Easy to perpetrate riots

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Indian social atmosphere has become extremely shaky that it has been very easy to fuel communal skirmishes and create riots in the country. Our bedrock of communal harmony and peaceful co existence has gone into oblivion. It is different thing that what heavy damage we receive from such riots. But the real damage occurs of trust between communities evaporates. Recent disturbances across the country – from Delhi’s Jahangirpuri and Punjab’s Patiala to Rajasthan’s Jodhpur and Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone — have starkly shown that it doesn’t take much to stoke a communal fire these days. A hate speech, a provocative slogan, a show of strength by armed processionists — that’s enough to pit one community against another and trigger violence. The celebration of virtually every religious festival of late — Ram Navami, Hanuman Jayanti, Eid — has turned one locality or the other into a tinderbox, forcing the administration to take extreme steps such as imposing curfew, beefing up security or suspending Internet services. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray has been targeting mosques over the use of loudspeakers; he even asked people to play the Hanuman Chalisa outside these places of worship if the loudspeakers there were not removed. Of course, he has done this to gain political points over Shivsena as the huge gap of staunch Hidutwa hardliner party is blank presently. Raj Thackray has done this and from the point of politics, this is no wrong. Of course, Thackeray has no authority to enforce the guidelines of the Supreme Court, which had in 2005 imposed major restrictions on the use of loudspeakers and music systems at public places, citing the adverse impact of noise pollution on the health of residents living in the vicinity. The Maharashtra police have been quick to register cases against Thackeray and his supporters, even as the ruling Shiv Sena has trashed his ultimatums and said that the rule of law will reign supreme. But, Maharashtra and especially Congress and NCP has shown extreme patience and took care to prevent from escalating the flashpoint along with Raj Thackray. In Patiala, a local hothead ignited communal tension with his mischievous act of staging a protest over a non-issue, in an apparent bid to malign the newly formed state government. Such incidents make it imperative for the law enforcement agencies to rein in troublemakers before things spin out of control. The venom they spew on social media is a forewarning of the damage they can cause on the ground. In January, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu had made a telling statement: ‘Practise your religion but don’t abuse and indulge in hate speech and writings.’ Political and religious leaders need to follow this advice in letter and spirit. Exercising restraint in word and deed is the key to ensuring peace and harmony. After all, a communally disturbed India is a poor advertisement for Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. On the one side, it has become easy to incite on religious matters. On the other hand, Maharashtra people especially Muslims have shown unprecedented patience and understanding to take care of not escalating controversy over loudspeakers on shrines. The point is so sensitive that any uncontrollable situation would have broken out in the state. But Hindus as well as Muslims behaved like true brothers and situation remained generally calm and quiet. These are the two scenarios exactly opposite to each other. It is expected such sagacity should be shown by every stakeholder in future also.