Bangalore: The nation is still in celebrative mood of our independence. Usually all sections of the society come together on this occasion and remember the great souls who sacrificed their lives to make the country free. However, the spirit of togetherness which our elders possessed is shrinking these days. The beauty of unity in diversity is waning. Intolerance prejudices and violence is raising its ugly head. Propaganda, bashing, victimization and lynching are becoming order of the day.
As per the Home Ministry data tabled in the Lok Sabha, there has been a 17% rise in communal riots last year (2015) and 751 cases have been recorded in a single year alone. The data also shows that there is a marked escalation of such cases during elections. Accordingly, at the national level, most such cases were registered in 2013 (823 cases). The fire of communal hatred ignited for political motives is burning away the strong social fabric and destroying age-old societal norms and values of tolerance and brotherhood in our country.
Hitherto, communal riots were an urban phenomenon as all communal riots were either limited to the vicinity of cities or they first erupted in urban areas then spreading to the adjoining villages. After the riots when peace was restored people used to live together in harmony again. But now tension is no longer being limited to a temporary or stray incident; instead such universal, political, historical and ideological issues are being raked up that have far-reaching and long lasting impact. These misunderstandings cannot be easily done away with and create a permanent rift between the communities.
A restless and socially divided society is never considered suitable for economic growth. If this disease becomes widespread, then foreign investments cease to flow in and even the country’s own investors begin to seek other investment opportunities abroad. Whatever economic activity continues is rendered profitless, businesses and industries suffer losses leading to economic depression, poverty and unemployment.
The way out
The first step in improving the situation is that we countrymen realize the gravity of the situation. Of course, the entire nation or the entire climate is not intolerant. However, if prompt notice is not taken, the pace at which the situation is worsening shows that the day is not far off when we would no longer deserve to feel proud of our claimed tolerance. Irrespective of our religious and political affiliation or inclination, we need to unite together to work against communalism on a broad social level.
In order to establish communal harmony, it is also required that influential leaders of all communities come forward. The village heads, intellectuals, journalists, social activists- they all need to understand the importance of this issue and give it its rightful place. Since all this is being done in the name of religion and by misusing it, religious leaders, scholars and spiritual leaders should also shoulder this responsibility.
Sincere consistent efforts
The most important thing in this regard is to establish a sincere, wide and continuous network of mutual communication at all possible levels between Hindu, Muslim and other religious and cultural groups. This system should be so strong and effective that it can readily counter and rectify false information and rumours spread via media, social media, and contain their spread. No matter what happens outside the country, there should be no danger to the social fabric at the locality, colony, apartment or village level.
We also want that media, social media and educational syllabus etc. should be under the scanner of our citizens and civil society. Irrespective of whoever is trying to poison the peaceful environment of the country, to whichever religion or sect he may belong, no matter how influential or politically connected he may be, the law should take strict notice of this and for this the society should help the government and also pressurize the government. We should counsel our youth, clear their minds and teach them to use social media responsibly.
The entire society should come together to oppose the tendency of taking the law in one’s own hands and stop it with all its might. Our country has proper laws and law enforcement agencies to handle them. The law should be allowed to take its own course and responsible citizens should assist in law enforcement. The best way to allow law to take its own course is to prevent mobs from taking the law in their hands. No group, political leader, journalist, newspaper or TV channel should be allowed to don the hat of the police, the judiciary and the hangman. We reiterate that the rule of law can be upheld only by the common and united efforts of all members of society.
In response to the currently prevailing alarming situation, it has been decided to launch a nation-wide campaign to convey the message of peace and humanity to all countrymen. Accordingly, the ‘Peace and Humanity Campaign’ from 21st August to 4th September 2016 is being observed. This is by no means a traditional awareness campaign; rather its goal is to bring about some firm and perceptible changes in society. While the objective of this campaign is also to appeal to the conscience of the country and rouse it, but beyond that our goal is to ensure the establishment of a string of institutions right from the community level to the local level and the promotion of necessary practices to help consistently counter this menace of communal hatred.
Press conference addressed by
- Mohammad Aharullah Shariff, State President Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Karnataka
- Shri Shri Shri Jaya Mrutyunjaya Swamiji, Panchamasaali Mata, Kudala Sangama
- Aravind Jatthi, State President Basava Samiti
- Akbar Ali Udupi, State Campaign Convenor
- Masud Abdul Khadar, State President Karnataka Muslim Muttahida Mahaz