Tuesday, 19 February, 2019

Humanity lives and must be protected

01 Jul 2017, 01:00 ( 01 Jul, 2017)

By Professor Abdul Mannan

Witnessing all the inhuman and terrible  happenings taking place around us it is usual to think that the concept of ‘humanity’ is a concept of the past. During last one decade the world has witnessed dismantling of functioning  states and governments, killing of heads of states after sham trials, overthrowing of governments of one country by another without any acceptable logical reason, the rise of supremacist in US like the KKK and the Neo Nazis in Europe, the medieval forces like ISIS in the Middle East in whose eyes anything that resembles civilization must be destroyed and killing of innocents in different parts of the world becoming a routine affair, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Palestine and Syria being the chosen target, and of course the rise of Islamphobia in  the west. In the recent times the name of India has also been included as some religious bigots in the name of protecting cows are killing innocent people for allegedly being beef eaters or are in the possession of beef. Some death and destruction takes place in the name of religion some in the name of exporting democracy. Due to such inhuman developments thousands of people have been uprooted from their homes and were forced to become destitute, many never to return to the home of their  ancestors.

Amidst all these signs of intolerance, violence, forced eviction, killing and destruction there are signs that humanity still exists in the saner section of people. When thousands were uprooted from the Libya, Syria, Iraq and Palestine none of the Arab countries would take them,  even temporarily. It was Germany’s Angela Merkel who opened the borders of Germany for the Arab refugees inspite of the fact many EU countries did not endorse the idea. Some close their border while the common people of Germany gave them food and shelter. Same happened in Sweden, Norway, Finland and France thought at times the some Arabs did not behave themselves, created tension with the very people who gave them the shelter. Still tolerance survived. In  US when suddenly supremacist began attacking Muslim minorities in that country after the last Presidential election in many places it was the common people who protested and stood against this neo-supermacism. The remarkable part was when in many cities on the day of Friday prayers and Eid prayers the gates of many churches were thrown open to the Muslims who came to pray and the mosque ran out of space. At least in one area when where the supremacist burned down a local mosque the local Jews raised few thousand dollars to rebuild the mosque. In Bangladesh in some places while the Eid prayers were going on local minority youths stood guard around the Eidgah perimeter to stop any last year’s Sholakia style attacks by militants. In South India one of the temples allowed Muslims to use its premises on some Fridays when the adjacent mosque is full of  devotees.  In North Bengal of Bangladesh a temple and a mosque stand in the same premises and people of both faiths pray in peace. I have seen similar incident in Bali, Indonesia. A Hindu Temple stands just at the entrance of  a huge mosque that can accommodate few thousand devotees. They share the same water taps and same green compound. No problem.

A very remarkable thing happened in India on Wednesday. Some parts of India, especially the North are being terrorized by a group of thugs commonly known as ‘cow vigilantes’.  In India and elsewhere the Hindu’s consider a cow sacred and equivalent to mother and worship it and since last few years   some vigilantes have taken up the responsibility of lynching people, mostly Muslims,  on concocted allegations of they being cow smugglers, beef eaters or beef sellers though in many parts of India beef has been consumed for ages not only by Muslims but also by many people of other faiths. Incidentally India is the largest beef exporter in the world along with Brazil (19.60%). Suddenly these vigilantes came to a conclusion that the cows of India must be saved. To start with export of cow to Bangladesh was banned. Then they swooped down on anyone suspected of eating or possessing beef. Since 2010 about 63 attacks involving cow-related violence were recorded according to the Indian press. The vigilantes claimed that they are doing this to protect the interest of the vast majority of common Indians.  In a latest tragic incident in a communally-charged violence a 16 year old lad Junaid was stabbed to death,  his brothers, Hashim and Sakir, were injured by a mob which also allegedly hurled slurs against them on board the Delhi-Mathura bound passenger train on June 22, Thursday night. Though the compartment was full of passengers as usual no one saw anything and so far only one person was arrested. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his return from his visit to US said on Thursday ‘Killing in the name of cow worship is not acceptable.’ The local police said that they will try to arrest the killer as soon as some leads are available.  

While the village of Ballabgrah in Faridabad district of UP was trying to reconcile with the Junaid murder and console Junaid’s family a group concerned citizens from different walks of life across India gathered in the fading twilight on Wednesday with banners that read ‘Not in my name’ meaning what the cow vigilantes are doing are not being done in their interest and their names should not be used to mean general public who considers cow as their sacred mother. They consider cow as their mother but do not endorse killing of innocent people for allegedly killing cow or eating beef. People gathered in places like Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Secundrabad, Bengaluru, and Patna. Incidentally the protests against the killing of the innocent people by the cow vigilantes were not called by any political parties or social organizations. It was called using the social media like Facebook, Twitter and Whatsup by documentary film maker Saba Dewan who  asked the people to gather in the Jantar Mantar of Delhi on Wednesday to voice their concerns of the killings bearing a  placard saying ‘Not in my name.’ It was some sort of re-enactment of Shahbagh Movement in Bangladesh called for death sentence of Kader Mollah. The gathering was not limited only in Delhi but spread across country where Bolywood actors, writers, historians,  politicians, students and the common people participated. The participants included film personalities  Girish Karnard, Shabana Azmi, Aparna Sen, Konkona Sen. Ramchandra Guha, musician Rabbi Shergil. In some places people defied rain and participated with families and children. The event got a wide coverage in all mainstream media. The participants raised their voice that the people of India are not with the perpetrators and their names should not be used. They were speaking in favour of humanity and good sense which prompted the Indian Prime Minister to give his views on such incidents of killing people in the name of cow worship. ‘Not in my name’ was a laudable gesture by the saner section of the Indian society and those who participated must be thanked and congratulated. In the world of intolerance and cruelty humanity must be given a chance to survive. Otherwise the basic purpose of human existence will be at stake.

Notes: The writer is the Chairman of University Grants Commission of Bangladesh and a former Vice-Chancellor, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh.