Rajnath Singh Leads By Example In Response To Amarnath Attack

Published: July 13, 2017 15:18 IST
Both the central and the state government of Jammu and Kashmir have displayed tremendous restraint and sagacity in their response to the ghastly terrorist strike against the Amarnath yatris. They have, rightfully, resisted the temptation to play to the gallery. They chose the tougher option of calming down passions, eschewing in the process the political advantage they could have gained by making it an "us versus" them" binary. Home Minister Rajnath Singh took the lead and the rest, including the state government and civil society in Jammu and Kashmir, followed.

When the Home Minister spoke of "Kashmiriyat", he did so not because he wanted to "appease" a particular community, but because he believed that at this hour India, and all Indians, must speak as one. He realises, as do all right-thinking Indians, that the way forward is through reconciliation and not confrontation, through collective action and not isolation, through standing together as one people and not through segregation.

But the moment was somewhat marred by the misplaced outburst of a few, including my friend and colleague Tarun Vijay, former BJP MP, on this website. He is not alone when he speaks of his "concern " for the "Hindustaniyat" of every Kashmiri, indeed of every Indian irrespective of their caste or creed. He speaks for all of us who love this country when he says that Kashmiriyat has no meaning if it is divorced from Hindustaniyat. Where my colleague gets it wrong is when he suggests that there was an absence of outrage over the lynching of Ayub Pandit, the brave policeman who was lynched to death, outside a Srinagar mosque. His lynching, like the others, was roundly condemned by speaker after speaker at the #NotInMyName protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.

Tarun Vijay's point about the selective outrage over the killings is a bit ironical. Both he and his ideological fellow travellers were conspicuous by their absence not just at the protests against the lynching but also at Tuesday's protests at Jantar Mantar in the capital - against the terror attack on the Amarnath yatris. It has probably escaped his notice that civil society members were out protesting not just in Delhi, but also in Srinagar.

His claim that Hindus are unsafe in India is untrue especially when you consider the powerful facts unearthed by the data website India Spend. Between 2010 to 2017, Muslims have been at the receiving end of 51% of violence relating to bovine issues and 86% of those who have died in such incidents belonged to the minority community.

That there are more cases of violence taking place in the country currently is undeniable. But to say that the majority community is being targeted and Hindus are unsafe in this land is not borne out by facts. Deaths whether by lynching or through other violent means, irrespective of the religion or caste of the deceased, need to be condemned. But we cannot be selective in our condemnation or in expressing our sorrow. We should not, as Indians, differentiate between the dead based on their religion.

Selective media coverage - another accusation by Tarun Vijay - is an issue that can be argued from both sides. Having spent over three decades in the profession, I realise that our media can do with a greater degree of restraint and circumspection. Just look at the restraint with which the BBC covered the recent spate of terror attacks in England. We in the Indian media need to verify facts before passing judgement. Labelling someone a 'terrorist" or 'bigot" or "mastermind" even before the security agencies have completed their investigations is not fair game and in the long run, it does more harm than good.

At a time when social tensions are on the rise, the way forward is reconciliation not confrontation, resolution not conflict, unity not division, togetherness not division. The terror attack on the yatris was a part of a diabolical designed to incite a communal flare up both in Jammu and Kashmir and in the rest of the country. Rajnath Singh did well by stepping in. He is a seasoned politician who realises that an India that is united and at peace with itself stands a much better chance of thwarting its enemies than a country that is divided and at war with itself. Tarun Vijay is no green horn either, he is a seasoned journalist and has been around in politics for several years, he needs to takes a leaf out of the Home Minister's book. Misplaced outrage is no substitute for decency and wisdom. It does nothing for the dignity of the government or the ruling party when one of their leaders resorts to imagined slights. And citizens have a right to expect statesmanship and solutions from their leaders, not partisanship.

(The writer is a senior journalist and political analyst.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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