We have all heard of the recent case of a Muslim girl Suhana Sayed who was harassed for singing a Hindu devotional song in a singing show. it sounds really appalling. Rafi saab was one of the best Bhajan singers of his time, and Yesudas has created the gold standard for so many devotional compositions. Is this country going to dogs that people can’t even sing songs of another religion? Will someone protest against a hindu singing a Qawwali next? Well, not so much. All the “harassment” and “trolling” by Muslims was a myth. GO to any YouTube page of her singing and you see a large number of Muslims supporting her, raising their voices in her support. Bt these people are absent from any media reports. All that has happened is that a group of people on some obscure page abused her. Thats it. I’m sure such people existed even when Rafi saab sung Man Tadpat Hari Darsan Ko (composed by Naushad and written by Shakeel Badayuni, incidentally). They now have a voice, thanks to social media, and thats a good thing. What is not so good is them being blown out of all proportion and made into a monster that doesn’t exist.
This is not an isolated case. The case of Gurmeher was similar. A couple of serious threats, at least one of which was fake, were blown out of all proportion to make it seem like locusts have descended on her and made her life a nightmare where she may be assaulted at any point. There was a lot of disagreement to her, and not all articulated in the best possible way, but the attention she received only exacerbated the attacks as many saw her being shielded from criticism.
We all know this happens and we shrug it off. Just the corrupt media doing its TRP crazy thing. But then it starts hurting people. It already has started hurting people. The terrorist killed in the Lucknow encounter is part of an Indian jehadi group. Last year some guys from that organisation were actually arrested and interrogated. When asked about motive, many said they were motivated by the “atrocities” on Muslims in India. This is not even just after 2014. They have been radicalised for long before that.
Now I understand that there might well be genuine grievances of communities. Where the blame for the relative lack of development of Muslims is a topic that can be debated at another time, but whoever you blame, we can be agree that there is no large scale violence specifically against Muslims. At least not to the scale that requires an armed insurgency.
So where did these guys get these ideas? Just look at any TV host, any screaming headline. “Intolerance, Radical Nationalism, Extreme Nationalism, Attack On Minorities, Are Muslims Safe in Modi’s India?” A narrative has been created to make it seem like the state is an active party in a conflict and Hindus and Muslims are at loggerheads, fighting for survival. If you are not with one of these “secular” leaders that media has anointed, you are a rabid nationalist, communal scum. And because so many people are, evidently, in support of PM Modi and what he’s trying to do, that must mean that India is an intolerant nation that has no place for Muslims. Rajdeep Sardesai, unfortunately a prominent journalist of the nation, has crossed an even lower threshold of journalism. he recently wrote that invoking Vikaas is a communal agenda and PM asking votes on the basis of hope and development is also communal.
In this atmosphere, is it any longer a mystery why a small number of Muslim youth think India in general is their enemy? The narrative is such that even a moderate may start feeling threatened. I have seen this happen. Those who didn’t like Modi before he was elected are seeing the boogeyman of “suppression” everywhere. There is no rational reason that I can think of. I can cite statistics till i get red in the face, but we have to remember that fear is not a thought, its an emotion. So is anger.
The media understands that. The media plays on our emotion. They are now storytellers, not custodians of truth. They exacerbate our emotions of hurt, betrayal, unfairness, and aim to make us angry. They create a monster out of the few idiots who trolled a girl for singing the “wrong” devotional song. They create a monster out of the politicians that make irresponsible statements. Then they pitch these monsters against each other and watch with glee as we all divide ourselves to fight the monster we feel threatened by the most. The media sits in a corner eating its TRP popcorn, slurping their ideology soda. When this fight gets ugly, as it sometimes does, it brings out its Told You So megaphone and starts exaggerating how divided we are even more.
If you think thats sad, think how sad it is that we fall for this again and again.