlal Nehru University two and a half years ago and assaulted and wounded a number of students critical of the regime? On the other side, the Home Minister orders with alacrity the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the murders of Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor in Udaipur, Rajasthan and of Umesh Kolhe, a chemist in Amravati in Maharashtra, allegedly for their endorsement on social media of Nupur Sharma’s derogatory statement regarding the Prophet Muhammad.

Now, the nation is one with the HM for ordering the NIA probe. What the killers did to the two was barbaric. They must be awarded maximum punishment. But what is worrisome are the double standards. The same authorities, which ordered the NIA investigation into the two killings, do not order any such swift action against Nupur Sharma, whose utterances were the primary cause of the brutal acts. On the contrary, the Delhi police uses all the tricks in the trade to ensure that no harm is done to her. It files a case against her to help her go to the Supreme Court with a petition for the clubbing of all state FIRs lodged against her with the Delhi police FIR. Now that the Supreme Court has rejected her petition, the Delhi police may take recourse to other ruses to safeguard her, as it allegedly did in the cases of Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and the masked JNU attackers. Recall how it went out of the way to protrect Delhi BJP leader TPS Bagga from the custody of a police team from Punjab.

This is a very dangerous game. By applying double standards to supporters and opponents for crimes of similar or worse nature, the authorities create a climate in which the supporters have acquired the boldness and brazenness to say or do anything and get away with it. The authorities do not realise that by decreeing immunity for Hindus and imprisonment for Muslims, they are making Muslims feel that they and their defenders in the media and the civil society are being targeted by the law, while the culprits on the other side remain untouched. For the past few days, the spokesmen of the powers that be and the media that panders to them have been doing nothing but talking about the Udaipur killing (and not about Nupur Sharma)—showing provocative visuals and trying to prove that the saying, “Gustakh-e-Nabi ki ek saza/ Sar tan se juda (Insult the Prophet/ Lose your neck)” is a law of Islam that is blindly followed by all Muslims. This, despite the fact that Muslim voices, religious as well as political, have denounced the killings. If you keep harping upon the killings on TV, your motive becomes clear: you are not denouncing the killings but running a campaign to blacken the face of the entire Muslim community. You are trying to fill gullible and vulnerable Hindu minds with the notion that all Muslims are nothing but bloodthirsty terrorists. The danger that flows from such skewed law and propaganda is that Muslims at large will feel more and more alienated. And deeper alienation and hatred for each other will only create fertile ground for the growth of extremist ideologies in the community. Will that be good for the nation?

 

 

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