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Nupur Sharma’s case is sad, as the Govt. took different turn

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer

Whatever be the different sects among Muslims (Shia, Sunni, Ahamadiya etc.)— on theology (field of study on religion and God) they are all ‘one’. To them their Prophet’s life history is paramount. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, U.A.E, Iran and all the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries-consisting of 57-member states came together against what Nupur Sharma (then spokesperson of the BJP) had to say on their Prophet’s life. Perhaps, she was naïve about the fact that it was a sensitive subject to Muslims all over the world. What Muslims do in their regular daily lives, merits/demerits in behavior could be touched upon, whereas when it comes to the Prophet it is a strict no…no to them.

To say anything against him (even perceptibly) is a blasphemy. Blasphemy laws are strict in all Islamic Republics. Those countries are dictatorial. Way back in 1988, Salman Rushdie’s book: Satanic Versus in which he in a veiled manner (because it is an allegorical novel) seemed to have depicted a character modelled on Prophet Mohammad. That made him face the wrath of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini. Khomeini delivered a fatwa against Rushdie and a bounty was offered to anyone who would execute him. All over the world, in all Islamic Republics there were strikes against Rushdie’s book: Satanic Versus. Salman Rushdie’s life came under threat. He went into hideouts in Scotland to protect himself. India (though a secular country), under Rajiv Gandhi’s Government, banned Satanic Versus to pacify the protesting Indian Muslims.

That was in 1989. Now, in this 21st century, as late as 2015, a French satirical weekly magazine by name Charlie Hebdo, which always features cartoons; reports; polemics and jokes, published some cartoons on Prophet Mohammad. France is the most secular country in the world. It is a country that stands for free-speech and freedom of expression. Yet, Charlie Hebdo (office) had to face a deadly terror attack on 7th January 2015 for caricaturing on Prophet. Twelve people were killed (that includes the famous cartoonists who portrayed the pictures). Certainly in France, the French law allows them to draw such cartoons. It was not illegal to them. But, the law has no place before sentiments and sensitivities.

Recently, on October 16, 2020, a French teacher who had shown students cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad was beheaded outside his school. French president Emmanuel Macron called it an act of Islamist violence. Coming to India, there is a tacit understanding not to offend the sentiments of any religion. One can say something against the followers of a religion but not on the Prophet. From the ancient times Bharat has a culture not to hurt the other.

India’s political and diplomatic relationships with other countries are as important as the internal matters. Prime Minister Modi carefully nurtured the culture of having good relationship with all countries more so with the West Asian nations that include Gulf countries. He acquired laurels from them for being business-friendly. The UAE honoured prime minister Modi with the ‘Order of Zayed’ i.e. the UAE’s highest civilian award. The Saudi Arabia conferred prime minister Modi that country’s highest civilian honour—the King Abdulaziz Sash.

Because of P.M Modi’s efforts India is secured in oil and gas (energy sector), our foreign remittances from the gulf countries scaled up, trade and partnerships enhanced. These Gulf-countries viz. Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates they stood by us during the abrogation of Art-370, agitation on Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and several other occasions, despite Pakistan crying hoarse on all these issues.

When prime minister Modi invested so much in getting these nations close to India, how do you find one statement from the ruling party’s spokesperson ruining all this? After all, the P.M. has been working hard to maintain good relations with those countries to reap benefits for our country. His work on West-Asian front is well-appreciated by all opposition parties in India. They are saying the P.M. has taken the relationship to an unexpectedly high level. In this digital-media age decency in discourse is lost both on T.V. and social media. The Govt’s stern action on its own spokesperson sends a message that it is a no nonsense Govt. As a matter fact, now the BJP-Govt., has sent guidelines to be followed to all its spokespersons. The spokespersons have been warned against criticising any religion, its symbols or religious figures. This is a great act.

In this digital-age, news spreads in a lightening speed. None can deny what they had said they had not said. Anybody could trace anyone’s digital foot-prints. Whatever Nupur Sharma had said in Hindi on that day on T.V., soon went viral with sub-titles in English and other languages. The reactions were galore. To stem the tirade, the Govt took a strict action. It was like stooping to conquer. Though Nupur Sharma is a sacrificial goat, it is for a bigger cause. The efforts of prime minister should not fall like pack of cards with this one incident.

The recent protests by many Muslim groups against Nupur Sharma’s statements on the Prophet (in some parts of the country) turned violent. These agitations seemed to be organized not organic. They would only get bad name to the whole community. These groups that are seeking for the arrest of Nupur Sharma should know that there is no law against blasphemy in India (like in Islamic countries) and India follows only ‘rule of law’.

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer
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