Bangalore Police wrote a letter suggesting that Munawar Faruqui’s show should be cancelled because he is a “controversial figure” who has made “controversial statement on other religion Gods”. The Police letter came after Hindu Extremist group Hindu Janajagruti Samiti gave a memorandum threatening violence and law and order problem if the show is allowed.
Earlier this month Faruqui’s show was also cancelled in Raipur, Chattisgarh. It happened quietly, nobody noticed, but I did and tweeted about it asking how can Hindutva forces win in a Congress ruled state? I obviously did not get any answer and there was no civil society outrage that day. The outrage is today, when Bangalore police have actually written a letter suggesting that his show should be cancelled. Turns out, 12 of his shows have been cancelled in last two months and Faruqui is feeling really broken. First, he was jailed for a joke he never cracked in complete violation of rule of law then a systematic attack at his profession to break his spirit and destroy his career as a comedian. In his statement he has already bid goodbye, he has given up. Today, every head must hang in shame and every heart must weep for him.
But, I was also thinking, and I know this is harsh, it is easier said than done etc., but if he would have taken matters to court the first time hate and threatening won or the second or third time then maybe it would not have happened the 12th time. If he would have challenged Raipur police’s inaction then maybe Bangalore police would not have cancelled it?
I think this is also part of the problem. The victim narrative plays on many levels and serves political interests on both sides. The BJP-RSS-Hindutva trolls get political mileage out of the social media outrage. They call it a “randi rona (whining whores)” and laugh at the victim. They play to the Hindutva gallery, “See how we have become strong, awakened etc. We now know how to show them their place.” On the other hand, the liberal-seculars get to complaint about how the democracy is broken and India is doomed.
Truth is there is still a lot of space to fight for our rights. Democracy is still not lost and every other day we are getting message from the Judiciary that it still works if you push it. So don’t just be a victim, fight.
“A man unwilling to fight for what he wants, deserves what he gets,” said Killian Jones the ruthless pirate in the TV series Once Upon A Time. There was a great lesson to learn in this line. One has to fight for their rights. Yes, it will never be easy but if you don’t, how would you retain your right to ask for what you want? Agreed, access to justice is not easy, everybody do not have the resources to take legal actions, but those who can, should.
The harsh truth however is that sometimes people just want to remain a victim as it gains them sympathies. Not many people like a fighter. Fighters come across as aggressive, arrogant. Victims appear sweet and innocent.
In this case, Munawar Faruqui has people to rally behind him. He has a certain amount of fan following and there are lawyers who take up these cases pro-bono. There is also a letter written by Bangalore police to the effect that his show be cancelled so there is a proper documentation of their arbitrary and clearly unconstitutional decision. It can easily be challenged in a constitutional court or higher police authority instead of just making social media noise.
Many people whom we think are weak and lacking in resources actually show a lot of resolve to fight for their rights as citizens. For example, 62-year-old Kazeem Ahmed Sherwani of Delhi’s Zakir Nagar area has filed a petition in Supreme Court seeking a fair investigation and trial on his complaint against a mob who attacked him allegedly for his Muslim identity. He also sought a victim compensation scheme for persons affected by hate crimes, and demanded action against police personnel who refuse to register such cases.
This man, old, unknown, quietly went to court instead of just being a victim. A legal fight is long, silent but is effective and empowering for others. So this is what I am saying, and I said it before that time has come to make noise not just being a victim, but by being a fighter. Somehow, I get wary of people when they don’t take logical and rational actions against wrong doing.
Maybe it’s just me. So, once again, don’t remain a victim. Fight for justice.