It’s not a moment too soon that a Supreme Court bench has come down on the former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma like a ton of bricks. So critical was the court of her comments on the Prophet, which set the country alight, that she was fortunate the court did not take up suo motu a case against her on the grounds of inciting a community with hatred by mentioning their Prophet about whom the Muslims are super-sensitive.
In the era of ubiquitous social media, many individuals may have spat out hate against other communities in these fraught times in our country. But Nupur, a lawyer, was representing the national ruling party on an incendiary television debate and she had no business invoking names and raising accusations that a community may consider blasphemous. The consequences were there for all to see as a nation boiled.
No right-thinking person of any religion would defend Nupur denigrating gods and prophets of any other religion, and that in a country that saw the birth of three ancient religions in its history and whose people have been living together for centuries in a multi-religious and diverse society. Worse events than oral denigration have taken place in India’s history, but at each such inflection point saner counsel had prevailed as sporadic violence ultimately died out.
No right-thinking person would defend those who carried out a ghastly murder in retaliation with a meat cleaver either, though such reactions have been known to take place, especially as was seen in the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Given such a background and considering the state India has been in the last several years when Hindutva has been given free rein to in a display of majoritarianism, it was alarmingly foolish of a ruling party representative to speak as she did.
Much may have been said by both sides in the awkward debates that followed. Even so, it was extremely foolish of TV channels to hunt for TRPs by holding inflammatory debates. Now that the highest judiciary has spoken its mind, won’t India’s politicians of all hues, religions and regardless of status follow suit and appeal for the kind of peace that has invariably prevailed. Matters of faith stem from deeply personal convictions in all people, whether they are “Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Isai.” It’s best to leave it there if a modern multi-religious society is to avoid sanguinary discord.