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Jayant Sinha’s Act Was Typical Of His Party: Use Love To Spread Hate

If you subscribe to the BJP way of thinking, love for being Hindu can only be real if it is accompanied by hate for other religions.

The only person who deserved Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha’s garland was Mariam Khatoon, the widow of coal trader Alimuddin Ansari who was brutally lynched by a mob in Jharkhand last year in Sinha’s Hazaribagh constituency. Why? Because the men baying for Ansari’s blood suspected (based on nothing) that he was carrying beef in his car.

His family saw Ansari being lynched by a mob on a WhatsApp video. They are not the only family in recent years to have seen the last moments of their loved one’s life being transmitted across the country as a victory cry for cow protection. Thirty-five people have died in 80 incidents of bovine-related violence since 2015.

As happens in most of these cases, the police harassed the family repeatedly after Ansari’s murder, delaying access to the body and then, the autopsy report. Yet when a team from the Karwan-e-Mohabbat met his widow, this is all she said: “I only want justice. I want those who lynched my husband to be punished, not for revenge, but to ensure that no one has to go through what my children and I have suffered.”

When a fast track court convicted 11 men of killing 45-year-old Ansari a few months later, this became the only case of cow vigilantism where it looked like justice would be served. The court convicted Ansari’s killers under IPC Section 302 (murder). Four men were also convicted under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy). The court also convicted another juvenile suspect.

Then, one year after the incident, last week, the Jharkhand High Court granted eight of these men bail, saying there was not enough evidence against them. These are the men Sinha feted with marigold garlands when they exited the jail. One of them is a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader known to Sinha.

Later, the minister defended his action with a series of tweets such as this one: “I have full faith in our judicial system and the rule of law. Unfortunately, irresponsible statements are being made about my actions when all that I am doing is honoring the due process of law. Those that are innocent will be spared and the guilty will be appropriately punished.”

The minister is only being honest. In New India, where it’s increasingly a crime to be Muslim, all Hindus are innocent.

I can’t imagine the fresh grief and shock that Ansari’s family must have felt after Sinha’s act.
For those of you who were shocked largely because you’ve been on panels with the minister and noted his angrezi venture capitalist manners, this tweet from Hindi film director Neeraj Ghaywan puts things in perspective: “IIT Delhi, UPenn, Harvard Business School & 12 years at McKinsey. Education can’t teach you everything. Humanity can only come from within.”

Of course, Sinha was only doing what his party has patented these past four years: Defiling the idea of love by using even this emotion to spread hate.

If you subscribe to the BJP way of thinking, love for being Hindu can only be real if it is accompanied by hate for other religions. Love for your nation is only valid if you don’t express dissent. Love for cow excuses any hate crime. And don’t say you haven’t been warned. If you “smuggle and slaughter” cows (and the mob decides this) you will be killed, BJP MLA Gyan Dev Ahuja announced nonchalantly earlier this year.

We’ve seen enough instances of elected representatives of the BJP using love to spread hate:

— Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma visited Dadri in 2016, not to pay his respects to Mohammed Akhlaq, who was lynched by a mob in his village, but to show his love for the family of Ravi Sisodia, one of the 18 people arrested on charges of murder Akhlaq. The national flag was used to cover Sisodia’s casket.

— Earlier this year, two BJP ministers and two MLAs attended a rally organised to protest against the arrest of a man accused of raping and killing eight-year-old Asifa in Kathua. Their love for the rapist was their way of spreading hate against all underage girls who have been abused and murdered.

— In 2013, the Uttar Pradesh BJP leadership honoured and garlanded Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana, its two MLAs arrested for allegedly inciting riots in Muzaffarnagar. They were removed from the stage shortly before star campaigner Narendra Modi arrived.

— Yesterday, BJP MP Giriraj Singh visited communal riot accused in a district jail in Bihar and praised them.

In displaying his love for the accused publicly, Sinha just joined the growing ranks of party members who have used a gesture of love to spread hate. He showed disregard for his post, the due process of the law and the ideals of harmony.

Sinha may have lost his humanity in the pursuit of political glory but the rest of us should deeply consider this line from the new Wes Anderson film Isle of Dogs: “Who are we and who do we want to be?” Or keep the faith, as Mahatma Gandhi suggested: “Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

Priya Ramani is a Bangalore-based reporter and columnist. She tweets at @priyaramani.

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