Only minorities have to prove their nationalism under a Sanghi India

Written by Gurpreet Singh | Published on: February 1, 2019

While the Indian establishment is too concerned about the “anti-national” elements abroad and their attempts to insult national symbols, there is complete silence over repeated attempts to demonize Gandhi, who is widely known as the father of the Indian nation.


Hindu mahasabha
 
In January, when India marked its 70th Republic Day, some Sikh and Kashmiri separatists burnt Indian flags in UK and US to protest the mistreatment of minorities in the world’s so-called largest democracy.
 
Unable to tolerate this, the Indian government objected to it and raised the issue with foreign governments.
 
While the Sikh separatists have been campaigning for a separate Sikh homeland of Khalistan- an imaginary nation to be carved out of Punjab, Kashmiri separatists too have been fighting for independence.
 
Not only was there a knee jerk reaction of the Indian establishment to this flag arson, but several Kashmiri journalists were also barred from attending the Republic Day parade in Srinagar.
 
Some time ago, the Indian government blacklisted revolutionary leftist activists who had protested outside the Indian consulate in Vancouver on Independence Day. They were merely protesting against the growing repression of minorities and marginalised people in India. And for exercising their freedom of expression, were denied visas to travel back home. 
 
Barely four days after the Republic Day drama ended, Hindu fanatics in India belonging to the Hindu Mahasabha publicly shot at an effigy of Mahatma Gandhi and garlanded the statue of his assassin Nathuram Godse.  
 
Gandhi, who was the leader of the passive resistance movement against the British occupation of India and a strong advocate of Hindu-Muslim unity, was assassinated by Hindu Mahasabha activist Nathuram Godse on January 30, 1948.
 
Godse is frequently glorified by the Hindu Right and ever since the current Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government came to power, those who consider Godse as a hero have become emboldened. After all, the Hindu Mahasabha founder Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who wanted to establish a Hindu nation is revered by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party colleagues. Savarkar was also arrested in the Gandhi murder case but was acquitted due to lack of evidence. 


Not only Gandhi’s brand of Hinduism was more liberal, but his philosophy of a secular India was also in complete contradiction of an exclusionist Hindu state that the BJP wants to create. 
 
The latest incident happened in Uttar Pradesh where BJP is in power.
 
While the Indian establishment is too concerned about the “anti-national” elements abroad and their attempts to insult national symbols, there is complete silence over repeated attempts to demonize Gandhi, who is widely known as the father of the Indian nation.
 
It is pertinent to mention that BJP supporters had used the Indian flag in the past, during their controversial demonstrations in support of Hindu extremists involved in heinous crimes such as sexual violence and murders in the name of cow protection.
 
Taking all these episodes into account, will it be too much to ask the Indian government led by Modi to hold the hyper-nationalism of extremists from the majority community accountable?
 
Rather than making a big fuss about flag burnings all the time, why not first teach your own supporters to respect Gandhi and the national flag and not let patriotism be used as a refuge by those involved in hate crimes.
 
It is this selectivity and appropriation of nationalism and the process of othering the minorities, with grouses against the Indian establishment, which provokes people to burn the flags. It shouldn’t be a big deal compared to the mass murders of Sikhs and Muslims in Kashmir and elsewhere by the supporters of Hindu nationalism.
 
Instead of forcing patriotism on minorities, the Indian state needs to embrace it with honesty.