Something occurred on Wednesday evening.
Not in my name, they called it. No, I didn’t participate in it at Jantar Mantar, Delhi. I was working. Thankfully. Or, people who said that there were more journalists than ordinary people at the “protest” would have had one more nano-reason to sound right. (Although for the life of me I will not figure out why journalists cannot be ordinary people. But who cares.)
Do I support it? Yes, I do. Warts and all. Some people (and, an admission: most of my “ideas” about the “rest”, and the rest there appeared many, were formed from social media posts. So I apologise if I am missing you out, dear reader) had questioned the nomenclature. Not in my name, they asked, does it mean you can lynch people in other people’s name.
No, I say. You cannot. But it just is easier to tell the world what YOU, as an individual, think. Otherwise we all would have been priests, pamphleteers or pundits. It’s easier to convey “not in my name”, rather than not in your/my/the neighbour’s/the neighbour’s spouse’s, heck the whole sane world’s name. Think chai pe charcha. It was easier to make people understand the idiocy of the chaiwala remark. Alternative? Think about chai-coffee-samosa-bhajia-biscuit wala pe charcha, for effect, to include every action of the purported chaiwala.
Do I support it? Yes, I do. Despite it being labelled elitist by many.
I do not know where lynching comes from, and whether elitists or non-elitists spark it. And I do not want to hazard a guess on cow vigilantes and their purported lynching, and whether they are a top-down or bottom-up movement. But what little I know tells me there is nothing wrong in one section raising a voice, and others catching on. Think the Indian National Congress in late 19th or early 20th century and its leaders. Or, think Subhas Chandra Bose; think Ram Mohun Roy; think Rabindranath Tagore; think Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay; think Narendranath Datta (Vivekananda), etc. All supposedly “elitist”, by the way.
Do I support it? Yes, I do. Despite many, many people slamming it for being apparently only for Muslim victims, and claiming that it was against attacks or lynching “by” Muslims.
Did the people in the silent protests in any city today say they were against lynching by people from any other community, or of people from any community? Yes, you say? Prove it to me, and I will say they were wrong. But do not pre-guess. And what do the numbers say?
Who are being lynched, apparently on suspicion? Do not tell me there were 239, or some such, British folks whose heart bled for India, and therefore we had little reason to support India’s freedom struggle. Numbers, by the very meaning of the word’s plural sense, means just that. Numbers.
Do I support it? Yes, I do. Despite many, many people asking what about Deputy SP Ayub Pandit being lynched in Srinagar.
I say everyone protesting out there is protesting the DSP’s lynching as well. So then you hand me some note by someone, about someone claiming it is only for certain victims, do you? I say, “Not In My Name”. Technically or otherwise, this does not include perverts whose “ideology” DSP Pandit’s killers followed.
So what were they protesting today, at Jantar Mantar and elsewhere, you ask? One teenager — just to take the most recent example — was killed over a fight in train, allegedly, because he appeared dressed in a certain way (apparently not like “US”). Another person was, allegedly, killed because some people thought he had stored beef at home (which, apparently, WE do not eat). A few people were killed in Saharanpur because they did not ostensibly like the way WE want them to live. Some people were belted like animals over suspicion that they were skinning a cow, which WE hold revered. Someone else was killed because we thought he was transporting cows, which WE hold revered. Even more recently, in West Bengal, where I was born, three people were beaten to death because the mob thought they were out to steal their cows and ship them to Bangladesh.
These are but a few examples. It’s the WE that counts in all this: in a country with 80.5 percent people from a certain religion, according to 2011 Census. A number that logic says has no threat to being threatened/outnumbered/persecuted.
So what are these all about? They, the killers, apparently, tried to save what is apparently dear to me. That is why I, a non-practising Hindu, today got up and said: Not In My Name. You are not doing anything for me. And people who shut their eyes to it (the Prime Minister noticed and his Twitter handle tweeted within hours after a man was killed, in just as barbaric an incident, after he told some other people to follow Swachh Bharat mission in Delhi. The I&B minister also followed it up just as soon. He, fortunately or otherwise, condemned the train killing incident only on Wednesday, a full six days after the incident. To give just one example).
DSP Pandit — and let me reiterate that no one I know who took part in yesterday’s protest will even think of supporting his killing — was lynched by people who ostensibly support separatists in Kashmir. Technically, ‘Not In My Name’ does not apply here.
The 6/7 people above were killed/attacked in the name of apparently my religion — to save ME from cow eaters/killers/skinners. DSP Pandit was killed in the name of people who want to break away. That’s not my name. I am not a separatist. Neither are the thousands who participated in yesterday’s silent protests in several cities.
So, I say, protest killings. Do not protest against those protesting killings. Whataboutery is not logic. It’s anti-logic. You bring out a march to protest killings that you do not think ‘Not in my name’ didn’t cover. And I will join you at Jantar Mantar (and my girth will ensure it is noticed — at least horizontally, if not vertically).
Lastly, do I support Not In My Name? Yes, I do. And it is for my daughter. She is just past 5. She is named Shahana. And I will always remember two words I was told when she was barely two: Isn’t that a “Mohammedan name?”
I don’t know how to distinguish on the basis of a name (Princess, Shahana means. Aren’t all daughters that?), and I do not know whether she will believe in religion when she grows up (it’s up to her). What I know is, I will be the first man out on any street if I think there is any threat to her just because of her name, or for some other equally inhuman “majoritarian” or “minoritarian” reason. And, given the times, I do sense the person who asked about the import of her name was not all that wrong.
So, yes, I do say: #NotInMyName.
PS: I leave you with a song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tD216c7eFcE ) that should be the rhythm of our times, but it’s in Bangla. Sumon Chattopadhyay, a great singer-songwriter, who later joined the Trinamool Congress and became a Lok Sabha MP, and still later rebelled. Only to be thrown out.
“Bharosha thakuk aadab–ey aar bharosha thakuk namaskar-ey. Archana-der pashei jeno Ayesha-ra thhakey paarey (Let there be as much faith in aadab as much we have in namaskaar. Let the Ayeshas of this world grow next to the Archanas)…”
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