Social media has been abuzz recently after visuals of a young boy being beaten at a Temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad went viral on social media. The viral video suggested that he was beaten because he was a Muslim who had entered the Temple to drink water and before long, ‘Sorry Asif’ began to trend on social media.
It is not clear why people on social media would assume guilt for themselves despite having no association with the incident at all. It stands to reason that the only objective of such self flagellation is the weaponization of guilt. When one assumes guilt even when he is not to blame, then he suddenly feels empowered enough to mandate sweeping actions in order to compensate for it.
In the current instance, a minute fraction chose to assume guilt on behalf of the entire Hindu community and trended ‘Sorry Asif’ so that the guilt could then be projected to the entire Hindu community. Let us be clear, if there is any incident here which commands guilt to be felt, then it is the concern of only the parties involved.
There is no reason for the wider Hindu community to feel guilty about the Temple incident. What happened was a consequence of local factors that reached a climax with Asif ending up on the receiving end of some beating. And as more facts have emerged, it is uncertain to be precise whether blame should be accorded at all to the individual who decided to take action against Asif.
According to a local resident, it was a regular occurrence for Muslim youths to enter the Temple and harass Hindu women. The pandit said that there have been multiple incidents of theft and dacoity at the Temple and some of these youths have been known to desecrate the Shivling, urinating and spitting on it. The pandit mentioned that there have been at least 4 instances of dacoity at the Temple.
Such incidents explain the ‘No entry for Muslims’ board at the Temple gates, an issue that had been cited as incontrovertible evidence of bigotry on social media. But given the other side of the story, it appears to be a reasonable course of action. Muslims as such, under any circumstances, do not have the right to enter Hindu Temples just as Hindus do not have the right to enter Mosques.
Entrance into the religious institutions of a community is a privilege that the community is at complete liberty to decide who it awards it to. And yet, the ‘no entry’ board served as the cornerstone of the ‘Sorry Asif’ campaign.
And as it appears, Asif had no reason to enter the Temple in the first place. There were other avenues of drinking water right outside the Temple which could have been utilized if drinking water was the objective. It beggars all manner of reasoning as to why Asif would travel to the farther end of the Temple premises for water when drinking water was available right outside it.
Thus, two of the three cornerstones of the ‘Sorry Asif’ campaign falls flat. First, the ‘no entry’ board and then, the drinking water ruse. The third is the claim that even if all of this could be taken as fact, the boy should not have been beaten.
That point is, maybe, correct. But then, we live in India where state capacity has not reached the point where individuals can always rely on the police for security and protection. This is not a defense of the accused’s actions but reality as it currently stands.
Now, the interesting thing here is that the ‘Sorry Asif’ campaign had swept across social media even before any of this was known to the public. Logical reasoning mandates that one wait for all sides of the story to emerge before one rush in to assume guilt for oneself on behalf of the entire community. But that is not what happened.
Quite clearly, the objective was to ensure that such facts do not surface and even if they do, they are not given due importance because the propaganda blitzkrieg had already convinced the masses by then of the guilt of the Temple camp. It was designed to make the conviction of the Hindu a fait accompli.
It was preemptive action undertaken to ensure that the Hindu accused could not absolve themselves of the guilt accorded to them even if circumstances justified his actions later on. It was preemptive action to file the incident as just another evidence of the narrative that paints the Hindu community as oppressors and Muslims as oppressed.
The individuals primarily responsible for trending the hashtag make the agenda further self evident. Luminaries such as Swara Bhasker, Tejashwi Yadav and Dilip Mondal were at the forefront of it. When people, who invariably endorse precisely the political position that is inimical to Hindu interests every single time, suddenly wake up to assume the Hindu identity to push a certain narrative, the objective of the narrative becomes abundantly certain.
We have seen all of this before as well. During the Kathua rape case, a concerted attempt was launched to denigrate the Devisthan and the sentiments of the Hindu community associated with it. All of it is carefully designed to turn Hindu Temples into symbols of hate for their international audience.
It could be argued that they have already succeeded in turning one of the major temples of Hinduism into a symbol of hate. The Bhavya Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, the construction of which is currently underway, is targeted and insulted at almost every anti-India campaign that is organised abroad.
Now, the next objective is to extend the same courtesy to every Hindu Temple in existence. As is abundantly clear at this point, there is plenty of reason here for us to wait till investigation into the matter is completed. But those with a premeditated agenda cannot wait for evidence to emerge before devoting themselves to action because evidence has a way of spilling water over all their plans in the end.
Therefore, what better way to achieve the said objective than assuming the guilt onto themselves and thereby, the larger Hindu community, and trend ‘Sorry Asif’?