ThePrint on Friday published a video on Twitter featuring Barkha Dutt on the issue, “Are Hindus really the victims in India?”
As readers might have guessed, Barkha employs every weapon in her formidable arsenal including completely false equivalences and fake data to back her arguments. In the video, Barkha compares the tradition barring the entry of women between 10 to 50 years of age at Sabarimala Temple with the heinous practice of Triple Talaq. Because, of course, in Barkha’s world, denial of entry to women at one particular Temple among hundreds and thousands is somehow comparable to the institutional denial of rights to Muslim women and the consequent emotional harassment and even sexual exploitation which they have to suffer.
Triple Talaq is a practice that dehumanizes Muslim women and stems from intrinsic misogyny inherent in the culture while the tradition at Sabarimala is based on the Naishtik Brahmachari aspect of that particular Deity and not due to any negative attitude towards women. There is no comparison. It is quite evident that she can’t appreciate the diversity of pagan religious structures due to her Abrahamic view of the world.
Then, she used sweeping strokes to brush aside legitimate Hindu concerns as if they are based on fictitious lies. She says the Indian politics has essentially transformed into a battle between Hindutva and Hindu lite and that Hindus in 2018 are politically assertive, aggressive and emboldened. But that does not negate the fact that Hindus are constitutionally discriminated against or that Hindus are denied rights which are guaranteed to minority communities. Barkha employs rhetoric not based on hard facts to completely brush aside legitimate arguments regarding institutional discrimination of Hindus.
Does the RTE Act not selectively apply to Hindu run schools while minority institutions are granted an exemption? Have the Articles 26-30 not been used to grant special rights to the minorities while denying Hindus the same rights? Does the secular state not selectively control and loot Hindu Temples while giving minority communities the complete right to manage their own religious institutions without governmental influence? These are the questions Barkha Dutt needs to answer if she is honest about her intentions and I am afraid these questions are not as easy to brush aside as she did in that video.
Barkha Dutt also mentions the Charter of Hindu Demands, only to rubbish its contents, of course. She mentions this particular line from the Charter to disparage its salient contents, “The resistance to the illegal activities of beef/meat mafia is naturally leading to the law & order problems which are being falsely dubbed as lynching at the behest of the beef/meat mafia which has enormous money and muscle power.”
Is it not true that the route on which Rakbar Khan, one of the victims of ‘lynching’, was confronted by Gau Rakshaks was a regular for smugglers? Is it not true that Rakbar Khan could be seen alive in the custody of the Police? There are a lot of nuances to the issue of cow smuggling that needs closer inspection but one truth that cannot be denied is the fact that it is rampant, they shoot at police and commoners alike and sometimes kill them and also, sometimes, Gau Rakshaks do take matter into their own hands when they confront those they suspect to be cow smugglers. These are the hard facts. Maligning the Hindu Charter based on one particular is extremely dishonest from Barkha Dutt but then it’s not really surprising.
Barkha Dutt also uses discredited data by IndiaSpend to claim that 84% of victims of cow-related violence between 2010-17 are Muslims and that 97% of these attacks have taken place in the last 4 years. In an earlier report, we have elaborated on how the organization does not use any primary source for their data and their entire data was based on English media news reports which suffer from their own bias. On top of that, the data was cherry-picked to build the narrative of Hindus attacking Muslims and entirely ignoring the victims of cow smugglers who are Hindus. Their statistic basically was based on google searches and any journalist worth their salt would throw such garbage in the dustbin where it belongs. Instead, here we have Barkha relying on such garbage to further her narrative.
The video is not surprising considering Barkha’s own track record. She has, in the past, attempted to justify the genocide and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits by claiming that they had better jobs while the Kashmiri Muslims were economically disenfranchised. On another occasion, she prodded a stone pelter and asked him whether he was doing it for Kashmir right after he firmly said that he was doing it for Islam. She has been known to further a particular agenda that is not conducive to Indian interests due to her opposition to the government at the centre.
The only thing that Barkha does get right in her video is the fact that Hindus are not hapless victims. As events at Sabarimala and during Diwali have shown, Hindus are perfectly capable of coming together to defend their traditions and their culture without relying on any political party.