“It will be very difficult to capture this djinn back into the bottle again. There is complete impunity for those who take the law into their own hands. In many areas, we are witnessing that the death of a cow has more significance than that of a police officer. I feel anxious thinking about my children.”
These are the words of acclaimed veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah while in a conversation with Karwan-E-Mohabbat. Shah was speaking of the highly polarised political climate of the country today and where people are justifying the killing of humans in the name of “cow protection”. As expected, as soon as this video went live, Shah was asked to relocate to Pakistan, a statement which is often dished out by self-proclaimed “nationalist” whenever they hear any voice of dissent or criticism.
“Pakistani agent” to “act of treason”
Naseeruddin Shah in his interview said that he feels anxious for his children. He added that his children have not been given any religious education as he believes that “being good or evil has nothing to do with religion”.
What he said and the way he backed it by the Bulandshahr incident (where a police officer was killed by a mob) should not ideally offend anyone. When you love your country, your focus should be on embracing the beauty and recognising the flaws and working towards improving it. But what happened is that a section of people has taken offence to it. Not just common people, but people holding positions of power and influence have decided to deviate from the essence of what Shah said and have instead started bashing him for his viewpoint.
Yoga guru Ramdev said, “I have not seen religious intolerance. I, of course, see political intolerance. I think accusing India of religious intolerance is equal to degrading country’s pride.” He further said that labelling the country with such religious intolerance was a sign of “ungratefulness, disrespect and treason”.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh went a step further and rejected any sort of intolerance saying that the kind of tolerance which existed in the country “cannot be found in any corner of the world”. Uttar Pradesh BJP Chief Mahendranath Pandey said that Shah is a good artist and since he had played the role of Pakistani agent, he was slowly growing into one in real life.
Moreover, protests erupted against Shah and the organisers of the Ajmer Literature Festival cancelled Shah’s session due to fear of violence. Social media is full of abuses and threats against Shah.
Given that the cow vigilantism and mob violence have become part of our daily news fix, for people to turn a blind eye to the problem is not correct. The fact that Shah has been accused of treason and being compared to a Pakistani agent for just a statement proves that his anxiety is not unfounded.
Many even raised objections to Shah’s statement that a cow is being valued more than a human being. As far as Shah’s statement is concerned, he is not really wrong and his statement is backed by none other than a BJP MLA. MLA Sanjay Sharma wrote an open letter in a reply to Bureaucrats demanding the resignation of UP CM Yogi Adityanath for failing to ensure law and order in the state and for hate mongering. The letter said that the people were concerned about the death of 2 people, what about 21 cows killed?
“Now you all are worrying about the Bulandshahr incident. Your imaginative brains can see only the two deaths, that of Sumit and the duty-bound police inspector. You cannot see that 21 cows also died”
This statement is enough to gauge the mentality of a section of people, who value a cow’s life over a person’s life.
Data and recent incidents support Shah’s statement
The past few years have seen an exponential rise in the number of cow-related killings. Notably, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) does not collect data on cow-related hate crimes. Given the rise in crime of such nature, the NCRB might have to dedicate a special analysis of these incidents of violence.
As per Fact Checker, as of December 24, there have at least 120 incidents of cow-related violence. About 333 people have been victims of such crimes resulting in the death of at least 45 people since 2012. Interestingly, 55% of the victims happened to belong to the Muslim community.
The political atmosphere is such that people are now extra wary of expressing their opinions. This is extremely dangerous for a democracy to function.