Among other things, religion started off as a means of bringing humans together and having them tap into their inherent goodness. However, since its inception, it has led many to walk on the path of evil instead.
While no religion advocates random acts of violence or discrimination, misguided acts by certain radicals, fundamentalists, and extremists have cast a damning light on their respective faiths. Without further ado, here are 10 such instances.
1. Death for resurrection.
Let’s begin with the case that stupefied the nation and inspired this article – the infamous Burari deaths. While we may never know all the details, we know that a family of 11 was wiped out by superstition. Blind in the belief that their long-deceased father would rescue them from their untimely death, the family members unknowingly engaged in assisted suicide. And we all know what happened thereafter – since no one knew of their plan and their deceased father could certainly not save them, there were no survivors.
2. An unforgivable sacrifice.
Here’s a case that is just as shocking as the one above. In June 2018, a man from Jodhpur sacrificed his four-year-old daughter in the name of Allah. Yes, this guy actually thought that the act of killing his own daughter in the holy month of Ramzan would please God. He actually went back to sleep after he was done and tried to blame the murder on the family cat. When he finally confessed, he again passed the buck, this time claiming that a devil made him do it.
3. Lynching for beef.
As a nation, we are becoming increasingly angry and intolerant. In fact, mob violence has become so prevalent these days that not only has it made international headlines, even the Supreme Court has asked the Government to pass a law to penalize offenders. Mere rumors or suspicions regarding beef trading, consumption, and stealing of cattle has resulted in vigilantes doling out instant “justice”. According to IndiaSpend, from 2010 – 2017, Muslims have become the primary victims of cow-related violence. The status quo was unchanged in 2018.
4. Violence against Dalits.
Sure, caste-related violence has always been a problem in India. But a report by Amnesty International has highlighted that hate crimes against Dalits and other minorities are on the rise. Like the lynching incidents, the victims are also too many to name. In 2018, 98 hate crimes were recorded and 66 of them were committed exclusively against Dalits.
5. Silencing activists.
In my homeland, one doesn’t have to be a member of a marginalized community to be a target. No matter what your religion, if you are outspoken or controversial, your personal safety is at risk. That explains why seventy-eight-year-old activist Swami Agnivesh was roughed up – apparently, he was a threat to Hinduism. In September 2017, journalist Gauri Lankesh was also branded as anti-Hindu and gunned down outside her very home. Once again, there is a considerable list of people who were harmed or killed all because they had an unpopular opinion.
6. Suppression of free speech.
It is with a heavy heart that I say that today we are a democratic nation only on paper. Look around and you will see that in the online and offline world, those who dare to speak their mind on religious or socio-political issues are reviled. Of late, several news sources have reported trolling, threats, attacks, and arrests of civilians who have expressed their views on political parties and religious practices.
One of the most notable examples is the shut down of the popular satire page ‘Humans of Hindutva’ after its admin received death threats. Going by the FIR filed against journalist Swati Vadlamudi for her anti-rape cartoon featuring Ram and Sita, it is apparent that freedom of expression now comes at a heavy price. Social media is being misused to create fake accounts and troll armies only to misinform, attack and distill fear and hate in the name of religion.
7. The horrifying truth behind shady godmen.
These past few years have revealed the dark side of a number of self-styled godmen and godwomen like Asaram Bapu, Ram Rahim, Swami Nithyananda, Radhe Maa, and most recently, Daati Maharaj and Ravi Giri Maharaj. These unethical beings misdirected their followers, ran rackets, and even sexually violated their disciples. Until their heinous crimes were exposed, they enjoyed the respect and devotion of the general public. They got away with this for years. Why? Because they had loyal abettors who covered for them and coerced victims into silence.
8. The ‘Love Jihad’ murders.
Somehow, we all seem to have forgotten that not too long ago, people belonging to different faiths would co-exist peacefully. In our times, what seems straight out of a work of dystopian fiction has become an actual problem. It is horrifying how so many inter-faith couples continue to be tortured or killed because a third party has decided that they should not be together. Like this NewsClick article proves, ‘Love Jihad’ has been cooked up simply to divide the country along communal lines. Unfortunately, going by the number of honor killings, it seems to have worked so far. One can only hope that Harison and Shahana do not meet the same fate.
9. Hitting new lows in the name of ethnic cleansing.
Which Indian can forget the face of Asifa Bano, the eight-year-old child from Kathua, Kashmir? The innocent little girl was kidnapped, starved, gang-raped and murdered by adult men. The entire plan was premeditated and all of them were sane. They committed these soulless acts in cold blood, just because they wanted to drive out the Bakarwals (the community to which she belonged) from their land. While the tragedy sparked public outrage, if we don’t forget our differences, this is not the last of such atrocities.
10. No country for atheism.
Given all the frenzy surrounding religion, one would think that an atheist would be the safest here. While that makes sense hypothetically, in a religion-centric country like India, an atheist is seen as an anomaly. Many people choose not to come out as atheists because who would want to be looked at as some sort of a freak or worse, be attacked and killed? The murder of H Farook has proved that being faithless is just as dangerous as believing in God.
Seriously, why can’t we just live and let live? Why is it so hard for us to understand that while we have our differences, we have many similarities too? And at the end of the day, irrespective of our caste, creed or gender, every single one of us is human.