Editorial: ‘Go to Pakistan’ is Another Horrifying Invitation to Assault Muslims in India
We don’t need vigilantism in the form of saffron-robed chowkidars, we need humanity and compassion to survive as a robust secular democracy that we once were.
A few weeks ago, in the wake of the Indian Air Force’s attack on the Balakot terror camp, carried out in response to the Pulwama suicide bombing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a thinly veiled open threat in a speech: “My patience is wearing thin, I can’t wait anymore or longer. I will hunt and find each one of them. We will get in their homes and strike them.”
Instead of allaying fears and ensuring that peace and calm prevail at a time when India and Pakistan came close to war, the prime minister deemed it fit to choose this occasion to stoke nationalistic passions and made a dig about how the Opposition is helping the enemy state by criticising his decisions.
The threat of “ghar mein ghus ke marenge” has connotations that are far more real, vivid and reaching than anything Narendra Modi means or says — except in this case it was not just a call for action against enemies across the border, but the ones who stay within. In the aftermath of Pulwama tragedy, Kashmiri Muslims were openly ostracised and attacked. They faced the brunt of an insidious climate of warmongering and a call for seeking cold vengeance. The fear that Muslims and minorities have been living in the past five years of this government of being violated, designated second class citizenship, bullied, beaten, harassed and lynched was once again given oxygen to breathe and fester.
Today the mention of Pakistan is not to invoke visceral hate and a call-to-arms against our troubled neighbouring state, but a provocation to abuse and attack members of the minorities without any impunity. It is an attempt to shred communal harmony, to allow majoritarian agenda to flourish and to let mobs fuel rage and murder.
The attack on members and guests of a family in Gurgaon’s Dhamaspur village this Holi is another stain on the secular credentials of this nation, which is being carefully eroded under the Bharatiya Janata Party government. According to reports, some 20-25 armed men barged into a Muslim household, assaulted and looted the members, and told them to go to Pakistan. A video of the gruesome act of the violence has gone viral.
“Go to Pakistan” has become a dangerous communal expression that needs to be called out before it becomes normalised in this climate of fear and hate. As a nation, we need to wake up to the campaign of violence that’s being spread in the name of nationalism. We need to be aware of criminals hiding under the garb of patriotism to divide and break the nation apart. With less than a month before elections, we need to realise that we don’t need vigilantism in the form of saffron-robed chowkidars, we need humanity and compassion to survive as a robust secular democracy that we once were.