Twitter has been a level playing field where we have seen many people we have admired while growing up fall from grace and how! Lyricist-turned-Twitter troll Javed Akhtar is one such celebrity whose anti-Gujarati bigotry out of his hate for Modi is disappointing, to say the least.
In a programme organised in Mumbai last night, Akhtar, in an attempt to take a dig against Prime Minister Modi, displayed his hate for the entire Gujarati community by implying that Gujaratis are hardly there in defence forces. “We have had so many regiments in the Army like the Sikhs, Marathas, Rajputs. But have we ever had a Gujarat regiment? Since our Prime Minister has great love and pride in the Indian Army of late, I would urge him to raise a Gujarat regiment so the swayamsevaks from the region can join the Army,” Akhtar reportedly said. He said this way, the people from Ahmedabad and Surat should join such regiment. The irony is that while terrorism and terrorists have no region or religion, the armed forces do.
There are multiple things wrong with this statement. It is rather shameful to try and divide the army and their sacrifices including the martyrdom of soldiers on regional lines. But Akhtar’s distasteful comment is not surprising since he is echoing only what was earlier said by Samajwadi chief Akhilesh Yadav and silently endorsed by Congress. In May 2017, following the embarrassing defeat in the state assembly elections, Yadav had questioned why are there no ‘martyrs’ from Gujarat. Congress, too, silently endorsed his anti-Gujarat statement, which stemmed from hating Modi.
And just because there is not a ‘Gujarat Regiment’ does not mean that Gujaratis, which have traditionally been a trader, business community, do not join the forces. According to reports, as of March 31 2017, Gujarat had 26,656 ex-servicemen, of which 6,233 are from Ahmedabad. There are 3,517 widows of servicemen and 39 soldiers have been awarded bravery awards for their service to the nation. A village named Kodiyavada in Sabarkantha has a population of 6,500 people. About 80% of the families in this village has at least one member in the armed forces.
But how would Akhtar, who even ‘divides’ nationalism on the basis of the region know about United India?
Mr Modi is a born gujarati too .Why doesn’t he call himself a Gujarati nationalist .
— Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) July 12, 2013
Even Alka Lamba, former Congress member and currently an AAP MLA who was recently ‘unfollowed by AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal‘, made more sense than Akhtar at that time.
This lady here @alkalambaaicc understands when and how to rise above petty politics..
— BPSC (@bpsc888) July 12, 2013
And not that Akhtar’s asinine Gujarat-hate deserves to be dignified with a response, but in 2004, the then Defence Minister George Fernandes had turned down L K Advani and the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s request for a Gujarat regiment. Reiterating the Indian Army’s long-standing policy, Fernandes had declined the request of ‘single class’ regiment. Sikh, Gorkha, Dogra and Garhwal regiments are called ‘single class’ regiments which were raised by the British prior to 1947.
After independence, the army took a stand that the regiments will not be named after any caste, community or any such identity. Fernandes had said that while there have been demands from several quarters for the same, the Indian Army has remained firm on this.
And it may come as a bit of a disappointment for Akhtar but many men from Gujarat have actually joined the armed forces after being inspired by Prime Minister Modi.
Since 2002 Godhra carnage and the riots which followed, there has been a concerted effort by a certain section to vilify and demonise Gujaratis. Akhtar, like everyone else, has not been able to come out of that zone, it seems. Gujarat is very proud of the fact that despite being invaded by barbarians including the Mughals, who looted our temples and our land, we have managed to not only get back on our feet but also taken the rest of the country along with us.
Do not let your hate for Prime Minister Modi blind you so much that you start dividing the country into community lines. And for someone who makes a living out of playing with words, I do not need to tell you the importance of words. You are being looked up by young, impressionable people.
Be mindful that your words do not poison them against the Gujaratis who love nothing more than peace.