Friday, October 16, 2015

An open letter to Shefali Vaidya: How can you justify killing humans in order to protect cows?

Dear Ms Shefali Vaidya,

I saw your post dedicated to ‘Indian Liberal Intellectual’ through a dear friend of mine.

Let me confess, I may agree partially on the facts with you, but I do disagree with your intentions. And this disagreement in terms of intentions itself draws me to write this reply to your post.

You dedicated your post to the ‘Indian Liberal Intellectual’, and blatantly describe him to be “neither Indian, nor Liberal, nor Intellectual!”

Ms Vaidya, can you please define these terms so that we get some clarity on the issue to examine how one becomes an ‘Indian’, ‘liberal’ and ‘intellectual’? Or do you subscribe to the idea that everybody in dissent is advised to go to Pakistan? Or is it the case that your post is a corollary to the Indian government’s failed call, if people are not going to Pakistan, call them ‘pseudo-Indians’?

What makes a man a pseudo-liberal? Condemning the Dadri lynching? Or conducting it?

The exercise of returning the award is giving away the honour received from various institutions and the state. Prize money actually means nothing. Your demand that they return the money shows how eager you are to strip all those who have returned the awards. Being a writer, instead of giving a peaceful thought about eminent personalities returning the awards, you conveniently label them as pseudo-liberals.

You say these liberals identify religious terrorism only when the terror group is not Islamic. But madam, the proposition that terrorism has no religion popped up when this world realised fundamentalists from all religions are resorting to violence and the victims are members of all religions.

Just like a rapist or a murderer cannot be identified with his religion, there is no need to identify a terrorist with his religion, because all of us, irrespective of our religions, are victims of it. It is not just the followers of one religion who are resorting to terrorist activities, hence, we conclude that terror has no religion.

Terrorism will not have religion when people, whom you subscribe to, call Islam as the religion of terrorists. It will not have any religion, even when the group you are opposed to labels certain terrorist-cum-lynching activities of rightist forces as Hindu terrorism. Your whole conception of terrorism and religion is misplaced and prejudiced.

Before we proceed on the issue of cow or animal slaughter, let me just say that I personally do not subscribe either to the dog festival or cow slaughter. None of the awards were returned ‘just’ because of the meat ban, or Dadri lynching episode, but due to the overall response of the government. The issue is not just the banning of beef, but the overall ban culture undertaken by the new government.

Ms Vaidya, you yourself are a writer and a journalist. Does your conscience really accept the notification issued by the government of Maharashtra, wherein any criticism of government has been declared to be sedition? Is this the so-called liberalism you want this country to imbibe and our future generations to inherit? Just imagine what the title of your open letter would have been had the previous government issued the notification: “After British occupation, the Italians have taken over the role of despots… Blah, blah. Sonia, go back!”

Does condemning the brutal killings and returning awards make you a pseudo-liberal? Or does creating a polarised atmosphere with riot-like situations make one a liberal?

Does justifying the lynching of an innocent man, calling it a reaction of the majority community and demanding silence over it when the state has failed to take any action, or name calling those who are condemning it make one a liberal? Or does creating a free atmosphere, irrespective of one’s caste and religion, advocating rights of all the citizens, irrespective of creed, caste or religion, make one secular and liberal?

Ms Vaidya, I understand you will question where these so-called ‘intellectual, liberal Indians’ were when pandits were killed in Kashmir.

But I want to ask you a simple question – is there no difference between Kashmir and the Indian mainland? You are comparing the exodus of Hindu pandits from a conflict zone, where a mass uprising against the Indian state and an armed conflict was at its zenith.

Is India a war zone right now? Was the killing of pandits a direct consequence of the government’s policies?

For how long will right-wing political parties play the card of Ram Mandir and pandits? Why could you not construct Ram Mandir during Vajpayee’s government? Why is the 56-inch chest now silent on the issue?

Why did your Bharatiya Janata Party-Peoples Democratic Party government cancel the flag hoisting ceremony on May 16, 2015 at Lal Chowk in Srinagar? Should we question your patriotism or should we trust the government’s prudence and call it a mature step considering the volatile position in the valley?

You ask these award recipients, why they didn’t return their awards when pandits were killed. Ask yourself, was the Indian government silent over the armed conflict in Kashmir? Was the Indian government siding with those who killed the pandits? Are you even aware of the aftermath of the Hindu exodus from the valley?

The valley burnt, Ms Vaidya! It literally burnt for years.

Today, the Indian government comes up with vexatious clarifications and shamelessly condemns the killing only on the grounds that the Dadri lynching should not have taken place because it was driven by rumours.

It is insane that to protect cows we are ready to kill humans.

How can you sing songs of Indian-hood when the very government in whose support you are bleating tried to enact a nasty land acquisition law? How can you sing songs of liberalism, when every passing day the government which you support is taking out new notifications to curb individual freedoms?

Ms Vaidya, nationalism is not a character of big talks and high values, cultural superiority and glorious past. Nationalism is not a characteristic of a handful of caste Hindus. In fact, it derives its essence from the sentiments of masses.

You say ‘these people’ will stop breathing if Modi starts a ‘Breathe Bharat’ campaign. Modi started the ‘Digital India’ campaign. By banging net neutrality, what is the use of ‘Digital India’, where net is not neutral and criticising government is sedition?

Do you let compassion and humanity stand in your way when you take the side of those who are responsible of botching up the very fabric of India? Do you let the teachings of love and tolerance of your own religion stand in your way when you bleat victim and attack those who are opposing the current polarisation of the country?

Do you just have no space for those who do not call God by the name you wish them to call Him by?

Clearly not.


Vedchetan Patil

Secular, liberal, Indian and a Hindu.

from The Express Tribune Blog

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