Sajjan Kumar Has Gone. What About Us?

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COMMENTARY

For his role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots Mr. Sajjan Kumar has been sentenced to life imprisonment. This is not the victory of the BJP, Are we fundamentally different from Mr.Sajjan Kumar?

Editorial Staff

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Delhi High Court has sentenced Congress leader Mr. Sajjan Kumar to life imprisonment for his role in the 1984 Sikh killings.In a way, it is a meaningful judgement; possibly, it intends to give a tough lesson to those who engage with the nasty politics that generates communal hatred and brute violence. In fact, after Mrs Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Delhi passed through darkness, and experienced the politics of mass killings. The trauma that the Sikh community passed through would shatter our faith in secularism and cultural pluralism. And the role of the Congress in this riot could by no means be denied.  

Yes, Mr. Sajjan Kumar–the leader of the brigade of the rioters–has got the punishment he deserves. But then, is it a victory of the BJP? Well, in this age of political engineering and propaganda machinery, the BJP might project it as yet another illustration of the ‘bankruptcy’ of the Congress.It can shout that the secularism of the Congress is fake; and Mr.Rahul Gandhi must apologize. Moreover, our television channels would find some material to intensify the degree of noise they propagate as news.  

However, any sensible observer of the social reality would concede that the story does not end with Mr.Sajjan Kumar. In fact, communalism is a disease; and it is infectious. Who can forget the ‘demolition’ horror engineered by the forces ruling the country at this time?

Is it possible to forget the Gujarat riots, even though we are continually asked to rediscover Mr. Modi and Mr.Shah as ‘ visionaries of development’?

Or for that matter, in a political culture that normalizes lynching, cow vigilantism and all sorts of  communally charged messages that the likes of Yogi Adityanath convey, is it possible to separate Mr. Sajjan Kumar from those who are in power? 

Possibly, the politics of rhetoric and blame game would never encourage these honest questions. Possibly, we would never look at ourselves–our socialization practices, the stereotypes we cultivate about others, or the way we engage in an act of othering and stigmatizing the religious community we do not mix with normally and spontaneously.  

Secularism cannot come from mere judicial activism. Secularism is not merely an intellectual discourse initiated by university liberals and leftists. Secularism has to emanate from our souls; it has to manifest itself in our everyday existence. This requires ethical/cultural/political education–a mode of living comfortable with pluralism and capable of realizing our shared humanity irrespective of ethnic/religious differences.It needs a mind that fights all sorts of exclusion and ghettoization. 

Well, Mr Sajjan Kumar has been punished. But what about the great cultural/psychic revolution we have to undertake? Don’t think that the ruling regime can do it for us.  

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