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Price of peacePrice of peace PDF Print E-mail
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Does peace have a price too? This is a question that we all have to ask ourselves in the wake of all the terrorist acts that have happened recently and the responses that have followed. The attack of 9/11 followed an overwhelming response from the US army and the target was Afghanistan. The people who attacked the WTC died but the response was aimed at the source. There is peace in Afghanistan now but how long is it going to last. The attack in Israel was followed by fresh attacks on Palestinian outfits and there is no real peace in that area so far. The event of 12/13 aroused a massive response from the Indian Government. So far there is a relative peace on the border.

But, what happened at Godhra recently is a different story. It was no less a terrorist attack than the ones described above; the difference was that they were people from a certain minority community who did it and they were known faces. The faces of terrorists mentioned above in the first paragraph were unknown or they were dead. The sources were in another country. Godhra people were our own. The people in the train were also our own and watched their fellow travelers being burnt alive. They could not help and must have felt angry and frustrated.

What happened at Godhra cannot be justified, and what followed next is also not justifiable. But, the response did happen and happened with a vengeance. Before the peace ensues, both communities would have paid a big price. Will the healing take place? Will harmony prevail again? The two communities, Hindu and Muslims have co existed in India for a long time. And, they will coexist in future. Peace will return and a new equilibrium will be established.

But, in the mean time we have seen the press taking its own mileage out of the story. Most press was quick to blame the Hindus for inviting the attack on them. The political parties took their own line. The police took the blame and so did the Gujarat Government and administrators.

Is there any one interested in the common man? We have to ask this soul-searching question to ourselves, be it leaders, officers, Hindus or Muslims. What has led to situations like this to erupt? Even if ISI is involved, how are they able to exploit our peace loving people? And who pays the price of the peace that comes? It is always the innocent people who pay the price.

Hindus have been termed tolerant and peace loving. That was the name given when others ruled India. Gandhi has become the hallmark of non-violence and every time some one looks at India, they see Gandhi in its existence. Since the independence, the intellectual elite, the successive central governments and the media have had a sort of anti Hindu stance. Minorities have been appeased for several known and unknown reasons. The Hindus have felt this pain all along. The Ram janma bhumi is an ongoing issue and one such example.

The tolerant and peace loving Hindu generation of Mahatma Gandhi is gone. A new breed, both of Hindus and Muslims have come around. The tolerant part is being seen as cowardice. The Hindus are becoming assertive. Madarsas are not helping the feelings of Muslims. And that is calling for a new equilibrium. The relationship is being questioned. The political leaders are misusing secularism word and even writers like Vir Sanghvi are questioning how it is being exploited in the current situation.

A new equilibrium will perhaps only happen after some disturbances. And this is unfortunate. The strategic thinkers (think tanks) should be thinking as to how to respond to such a change in the situation. The media has to look at its reporting practices. The new assertive Hindus are not going to let matters like ‘Rama Janmabhumi’ go away. They are not prepared for that. The issue is no more local to Ayodhaya; the issue is of a new equilibrium where a Hindu wants the same rights as the privileged minority as to how they are judged, perceived and reported.

The root problem has to be understood before we can get to the right approach to solve it. The riots have to be controlled; but it is more important to find ways to prevent this altogether. It is, however, important to understand the peace that we talk about in common terms and the peace (we will call it shantih) that our Rishis have talked about. When a Rishi says, “Om shantih, shantih, shantih,” he is talking about inner peace and we should all strive for that. If individuals are peaceful, it is hard to imagine a society that will do what the mob at Godhra succumbed to. Until then, we will all have to pay a ‘price for peace.’ A pro-active step with proper understanding of situations, however, may prevent a lot of blood shed.

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