Let me clarify some things first.
- This is not going to be an article talking about the factual accuracies or inaccuracies of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAB), 2019.
- I am not going to take either side in this CAB debate. Neither I’m going to support CAB nor I’m going to speak against it. There’s already too much of that floating around.
- I do not intend to disrespect the sentiments of anyone through this article. You all are right in your own might. You all are sensible enough to make your opinion.
So, if you are looking for any of the above things, you won’t find it here. At this moment, you are free to walk. But I’ll appreciate it if you stay. 🙂
Now that we’ve laid the groundwork, let’s discuss why I am here today. What do I intend to achieve with this frivolous piece here? Neither am I an expert nor a journalist. Neither am I old enough nor aware enough. What I am though, is just an average guy.
Just like most of you, I go to an ordinary 9 to 5 job to earn my bread and butter. I spend my weekdays waiting for the weekend to come. I get stuck in traffic, I worry about my finances, and I dream about making it big in life. At times I fret, at times I fear. But more often than not, I don’t understand the political intricacies of things that happen in our country.
When a guy on my TV set tells me something, I believe him. I believe the facts he presents and the arguments he makes. As soon as I change the TV channel, I find another guy making a different set of arguments on the same issue. Being the smart guy that I am, I start believing him as well. “He’s making a lot more sense,” I tell myself.
Tired of all these arguments and counter-arguments, I open Facebook to have a little break. But thanks to Mr. Zuckerberg’s algorithms, I end up watching another video on the same issue where this third guy makes a completely different set of arguments. Once again, being the smart guy that I am…
Coming onto CAB
That’s where we are at with this whole CAB issue. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong. But what I know is that it’s affecting people around me. CAB or no CAB, we can’t let it take away our humanity.
“These Muslims should keep quiet. They have no right to protest against what Modi Ji is doing,” said a man traveling in the same e-rickshaw as me. “These Muslim students should just focus on their studies. Why do they have to protest?” replied another man traveling in the same vehicle.
When I reached my office, I was greeted with a similar conversation while on the lunch table. While one of my coworkers was talking about the foolishness of the whole thing, the other one was bashing Muslims for being ignorant to the apparently great work that Modi Ji has done for this country.
As always, I didn’t speak or react. As people who know me would attest, I rarely partake in group conversations, mostly keeping to myself. But what I noticed was a common theme between all these conversations. These all were Indians who were looking at their fellow citizens through the religion lens.
I didn’t feel that an Indian is talking about another Indian. Rather I felt that a Hindu was talking about a Muslim.
This realization broke me. It scared me, to be honest. This apparently insignificant conversation made me realize how our politicians have succeeded in creating a divide between us. Whatever CAB set out to achieve, is unimportant now. For it has already done much more damage.
MY HUMBLE REQUEST TO YOU ALL
The Holocaust didn’t start with the gas chambers.
The genocides in Rwanda and Cambodia didn’t start with mass killings.
They started with discrimination & hate speech.
I am not saying one or the other group is right. There may be faults on both sides. Maybe the government has made some mistakes. Maybe the people have made some mistakes. All I am saying is, wherever your loyalties lie, start treating the other person as a fellow Indian, not a Muslim or Hindu.
You may support CAB or you may not. You may love Modi or you may hate him. But YOU MUST TREAT YOUR FELLOW CITIZEN WITH RESPECT. There is no place for hate in an incredible country like India. That’s all I ask of you. It’s not us versus them. It will never be.
It’s okay if you think who’s this guy to preach us. I agree. I am no one. But maybe, just maybe, this time a no one must be heard.
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