Anniversary of a bleak day by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam (DECEMBER 06, 2012)

Opinion

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam’s musings on the significance of December 6 for India.


December 6 is a particularly dreaded day in the life of many sensible Indians, a day of painful memories of mindless anti-Muslim violence and a point in time marked by great emotional division between members of the two principal religions of India, as well as many vertical and horizontal divisions between peace-loving people of all religions and castes on one hand, and hate-driven fascist hordes on the other.

The fascists did not cover themselves with great glory that day by indulging in violence and by breaking 28 mosques and mazaars, including Babri Masjid, in Ayodhya. However, Muslims were stunned to see that, instead of being penalised for all the death and destruction (including the desecration of the Constitution of India as well as the very idea of India) they were, for the first time, voted to power at the Centre.

Muslims drew their own conclusions from this irony. One of those was that their sorrow did not matter, and in the heirarchy of sorrow the Muslim sorrow figured at the bottom, unnoticed. Another conclusion was that despite tall claims the Indian state was a pygmy that ran away in fright from a mob of bullies instead of standing up to its duty to protect the Constitution. A third conclusion, although tragic, and drawn by a microscopic minority of youthful victims of violence, was that the Indian state cannot, would not, protect the weak and the weak, must protect themselves.

Such loss of faith in law, justice and the authority of the state was most unfortunate, and the state itself was responsible for it, along with men and women like LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and myriad others. This is a moment to remember that tragedy, so that we don’t have to repeat it. There is the aphorism that those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.

Memories of being subjected to unjust violence and the law being a silent spectator rankle in the hearts of victims who have seen their families killed and homes destroyed. Keeping that in mind Muslim organisations have appealed for peace and harmony and for making attempts to bring people from the two major faiths together in constructive, cooperative efforts for healing the division.

At this grim hour a thought crosses my mind about the prospects of national reconciliation. There can be no reconciliation without truth. Hence the fact of “Truth and Reconciliation.” Acceptance of truth paves the way for reconciliation even after great, inhuman atrocities by the dominant group, like the white rulers of South Africa.

In India, there is a tradition of respecting age, even if an old man has done evil deed in earlier decades. I am reminded of Mr Advani, who is approaching his ninth decade. In the next three years or so he will be an authentically old man. Despite his leadership of the bloodbath of 1992-93, we do look at him with some affection.

Now that he is the granddad of all Indian young men, not just of those in khaki shorts, will he for a while stop and think over the lives he and his colleagues destroyed, the families they ruined, the social divisions they created. In the evening of one’s life one naturally ponders over such mistakes.

That he is capable of such thought is evident from his constant refrain that December 6, 1992 was the “saddest day” of his life. That he can think independently, not just from Sangh, but from the rest of us, was evident from his remark on Mr Jinnah’s “secular” credentials.

If (and that is a big “if”) Mr Advani comes up with the slightest hint of contrition on what he has wrought, healing the division and the smarting wounds of victimhood will become infinitely easy. We hope he will give the idea a serious thought.

 

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