Unknowingly, in their superficial pride and stupid joy, the two Udaipur terrorists, after beheading Kanhaiya Lal, addressed the ignorance that prevails within the state today. By citing the motivation for their crime while brandishing the murderous sword as a trophy, these terrorists have sparked a much-needed debate about fanaticism that is either ignored or belittled by multiple branches of the state.
Assuming these terrorists hadn’t recorded and uploaded this video, explaining their motivation, the beheading would likely have been dismissed as a local feud between a shopkeeper and a customer. Maybe it wouldn’t even have been reported.
From Udaipur to Amravati, there is a clear pattern of murders. In Udaipur, terrorists pretend to be customers. In Amravati, he was a friend from over a decade ago, annoyed enough by a social media post to ignore the relationship and commit the murder. In Nagpur, fearing death threats from a group of extremists, a family fled the city.
The motivation behind all these incidents, however, comes as no surprise, as it was observed in late 1980s Kashmir, and across many pages of the subcontinent’s history over the past eight hundred years. . Fanatics don’t care about relationships, the rule of law, or contemporary realities.
In this extremist context, the silence of the state, all arms combined, against religious killings is overwhelming.
The Judiciary has blamed Nupur Sharma as they believe it was a woman in May 2022 who ushered in the very first wave of fanaticism in this country.
When called out for his superficial comments and hypocrisy, one of the judges then pleaded to stifle free speech and conversations on social media and other digital media because they believed the public was ignorant. Regardless of whether it is the same public that is the public of road hijackings, riots and beheadings by extremists, the judiciary has chosen to remain blind to the impending threat, and worse, even indirectly, unknowingly, endorsed the actions of fanatics.
The other pillar of our democracy, the media, supported by selected non-governmental organizations, activist groups, think tanks and other celebrities, wants to dismiss the whole existence of this fanaticism, but only one side.
Thus, terrorism finds itself without religion but in self-defense by a gau rakshak testifies to the “Hindu fascist nationalism which plagues the country”. Some media were pleading for the video of Udaipur not to be shown because it could threaten the house of cards built on the foundations of Ganga Jamna Tehzeeb. However, such restraint was not demanded when Nupur Sharma’s words were shared.
For other parties in Parliament, Udaipur is another opportunity to tell the imaginary story of intolerance they have been floating around for over half a decade now.
No regional party in West Bengal or Uttar Pradesh or Bihar or Tamil Nadu or Telangana or the North East has chosen to tackle the extremism that now threatens the civilized structure of society. Instead, they all blame Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In Amravati, for more than ten days, the motivation for the murder of Umesh Kolhe was downplayed before a change of government revealed the motivation for the crime.
In 2016, PM Modi at an event called the gau rakshaks, who, according to him, poisoned the communal harmony in the name of the protection of the cows. Although the remarks were not well received by many pious and devoted cow rescuers, given the rampant smuggling rackets, and even several Hindu bodies, as head of state there was perhaps questionable justification for this statement.
However, where is the condemnation of fanatics, roaming free and posing as friends and extended family, one wonders. As Prime Minister, his prolonged silence on religious killings since 2019 is egregious and sends the wrong message, and by no stretch of the imagination is it more strategic.
The Indian state has been at a tipping point, forever, but in a time when information travels faster than light and radicalized literature spreads like wildfire in an oil field, the threat is greater. closer than it looks. What happened in Paris, Brussels, Nice, London, Stockholm and most recently in Kashmir in the name of lone wolf attacks is now an underlying threat across India.
Would it be an exaggeration to say that Sharma’s poorly worded remarks only added to the visibility of bigotry, the kind that prevailed for centuries, the kind that post-independent India ignored, the kind that the regime present does not wish to address? No.
This is where the imposition of punitive costs becomes important. A teaser was visible with the demolition campaign against illegal structures, the confiscation of property from rioters in Uttar Pradesh, but stronger and sustained deterrents need to be put in place. Ideally, a fanatic’s entire family should be cut off from all social welfare schemes, government services and formal funding sectors.
With radicalization occurring inside homes, there is no way for families to be forgotten, and therefore the sentencing must also include family members of a fanatic, and detention must be immediate. The radical teachings of the madrassas are an open secret, and state governments, supported by the Centre, must now take action.
Additionally, an honest conversation about fanaticism, its motivation, the teachings from which it stems, and its advocacy should not be avoided. Multiple stakeholders from communities, arms of government at different levels, from local to national, and civil groups, need to engage in in-depth discussions about the greatest current threat to civilized society.
Blasphemy laws must remain, however, as they protect Hindus from unchecked ridicule and mockery, which have been normalized by film and literature. As progressive as their removal may seem, the truth remains that other communities are willing to cross civil borders to impose their version of justice on Hindus not only for their remarks, but also for their support. Fanatics don’t care about blasphemy laws, or any laws, and therefore the state must raise the bar on deterrence.
Udaipur, Amravati and Nagpur are the cases that have come to light, but across India thousands of families have been silenced, with some even coming forward and apologizing for expressing their support for Nupur Sharma. What the cursed silence of the state encourages are extremists and fanatics who further terrorize civilians simply by exercising their freedom of expression.
If this fanaticism is not stopped today and nipped in the bud, we risk a long journey, perhaps even routine murders. The question is whether the killers don’t record videos explaining their motivation or whether state governments completely downplay it and for how long can we blame everything but the elephant in the room?