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Those who claim to follow the Hindutva ideology, particularly at the level of grassroots politics, should take the trouble to understand it. Wherever an ideology or political party achieves dominance, a large number of street level goons become its ‘followers’ just to serve their personal interests. Be it Communism, Naxalism, Terrorism, Religious Fundamentalism, the foot soldiers are essentially psychologically flawed individuals seeking to vent their inner problems on the weak and undefended. If the RSS and BJP are not careful, they will be tainted by the actions of such goons. A recent incident of one such party ‘activist’ beating a mentally disturbed elderly person to death merely on the suspicion of his being a ‘Muslim’ should come as a loud wake-up call for the cadres.

India has a gory history of communal conflict, which unfortunately has been brushed under the carpet in the belief that it would lead to harmonious relations between communities. Unfortunately, without addressing the core issues, it is not possible to overcome the differences. In the first term of Prime Minister Modi, cow slaughter, smuggling and the beef trade were major issues of contention. People chose to take the law into their own hands. However, now that a number of laws specific to the problem have been passed, the aggrieved now choose to involve the police, greatly reducing the number of one-sided action. The same goes for the recent spate of anti-conversion legislation, another increasing cause of resentment among ‘targeted’ communities.

It must be noted that, in all the heat being generated over the Varanasi and Mathura temple-mosque issues, an important fact is being largely ignored. All the parties have taken their claims to the courts, because of which there is little scope for street level confrontations. Shorn of the opportunity to accuse the ruling BJP of using brute power to pursue its ‘Hindutva’ objectives, the opposition is asking that the past not be ‘dug up’ for the sake of communal harmony. Those who vociferously opposed the farm laws and the CAA through violent agitations on the streets, are now claiming that the law of the land is above all in the shape of the ‘Places of Worship Act, 1991’. It is these contradictions that have to be overcome to achieve the rule of ‘law’.

The legitimate aspirations and grievances of the people should be properly addressed through institutional action and appropriate legislation. Be it vigilantism or unreasonable adherence to outdated ideas of religious superiority, injustice should be corrected if it vitiates genuine communal harmony and civil rights.