There is a perceptible rise in a range of intolerances in both India and Pakistan
There is a perceptible rise in a range of intolerances in both India and Pakistan. Reports from both sides of the border chronicle populations resorting to lethal violence on the flimsiest of pretexts. In Uttar Pradesh, a man of 50 years has been beaten to death by his neighbours and his son severely injured because a rumour had been spread from a temple that the family had been slaughtering cows and eating beef. It was a fatal spark. The Muslim family had hitherto lived peacefully with their Hindu neighbours but this counted for nothing once the rumour ‘got legs’. The men were dragged from their house and one of them beaten to death. On the same day and also in Uttar Pradesh, another Muslim man was beaten to death because of a rumour circulating that there was a “Pakistani terrorist” in the area. There was nothing to suggest that the murdered man was in any way connected either with Pakistan or terrorism.
In Pakistan, a man and his son have been arrested for allegedly beating to death the 12-year-old daughter of the family for not being able to making a “gol roti”. They then tried to hide their crime by dumping the body of the child outside Mayo Hospital in Lahore and claiming that the girl had been kidnapped by unknown persons and killed by them. On interrogation by the police who were acting on reports by neighbours of the family, the truth was quickly revealed. Reports such as these are commonplace in both countries and point to, on the one hand, populations that can be provoked to lethal violence at the drop of the thinnest of rumours, and on the other, to a breakdown in the individual moral compass that theoretically prevents people from doing harm to others. Add the two together and there is a recipe for volatility and as has been amply demonstrated in recent times, communal murder. The Christian couple burnt to death in a brick kiln, lynching and lethal beatings — a reset of the national moral compass is long overdue, both here and in India.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2015.
Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.