Is it worth slamming religion, politicizing or shaming a country (spreading hatred, inflaming religious and political tension within its people, polarizing the society) over an epidemic that has plagued human conscious (virtually, every country in every continent)? Why are we being distracted from the "crime" itself, by communalizing this issue? Let's not make it about religion or politics or minority. Can we focus on the humanity instead?
In this age of ‘digital transformation’, most of the news, reports, images, contents, words and comments are real time and found extremely handy in our fingertips; but what pains me most is, majority of the news are agonizingly violent, depressing and disturbing. Fabricated to doctored up, ill-researched to false, monstrously ill-intentioned to divisive in nature, disgustingly barbaric to questionably inhuman, chaotic to negatively provoking; many such news seem to be circulating through all sorts of channels and sources, some are dubious and simply debatable. With some applications available these days, such as, Whatsapp, one cannot even validate the origin or truth of content anymore. It feels like that, whenever something happens, which is extremely frequent these days, almost daily basis, everyone instantly jumps on the bandwagon of protests, march, vigil, passing on comments and start drawing conclusions immediately. In an universe, where human existence has been for ~7.5 million years, nothing happened instantly, but, we are in culture of impatience and free speech and instant gratification; and we want immediate remedy for everything. I have attempted to keep myself away from media for sometime, but with social media in your fingertips, how can one even escape from the physical reality?
I felt compelled to write this, based on what I have experienced for the past few days. People are posting wicked and sick comments on humiliating a country, religion, politics, and literally, tarnishing an entire society. I simply couldn’t keep mum by seeing, how “evil intentions” are turning people against each other, and media channels are playing a big role for it, negatively. What I am about to post, I know, might be viewed as controversial. Before you start hitting me left and right, do know something very important. I am a humanitarian first, before taking side with any religious prejudice. I am no politician; as a natural consequence I have no political discrimination either. I feel that, upsetting events should not be exploited for religious or political agenda.
Particularly speaking, rather normal picture of a bright looking innocent face of an 8 year old girl with beautiful wide eyes, blush in her cheeks, slight smile, in a bright purple dress and two pony tails...has been haunting me for the past few days. An image of Asifa (Muslim), is being ‘brandized’ for a brutal rape and murder case that has happened in massively disputed Kashmir region, in January 2018. Under her face, it is written, "8 year old Kashmiri infant who was kidnapped, and gang rapped in a Hindu temple for 8 days. Her body was later dumped on a street.” I can’t even pretend to understand the horror of the incident. Disgusting people (or, shall I say monsters) who are associated with this kind of low-level acts are not human. They need to be shamed; kneeled down to the law; and justice needs to be served in silver platter, for the world to witness. There is no justification for this cruelty. I want justice for Asifa, and I want justice for every innocent, named and nameless ones, all the registered and unregistered ones, all the Hindu or Muslim or Dalits, all the traumatized one; for these kind of senseless and barbaric acts.
Is it worth slamming religion, politicizing, polarizing the society, spreading hatred or shaming a country?
But disgracefully, as a consequence of such provocative messaging, we are witnessing spiteful hatred and unpleasant vindictive uproar against each other. Bollywood’s famous celebrities from Shah Rukh Khan to Akshay Kumar to Priyanka Chopra have twitted their disgusts with hashtags #JusticeForAsifa and protested. Leaders of opposition party have led a candlelight vigil. This case has gotten the national and international media attention. Instantly, this heinous act turned into a religious and political debate. Sikhs, Muslims started blaming BJP for supporting the accused (current ruling party, who is a supporter of Hinduism). And abruptly, Hindus are feeling attacked and becoming outraged, "why Hindu girl was not named, Why just muslim girl". How can we blame them? Promptly, (thanks to the digital world) hateful, divisive, embarrassing massages took the world by a storm. Some has turned the table of discussion into 'minority'. A Sikh gentleman started pointing out to me about Sikh and Hindu disputes of 1984; and furthermore, questioned about how higher ‘Hindu’ counts in congress party wronged them, back then (literally).
We experienced top bollywood celebrities, such as, Shahrukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Neha Dhupia, Kalki, Konkona Sen, Swara Bhaskar, holding poster of Asifa wanting justice for her. Before you know it, majority, minority, religion, politics, everything under the sun is dragged into the mud. And the cause got lost. And everyone is fighting with each other. Suddenly, India is being strangled by its children. I suspect, this incident was used as a matchstick tactics, to fuel tensions among its people, weakening system and breaking the country.
A couple of years ago, an 11 month old was kidnapped by a neighbor while she slept next to her mother and brutally raped for two hours. And in November 2015, a 3 month old was kidnapped and assaulted in the southern city of Hyderabad. On April 19, 2018 a 6 year old Hindu girl, lured with chocolate, raped by Meraj Miyan (Muslim), in Kaharganj, Bihar, that barely had any coverage on main news channels. A Hindu guy was lynched by Muslims in Kerala for stealing food. In March 2018, a 9 year old girl, Pihu (an Hindu) who was gang raped and burnt alive in her own home by Zakir Hussain (Muslim) and his two juvenile friends in Assam.March 6th, 2018, a 3 year old, Neha (Hindu) got brutally raped inside a parked bus, by Sheikh Munna (Muslim), in Kolkata. In March, a 13 year old 'Siya' lured with chocolate, raped for months and impregnated, by a 76 year old rapist Abdul Wahab (Muslim). Or the Bhiwandi case, where accused Abed Mohammed Shaikh (Muslim) confessed to his misdeeds that he committed on April 11, 2018, of assaulting, slaughtering and killing the 4 years old girl, Payal (Hindu). What about a Hindu woman who was gang raped by 9 Muslim men for 9 days in front of her own husband. Or the 23-year-old photographer Hindu Ankit Saxena, killed allegedly by the family of his Muslim girlfriend in west Delhi. On March 18th, 2018, 35 year old OBC (Other Backward Class Caste) kidnapped, gang-raped for hours by Ali, Iqramulhaque and 6 others (Muslim) in Assam. On April 11, 2018, a 7 year of girl Suman, brutally raped by Naseeruddin Leek & Shahbaz (Muslim) in Bijnor, U.P, she was profusely bleeding. These are few of the cases reported over a month. Unlawful acts are happening; and painfully speaking, innocent lives (regardless of classifications) are getting trapped, in the game of personal interest, religious bias and political battles.
One Sikh gentleman writes (in Facebook) about how sick Indian society is. An immediate blame game on Hindu Nationalist Party, and entire Indian society gets rotten eggs. So, was the goal to ignite hatred within its people? Playing with people’s head; brainwashing, and filling with ignorance, provoking messages do exactly that. It helps to create duality in, already, fragile minds. It lures people into hating different faiths, prompts chaos between volatile religious lines, causes finger-pointing, creates divisions between otherwise peace-seeking people, and places ‘bug’ in minds. Hatred is indeed, what is happening. I am regretfully concerned about the dirty game that is getting played with innocent people’s lives, along the way. No matter what happened, sadly, poor little Asifa got tangled in this conflict. And...many others like Pihu, Suman, Payal. Does turning this into religious war, or politicizing it or dishonoring a country, really help the actual issue?
Let’s look at some details about India
These were some of the precise strategies used, historically, to concur India. Sadly, everyone wants their piece of the pie; and wants to sit on the throne; will not spare from using any strategies necessary to reach the goals.
Perhaps, it is important to understand some history about India, so one can understand what path India has walked. India’s DNA was always ‘secular' and I hope it will always stay as that. India, a country that promoted living with many faiths peacefully, consistently, for thousands of years, and built it’s riches. In a big-picture view, no one hates each other, and living cohesively. However, a closer look to it, things are not as it seems. Foreign attackers that concurred India, over and over and over again, took advantage of its people’s simplicity and resources, always tried to create division to weaken it's backbone, and break the country, and they succeeded (tremendously). Last ruler, British, destroyed historic and culturally rich India; and brought it down to the deathbed, stealing its wealth and riches from the bottom of its core. In 1947, when finally British left India’s premises, India was left raped, divided, naked and broken, in pain, barely able to stand on its own feet. India and Pakistan, two countries with extremely different DNAs were born.
Pakistan was created as Muslim nationalist country, and Hindus started to flee from Pakistan before borders were made. Some decided to accept their faith and stayed back, and some were able to cross the border. With an original DNA, India had majority Hindu. Some Muslims decided to leave India, or decided to stay back. It was not a very pretty scene. Since then, an underlying religious uncertainty is always been prevalent. Although, superficial tensions were there, growing up, I have never experienced atrocities between Hindu and Muslim (may be I was lucky). A country, as massive as India, with 1.4B people, has done tremendous job managing all its tensions and atrocities; and constantly, made steady progress towards, education, technology, and improving people’s lives, for the last 70 years. Now, India is doing so much better (although not the best in everything…and I have a long list of complaints. But, it constantly strives to do the best. And that is good enough reason for me to be positively aligned with the country I was born in).
Christians are the largest, holding 31.2% of world population with 2.1 billion. 1.8 billion Muslims holds 24.1% of world’s population. 16% of world population is secular, non-religious, agnostics and atheist, holding 1.2 billion. With 1.1 billion people, Hindus are the fourth largest population, roughly 15.1% of global population. Majority of the world’s Hindus live in India. However, you must know that, Hinduism declined in India from 84.1% to 79.80%, overall, based on 1951 to 2011 census numbers. Growth rate of Hindus is 16.8% vs. Muslims 24.6%, in India, during the period of 2001-2011. Other religions are Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism. 1951 census numbers shows, Hindus were 84.1% (306 million) and Muslims 9.8%(34 million). Before partition, Hindu comprised about 66% of the population.
Hindu birth rates are generally low, and Hindus don’t convert anyone. Rather, I have seen and experienced many Hindu’s converting to Islam and Christianity. Hinduism is declining steadily and data is the proof. In this context of the crime, how does majority-minority topic help?
Now, lets study Jammu & Kashmir
Jammu & Kashmir specifically, has been the most conflicted and highly disputed territory got tangled between India and Pakistan, since the 1947 division. J&K’s history is complicated…the Instrument of Accession is a legal document executed by Maharaja Hari Singh, ruler of the princely state of J&K, under the provisions of the Indian Independence Act 1947. By doing this, Maharaja agreed to accede to the Dominion of India, as he wanted India’s protection. India has control of 60% of the area of the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir (Jammu, Kashmir Valley, Ladakh and Siachen Glacier); Pakistan controls 30% of the region (Gilgit–Baltistan and Azad Kashmir). China administers 10% (Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract) of the state since 1962. Massacre, violence, terrorist activities, atrocities have shattered this place and disrupted economic stability. Anti-India strategies were executed in this disputed region for decades, with a steady decline of Hindus. In short, once a paradise, Kashmir, a beautiful heaven on earth is brought down to the level of the hell, literally speaking. Hindu Kashmiris were forced to flee Kashmir valley, leaving their ancestral homes, properties, back in the 1990s, in a Hindu ethnic cleansing Act. J&K is highly polarized, where Jammu has majority Hindus and Kashmir has majority Muslims. The degree of economic decline in the last few decades was tremendously pathetic.Here is the twist to the story. Rohingya Muslims, they say, originated from Bangladesh (but Bangladesh does not consider Rohingyas as Bangladeshi). Roughly half a million undocumented Rohingya’s live in the camps in Bangadeshi borders. According to report, they were sent to Mayanmar as laborers during British rule. In a recent ethnic cleansing, Mayanmar refused to give them citizenship as they were considered as illegal immigrants, Bengalis from Bangladesh. Myanmar claimed that, they were refusing to live peacefully with Budhists, and torturing and killing people there. Rohingya’s Muslims are the most prosecuted minority in the world, reportedly. In order to find a home, rohingyas were forced to flee out of Myanmar. Some went back to Bangladesh borders camps, some to Indonesia or whichever country would allow refugees. About 40,000 (and increasing) rohingya Muslims migrated to different parts of India, of which 10,000 are in Jammu region. You may know that, originally, current Bangladesh was part of Pakistan, was called the East Pakistan. However, Bangladesh took independence from Pakistan in 1971. Reasons for separation is, mainly language. Additionally, west Pakistan (current Pakistan) had a smaller population but generated more revenue; however, East Pakistanis didn't get their due share of government expenditure. This led to some level of alienation, and finally separation of East Pakistan, and Bangladesh was createdQuestions were raised, when Indian citizens (Kashmiri Pandits) were thrown out of Kashmir, how non-citizens refugee-Muslims are allowed to settle in the Hindu majority region, Jammu? As I write, I see that, there are reports that, Crime Branch Investigation (CBI) is still pending. People starts bickering against each other, crippling the society and country. Shame, blame, cripple and break the country - is that what the agenda is?
What about minority issue then?
Talking about ‘minority’ has become a fashion, these days. Is there any country on this earth, which does not have any minority? Let’s look at demographic changes based on religion, in some countries.
Out of 3% minorities (declined from 23% during division), based on 1998 census numbers, there are 1.59% Christians, 1.60% Hindus remains in Pakistan, which was created as a predominantly Muslim Nationalist country, and now has 97% Muslims (second to Indonesia in the world). I couldn’t find any recent census details, although they had census in 2017. If you find recent numbers, please do share. Hindus in Bangladesh remaining about 9% (down from 22% since India-Pakistan division; and gradually declining) – these statistics are pulled from Wikipedia, internet reports, articles etc., (by the way)! Were they spared? There are reports of forced conversions, forced marriages, killing, raping, slaughtering, burning and murdering everywhere. India's DNA is different. India is the most diversified country in the world. And that's what makes India the best. Its rich history, heritage, culture, diversity has match to none. It is secular and unique.
Let's review sexual violence statistics, globally
Now, lets look at the 'rape' as a sexual violence. It is a global epidemic. Rape is a disease that has plagued human conscious level. It’s a violence against human rights and it is a crime. Criminals need to be punished. It’s simple and plain.
Here is some global statistics of rape. Based on U.S News about sexual assault "nearly 2.5 million cases of sexual violence were reported globally in 2014, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, with many countries reporting more than 100 instances of rape or sexual assault per 100,000 people. Of the 77 countries that reported to the United Nations, Sweden, the U.K., Botswana and Australia had the highest reported rates of sexual violence. The U.S. has especially high rates of rape, specifically." Some rape statistics, by country, region - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics. Based on the BBC report in Jan 2018, according to the latest National Crime Records Bureau data, 2016 saw 19,765 cases of child rape being registered in India - a rise of 82% from 2015 when 10,854 cases were recorded.
What happened to Asifa is extremely horrific. It is said that the little girl, from a nomad Muslim family, was captured, locked up and raped in a Hindu temple; and then murdered, in January 2018. Local police and temple priests were involved. I am not doing a good job describing this incident with the pain she was tortured with. They say, Asifa’s parents were not even allowed to file complaint in police station. According to the reports, Hindu rapists involved his nephews too and invited to rape her. We hear that, her body was also not allowed to bury in the land her parents purchased. How could one do such crimes? What has happened to human conscious level? I can’t imagine the agonizing and excruciating pain that little girl went through. Asifa's life (plus many others) became the object in such games of wicked minds. It's a global crisis, in many countries, that needs to be addressed.
What about divisions and violation against human rights, globally.
Original Punjab got divided during India-Pakistan partition. Most of historical Sikh empire is now part of Pakistan. Lahore, Multan, Peshawar and Pakistan administrated Kashmir were part of the Sikh empire. Pakistani Punjab, FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were major part of the Sikh empire and it’s capital was Lahore, Pakistan. The Khalistan movement, started in 1970s, is a Sikh nationalist movement that wants to create an independent state for Sikh people, called Khalistan, in the modern territories of Eastern Pakistan and Western India. It’s stated capital would be Lahore, as before, a city where Sikh empire was commenced by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and ruled for centuries by his descendants. Khalistan has many separatist groups such as Khalistan Liberation Force and other groups such as Babbar Khalsa. The Sikh insurgency petered out in the 1990s; but suddenly sparked an international news and came into attention, when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeu visited Punjab, India, just over a month ago. Some history may help, here. Sikh militants began agitating for a separate homeland in India in the 1970s. India’s then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, sent the military into the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine for Sikhs, to flush out separatists there at the height of the revolt in 1984. Shortly after, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards at her home in Delhi. According to reports, India has handed Canada a list of nine people in Canada who are suspected of trying to revive a Sikh separatist movement in Punjab. India has urged Canada to not support any separatist agenda.
Sindh, once part of British India, became part of Pakistan, during India/Pakistan separation. Sindh contributes to major chunk of Pakistan’s economic, about 30%. Despite Sindh being blessed with its climate and arable lands, Sindhi people are paid pittance as compared to the exploitation. Additionally, suppression of rich Sindh language added more feeding to the situation, negatively.
Balochistan was an independent territory originally, but was occupied by Pakistan right after Pakistan creation. It is said that, Pakistan makes full use of the natural resources of Balochistan and gives the Balochs nothing in return and this further aggravates their anger. Sindh and Balochistan are economically deprived and both states have a large-scale police and military action against its populace. Balochistan is rich in natural reserves and Punjabi's and China are taking it away from them without giving them anything in return, killing and throwing dead people on cross road in broad daylight every couple of days, and much more.
What about Israel and Palestine or Syria? I am not even getting started into that discussion now. Can you please help draw a line and show me the end to it? Now, do you see, where we (as a human) are heading? Is there any end to this incredibly lengthy list of violence against human rights?
What is the conclusion?
Today it is 8 year old #Asifa, Yesterday it was 4 year old #Payal, and sadly, tomorrow it will be someone’s number. Is there any win to this chaotic downward spiral plot. Barbaric acts and violation of human rights are happening, everyday, everywhere, whether it is for minority or not, faith based or not, politically instigated or not. Bringing all unnecessary classifications is used as distractions tactics and divisional strategies, for furthering personal interest. Distortions are put in the way to derail us from seeing the truth. They want us to be in fear! They will not stop trying to divide us. Hence, it is our responsibility to not let them divide us.It is also our responsibility to use our judgments and research before jumping onto a bandwagon. Tangling religion, politics and pointing fingers are despicable. Furthermore, shaming a country is cowardly. Let's stand together for Humanity.
I don’t want India to be broken, AGAIN. I want India, Undivided & United. Finally, India is doing well for the last few decades. Economy is improving and peoples lives are getting better. Can we focus on the crime instead? Let’s bring justice to Asifa, and Payal…everyone else. Humanity does not have religious, gender or political bias.