(This is the full text of the Open Letter, an edited version of which was first published by Express Tribune)
Dear Mrs. Vaidya,
I saw your post on ‘Indian Liberal Intellectual’, through a dear friend of mine who is an ardent advocate of Hindutva.
I must confess, before I begin to put forward my points- cum- reply on your ‘Indian Liberal Intellectual’ post, let me confess, I do agree with you partially considering the facts, but I do disagree with your intentions and also of those whom you support. And this disagreement in terms of intentions itself draws me to write this reply to your post.
To being with you dedicate your post to ‘Indian Liberal Intellectual’, and blatantly describe them to be “neither Indian, nor Liberal, nor Intellectual!”
Well Mrs. Vaidya, can you please define “Indian”, “ Liberal” and “Intellectual” so that we get some clarity on the issue and can examine your allegation of somebody not being ‘Indian’ ‘Liberal’ and ‘Intellectual’ can be verified. Or is it the case, that you subscribe to our Governments attitude where everybody in dissent is advised to go to Pakistan, or is it the case that your post is a corollary to the theorem put forward by new Government, if people are not going to Pakistan, just call them ‘not Indians’ or ‘pseudo-Indians.’ Mrs. Vaidya probably you have devised a new law to decide about the citizenship of this country.
What makes a man pseudo Liberal Mrs. Shefali, condemning Dadri Lynching, if that is what makes a man pseudo liberal, then perhaps Mr. Advani and now the Prime Minister Mr. Modi is also pseudo liberal, as atleast for the sake of Bihar elections he condemned the Dadri Lynching.
Yes you are right, when you point out that the prize money too should be returned by those who returned their awards, and I in no way want to justify or take side as to why the said prize money was not returned but there could be more than one reason for not doing so, and the very idea of returning the awards is to register protest, the sanctity of award is in award itself and not in the prize money. The exercise of returning the award is giving away the Honor received from various institutions and State, prize money actually means nothing, there could be a situation that the recipients of such awards may not be in a position to return the prize money. Also, your very demand, shows that how eager you are to strip all those who have returned the Awards. You yourself being a writer instead of giving a peaceful thought about why some eminent personalities of this country are returning the awards, you very conveniently label them to be pro-congress, apologists of Islam, anti Hindu and pseudo liberal.
Mrs. Shefali, then you go on to point out that, “According to you, there is Jewish Terror in Israel, Buddhist Terror in Myanmar and Saffron Terror in India. Other than THAT, terror has ‘no religion’.”
Well the idea behind the proposition that terror has no religion, is largely based on two sub-propositions, firstly, in an overview of history of terror in this part of world, we have found that all fundamentalists groups from different religions have had some experience of aligning themselves to the idea of extremism, and that too even within the fold of Islamic terrorism, many innocent Muslims themselves are victims.
For example, on the 26/11 attacks, in Mumbai, along with Hindus, Christians and Jews even Muslims were victims, those terrorists, who exploded bombs in Zaveri Bazaar did not train their bombs to attack only Muslims, those bombs planted in Mumbai Local trains were not equipped enough to kill only Hindu passengers, saving Muslim passengers. Based upon this factual situation, the proposition of “terror has no religion” was developed. Another reason being, continuous assault on Islam and Muslims in general will only lead to alienating a substantial portion of population for no direct or indirect fault of theirs.
Just like a rapist is a rapist, if he turns out to be a hindu, does that mean all Hindus are rapist, just like a man who kills his daughter before her birth, does that mean entire Hindu population follow the practice of female infanticide, (please don’t try to counter this point by saying yes, had that been the case, your birth would have been questionable). Just like rapist cannot be identified with his religion, just like a murderer cannot be identified with his religion, there is no need to identify a terrorist with his religion, because all of us you, me and many like others irrespective of our religion are equally victims of it. Coming back to your point, of Jewish terrorism in Israel, Buddhist terrorism in Myanmar, Saffron terrorism in India, these are the terms developed on the lines of Islamic terrorism. Considering the above factual position, it is not just one single religion, followers of which are resorting to terrorist activities, hence, we conclude that terror has no religion. It will not have religion when people, whom perhaps you subscribe to, call Islam as religion of terrorist, it will not have any religion, even when the group whom you do not subscribe to label certain terrorist-cum-lynching-cum-riotic activities of right wing Hindutvawadi forces as Hindu-terrorism.
So I have clarified myself enough on the issue of Terror has no religion and how your whole conception of the same is misplaced and perhaps is prejudiced.
Further Mrs. Vaidya, you go on to point out, “You outrage against the Yulin dog festival, but cow slaughter is okay.” I, personally donot subscribe either to dog festival or cow slaughter, but before we proceed on the issue of cow or animal slaughter. None of the Awards were returned ‘just’ because of Ban, awards were not returned just because of lynching and brutally murdering a innocent man, but due to overall response of the government and polarized atmosphere of the country, only because some of the ‘so called’ Liberal and nationalist and proud (mobocratic) Hindus thought the poor man ate and stored beef. Do you Mrs. Vaidya, really subscribe to such inhuman killings, do you really subscribe to Dadri Lynching or what happened in Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh.
The opposition of all the secular, liberal, Indians (or the pseudos’ as you may like to call them) is not just because Beef is banned, but the manner in which ruling party is responding to this Country. Issue is not just of Beef ban, but the overall ban culture which the new government has undertaken.
Mrs. Vaidya, you yourself are a writer and a Journalist, fortunately you support the Government, but does your conscience really subscribe to the Notification issued by the Government of Maharashtra, wherein any criticism of Government Officers, Ministers, and MLAs would amount to sedition. Like really, is this the so called Liberalism you want this country to imbibe and our future generations to inherit. Just imagine what would have been your open letter titled as, had this circular be taken out by the previous government. It would have been titled as “After British, Italians have enslaved this Country- Sonia Go Back”
Does condemning the brutal killings, and returning your award make you pseudo liberal or creating polarized atmosphere, riot like situation with every passing day, does that make one liberal.
Does justifying a lynching of a innocent man or calling it a reaction of the majority community, or remaining silent over it, when state has failed to take any action or opposing and name calling those who are opposing it make one liberal, intellectual and Indian. Or creating a free atmosphere, irrespective of one’s caste creed, sex, religion, and advocating rights of all the citizens, without seeing once own creed, caste or religion, makes one secular, liberal and Indian.
Mrs. Vaidya, I understand you will raise the issue of where were these so called ‘Intellectual, Liberal Indians’ when Pandits were killed in Kashmir. But I want to ask you a simple question, is there a difference between Kashmir and the Indian mainland, you are comparing the exodus of Hindu Pandits from Kashmir, which is a conflict zone, when a mass uprising against Indian state and an armed conflict was at its zenith. Is India a war zone, right now. Forget about what these ‘pseudo secularist’ have done for the Kashmiri Pandits, what have you right wingers done for them. How many Pandits have been rehabilitated in Vajpayee Government. For how long will right wing political parties play the card of Ram Mandir and Pandits, why you could not construct Ram Mandir in Vajpayee government. Why the 56-inch chest is now silent, on the issue. Why did your BJP led NDA Govt. at centre and BJP-PDP govt. in state of JK, cancelled the Flag hoisting Ceremony on 16th May 2015 at Lal Chowk in Sri Nagar. Should we question your patriotism, should we trust your prudence and call it matured step considering the volatile position in the valley.
Most importantly, you ask these awardees, that why didn’t they return their award when Pandits were killed, but have you asked yourself a question, was Indian Government silent over the issue when armed conflict in Kashmir began, was Indian government imposing a restriction on your and mine free speech in Mumbai, was Indian Government siding with those who killed Hindus. Are you even aware of the aftermath of the Hindu exodus from the valley. The valley burnt Mrs. Vaidya, it literally burnt for years. I am not justifying the armed struggle, but the only point I am trying to make is, it will be wrong to interpret that no action was taken by the government post exodus of Pandits, Government of India did not side with JKLF, but today Mrs. Vaidya, the ruling party is siding, it will be wrong to interpret that Ask yourself a question, today Indian government comes up with vexatious clarifications and shameless condemns the killing only the ground that dadri lynching should not have taken place only on the ground of rumour. Are we going blind in our lives that to protect cows we are ready to kill humans.
I really do not know who expects the crops to fail. But I am sure, the one who eyes the lands of the farmers, has a higher probability of harboring such wishes with disastrous ends and sadist attitude. Because only when the crops fail and debts quadruple a farmer will bow down to sell his land, for the Larger good of Nation, for the greater benefit of economy.
How can you sing songs of Indianhood, when the very government in whose support your are bleating, took a nasty Law wherein government was empowered to take away lands of the poor farmers for the private companies on the name of development. How can you sing songs of liberalism, when every passing day, the government whom you support is taking out new notification to curb individual freedom, declare government criticism as sedition. Are we living in dark ages, that the so called nationalist government wants us to enslave. Mrs. Vaidya, please note it nationalism is not a character of big talks of high values, cultural superiority and glorious past, nationalism is not a characteristic handful of caste Hindus, but it derives its essence from the sentiments of masses.
You say you will stop breathing if Modi starts a breathe bharat Campaign. Mrs. Vaidya, Modi started Digital India campaign, most of the objectives were already resolved by the previous government, however, on other hand, government is contemplating of ending the net neutrality, what is the use of Digital India, if net is not going to be neutral to all of us. Not just net neutrality, this government does not leave one single chance to curb your freedom of expression, what will you do with digital India when you will not even have right to speak freely on social media.
Well let me not comment on your bindi, as it is not in my culture to comment on women, neither my family has taught me to do so, but I understand why a normal Sanghi post cannot remain restricted to any issue, why it always gets personal, just like one of your God Fathers Mr. Swamy, who runs many official and Unofficial pages, and also challenges the legality of the birth of Prime Minister Nehru. Like really how does one get knowledge about who is biological father of Nehru. The modus operandi of you Sanghis is simple, attack the characters, strip the opposition in public, take advantage of the tolerant Indian culture, spit venom and bleat victim. So yes, many will stop breathing if Modi will start Breathe India campaign by first selling the air at triple cost and then by adding venom to the air which we free citizens of India breathe.
You Mrs. Vaidya, do you let compassion and Humanity stand in your way when you take side of those who are responsible of botching up with the very fabric of a phenomenon that was once called as India. Do you let the teachings of love and tolerance of your own religion stand in your way, when bleat victim and intellectually attack those who are opposing the current polarization of the country.
You Mrs. Vaidya, when you tweet or write about every person who is in dissent with you and your faction, what do you address them as – you call them Macaulay Putra, you call them agents of Pakistan, you call them Islamic apologists, Italian agents, you call them followers of Dynasty, you call them pseudo liberals. Why only because you don’t like to be called a fanatic, and deep down your conscience you know that you are in alignment with a fanatic ideology, so how do we establish before the world that we are the righteous people, lets call our enemies as pseudo liberals.
Do you restrict yourself at this, the answer is no, you will go on to label everybody who is not in conformity with you as Con-gressi, corrupt, Muslim appeaser, and of course the title of your post, Sickular, agents of Christianity, Agents of Islam, the list will go on.
In either case Mrs. Vaidya, there is absolutely no harm in name calling and political taunting, it makes our politics more interesting and full of entertainment. You may agree or disagree with other intellectuals or pseudo intellectuals, as you may like to call them.
But would you not want to condemn the Dadri and Mainpuri episode, would you not want to ask your government as why such silence, why kins and sons of BJP leaders are directly involved in such episodes and why government is not taking any strict action against the accused.
Or do you just have no space for those who do not call your God by the name you wish them call him by.
Vedchetan Patil (@vedchetan)
Secular, Liberal, Indian and a Hindu