The Indian press heaved a collective sigh of regret when Malala Yousafzai did not win the Nobel Prize for Peace. Every newspaper and TV channel loves a good story, and Malala’s offered everything. A courageous girl ready to fight to death for her right to education, and a chance to gloat over Pakistan’s abysmal human rights record. All was well, except for one tiny matter that was washed over. One of the contenders for the Peace Prize was Indian, and surely as deserving to be called an apostle of peace. She was Irom Sharmila, who had been nominated for her twelve-year long fast to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, a draconian law that gives the armed forces immunity from prosecution in “disturbed” areas.
I have two Kashmiri brothers.
I wonder how my neighbours will react if I tell them this. Will they look at me with narrowed eyes? Will every broker I call looking for an apartment make eager offers until the moment he hears my name? Then suddenly all the flats get booked; the house we had agreed upon gets leased out at the last minute. Some, at least, are honest. They tell you to your face, “We don’t rent out to Muslims.” And the hunt for a decent place to stay, without people questioning your religious affiliation, continues.
I wonder if the day I get the keys to my house, bought from my hard earned money, a passerby will overhear me conversing in my mother tongue and alert the others. If the residents of the colony will round up and bully me to leave. Threaten to cut the electricity and water connection. Offer to call the police if I don’t get out of the building.
No, it doesn’t work like that. Tying a rakhi does not make me a part of the league. I still look like I come from the other side; I have a Hindu name for starters. I am entitled to live in peace. Everyone else can rot in hell.
This is India, where we brazenly proclaim that no citizen will be discriminated against on the basis of religion or community. Then turn around and do just that.
This is India. We live in a glorious pit of shame .
We call ourselves a secular and socialist republic. Teach your children that in your xenophobic homes. Teach them that in India secularism means “We hate anyone different” and that socialist means “Nakkad wale disco, udhaar wale khisko”.
Teach them that in a democracy it is the voice of the majority that counts. The minority have no voice. Tell them that we do not need the government or bureaucracy to make a sham of the ideals enshrined in the Constitution. We are doing fine by ourselves.
Teach your children that when God preached love and forgiveness to all human beings, he forgot to mention that you must ask their surname first.
(Reblogged from The Scribe)