“I believe 'soft' Hindutva is coming. What happened in Muzaffarnagar should be a warning for all of us,” said veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar here on Thursday at the launch of a book Living Apart on Muzaffarnagar communal riots.
September 8 marks third anniversary of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots that resulted in at least 62 deaths including 52 Muslims and 10 Hindus. The riot has been described as the ‘worst in the recent history of Uttar Pradesh’.
The nonagenarian journalist who was born in Sialkot district of undivided India (now in Pakistan), has written prolifically on the partition, said that the happenings of Muzaffarnagar amounts to a modern day Jalianwallah Bagh. “These are bad times, the question is where we will reach if we tread on the same path?” he asked highlighting the importance of the book Living Apart authored by Harsh Mander with three others that emphasizes the aftermath and forced displacements of the event.
Recalling the partition days Nayar said that the masses are gullible and a mere chingaari (trigger) reconstructs their behaviour towards one another. Around the partition time there was Jinnah who expounded the two nation theory—that changed everything— that made the followers of different sects and religion, who lived in peace and harmony, turn towards each other overnight. The same can be seen in the case of Muzaffarnagar.
“It’s been three years that this communal pogrom took place. It should shake us from within. Our times are gone, it’s time that the young generation should take stock of the situation and introspect about the kind of world we want to live in,” he said.
Nayar also warned of the consequences of such flagrant communal political agendas in a democratic nation. “A country which has secular constitution and ethos should stay beware of this sort of sectarian politics. We—Hindus and Muslims—fought side by side against the colonial British empire and sought liberation from the British for a better tomorrow. Things haven't changed much though. The current situation apalls me. This is not the India we dreamt of and fought for,” he rued.
Recalling an encounter with a young Muslim boy from Jamia who felt very insecure as someone coming from a religious minority, he said that it is the duty of Hindus to make them feel secure. “It’s now the duty of Hindus, the majority community in the country, to retrieve the lost.”