Hindu phobia is real and real challenges need cool-headed handling
Many community leaders opine that Indians need to be become more political. There is a need to come together as a community, not just to celebrate festivals but to make themselves heard.
The more some of our liberal friends try to deny or whitewash the rising challenge of Hindu phobia, the more it seems to be raising its ugly head with worrying frequency. Hindus are facing intermittent attacks and barring a few, in almost all cases, from extremist Jehadi elements. In the recent spate of violence reported from various towns and cities of the United Kingdom, a saffron flag was burnt, a temple was attacked, devotees held hostage, and threatened with dire consequences.
At other locations too, Hindus are being terrorised. So much so that they have been compelled to remove all religio-cultural markers from their balconies, home fronts, cars, etc. Women and children are avoiding venturing out after dark as men in groups are reported to be prowling on the streets trying to scare, threaten, attack Hindus. Though this is not the first time Hindus in the UK are facing a threat to their security just for being Hindus, it is definitely the most vicious and widespread one. From my conversations with members of the Indian diaspora in the last one week, it is also worth noting that media reports from the UK do not reflect the gravity of the situation at all.
From Leicester to Birmingham and beyond, there is panic over normal, day to day activities like going to work, shopping, school and social interactions. But more importantly, there is huge shadow cast on the upcoming festivals. Dandiya-Garba gatherings have been curtailed, Durga Puja is likely to be dull and people have conveyed that they would prefer to be indoors.
"We are actively engaging with the Indian community and ensuring that the festivals, Pujas and Dandiyas are not cancelled anywhere. But that can only be possible when the police guarantee optimum security for everyone," confided a responsible member of INSIGHT UK, an advocacy group working for the Indian community. While the stern message from New Delhi and the subsequent meeting of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with his UK counterpart James Cleverly did prompt the police to step up vigil, Indian residents are far from reassured, they say.
There is already an advisory issued by Government of India with regard to safety of Indians in Canada. This follows heightened tension in the light of the referendum call for Khalistan by organisations like the Sikhs for Justice. These organisations keep ranting anti-India rhetoric day and night on all media platforms and though the Canadian government claims they do not support them, there is no evidence of reining them either.
In the US too, there are constant efforts to create a bogey against the Hindu community. Sadly, leading media professionals, media houses, academics and intellectuals/influencers are known to contribute to it with more than a generous help from their Indian friends. A section of our own intelligentsia which is desperate to vilify the current political dispensation but has failed to find much traction in the country is hyper active in such campaigns.
While they have every right to run a political campaign against any political party or government, they have no right to jeopardise the safety and security of the diaspora. In the light of the recent attacks in the UK, several commentators were quick to point fingers at Modi government. Not surprisingly though. Another notable reason, as concerned Indians told me, is the fact that the Indian community is making its mark in every field by dint of sheer hard work, merit and the drive to succeed. This has made countries like Pakistan jittery and thus create a phobia against the Indians. Scratch an extremist, a Jehadi or an anti-India activist and the roots can be traced to our western neighbour without exception.
So, how does the threatened, terrorised Indian community deal with the challenge? Many community leaders are of the opinion that while Indians are almost all law abiding, peaceful, non-confrontationist in their attitude, they need to be become more political. There is a need to come together as a community, not just to celebrate festivals but to make themselves heard. This needs organisation and regular interaction. While working out trade, diplomacy and other issues, New Delhi too must stress that safety of the diaspora is non-negotiable. And finally the resolve to not get cowed down but wear their cultural identity of their sleeves proudly. But for that positive and timely intervention of the concerned governments is a must.
(Smita Mishra writes on politics and current affairs)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of OneIndia and OneIndia does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.