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Opinion | Provocation Theory Will be Death Knell for Not Just Hindus but Also Indian Democracy

By: Monica Verma

Last Updated: April 20, 2022, 10:50 IST

It’s time to arrest this dangerous trend and send a tough message to the street goons by enforcing law and order with an iron hand, writes Monica Verma. (PTI Photo/Shahbaz Khan)

It’s time to arrest this dangerous trend and send a tough message to the street goons by enforcing law and order with an iron hand, writes Monica Verma. (PTI Photo/Shahbaz Khan)

By placing the onus of violence on Hindus to not offend a particular community, a dangerous game is being played by the Left liberals

Last few days have been particularly difficult for India. The so-called majority of the country which is often demonised without any proof for persecuting the minorities has been facing relentless violence against its religious processions taken out on the occasion of Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti.

As towns after towns, cities after cities witness a similar model of violence on shobha yatras, a most dangerous theory has been invented by the Left liberals which if given even an iota of support has the potential to turn into a literal gas chamber for the Hindus of this country. This theory is the Theory of Provocation. According to the Left liberals, the incidents of violence on religious processions of the Hindus were a reaction to the provocation caused by the participants of the procession themselves. It was their act of waving bhagwa flags in the mosques, taking processions using routes that were passing through “Muslim areas” and playing of bhajans and sloganeering in front of the mosque that provoked Muslims to launch stone attacks on them and fire at them using revolvers and pistols.

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The Left liberals have further justified the angst of the Muslims to indulge in violent acts because according to them, these shobha yatras and processions are some newly invented craze among Right-wing organisations and since they are a feature of the BJP’s ascendance in power, Muslims that are “scared and fearful” are right in reacting to this “new phenomenon” violently.

But the fact of the matter is that not only this provocation theory but also the ground on which it rests is shaky to say the least. Let’s subject the grounds of the theory to a test first. Are the liberals correct when they float rumours that the bhagwa flag was furled at the mosque or permission for the procession not sought? No. In the latest case of violence in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, the verified Twitter handles spreading these absolute lies have been debunked by Delhi Police investigation. Not only was the permission for shobha yatra duly taken but also a fake video of flag-planting in mosque was circulated to justify violence. And, on the allegation that these shobha yatras are some new phenomenon, Left liberals clearly need to read better because in their own academic research from 2-3 decades ago, they only have studied such religious practices and its role in Hindu culture in detail.

The entire provocation theory falls like a pack of cards when one carefully analyses the modus operandi of each such attack. The large stockpiles of stones, swords, petrol bombs et al require at least weeks if not months to be arranged. So did the attackers already knew that the processions will be provocative that the preparations were going on in advance?

Actually, truth be told the entire premise of “provocation” is sinister, irresponsible and blatant violation of the Constitution. According to the Indian Constitution, every religious community has the freedom to practice their religion and likewise all Indians are eligible to live freely across the country without any discriminatory exclusion by reserving localities as “Muslim areas”.

In order to justify the violence by extremist Islamists, liberals are opening an entire can of worms. This is akin to rapists saying they raped because the victim was wearing short clothes until rape become a societal menace. This is what practice of Islam is threatening to become in India — a societal menace. Today certain states are making 100 metre area around mosques out of bounds for other religions, tomorrow the veto of street violence will force them to declare practices of other religions as offensive to practitioners of Islam. Don’t forget how the angry Hanuman stickers were declared offensive to this particular minority. Don’t forget how Sharjeel Usmani declared “Jai Shri Ram” war cry. Don’t forget how multiple tweets by verified handles called celebration of Holi and Diwali offensive.

By placing the onus of violence on Hindus to not offend this particular community, a dangerous game is being played. That day isn’t far when the mere existence of Hindus will be declared provocative. We do have examples galore for this. In neighbouring countries, Hindu minorities face conversion, rape and murders because their idolatry and practices are considered “provocative” to Islam. Islam by its nature is based on exclusionary principles. There is a division between Momin and Kafir in the holy book with clear mandates on how to ensure the “Kafir” is reined in. Thanks to India being a secular republic that, so far, extremist Islamists who would want to enforce the “mandates” have not gained any traction. But the Left liberals are giving them cover fire to actually enforce something along those lines. There is no justification for violence in a civilised society. A point that Left liberals in their frustration for power have completely forgotten.

But all this will have serious repercussions. It will not only threaten the existence of an entire community, but also the rise of India as a secular, liberal democracy. Any religion in such a society is ideally embedded in the state and not the other way round. By justifying street violence of goons with a provocation theory, Left liberals are endangering the idea of India as given by our constitutional forefathers. No provocation has a justification for the violence that has been unleashed. It’s time to arrest this dangerous trend and send a tough message to the street goons by enforcing law and order with an iron hand.

The author holds a PhD in International Relations from the Department of International Relations, South Asian University. Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.

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first published:April 20, 2022, 10:41 IST
last updated:April 20, 2022, 10:50 IST
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