COMMUNALISM IN INDIA
Communalism is like a double-edged sword, it acts both ways
-Atal Bihari Vajpayee
The Preamble of the Indian Constitution states India to be a secular country with a diverse population of various religious, linguistic, and ethnic groups. The word secular basically means that there is no national religion or that the country does not prioritize just one religion. It was only added in 1976 by the 42nd Amendment. The term “secularism” refers to a philosophy that advocates the separation of the state from religion and advocates giving all religions the same status, respect, and financial support from the government. Equal possibilities to practice all religions are upheld by secularism, which also opposes prejudice and bias based on religion. India is a country of diverse nature. There are people from a lot of religions, castes, and even from different countries. Unity in diversity is an important motto of our country that is how our country differs from the rest of the countries in the world.
WHAT IS COMMUNALISM
Communalism means when people of one community or religion go against the people of another community or religion. They start feeling themselves as superior than others. social organisation on communal basis gives birth to hatred in society which ultimately ends in conflicts in society. it impedes socio-economic development of society. Environment with distrust results in peoples suspicious of each other’s community often causes riots. Communalism is an ideology which states that society is divided into religious communities whose interest differ and are, at times, even opposed to each other. In western world communalism is referred as: a theory or system of government in which virtually autonomous local communities are loosely in federation.
The antagonism practiced by the people of one community against the other community and religion can be termed as communalism. Communalism in South Asia is used to denote the differences between various religious groups and among the people of different community. Communalism is found in Africa, Europe, Australia, India, Pakistan etc. But in countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal Communalism is a significant in socio-economic and political issues.
THE CASE IN INDIA
The term ‘communalism’ was first used by British colonialists to describe the situation of colonies like India and Malaysia, where religious minorities existed alongside a religious majority. The colonial use of the term gave it a negative connotation of bigotry, divisiveness and parochialism, thus helping to justify the colonial civilizing mission. It was also a way of understanding Indian history as colonialists saw and lived it. It apparently corresponded to the pattern of colonial expansion—defeat of the Mughal Empire, of Hindu princely kingdoms, of Ranjit Singh’s Sikh empire. Indian nationalists adopted the term, accepted its negative significations, but saw it as a colonial, post British phenomenon rather than a pre-colonial circumstance that the British inherited. Since, contrary to earlier hopes, communalism did not progressively decline after Partition and Independence, the task of reassessing the situation and searching for a deeper understanding of it has assumed new urgency
Communalism is one of the most serious problems that India has to face after her freedom from colonial rule in the mid of 20th Century. This problem, which has existed among the followers of two principal religious communities- Hindus and Muslims – many times raised a great challenge before the secular structure of India. In the name of religion such acts have been committed that are no doubt shameful and an act of fleeing from the message of Mahatma Gandhi who lead the country to the door steps of freedom through non-violence, the sacred human value.
Equality and integrity being the most important aspect of India, it is completely absent in the case of communalism. People think we have a secular community but there is a segregation of separation of people by their religion ie. Muslims and Hindus. There were times when Muslims were considered as terrorists in general. The impact that comment has on Hindus is really bad as there are school-going Muslims who would be shunned and teased. This whole issue arises just because they are Muslims. Religion is not something to be kept in secret or to be ashamed about.
There is a large concern of the Hindutva forces and the philosophies they try to put in the head of the common man. They tend to propagate that ‘ to be Hindu is to be Indian’. This is no way true as India being a diverse country welcomes all people irrespective of their religion, race, caste and sex. The forces are now trying to profess India as a Hindu country and that Hinduism is not a religion and that it is community. These show how they are trying to instigate a sense of communalism in people.
INCIDENTS OF COMMUNALISM :There has been a lot of incidents with regard to communalism and communal violence in India. Communal riots and public discord affect social harmony and the financial and economic prospects of the state. Moreover, India has been one of the most inclusive and secular states globally, thus encouraging investors and tourists to come and take a look at the diverse land of immense opportunities. Incidents of communal disharmony would only project India as a right-wing country and enclose it in an invisible shell, thereby letting go of any economic development in the future.
Communal riots have been a common occurrence in India. The most significant communal riots in recent times occurred in 1992 and 2002. The 1992 riots were triggered by the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The 2002 riots were triggered by the Godhra train burning incident in which 59 Hindu pilgrims were killed.Communalism has also had an impact on the political landscape of India. Communal organizations such as the Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League have played a significant role in Indian politics. These organizations have often used communal rhetoric to mobilize voters and gain electoral support.Taking into instance two main issues of communal tension ie. The Babri Masjid issue and the hijab issue. The Babri Masjid or Ayodya issue was and is an important dispute that has been in the news since time immemorial. It is about a plot measuring 2.77 acres in Ayodhya that houses the Babri mosque and Ram Janmabhoomi.This particular piece of land is considered sacred among Hindus as it is believed to be the birthplace of Lord RamMuslims argue that the land houses Babri mosque, where they had offered prayers for years before the dispute erupted.The controversy is over whether the Babri mosque was built on top of a Ram temple after demolishing or modifying it in the 16th century.Muslims, on the other hand, say the mosque was built by Mir Baqi in 1528 and that Hindus took control over it in 1949, when some people placed idols of Lord Ram inside the mosqueIn February 2002, in an attack on a train from Godhra in Gujarat, believed to be carrying karsevaks to Ayodhya, at least 58 people are killed.
Riots erupt across the state and over 1,000 people are said to have been killed during the riots.The High Court orders the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to excavate the site to determine if it was earlier a temple.The ASI begins the survey to determine whether a temple existed on the site.It finds evidence of the presence of a temple under the mosque. Muslim organisations dispute the findings.In 2010, the Allahabad High Court pronounces its judgment on the four title suits relating to the dispute and said that the disputed land be divided into three parts equally.They soon appealed to the Supreme Court. The Apex Court stayed the High Court’s Order.The judgement was passed in 2019 that the disputed land of 2.77 acres to be given for the Construction of Ram Temple through a government trusteeAn alternative 5-acre land to be found for mosque in Ayodhya.The Apex Court dismissed all the other suits
Taking into account the hijab issue of 2022. Muslim students were not allowed to wear hijabs to schools and colleges. Some were not allowed in sit in classes due to their refusal to do so and some were not allowed to even write their sem and school exams. Hijab is considered to a part of Muslim culture and some even considered it part of their identity. This discrimination was based on religion and they were shunned. There arose a violation of the right to dignity and freedom of expression. Some schools even closed their gates to female students and hence caused a violation of right to education. Hindutva organizations put oil into the fire ans they protested for the ban of hijab.They started wearing saffron shawls to show their opposition.The media too played an important role in taking the small issue into a big one.
Petitions were filed in the Karnataka High Court on behalf of the aggrieved students. On 10 February, the High Court issued an interim order restraining all students from wearing any form of religious attire. The order was implemented in all schools and colleges across Karnataka, with students, and in some cases teachers, being asked to remove hijabs and burqas outside the school gates. After a hearing of about 23 hours spread over 11 days, the court delivered its verdict on 15 March 2022, upholding the restrictions on hijab. The court ruled that the hijab is not an essential religious practice in Islam.
Communal Madness will destroy us. It will destroy everything that India stands for– is a
famous saying by Rajiv Gandhi.
According to the 2011 census, Hindus are 79.80 per cent at 96.62 crore (966.2 million), Muslims are 14.23 per cent at 17.22 crore (172.2 million), Christians are 2.30 per cent at 2.78 crore (27.8 million) and Sikhs are 1.72 per cent at 2.08 crore. Muslims are indeed a minority community, but there needs to be unity and harmony between different communities.The Hindus believe Muslims are extremist and fanatical. They think Muslims are also unpatriotic. On the contrary, the Muslims feel that they are viewed in India as second-rate people and are less religious. These emotions contribute to group misfortune.Youth groups and other associations in every state should be formed to provide people from different communities with opportunities to come together and to get to know each other. This will encourage them to practise inter-religious marriages that reduce the social divide between members of religious groups. The Government and people should make efforts for eradication of communal tension and conflict.
This article is written by Roshni S, 4th year,Kerala Law Academy Law College,Trivandrum.