The provocation theory will sound the death knell not only for Hindus but also for Indian democracy
The past few days have been particularly difficult for India. The country’s so-called majority, often demonized without any evidence for persecuting minorities, faces relentless violence against its religious processions organized on the occasion of Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti.
Like cities after cities, cities after cities are witnessing a similar pattern of violence on shobha yatras, a most dangerous theory has been invented by left-wing liberals which, if given even an iota of support, has the potential to turn into a literal gas chamber for the Hindus of this country. This theory is the provocation theory. According to leftist liberals, the incidents of violence on Hindu religious processions were a reaction to the provocation caused by the procession participants themselves. It was their act to wave bhagva flags in mosques, making processions along routes that crossed “Muslim areas” and playing bhajans and slogans in front of the mosque that caused Muslims to slingshot them and shoot them with revolvers and pistols.
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Left-wing liberals have further justified Muslims’ anxiety to engage in violent acts because, in their view, these shobha yatras and processions are a newly invented craze among right-wing organizations and since they are a feature of the BJP’s rise to power, ‘frightened and fearful’ Muslims are right to react violently to this ‘new phenomenon’.
But the fact is that not only this theory of provocation, but also the foundation on which it rests, is fragile to say the least. Let’s first put the foundations of the theory to a test. Are the Liberals right when they start rumors that the bhagva the flag was rolled up at the mosque or permission for the procession was not requested? No. In the latest case of violence at Jahangirpuri in Delhi, verified Twitter accounts spreading these outright lies have been debunked by the Delhi Police investigation. Not only the authorization of shobha yatra duly taken but also a fake video of the planting of the flag in the mosque was broadcast to justify the violence. And, on the allegation that these shobha yatras are a new phenomenon, left liberals clearly need to read better because in their own academic research 2-3 decades ago they only studied in detail these religious practices and its role in Hindu culture.
The whole theory of provocation falls like a deck of cards when one carefully analyzes the modus operandi of each of these attacks. Large stocks of stones, swords, petrol bombs and the like require at least weeks, if not months, to arrange. So did the attackers already know that the processions would be provocative if the preparations continued in advance?
In fact, truth be told, the whole premise of “provocation” is a sinister, irresponsible, and flagrant violation of the Constitution. According to the Constitution of India, every religious community has the freedom to practice their religion and similarly, all Indians are eligible to live freely across the country without any discriminatory exclusion by reserving localities as “Muslim areas”.
To justify the violence of extremist Islamists, the liberals are opening a whole Pandora’s box. It’s akin to rapists saying they raped because the victim wore short clothes until the rape became a societal threat. This is what the practice of Islam threatens to become in India: a societal threat. Today some states make the 100 meter zone around mosques off-limits to other religions, tomorrow the street violence veto will force them to declare the practices of other religions as offensive to practitioners of Islam. Remember how angry Hanuman stickers have been declared offensive to this particular minority. Remember how Sharjeel Usmani gave the battle cry “Jai Shri Ram”. Remember how several tweets by verified handles called Holi celebration and Diwali offensive.
By placing the burden of violence on Hindus not to offend this particular community, a dangerous game is being played. That day is not far off when the mere existence of Hindus will be declared provocative. We have examples galore for that. In neighboring countries, Hindu minorities face conversion, rape and murder because their idolatry and practices are seen as “provocative” to Islam. Islam, by its nature, is based on principles of exclusion. There is a division between Momin and Kafir in the holy book with clear mandates on how to ensure that ‘Kafir’ is subdued. Thanks to the fact that India is a secular republic, hardline Islamists who would like to enforce the “mandates” have so far not gained traction. But left-wing liberals are giving them cover fire to enforce something along these lines. Nothing justifies violence in a civilized society. A point that left liberals in their frustration for power have completely overlooked.
But all of this will have serious repercussions. This will not only threaten the existence of an entire community, but also India’s rise as a secular and liberal democracy. Any religion in such a society is ideally rooted in the state and not the other way around. By justifying the street violence of morons with a theory of provocation, left-wing liberals endanger the idea of India as given by our constitutional ancestors. No provocation justifies unleashed violence. It’s time to stop this dangerous trend and send a tough message to the street thugs by enforcing law and order with an iron fist.
The author holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Department of International Relations, University of South Asia. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the position of this publication.
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