The CAA gives fast track Indian citizenship to members of persecuted religious communities from three neighboring countries who have had to flee to India. To qualify for this benefit, you must belong to one of six religious communities: Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis.
Just like the National Commission for Minorities and the Ministry of Minority Affairs will give benefits only to members of six minority communities : Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Buddhists and Jains.
Now, what kind of person would be against this?
For over a month now, the anti-CAA crowd have struggled to put up a ‘secular’ face on their blatantly communal and anti-Hindu demand. But they get exposed every day in some or the other part of India.
Sometimes it is their people who end up reciting a poem that calls for breaking of idols and yearns for a day when “Only the name of Allah shall remain.” Sometimes it is removing the Ashok Chakra from the Indian flag and replacing it with Islamic words. Sometimes it is “Free Kashmir” posters. Then, there are the chants of “Hinduon se Azaadi” and “Jinnah wali Azaadi.”
And then there is of course the violence. Targeted and brutal. Burning trains. Attacking school buses. Cornering policemen, pelting stones on them, as if trying to lynch them. Let’s not forget the time anti-CAA rioters vandalized a Hanuman Temple in Patna.
All this has forced liberals to get creative with their excuses. Breaking idols? That’s just a metaphor. Free Kashmir posters? That’s just calling for lifting the internet ban. Chants of Azaadi? They just want “Azaadi” from poverty and unemployment. Okay what about “Jinnah wali Azaadi” then? Never mind…
It is like all our languages have run out metaphors and clever turns of phrase. So liberals need to borrow slogans from terrorists, add one or two qualifying words (optional) and chant the same.
And so it is that liberals have fallen back on the oldest trick in the book, this time in Shaheen Bagh. Ah! The multi-faith prayer. So charming, done in the style of the 1970s Bollywood movies. Even Bollywood has gotten less cheesy since then, but liberals less so.
Here is why it feels like a trick. And not just because they look desperate to disown those who removed the Ashok Chakra from the Indian flag.
The reason is deeper. Consider this.
X says: I praise my god. All religions lead to god.
Y says: I praise my god and every other god is false.
That’s not a multi-faith anything. That looks more like a trick being played to give X a false sense of security.
We have arrived at contradiction which lies at the core of Indian secularism. What happens when the fundamental tenets of two religions cannot be reconciled in any way?
This is not to say that we shouldn’t have a secular state. This just means that everyone should be well informed about the intellectual position of others.
It’s okay if Y wants to believe that every other god/religion is false. It’s also okay if X wants to believe that every religion leads to god. But X should not be under the false impression that Y also believes that all religions lead to god.
Otherwise, X is just setting her/himself up for failure in the long run.
And so called multi-faith prayers do exactly that. Give a wrong impression about what what people believe.
A truly secular gathering would have no place for such theatrics. It would consist of an open exchange of views in a mutually respectful atmosphere. People would be well-informed about the views of each other. And there would be no attempt to show agreement when there is none.