When hate is normal and violence is rewarded — a story in 3 parts, 1 more familiar than the others

Episode 1:
My sister-in-law in Lucknow receives a fresh gas cylinder at her doorstep and offers some gentle words of empathy to the delivery man. “It must be harder than usual for you to get your work done in this atmosphere,” says Ghazala, the kindest person I have known in my lifetime.
“What are you saying,” answers the delivery man, dismissing her expression of solidarity. “You people are the ones who have created this problem.”

Episode 2:
Along with a team of relentless volunteers at the Karwan e Mohabbat, I have also been involved in distributing food kits and meals to anguished people stranded without wages, work and means to feed themselves during this lockdown. Yesterday I was getting ready to deliver dry ration kits to a group of labourers from Bihar stuck in a construction site on the outskirts of Greater Noida.
Before I could leave, we receive a call. “Is the person who is coming Hindu or Muslim?”
Volunteer, who is also a human rights lawyer says, “Don’t think like this at this time… why should this matter?”
“It matters to some others out here,” he says.
We discuss this amongst ourselves. Volunteer calls them back and says the person who will deliver is a Muslim. She hopes they will be open to reason at this desperate time.
“THEY REFUSED TO ACCEPT THE RATIONS!!!” she types in our group chat a few minutes later.
A senior in our team calls the labourer again. “Anaj ka bhi koi dharm hota hai?” she says gently. “Does foodgrain have a religion?”
The men do not relent. They do not need the ration badly enough. We look again at their names in our list — Mishra, Giri, Pandey etc.

Episode 3:
This one features more familiar people with names like Rahul Kanwal, Deepak Chaurasia, Arnab Goswami and Smita Prakash. They are already in our drawing rooms, frothing in the background, peddling hate and lies in the name of news as we set our dinner table, our toddlers learn to walk and talk, our elderly unwind at the dusk of their lives.

“You belong in the dust-bin of journalism, Rahul Kanwal…this is hate-mongering and you are a hate-monger,” said @kavita_krishnan on Twitter

Those of you who are reading this, who have the privilege of belonging to majority communities and the upper caste (as I do) as well as the gift of having a brain that can analyse the difference between truth and falsehood, decency and cruelty, investigation vs. victimisation… do not be silent through these times.
Speak up against prejudice. Call out hate. Show solidarity. Be human.

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Natasha Badhwar

I write to live. It slows me down, makes me see, reflect, explain, forgive. Writing is my self care. My books : My Daughters' Mum and Immortal For A Moment