Civil society’s double standards exposed

via Balbir Punj - published on July 24, 2011

Two recent incidents, one in Lahore and the other in Kerala, have virtually been ignored by the national media. And the utter indifference of the self-proclaimed civil society to these incidents has brought to fore the double standards it has been practising for long. For them, it is the religious complexion of either the victim or the perpetuator of the crime, or both, that determines their response. The values they profess to uphold and fight for are subordinate to their ideological agenda. Could there be a bigger farce in public discourse?

On July 14, goons belonging to the Church of South India (CSI), and the police belaboured mediapersons at the diocesan headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram for exposing the illegal admission of students in the church’s medical college in return for million of rupees as capitation fee. At least three mediapersons from two TV channels had to be hospitalised. Under public pressure, the state Government was forced to suspend two policemen, including an assistant police sub inspector, for colluding with the miscreants and attacking the newsmen. The gang, which thrashed the Asianet News TV at the diocesan office premises included the church staff and a member of the Thiruvananthapuram district Congress Committee. After beating the mediapersons, the church employees destroyed their camera and stole the tapes that had the visuals of the attack. When other journalists turned up to help their colleagues and demand action against the goons, they were met with more violence. The local media has been writing about the underhand dealings of the church-run medical college for some time, but without any tangible results.

Students with abysmal academic records and deep pockets have been granted admission under the management quota. Obviously the dreams of more meritorious students, whose parents could not afford millions, did not count with the church. Some students who had gained admission in exchange for moolah ranked below 47,000 in the common entrance examination held by the government.

Did you see any nation-wide uproar over this? Was there any protest in Delhi against the attack on the media? Why this deafening silence on the part of rent-a-cause civil society activists? What would have been their reaction if such a deplorable incident had taken place in an organisation run by a Hindu trust and worse still, in a state ruled by the BJP?

The secularists would have painted the town red and the national TV channels would have debated 24X7 the danger posed by the ‘Hindu Right’ to the democracy and widespread corruption in the institutions run by the Hindus. Rationalists and secularists of various hues would have forcefully argued for the state takeover of the guilty institution. By now, irrepressible Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh would have led the secular pack against “fascist Hindus” and linked the attack on media and the admission scam with his favourite target, the RSS.

In Pakistan on July 14, the miniscule Sikh community was barred from organising a religious ceremony to commemorate an 18th century saint at a historical gurudwara. Their musical instruments were thrown out and entry barred at the instance of Dawat-e-Islam, a Barelvi proselytising group. Gurudwara Shaheed Bhai Taru Singh at Naulakha Bazar was built to honour the memory of Bhai Taru who was executed in 1745 on the orders of the then Mughal governor of Punjab, Zakaria Khan, for his refusal to convert to Islam.

This is not an isolated instance of persecution of Hindu-Sikh population in an Islamic Pakistan. It’s part of the country’s state policy. No wonder, the share of Hindus and Sikhs has fallen to 1.5 per cent of the total population from about 20 per cent at the time of Partition. But have you ever seen secularists protesting against this ethnic cleansing? They are too busy protecting the rights of Palestinians and have no time for the next door hapless Hindus and Sikhs. Why such double standards?

The writer is a BJP MP. E-mail him at [email protected]

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