By Rajdeep Sardesai
The pseudo-patriots are at it again. Having behaved disgracefully after the Dadri murder -- witness the statements made by leaders that either played down the incident or deliberately stoked hatred -- they have now found their voice again. The killing of a Bajrang Dal activist in Moodbidri in Karnataka has sparked off the charge of 'selective outrage' once again: why hasn't the media covered Moodbidri with the same intensity as Dadri we are asked.
Well, I'll tell you why. In the first instance, any killing is condemnable. But when we seek to compare two instances without even bothering to examine the political context, we are entering dangerous territory. Prashant Poojary was a Bajrang Dal activist in Moodbidri. The Bajrang Dal has self-admittedly used violence as a weapon against minorities (don't believe me, meet Babu Bajrangi in Gujarat or listen to him in a Tehelka expose). Poojary has been allegedly involved in cases of intimidation and violence in the region. He was fighting the 'beef Mafia' as part of the anti cow slaughter agitation. He didn't deserve to die under any circumstance but there is a political context to his death as there would be in Bengal when Trinamool workers clash with CPI M. He was part of a 'political war' between the Bajrang Dal and minority group outfits, some of them with criminal links. Can his killing be compared to Mohammed Akhlaq, an innocent householder whose only 'crime' was that he was the victim of a 'rumour' that he had stored beef and belonged to a particular religion. Naturally, the outrage over a hate crime will be and must be greater in his case (I will concede that Dadri is closer to most 'national' TV studios, and if it had happened at a distant spot, it might have attracted lesser attention)
And yet, we will continue to compare the killings because it suits certain political agendas to do so. It's a classic case of 'my' Moodbidri versus 'your' Dadri as it has been of 1984 versus 2002 riots. Such comparisons reduce violence to a zero sum game, human life becomes a statistic and religion an instrument in the pursuit of hate politics. When no other excuse remains, the so-called liberal media is accused of being anti Hindu.
This ludicrous persecution complex of those pseudo patriot Hindus who call themselves 'nationalists' must end. Their spurious 'nationalism' is based on hatred of the Mussalman and little else: it is an excuse to build a majoritarian India just as Islamic groups seek to use 'jehadi terror' as a weapon of religious domination. The Bajrang Dal believes in violence as a response to the 'threat' posed by minorities. How different is it then from Islamic groups that espouse terror as an act of 'revenge'? And are we now going to make cow slaughter the latest weapon in a campaign of terror against minorities? As a Pakistan does with blasphemy laws against their minorities?
The only real answer then is to keep the law above the Hindu-Muslim identity question and focus on citizenship. The killers of Akhlaq and Poojary must receive the severest possible punishment under the law. Nothing else matters. This attempt to create a moral equivalence between two killings is unfortunate; the targeting of the media and trying to create a false construct of Hindu 'victimhood' is misplaced. Liberal bashing is now a cottage industry for some who believe they now have a political mandate to crush all dissent. This isn't about Dadri versus Moodbidri; it's about creating a society that is tolerant, plural, but most importantly, respects the rule of law and treats all equally before it.
This first appeared on Rajdeep Sardesai's blog.