On June 27, 2022, Delhi Police arrested Mohammed Zubair of Alt News for a post in 2018 in which he had shared a screenshot of a scene from a 1986 Hindi film titled Kisi Se Na Kahna. The caption of the post reads… Before 2014- Honeymoon Hotel; After 2014-Hanuman Hotel. Delhi police acted on an online complaint by a twitter user Hanuman Bhakt (@balajikijaiin) in which he complained of hurting his sentiments as God Hanuman is a Brahmchari. Connecting God Hanuman to a honeymoon hotel seemed to hurt his religious feelings.
However, after the arrest of Zubair, social media was flooded with Hashtag #IstandwithZubair and many people felt that this arrest was unnecessary as the above screenshot was of a film and it should be taken as a light hearted joke. But the real question here is, what was the motive of putting a screenshot of a Bollywood film where a revered God is connected to honeymoon? Motive is the real issue. It doesn’t seem to me that it was for a slaugh, it was for something else.
When the former spokesperson of BJP Nupur Sharma, said something about Prophet Muhammad, which was true in nature, the entire liberal and Left intellectuals were talking about the motive of the statement. Many people felt even though what she said was true, her motive was to insult a revered figure of Islam and they wanted Nupur Sharma to be arrested for the same. In the case of Nupur Sharma, it was the motive that was the primary concern, not the factual sentence, then why the same logic can’t be applied in the case of Zubair. Though his post mentioned a movie scene, what was his motive to put it selectively and write a caption above it? In many movies and social media discourse, there are many things that may be sensitive to a particular religion, and if a person selectively highlights them, Shouldn’t he be questioned for his motives?
In Nupur Sharma’s case, Muslims took a procession around all over the country and demanded her arrest, and Indian intellectuals supported their demand. If you ask a person to be arrested for hurting the feelings of a community, then the other community has all right to ask for the same
In the book of law, motive is something that is given utmost importance. In the absence of a sinister motive, a person can be freed even after committing a crime, as it would be thought to be an accident. But when the motive of crime is established, law finds the person guilty, this is the universal law. It is very much clear in this case that the said post was not for a laugh, but it was for mocking people who believe in certain ideology.
No Support For Ketaki Chitale
The problem with India is that here people react differently on different occasions. Marathi actress Ketaki Chitale was arrested for a derogatory post against NCP Chief Sharad Pawar and she spent 41 days in jail, Remember 41 days. But there was no tweeter campaign in support of her, nor the civil society debated her arrest. This is where the problem starts. Last year, too, when a Facebook post denegrating Prophet Muhammad was shared, Muslims came on roads and started riots in Bangalore. At that time too, Indian liberals didn’t talk about fundamentalism in Islam, rather they chose to talk about the law and order situation in Karnataka as it was a BJP-ruled State. In Nupur Sharma’s case, Muslims took a procession around all over the country and demanded her arrest, and Indian intellectuals supported their demand. If you ask a person to be arrested for hurting the feelings of a community, then the other community has all right to ask for the same. Defining which post is hurtful and which is not, is very tricky. It is a vicious cycle, it never ends. At the time, intellectuals need to stand for a foe, and discard the hurting religious feeling as a base of arresting someone. Earlier, they chose to stand for religious feelings. Now they want to stand for a foe, how can both things go together?
Tolerance of Hinduism Vrs Intolerance of Abrahamic Faiths
Hindus are taught to be tolerant about their religious identity. Hindus have multiple Gods and multiple ways to reach Him that inherently make them tolerant toward others’ way of life. On the other hand, Abrahamic religions like Islam and Christian are inherently intolerant as they believe in only their God. For them all other Gods are false, except theirs. This sense of disregarding other religions is the bone of contention in our world. Intolerance of Muslims affects the tolerance of Hindus. When a Hindu sees how intolerant a Muslim can be, when it comes to his religion, he finds his tolerance is of no use. In layman terms, “An iron cuts an iron” is becoming popular nowadays.
A tolerant community and an intolerant community are bound to have contentions. A tolerant community feels that their tolerance has been taken for granted while the intolerant always has his way. On such occasions, tolerance seems to be a weakness, and nobody wants to see himself as weak. The tolerant Hindu society being concerned about its religious identity and its sentiments it a perfect example of it.
Indian intellectuals want Hindus to be tolerant toward their religious sentiments and at the same time they want Hindus to be sensitive toward respecting the religious feelings of others. This double standard can’t go hand in hand. Either you have to stand for foe or you have to stand for the religious feeling of each and every community. Religious sentiment is a fragile thing, it reminds me of a video of a Pakistani in which he felt offended by a Bar code which resembled Allah hu Akbar in Arabic.
Indian intellectuals have made a grave mistake by supporting the arrest of Nupur Sharma citing hurting religious feelings. Now they are in a fix when a Hindu claims the same. Double sword is a dangerous thing, it will kill you ultimately. It is high time that Indian intellectuals take a definite stand.