Thursday, September 6, 2012

Anatomy of communal riots - 2

Communal riots, according to many reports of enquiry commissions, is because of provocation of other community members.  When some members of a community are provoked, they resort to violennce. Typical acts of provocation are creating disturbance in front of a place of worship, beating drums during the celebration of events by members of a community, public celebration of festivals of one community etc. The first question that begs answer is "who is at fault?" The one who is provoking? or the one who is provoked?

When analysing a riot, typically attempts are made to identify the initial incidence of violence.  The one who initiated the violence, the community to which he/she belongs, the details of the triggering incident may generally be considered as three facets of  root cause of the violence.  The perpetrator of a violence is responsible for the communal riot.  But, if the perpetrator of the violence is hurt by unjustified acts provoking the sentimens of the perpetrator of the violence, then at least part of the responsibility has to be shouldered by the person/community which has provoked the perpetrator of the violence.  Similarly, when some one faces an act of violennce, is he/she justified in responding by another act of violence? Legally no. But, can there be any concession to such a violent act?   There can not be any justification because of two reasons. One the victims of the violence may not be perpetrators of the violence that resulted in the counter violence. Second, counter violence, when justified, will result in cycle of violence.

What is happening in practice?  Religious processions like Ganesha, Rajyothsava and other Hindu deities in front of mosques are objected.  Playing of music instruments is also not accepted by Muslims. Stone throwing, obstructing the procession are manifested.  Hindus consider this attitude of Muslims as the root cause of the problem. On the other hand, Muslims consider the Hindus organizing the processions in front of their place of worship as intentional.  Muslims also allege that Hindu processions increae the volumen/rhythm of the music when they pass infront of the Mosques provoking the community members.  Wearing Tilak is also cited by Muslim as an act of provocation.
Similarly, teasing a girl of one community by a boy of another community may be a provocation of the community of the girl. The prevention of the girl or physical assault on the boy by community of the girl may be a provoke the community of the boy.  Which one of these are provocation? and which of these are not? One simple approach is considering both of them as provocations.
The simple approach may not be an optimal solution. It could even considered as a surrender to the rioters as they have successfully prevented members of a commnity in practicing their festivals in a free manner.  The rioters intolerant attitude has been rewarded when we consider the other act as provocative when in reality it may not be a provocation at all.  Although this simple approach, when enforced strictly, may lead to riot less situation, the situation may not be called as peace. 
When we dont consider both actions as causal provocations, at least one of them must be  a provocation.  Or there must be an underlying phenamenon which is responsible for both these actions.  So, the initial act of obstrution of a procession or intentionally organizing the procession in a particular route may have some other reason.
The way we are analysing a communal riot is very shallow. There is too much focus on the triggering incident. So, always news papers report that the riot was the result of a trivial dispute.  Since, individuals are involved in the dispute,  it is not wise to describe the incident as a conflict between two communities. So, never the communities are analysed in any riot. Further, we are so much convinced of irrationality of communal (community) identities,  analysis or policy meaures on communal lines are never considered.
Careful analysis reveals that a communal riot does not happen sporadically. There are underlying causes. The provocation happens at multiple ways in various degrees over a very long time. The lull betweeen two riots is not peace. Atttempts to domminate create resentment among those who experience  dominance.  Intolerant approach create difficulties among those who are discriminated.  The subtle effects of intolerance have significant effects on the community.  Using horn loudspeakers 5 times every day from early morning to late evening is a problem for nearby people.  Why there is so much of insistence in continuing this illegal practice?  Unfriendly attitudes towards neighbors belonging to other communities,  insistence on one name for the God, one mode of worship  are first level of provocation which is not being considered in our analysis of a riot.
When these initial provocations are not addressed, the diverse ways of living may be alleged as provocative.  When love marriages are becoming more common, insisting that a Muslim girl can not marry a Hindu boy (or a dalit boy can not marry a girl belonging to OBCs), creates problem.  If the community members decides to kill the boy or the girl or the supporters of such a marriage, there is something serious which is not addressed by us.  Either we should have courage to shun love marriages or we should stop the disapproval towards the marriage crossing a decent limit.

So, what are the root causes of the problem? Why are we unable to identify the root cause of the problem? Why are we unable to pursue a consistent policy towards a justified solution towards a peace.  There are no riots in Saudi Arabia. But, we can not say that there is a peace that we like in Saudi Arabia. Uniformity can bring silence but that silence may not always be peace. At the same time, diversity and tolerance by majority may bring some noise. But this noise could be better than the silence of Saudi.  At the same time, a tolerant society can not be allowed to be exploited by the intolerant minorities.

Having said this, the tolerance of Hindu society need not become a subject of discussion. And, the root causes of the ongoing riots are to be positively identified and the loopholes are to be plugged in.  Arresting the one who has stabbed a fellow citizen has to be done consistently. The courts have to be positively pronounce judgements always - not just in isolated cases like Naroda Patia. NGOs have to proactively act in  all cases of riots. But that is not sufficient. The time has come to identify the one who has provoked the one who has stabbed by preaching false religions and ideologies.

Are present day intellectuals  capable of deliver?

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