THE day of 9 November 2019, dawned with two landmark events in its lap for people of subcontinent who parted their ways on 14 August 1947 as a result of an agreed upon partition. These events were opening of Kartarpur Corridor and Ayodhya verdict by Indian Supreme Court. One beamed hope and bright future. Other one fed fear and despair. The brief description of both may vividly illustrate huge contrast between the two and ensuing positivity and negativity which they entail. In a colourful and well attended ceremony by smug Sikh community on eve of 550 birth anniversary of the founder of their religion, Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji, PM Imran Khan formally inaugurated a well-built Kartarpur Corridor, paying way for Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit one of their religion’s holiest places in Pakistan. He declared without any inhibition that we are not only opening border but hearts too thus, breaking barriers of history and letting people to come in spirit of plurality and equality to observe their religious rights and obligations while feeling at home.
Earlier he also waived off a number of transit formalities/fee to allow maximum participation on the occasion. The visiting Sikhs notables/others also equally acknowledged effort, sincerity and generosity of Pakistan to make corridor a reality and occasion memorable. They lavishly heaped praise on Imran Khan for leading the way. The Kartarpur is a visa free corridor where Sikh pilgrims can come after their passport scanned with nominal payment of service charges of $20 each in a day at morning and to return by evening. At present, 5000 pilgrims could come every day with a future plan to double the capacity. The essence of whole effort of Pakistan is underpinned on divine message of equality, mutual respect, peace and justice brought by all messengers of Allah. Pakistan has translated tolerance, trust, religious harmony and freedom and its earnest desire for peace by action. Apart from a lot of heartfelt appreciation and gratitude by Sikh community, worldwide recognition/commendation also attests this fact. Contrarily, India dragged its feet during whole process however, had to come to terms as of under duress internally. This is a giant leap forward for peace and amity in the region, however, Pakistan cannot continue to advance until positivity is also shown by India.
Concomitantly on the same day when history was turning a new leaf of religious freedom and moderation at Kartarpur Corridor, apparently under outside pressure, Indian Supreme Court chose to announce long reserved verdict about Babari Mosque to divert attention of world from an absolutely right occurrence for cause of humanity. Main purpose appeared to be distracting sight of world from shining image of Pakistan as well as its ugliness in comparison. Much to utter dismay of legal luminaries and proponents of religious equality on superficial grounds, Indian Supreme Court cleared the way for construction of Hindu temple at holy site of Babari Mosque, reduced to rubble in 1992 by a violent mob of Hindu extremists. Though it condemned act of vandalism but left the offenders to go scot-free. It is a blot on its face and shredded mischievous veneer of Indian socialism. This would surely accelerate process, already in train of recasting India in image of Hindu Rashtra in pursuit of Hindutva ideology based on Hindu supremacy and exclusion.
Indian RSS with Modi upfront is hell bent to fast track it even further. It abhors equal rights/protection to minorities in India and is active in its mischief unhindered unrelentingly. The hate, hostility and terror are their main arrows and slings. Resultantly, all minorities, particularly Muslims, are living in a state of perpetual fear and insecurity. Their destiny is in jeopardy with no hope in sight as hounds of RSS have even high jacked electorates. In India, now democracy holds no hope for people. It does not free them rather has become an instrument of strangulation. Major state institutions also remain no more immune from coercion of RSS. Instant court decision is an apt example. A country is held together by warp and weft of institutions, particularly a country like India whose base is on soft ground. The marginalizing rights of minorities in favour of a majority is tyranny of majority and to get rid of it, minorities tend to seek a separate place for themselves or fight it out or inevitably succumb to it, nevertheless, it causes incurable wounds on the polity. In combined effect, mistrust and restlessness so caused among minorities could implode India from within.
The gesture of religious tranquillity, forbearance and large heartedness inherent in opening of corridor, shows contrast with what verdict of Indian Supreme Court contains within it- legalizing dictum of might is right, thus nursing hate, fear and subjugation. This would propel fascism born of Nazism of Indian RSS with Modi Government in lockstep. Now it is for the world whether it sides with right and condemns the wrong. It is a choice between humanity and barbarism. Besides this virtuous aspect, there is also an aspect of materialism. The developed and affluent countries have invested heavily in India, being a big market in expectation of handsome returns. India is fast drawing itself towards self-created tinder box by reckless pursuance of its Hindutva ideology. Its brutalities in Kashmir could only add to its lethality. For their own sake, these countries ought to make India see reason. This would serve cause of humanity indirectly albeit inadvertently.
— The writer, a retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.