An open letter to a prominent English newspaper in India by somebody who has chosen to remain anonymous is floating freely on WhatsApp today. It begins by saying: let’s join hands and circulate to all who is of the opinion that what was published yesterday was a gross mistake.
Addressing the Editor, the letter says:
“I have been a loyal reader of the newspaper (name withheld) for the last 40+ years but today I couldn’t help but hang my head in shame looking at your coverage of Yakub Memon – his hanging, his last procession, the hordes who thronged his funeral, details of his last day in jail, his family’s emotions, the judicial process, what not! Not a word about the feelings of the victims of the ’93 blasts.
I was aghast to see 6 whole pages devoted to the Great Martyr while poor old APJ Abdul Kalam was relegated to some obscure corner. I sincerely feel that this sort of coverage it was obscene, insensitive, unnecessary & completely irresponsible. Not at all expected from a publication of your stature & repute.
In view of this, I am sorry to inform you that I am constrained to terminate our longstanding relationship. I am no longer subscribing to your paper starting tomorrow.”
This letter is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the seething issue of communal divide that appears to be threatening the fabric of communal amity in the Indian sub-continent.
Yesterday a district collector in Madhya Pradesh, who was the chief guest at a workshop was grim and looking forlorn as he pointed out during a conversation on the sidelines that people in this country have been given access to the mobile technology and smart phones when large section of the population is not mature enough to handle this facility. To drive home his point, he drew attention to the no holds barred debate packed with venom that has got unleashed across the social media over the hanging of Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon. He pointed to the ferocious manner in which the opinion on this issue has been divided and went on to observe that it would not be an exaggeration, keeping in view the global security environment, to say that we are sitting on a powder keg. The collector even went on to express the apprehension that the social media is being misused as an instrument to fan communal divide by disruptionist elements and terror groups located outside the country. The way abuses are being hurled by citizens who are joining the discussion boards in large horde is something those responsible for maintaining general peace and law and order cannot afford to ignore, the district collector said.
When asked for his reaction, an NRI based in Paris for more than 3 decades, said that he would want to be optimistic but the divide over the hanging points towards the danger of India moving on to a more repressive society… with strong parties dictating to the population what is right and what is wrong and widening the divide in the process. The furhter splintering of the sub-continent is a scary perspective, he said adding “let us always remember that this is still possible. Pointing that “Nationhood is an ideal and we are light years away from achieving this goal”, he said “We need to spread the good word… that people are human beings first…and have to remain humane…..