Nazreen Fazal Post

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Navigating the New India

August 10, 2017,

For someone who has a Masters degree in Political Science, I don't write or comment as much on politics. I used to. I used to read voraciously about it, consume numerous opinion pieces, and sometimes even engage in comment wars with random people.
But I can't anymore. For my own sanity.

I can't read more about everyday violence and oppression and still function as though that has not messed with me. It's impossible to be neutral and unaffected while people hurl slurs like "pissfuls" "peacefuls" "libtards" "sickular" "presstitutes" at each other. I can't stay normal when I see the vicious hatred people have for their fellow country men. I can't function while knowing there's a huge group of people who want to rid India of minorities.

The level of toxic hate inhabiting widening pockets of the internet now make it okay to completely slander entire communities, peoples, and even states and call for their exile/torture/death.

Our national history is one of invasions back and forth. Our history is of Kings conquering and plundering and surrendering left right and center. That was how it was everywhere back then. However, the narrative is being spun such that Muslims kings invade and Hindu kings conquer. This is to project that Muslims are alien to this land despite being here for centuries, despite sharing a tongue, despite sharing the same values and culture.

The process has begun, to erase us from history. To uproot us from the past. To make it seem like we don't belong to India/Bharat/Hindustan, whatever you want to call it. It's as though we didn't make any contributions to the art, culture, cuisine, the very spirit of this land. As though we didn't fight for the freedom of this land and sacrifice our blood, tears, and sweat in building it up.

Suddenly Azaans are too loud while temple songs are not. Monuments which were once the pride of the nation are now some kind of stain that needs to be wiped away. Urdu, the soulful language of poetry and ghazals and odes to lovers is now viewed with distrust. Our people, as much sons and daughters of the land as anyone else, are seen as disloyal terror sympathizer. Treated as if given a chance we would force all Indians into burqas and surrender to Pakistan.

I feel insecure all the time. I feel horrified when I see people trying to justify lynch mobs, as though our lives are worth much less than that of cattle. I don't know what to do when I see leaders openly call for violence against minorities, when they actively promote xenophobia and bigotry through their words and actions. However, what speaks volumes is their silence and inaction when a section of the people they are supposed to serve and protect are in harms away. What hurts more is seeing family friends and acquaintances slowly buy into this and turn against decades old neighbors, colleagues, and friends.

One consolation I had was that I was born in Kerala. Which is really the safest and most stable of all states. Here we share a tongue, a healthy sense of humor, and an unhealthy love for beef fry and parota. What we also share is a disdain for anyone who tries to shove their beliefs/values/dress codes/diets down our throats. I feel blessed to be born in a state where people help regardless of your religion or background. While political rivalries do exist, we have rarely sparred on religious lines.

Now to see leaders and journalists try to drag this state through the mud and try to paint it like some intolerant, god forsaken land, I am furious. And this anger soon turns to helplessness because while I don't know what else they are planning to do to destroy the peace here, i know what lengths they will go to, to divide our state.

So for the sake of my mental health, I don't and won't read much news anymore. I will try not to read comments either. I can't read about more violence, more rapes, more mobs, more justifications, more whataboutery. For now I will just bank on those who have our backs and hope against hope that they don't abandon us too.

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