India’s questionable secularity
Recently a judge of India’s Meghalaya High Court said in a statement that India should have been declared a Hindu country after Partition, and that if anyone tried to make it an Islamic country, it would be doomsday for India and the world. Justice S.R.Sen gave this ‘sensitive’ statement while delivering a judgment on a petition filed by an Army recruit Amon Rana, who was denied a domicile certificate by Meghalaya administration. Justice Sen further added, ‘Pakistan declared themselves as an Islamic country and India since was divided on the basis of religion should have also been declared as a Hindu country but it remained as a secular country.’ This statement of the Justice S.R.Sen has given rise to a severe uneasiness among different communities living in India particularly the Sikh community. The Sikhs are worried about their future if India is announced a Hindu-homeland. Moreover if the government of India mistakenly takes the statement of Justice S.R.Sen seriously, the slogan of ‘Secular India’ would no longer remain valid.
The ‘self-claimed’ secular status of India has always been looked at with a lot of doubts and suspicions. It is true to some extent that constitutionally India is a secular state but when we see the Muslims being butchered in the streets of Gujarat and in the valleys of the Indian Occupied Kashmir, the impact and impression goes rather otherwise. It is a very unfortunate fact that in secular India, Muslims, Sikhs and even Christians are brutally persecuted every day. According to a report prepared in August 2017, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom ranked India’s persecution severity at ‘Tier 2’ along with Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover Open Doors’ World Watch list India has risen from No. 31 to No. 11 in the past six years. Human Rights Watch says in an analysis that ‘violence against Christians in India is used as a tool to meet political ends’. The analysis further says, ‘The acts of violence include arson of churches, conversion of Christians by force and threats of physical violence, sexual assaults, murder of Christian priests and destruction of Christian schools, colleges, and cemeteries.’ And all this is done by the Hindu extremists who are never taken to task; in most of the cases they get to walk scot-free. Same is the case with the Sikh community. An online magazine ‘Media Diversified’ has recently published an article of Shuranjeet Singh Takhar. The writer says, “Since the election of the BJP in 2014, Sikhs have felt vilified within a Hindu nationalist imagination of India, an ideology known as Hindutva. Looking to silence and erase those who do not conform to its beliefs, Hindutva posits that India is a state solely for Hindus.”
Human Rights Watch says in an analysis that ‘violence against Christians in India is used as a tool to meet political ends’.
What is a secular state; this question could be easily answered in the light of different definitions of a secular state. According to the definition provided by the World Atlas, ‘A secular state is a country where religion does not play a part in law making’. Another definition says, ‘A secular state is or purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion. A secular state claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential treatment for a citizen from a particular religion or non-religion over other religion or non-religion. Secular states do not have a state religion or an equivalent.’ If we analyze India in the light of all these definitions, we would find no secularity in India. Be it the Sikh, Christian or the Muslim community, no one is safe and secure at the hands of the Hindu extremists. The government machinery fully protects these extremists by using all fair and foul means. We have the example of the Babri Mosque; if India were a secular state, the Babri Mosque would never have been demolished in December 1992. The demolition resulted in several months of inter-communal rioting between Hindu and Muslim communities, causing the death of at least 2,000 people, most of them Muslims. If India were really a secular state, all perpetrators of this demolition should have been taken to task but no such thing ever happened. Former Intelligence Bureau Joint Director, Maloy Krishna Dhar claimed in a statement that Babri mosque demolition was planned 10 months in advance by top leaders of the RSS and BJP.
Judges are expected to be very learned and well-knowing people but the matter with Justice S.R.Sen seems altogether different. It seems either he knows nothing about the so-called secularity in India or he is intentionally expressing his ignorance. The condition of Justice S.R.Sen doesn’t seem different from that of King Hamlet for which Shakespeare has used the term ‘antic-disposition’.