Those who thought, the entire debate over intolerance has ended with the start of a new year and no major elections for political parties to fight for, need to think twice.
The champions of peace and justice strongly feel that when assassins of rationalist MM Kalburgi are still at large, Mangalore-based activist Vidya Dinker continued being hounded for standing against the ban on Shah Rukh Khan's film Dilwale in her home city by Bajrang Dal goons and minorities belonging to various walks of life repeatedly facing violence, the debate should continue to find a solution to rising intolerance in the country.
A talk on ‘State Intolerance Against Our Lives' organized by Bengaluru-based NGO Ondede (Convergence in Kannada) at St Joseph's College, Shantinagar in the city on Tuesday (January 5) discussed at length how intolerance breeds fear among citizens.
Ondede works mostly with women, children and sexual minorities.
Mangalore, hub of fundamentalism
Citing several instances of intolerance and violence in the coastal city of Mangalore, Vidya, who was one of the panelists, said the city was witnessing rise in both Hindu and Islamic fundamentalism.
"Mangalore is a nice, breezy and a cosmopolitan city. It is soon going to be one of the ‘Smart Cities' to be developed under the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD). Unfortunately, it has a dark underbelly," she added.
Vidya condemned how immoral policing by goons belonging to different religious groups are taking control of the lives of the people. "They've perpetrated fear in the minds of people. Several such cases go unreported."
She narrated how a group of 15 Bajrang Dal members stopped theatres from screening Dilwale, as its main star Shah Rukh spoke about intolerance.
"When we protested about it, I was threatened and bullied. They threatened to rape and kill me on the social media. I have filed a complaint against 24 Bajrang Dal goons. I won't stay silent. The goons can't misuse the social media to intimidate people," she added.
Lessons on love for youngsters
Since the talk was hosted at a city college, several students were part of the audience. The youngsters learnt few lessons on love, when Arvind Narrain founder member of Alternative Law Forum and human rights activist asked his young friends to create a new world order based on love with any discrimination.
Probably, this was for the first time when college students in their campus were encouraged to fall in love without any fear or biases.
"We need to find a solution to end intolerance from society. Idea of love is revolutionary. Love is a deep constitutional philosophy. State can't tell us whom we can love, neither our parents," he said, as crowd cheered.
Make marginalized sections visible
One of the solutions cited during the discussion was to make the marginalized sections of society visible. "Let marginalized sections become visible to end intolerance," said Shakun Mohini, women's rights activist from Vimochana.
"It is unfortunate that our parliamentarians were not even ready to discuss issues of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community. We witnessed their homophobic and transphobic nature recently when Congress MP Shashi Tharoor attempted to introduce a private member's bill that sought to decriminalise gay sex, in the Lok Sabha. By rejecting the bill, they have rejected millions of Indians their rights to lead their lives without any fear. If this is not intolerance, then what?" asked Akkai Padmashali, an LGBT activist and founder of Ondede.