In recent weeks communal violence in India has taken a very ugly turn. The seeds of conflict between the communities were always there. Now those seeds of conflict have sprouted to become an unmanageable weed. Before the country could pick itself up from the crash landing in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh where a poor back smith was dragged from his house and beaten to death by the town's people, a similar thing has taken place in Kashmir. The sensibility of certain members of the Hindus community was hurt because a cow was supposedly slaughtered. In the minds of the outraged people the situation justified the lynching. The person whom they thought had committed the crime deserved to die, they decided.

This sort of aggressive behavior on the part of the majority community is a new trend in India. It is senseless and deplorable. The presence of the BJP government in New Delhi, among many other things, has created a dangerous mindset. Including Prime Minister Narendra Modi many of the big wigs in the Party in Power come from the Rastriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS). All of them belong to the Sangh Parivar or RSS family. Some of its members, quoting the Vedas, say that the slaughtering of a cow is such a sin that the person who performs such an act should be killed. With this kind of thinking, killing of a man to avenge the killing of a cow sounds logical and rational. Since their own people run the Government, they think that they have a license from the government to do so.

RSS has always wanted a clear path to Hindu supremacy in India even if in number, wealth, education and in everything else Hindus in India are positioned highly. They do not need to declare their supremacy. It is obvious and everybody in the world knows it. Like Jews in Israel. But supremacy alone is not enough for the RSS elements. In the name of Hindutva they want to establish a Hindu Raj where non-Hindus would obey them - just like the Islamic State is preaching. They basically want an India that existed before Babar or Timur or Mahmud. The immediate result of such a line of thinking is that it creates internal tension and a very bad image for the country in the international arena. As a starter for example , PEN International, the world's leading association of writers working to promote literature and defend freedom of expression around the world, in a statement has said "We stand in solidarity with the more than 50 novelists, scholars, poets and public intellectuals who have returned their awards to the Akademi and admire their courage," PEN International President John Ralston Saul has written a letter to the President, the Prime Minister and the Sahitya Akedemi urging them to take "immediate steps" to "protect the rights of everyone, including writers and artists". The word "everyone" carries a lot of meaning. Then there was the general strike in Kashmir this week. Did anybody count as to how much damage was done to the nation's economy? The mindless action of a mob only helps create disaffection and alienation. And the volunteers of the RSS cannot wash their hands of this sin.

Thanks to its persistence BJP enjoys nearly a two thirds majority now in the Lok Sabha. In the past, Indira Gandhi, at the height of her popularity, enjoyed a similar strength in the Parliament. This was enough for her to change some parts of the Constitution. Likewise, some people within BJP may want to change the Constitution to their liking. But they do not have a solid two- thirds majority in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. This is a blessing. In a democracy, citizens are the "sovereign." Should they get thoroughly disaffected by an existing government they can throw it out by protesting against and non-cooperating with it. Indira Gandhi learned this in a hard way. Hence, the National Emergency. It would not be wishful thinking to say that the Modi Government could face a similar challenge from the citizenry. During Mrs Gandhi's period it was corruption. Now, it is communalism.

During the national Emergency of the 1970s many RSS workers and BJP members went to jail under a draconian law called Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) or Defense of India Rule (DIR). The lessons of those days should not be forgotten. Unfortunately, those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it. What a pity!

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