The unfortunate death of an elephant in Kerala was very disheartening. The fact that it was pregnant when it died makes it even more tragic. It is said that everything that happens for a purpose. When the elephant died, maybe it didn’t know about it, but it served many purposes. The right wing netizens mourned the death with a pinch of communal flavor. MPs and Ministers of the ruling dispensation shared the news with a wrong name of the place where the unfortunate incident had occurred. Unsurprisingly, they named a Muslim majority locality. The death gave another chance to blame the whole Muslim community once more. A FIR has been registered against one of the ministers for defaming the district and rightly so. The death of the elephant served the purpose of a communal dish to the right wingers.
The industrialists who showed their concerns over the death of the elephant should know that the cracker stuffed pineapple was meant for wild boars. The elephant became the victim because it was stranded from its habitat. Therefore, before exposing their hypocrisy on online platforms they should ask their own brethren to refrain from deforestation to meet their ends. It’s because of deforestation that the wild animals come into the vicinity of human habitat. This results in a very unfavorable situation. Sometimes the animal kill humans or sometimes it’s the other way around.
To the celebrities the death gave an opportunity to out pour their anger against animal cruelty. The outside world might have taken this fight for animal rights as a good gesture by the ‘woke Indians’. But in reality their anger only exposed the deep seeded hypocrisy in them. They only speak to fit in the narrative of the majority of the population. Most of them were angry because the elephant was pregnant as well. This is where they expose themselves. Celebrities are ready to tweet for a pregnant elephant, may be wearing clothes made from animal skin, but they fail to speak for a pregnant woman. Safoora Zargar is five months pregnant and is in jail. Her health condition is not good enough to keep her inside the dreaded Tihar jail. She is suffering complications due to polycystic ovary syndrome. Doctors fear a possible miscarriage endangering Safoora’s life. The most prudent thing to do right now is to save her life. Even if she is freed those encouraging their supporters to shoot will still be free. Nothing will change for the ruling dispensation. Two human lives will be saved. Although, it’s not the death of the elephant alone that has exposed their hypocrisy. Death of George Floyd has also done the same. They tweet and upload pictures with #BlackLivesMatters but when it comes to speak for the oppressed ones in their own country they remain silence. They act as if discrimination, racism and police brutality in India were matters of the past. But that’s not true. Everything that the celebrities are protesting in America is still prevalent in India. As coronavirus was taking the whole country in its grip racial slurs against the people of North Eastern states was increasing as well. Muslims were and are still being demonized for the spread of coronavirus. Even now Dalits are tied to ropes and are beaten to death because of their caste. In India too manual scavengers die because they “can’t breathe” inside the sewers. People from the Muslim community have been persistently lynched because of their identity. Sometimes the members of the lynching group are garlanded or given the front row in CM’s rally. In one case even a HC has conceded the skull cap to be provocative. The one department that needs a course in better policing is the police itself. The prejudice of the police department against the Muslim community is hard to ignore. Recently in MP a lawyer was thrashed only because of his beard. The police took him for a Muslim. Not to mention maintaining a beard is one amongst the many Sunnahs of the Prophet Muhammad. The police brutality was also rampant during the nationwide Anti-CAA protests. The indiscriminate use of force by the police to subdue the protests all over India begs attention too from all those protesting the callous act of police in USA. During the Anti-CAA protests libraries were burnt down. One of the finest minority institutions was torched by the police. If the police brutality against the minority community is to be brought to the notice it will take more time than those writers writing the script for movies like Singham or Dabangg. Movies like these promote and make police brutality and custodial deaths normal. Even as I stop writing about the police brutality I can’t refrain myself from thinking about Hashimpura; crackdown on the muslim youths after the Mumbai bomb blast; about the top police officers who connived with the rioters of 2002 pogrom; or about the Delhi Police and their handling of the Delhi riots.
It’s high time that these politicians, industrialists, celebrities should know that to make India a better place for animals they should refrain from demonizing Muslims and speak up for what is right and what is wrong. Trampling over the voices of dissent can never be good for India. Dissent is the safety valve of democracy. Celebrities should realize that the time is ripe for them to stand up for the basic democratic values of their own country too.
Fahad Ghani studies Law at Aligarh Muslim University. He tweets at @FahadGhani6