Chennai: The Madras High Court has taken a firm position and said religious intolerance is not good for a secular country and resistance by one religious group, if reciprocated by another, could lead to chaos and riots.
A bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and P Velmurugan made this remark during the hearing of an appeal over taking out temple processions by villagers at V Kalathur in Perambalur district in Tamil Nadu on a specified route, objected to by local Muslims.
The Court said:
Merely because one religious group is dominating in a particular locality, it cannot be a ground to prohibit other religious groups from celebrating religious festivals or taking out processions through those roads.
If religious intolerance is going to be allowed, it is not good for a secular country. Intolerance in any form by any religious group has to be curtailed and prohibited.
In this case, intolerance of a particular religious group is exhibited by objecting for the festivals that have been conducted for decades together and the procession through the streets and roads of the village are sought to be prohibited, stating that the area is dominated by Muslims and therefore, there cannot be any Hindu festival or procession through the locality.
If the contention of the private respondent is to be accepted, then it would create a situation in which minority people cannot conduct any festival or procession in most of the areas in India.
If resistance is being exhibited by one religious group and it is reciprocated by the other religious groups, there would be chaos, riots, religious fights, causing loss of lives and destruction of properties.
“Hindu Muslim Unity” was the mantra which Gandhi recited as Pakistan was carved out of India as a separate country for Muslims.
Gandhi’s mantra remained the basic flaw on which India was illegally premised for. The Constitution that the people of India gave to themselves did not give any credence to people of religion. It simply presumed that the only identity that was meaningful was that of being an Indian citizen. Being of a religion was acceptable only insofar as it was a private matter. The Indian National Congress and its leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and more recently Rahul Gandhi thought otherwise.
The statement of Hindu Muslim unity even after Muslims had been provided with a separate country however created an anomalous situation.
In a country where religion was always undefined, where people did not believe in any book of religion, where gods were strictly a personal matter and everyone was free to choose whomsoever they wished to believe in as god in whatsoever manner they chose to do so, the insistence to identify Muslims as a separate group of people was problematic.
Soon enough the Congress party discovered that they could build upon this continuing separation by claiming that Muslims in India were safe only under Congress rule. Political scientists– especially those who were in thrall of the Congress– soon began to inform us that Muslims only voted for the Congress. They also pointed out that Muslims did not vote for the Bhartiya Janata Party since the BJP talked of India as a nation and refused to differentiate Muslims as a separate group within India.
This particular way of highlighting the separateness of Muslims from the rest of India continued even when Narendra Modi entered politics, became the Chief Minister of Gujarat and demonstrated that a fair and just administration which did not distinguish people on the basis of religion was far more welcome for the people than one which was based on separating people in the name of religion and caste.
The idea of Muslims being separate from all Indians was so deeply ingrained in the Congress psyche that they– the Congress ideologues, the intellectuals embedded in the Congress system– insisted that the victory of Modi in the elections of 2014 and then in 2019 was despite Muslims not voting for him.
Is there any possibility that the Congress ideologues and intellectuals embedded in the Congress way of thinking will realise the tremendous harm that they are causing to Muslims in India?
Will the Muslims of India get up to reject the Congress and its way of thinking?
Will the Muslims of India publicly state, forcefully and not just in private, that their religion is inconsequential in public matters?
Rajiv Lochan is a distinguished scholar-historian, author and columnist