The previous post on Hajra and her community attracted a lot of adverse comments. At the moment there are a total of 57 comments on Mutiny.IN and some more on this blog. It is sad to note that when a clear case of victimization of innocent people is reported most readers are more interested in commenting upon the finer nitty-gritties of my reporting style, my journalistic ethics, the larger issue of the country’s reputation and all other shit. None of these big talkers are even interested in offering a note of sympathy for Hajra let alone a solution or help. They almost make it look like Hajra’s uprooted and trampled over life is merely a piece of fiction.

Nonetheless, I am trying to address the 3 main accusations against me in this post. This actually is one my comment on the ongoing comment thread on Mutiny. It’s self explanatory.

@Swati, BR, Sanjay on ‘inaccurate reporting of the matter’

There is no retraction. I still maintain that it was / is easy to victimize a bunch of Begnali speaking Indian if they are Muslims by falsely labeling them as Bangladeshis than to target and victimize a bunch of Hindu Bengalis. And I make that statement as both generic as well as specific one.

[Addressing @BR at this point, and thanks for the relevant facts]

The statement is generic because it is very well known that there has been plenty of Bengali speaking Muslims who have been victimized in Mumbai and Delhi in the recent times, some of who were genuinely illegal immigrants and some were just Muslim Indians from the state of west Bengal. Point to be noted here is that the only identifying factor that leads to a faulty assumption that a certain Bengali speaking person might be Bangladeshi is his / her religion. It’s easy to label one as illegal if one is a Muslim. That’s a general situation.

So even assuming this particular case isn’t a case of targeting people merely based on their religion there is still no reason to get all perturbed at such a suggestion pretending as if people never heard of any such thing. I don’t think anybody is so naive here.

In this specific case, as BR has furnished more facts, we see that this Pawan Lathi had an ulterior motive of bullying these workers and making some easy money, which when didn’t get served, he thought of a scheme to throw these people away. Now the real motive is one thing. But this motive wouldn’t work much when it comes to implementing the scheme. To implement the scheme it’s important that Lathi remains in the good books of public while these people, Hajra and other’s, are portrayed as villains, that they don’t get any help / sympathy from the educated babus that they work for, that they themselves are scared to go to the police station, that young guys are easily motivated to beat them up without much questioning etc. Now we don’t know if this Pawan Lathi secretly used religion to achieve these purposes. We can’t tell.

As I said before it was important for me to report the incident, but to find out the exact truth is the job of police. I also mentioned very clearly that I don’t exactly know what has happened but the one thing that I am sure of is [and I quote myself] “these people’s right to move anywhere within the country and pursue any occupation has been infringed”.

I don’t see how mentioning their religion was mis-reporting as long as I didn’t claim that everything I wrote were proven facts. I only reported what I heard first hand from the victim 2 days back. It’s a different thing that the victim after feeling a little better health wise, is now being able to furnish more details on the issue, something she didn’t do earlier. It also is a possibility that the victim is scared to speak the more bitter truth. We can’t be sure.

It was the admitted missing information in the report that led BR to do deeper fact finding and that’s the way we collectively find the truth.

So its not right for BR and others to say that I should have gathered more information before writing. Everyday each one of us come across 100s of issues but we don’t even bother to pause for a moment to think, talk, read or write about them. I did. If BR was more close to this incident and had better information, he/she could have done the correct reporting before me but that didn’t happen. Goes to show BR had more important things to do.

@Swati on whether it’s a ‘law and order’ issue or ‘religious issue’.

It’s both. But primarily law and order. I already explained why their religion was mentioned in the post. But when I saw that people here are missing the main point and are needlessly spreading more hatred for each other I tried to change the course of the comments by asking everybody to hypothetically assume they were all Hindus and then think of a solution. Of course why would anybody be interested in having peace. So the rhetoric continued.

@Sanjay on his argument why write about this incident and not others:

There are billions of issues in this world. I don’t write about any of them. I wrote about this because I am in direct contact with these people. Its as simple. It’s like an incident happening in my own family. So far I have only seen patriotic peace loving Muslims, the day I would be directly affected by some Muslim fanatic’s atrocities I would write about that too.

@BR, MM and other Right winged people:

For some reason whenever I and others talk about secularism you people start giving long speeches on the 5000 years long history of India and how much you love your nation and how it is the great land of inherent tolerance. Do you people think that being secular means we don’t love this nation as much as you do? Do you people think that we are not proud of our ‘5000 years long history’? You are very wrong if that’s the way you think.

Let me tell you – there is no denial that organised religion has an agenda of conversion, no denial that irrespective of the correct interpretation of their religious scriptures, their general propaganda is to the effect that only their God is the real God and all other God’s are fake etc. No denial that we Indians have a great history to be proud of and preserved. It is also true that if today I am talking about being secular that’s because I was born a Hindu and my religion never imposed anything on me, I wasn’t brainwashed, I had a free mind to think and declare myself as secular atheist etc. Secularism as a concept could only be born in India because of the inherent tolerance.

So far I am with you (Right winged activists). But my clash with you starts when you in your attempt to safeguard Hinduism adhere to exactly the same means that the organised religions adheres to.

Your very approach to save Hinduism is against the inherent tenets of Hinduism. India wouldn’t be the same unique India if you take away the secular nature of the state and turn it into a Hindu Rashtra. Today, there is no other place in this world that I would rather be, if I had to be born a 100 times I would want to be born as an Indian and as a Hindu. But the day you make it a Hindu Rashtra there would be no difference between this country and any other country where people are ruled by religious fundamentalism. The day Hindu leaders start imposing Hindu rites and rituals on me, day it teaches me to look down upon other religions the same way as they look down upon other religions, I would have no reason to be proud of this religion or this nation.

I understand both the right activist and the secularist loves this nation equally, but it seems the love is manifested differently. While the secularist are trying to continue with the inherent principle of tolerance the right winged fundamentalists are trying to destroy it.

I don’t think Hinduism has a concept of revenge. From what I know per Hinduism we human are no body to decide on paap and punya (sin and virtue) and pass judgment or give punishment, we should all just do our duty and leave the rest to God. If that is so, this attempt to now organize and fight back the organized religions because they are posing a threat to our existence is not in tune with Hinduism.

Fighting back using same weapons and warfare is not the solution. What we need to do is start all over again. Separate Religion from State. Focus on the law of the state. Ban religious propaganda at a mass level and mass conversion by law. Remove the Haj subsidy and along with it also ban any other subsidy that Government gives to any other religion including the Amarnath Yatris. Let the law be free from religion. Personal laws too shouldn’t be governed by religion. Do implement the Universal Code of Conduct amongst all Indian citizens but let that not be in effect a reflection of Hindu personal law. Let there be no political parties with religious manifesto. They should promise to build houses hospitals and schools and not temples or churches or mosques.

I am sure there is a peaceful way by which we can preserve our Hinduism and also the unity and diversity of this unique country.