Not many months ago, a girl named Nikita Tomar was shot dead in Faridabad, Haryana, by Tausif Ahmed and his friend Rehman because she refused to marry Tausif who was forcing her to convert to his religion. The story reached the media outlets and a national uproar ensued. A few days passed. Everybody forgot the incident and moved on with their respective lives. Now we are standing at the same place again, witnessing another brutal murder in similar circumstances. A Muslim man whose overtures were not reciprocated by a Hindu girl got so infuriated that he set her ablaze. The girl suffered more than 90% burns and succumbed to a painful death. This unfortunate incident raises many questions and points to ponder.
It is important to quote an example here so that we can look at the situation rationally. A few days ago, a Muslim family from Meerut approached my office because a Muslim man was threatening to throw acid on the face of their minor daughter if she refused to reciprocate his romantic advances. Luckily, the family acted fast and we got an FIR registered and got the man arrested.
A very important question that we need to ask here is, “Why Muslim youth, in particular men, are becoming so intolerant, aggressive, angry, and violent?" As a woman lawyer who comes from the Muslim community, I want to say it’s high time that we need to stop, think, introspect, and find solutions as a community. Our men are committing such crimes not just with women from other faiths but also with Muslim women. Other than triple talaq, halala, misyar marriage, one-sided pronounced talaq, child marriage, and many other such crimes are being committed while we are busy advocating that crimes should not be associated with any religion.
I want to give another example here. In some cases, where there is a mutual relationship between a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy and the girl agrees to marry, these men force or pressurise the girl to convert to Islam before getting married. In our country, interfaith marriages are legal and two people from different faiths can marry each other without converting to another religion. Such marriages can be solemnised under the Special Marriage Act 1954. Then what on earth motivates these men to force a girl to convert? We need to condemn this intolerance for other religions. If a person is actually in love with a person, he/she must accept the person completely without trying to change them or their religion.
In some cases, the girl is not interested and refuses the proposal and romantic advances, like the Jharkhand girl. It made the man so angry that he set her ablaze.
So one thing, which is a constant pattern, is intolerance for others’ thoughts, beliefs, choices, and decisions.
It is not a coincidence that Muslims are having problems with people across the globe. I want to quote a tweet of a young rational Muslim voice, Omer Ghazi, here.
We need to do some serious introspection because:India:Hindu vs Muslim
Myanmar:Buddhist vs Muslim
Israel:Jews vs Muslim
France:Christians vs Muslim
China:Atheist vs Muslim
AfghanistanSikh vs Muslim
Iran:Parsis vs Muslim
Yemen:Muslim vs Muslim
— Omer Ghazi (@OmerGhazi2) August 14, 2022
Another example is worth giving here, to show another pattern. Shahrukh in Jharkhand sets ablaze a Hindu girl and Muhammad Riyaz in Rajasthan lynches a Hindu tailor. One thing which is common here is that after taking two lives, both had a smile on their face with a sense of pride! This observation is something we should not take for granted because it shows a mindset that can take more lives. There is a sense of psychopathy with absolutely no feeling of remorse. These prospective killers are roaming around us freely, and can kill or attack at the drop of a hat. Anything and everything can provoke them, whether it’s a rejection of their marriage proposal or something as small as a difference of opinion.
We need to go deeper into the roots of the problem so that we can identify and rectify the mistake that we are making. Otherwise, this mindset will keep coming back to haunt us in different forms.
If we really want such crimes to be eliminated from society, we need to see the pattern and introspect as a society. There is a pattern of intolerance, extremism, aggression, anger, and violence here. We need to go and look into our academic institutions and what they are teaching to our children.
The fatwa brigade is also responsible for making Muslim youth aggressive because anything and everything that makes a person happy and inclusive is declared haram. Music, dance, art, culture, everything is forbidden. Yoga and meditation, which have the potential and power to rejuvenate and refresh even the subconscious mind, are not allowed by these clerics. They are more interested in creating frustrated and angry souls rather than calm, patient, and happy ones. I truly feel that a movement should be started to involve Muslim children in music, dance, art, and cultural activities so that they get the opportunity to evolve. All human beings deserve to live and celebrate life on their own beliefs and terms.
This perspective needs to be explored because most of us talk about crime when it happens. Some of us urge the strictest punishment, but there are very few people who talk about prevention. Not just cure but prevention of a crime is of utmost importance.
I want to conclude by sharing a beautiful story that my Guru, Hon’ble Shri KN Govindacharya, once told me. There was a demon named Raktabija who got a boon that whenever a drop of his blood would fall on the earth, another demon of identical size and strength would be born. All the gods were not able to kill him, so they approached Maa Durga to fight and defeat this demon. Maa Durga was fighting with all the Shaktis but whenever a single drop of blood fell from Raktabija’s body to the earth, a new demon was born. When Maa Durga got tired, she called Maa Kaali and asked her to drink the blood drops as soon as they fell and not let them touch the ground. Then Maa Durga waged a war with all the demons present on the battlefield. She would cut the heads of the Raktabija and Maa Kali would drink the blood before it fell to the ground. In this way, all the Raktabija were killed.
This story teaches us that the system should deal with criminals firmly. They should get the strictest punishment possible. However, we as a society must ensure that no new Raktabija is born.
Subuhi Khan is a Supreme Court lawyer and a social activist. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.
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