“Islam is a close corporation and the distinction that it makes between Muslims and non-Muslims is a very real, very positive and very alienating distinction. The brotherhood of Islam is not the universal brotherhood of man. It is brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only. There is a fraternity but its benefit is confined to those within that corporation. For those who are outside the corporation, there is nothing but contempt and enmity”. – Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Pakistan or Partition of India, Thackers Publishers, Bombay, 1940, p.261
The entire nation was stunned by the audacity of the Islamic terrorists who dared to behead a tailor, Kanhaiya Lal, in Udaipur, Rajasthan. They not just recorded the entire Sar Tan Se Juda (beheading) process but also posted it on social media and threatened the Prime Minister of Bharat with similar action. The only crime of Kanhaiya Lal was his post in support of former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma. She had allegedly insulted Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, by quoting some incidents from his life in response to the mockery of Lord Shiva. The actual executors of the crime are now facing the investigation from the National Investigation Agency (NIA). But the mindset and actors that shape and encourage such minds must be nipped in the bud.
The two Islamic terrorists involved in this inhuman act, Ghaus Mohammed and Riyaz Attari, are from the Sufi-Barelvi sect of Sunni Islam and are linked to a Pakistan-based organisation, the Dawat-i-Islami. Such organisations worldwide propagate and practice Islam as per the Hadiths – injecting and inculcating Kafirophobia, an in-built hatred towards the non-believers of Islam. Of course, Ghaus and Riyaz are the actual executors. Still, the fundamentals that shaped their minds and the agents who carry those teachings are the equal culprits of the process. Many Muslim leaders and organisations are releasing statements against the act. Unfortunately, they are not outrightly discarding the Sar Tan Se Juda philosophy as Islamic scholars in a television discussion evaded it.
In the same discussion, another participant, representing the communist ideology, tried to give an intellectual justification to the slogan in the name of meaning and context. Then you have fake news peddlers masquerading as fact-checkers like Zubair. The media celebrities are quick enough to either whitewash or twist the acts of terror with their soft stories. The skilful are NGOs or human rights activists like Teesta Setlvad along with the terrorists who raise funds to manipulate the victims’ emotions to spread radicalism. Legal luminaries play their tricks to save the criminals. The academicians, think tanks and international organisations provide a conceptual and theoretical framework to defend the acts of terror. The secular politicians nurture communal hatred through their statements and policies, as Ashok Gehlot and Mamata Banerjee recently did. All these actors cultivate hateful minds and give confidence to the fanatics to take the law into their hands.
In Nupur Sharma’s case also, all these actors worked in tandem to spread the fake narrative about the ‘insult’. She was held responsible for the Kanpur mayhem and protests with the catchphrase Sar Tan Se Juda that literally means – the only punishment for insulting the founder of Islam is beheading. From Haqiqat Rai and Swami Shraddhanand to Kamlesh Tiwari and Kishan Bharwad, there have been executions and murders according to this slogan in the name of Blasphemy. Still, we were made to believe it to be only the Taliban or ISIS phenomenon. Ghaus and Riyaz have woken the masses from that slumber.
We are in a democracy with a Constitutional framework. Respecting each other’s sentiments while freely discussing and analysing the religious philosophies is integral to our freedom. Restrictions on them are defined by law. We need to curb the tendency of taking the law into the hands as done by Ghaus and Riyaz and punish the people according to the religious mandate. There is a need to reject the philosophical foundations of Sar Tan Se Juda. Diversity can be celebrated when we dare to expose all strategies that propagate, promote and protect the people who believe in such an undemocratic and inhuman philosophy of beheading.