Between Death and Hatred

March 22, 2020 at 9:15 PMMar (Activism, Friends, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

In continuation of the battle against CAA-NRC-NPR, we (a group that is united to uphold constitutional values and communal harmony) were planning to have a workshop today in Udupi, a small town in coastal Karnataka. The purpose of the workshop was to train a bunch of trainers in  who could go later meet the communities at the block level and educate them about NPR and also to help strategize on how to resist NPR.

On the 18th when the DC imposed section 144 in the district, to fight the spread of Coronavirus, an emergency meeting was called where the core committee of the group met. Majority of them at the meeting said they believed the imposition of section 144 was to diffuse the protests. So they were all of the opinion that we should go ahead and conduct the workshop as planned, for 100-150 people.

Shocked by this, I raised objection and said the threat of virus spread shouldn’t be taken lightly and we should postpone the workshop for the time being. Some (largely ladies) agreed with me and suggested we cancel the workshop for now. But still a majority felt that as warriors who are out on a mission and have already begun to fight the Government, shouldn’t care for anything and just continue the battle. They began to call legal experts and take opinion on what would be the implications of not bending to the imposition of section 144. I urged all to not consult a legal expert but medical experts. Thankfully the one presiding the meeting felt the need to consult a medical expert and made a call to one medical expert who strictly advised against any gathering for whatever purpose. Though not happy to listen to it, quite a few gave up on insisting that we go ahead with the workshop. Yet not all were convinced. The one presiding over the meeting said, “I dont see the Government going ahead with NPR by putting the lives of teachers at risk for the collection of data.”

At this point one senior Muslim man said, “I realize that there is a serious medical threat. We can take some precautions for that while conducting the workshop. I feel the Government is quite cunning. They will impose 144 and create panic till the day before NPR data collection is to begin and then will go ahead with their own plan and complete the process of NPR. If teachers do not cooperate they might hire the cadres of RSS and do it,” and asked, “if such a thing is to happen, what are we to do?”

I froze. It seemed like this man, heart in heart believes, the Government is more cruel than the pandemic. An interpretative reading of his words make me realize that for him either God or science will come to our rescue if infected by the virus. But there is nothing that can save us from this Government other than our fight against it, however bleak the chances of our protests triumphing in this battle. To stretch it a bit further- even God cant save us from this Government!

Also, his words reflected how his mind could be asking him as to what the point of surviving a pandemic would be if in the end one is to lose their home(land)? Though I continued to argue till the end of the meeting that at this point we should prioritize our safety, I am still feeling guilty about my privileged position which can clearly, whether right or wrong, prioritize safety over security, while people like the senior Muslim man who spoke, cannot make such prioritization. If there is no assurance of a life of dignity and equality, what is the point of such a life? – his words question. Hence he is ready to take a risk with Coronovirus, but is not ready to take any chance with the poisonous Government which is determined to show people like him their place, as per the new vision of the nation revised by the forces behind the Government.

There was a message that kept circulating on whatsapp few days ago which read: samajh mein nahi aa raha, naagarikta bachaaye, khaata bachaaye ya jaan bachaaye!

It certainly is easy to make sense of death than to make sense of hatred.

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