About 3000 murders take place every day across the globe
Every day, without exception, we read in newspapers, see on television screens, hear from someone about murders of human beings by human beings. Such crimes take place out of anger on the spur of the moment or in a planned manner. We all can cite numerous instances of murders by family members, by friends, by lovers, by enemies or by total strangers. Murders take place not just when high-value properties are at stake but even for very petty things such as minor road accidents or parking of a vehicle or a seat/berth in a train.
Large-scale homicides take place during wars and riots. Border clashes between two neighbouring countries, as between India and Pakistan, resulting in deaths of civilians as well as security personnel are quite common. Almost every day innocent people are killed by terrorists and extremists in different parts of the world. Humans have developed weapons of mass destruction of their own species.
Sociologists, philosophers, researchers and geneticists have been trying to understand why even after thousands of years of evolution, the humans, the most developed species on the planet, have also the same instincts which are found in other animals that kill members of their own species.
Last year, in September 2016, the famous magazine Nature published results of research (available on Internet) carried out by José Maria Gómez Reyes, researcher at Spain’s Estación Experimental de Zonas Aridas. The research paper gives shocking findings: intra-species killing are more widespread among mammals; it is not so widespread among carnivores considered violent by nature; roughly two percent of human deaths are caused by humans themselves.
Since roughly 1,50,000 persons die every day across the globe, about 3000 murders take place every day across the globe.
So far scientists have not yet been able to find out why despite the ability to control anger, despite living in what is described as civilized world so many murders are taking place every day in different parts of world.
Has it something to do with the environment we live in? Geneticists have found a very interesting comparison between two related species: common chimpanzees and closely related Bonobos living in forests on the opposite sides of the Congo River. Descendants of common ancestors, they were separated by the formation of the Congo River about 1.5 to 2 million years ago. Despite similarities in anatomical structures, common chimpanzees and bonobos are quite different in social and sexual behaviours. While common chimpanzees live in patriarchal societies, are omnivorous and even kill other chimpanzees in fights, bonobos live in matriarchal societies, are nonviolent and generally frugivorous. These remarkable differences between two sub-species which were separated most recently in the evolutionary history, have led some geneticists to do further research in the relationship between environmental variations and genetic variations.
Have the changes in environment in which humans have been living ever since evolution not been able to make humans as peaceful as bonobos?
While researchers will be doing their work and publishing their papers in scientific journals to explain why humans continue to kill humans, they are not going to solve this problem. At least not until genetic engineering is so developed that human DNA can be modified fundamentally to make everyone peace-loving. For the present, the responsibility of dealing with the problem lies on the shoulders of our leaders, intellectuals and on us, the common people.
Unfortunately, most of our leaders and intellectuals react or demand action only when their own interests are affected. The kind of hostility to heinous crime seen after the ‘Nirbhaya’ tragedy in December 2012 was not due to politicians or intellectuals. It was spontaneous. But such reactions are very rare. Most of the protests are organized by politicians and so-called intellectuals in expectation of ‘dividend’. Our experience is that they expect ‘dividend’ only when the victim belongs to a caste or community favoured by them.
We often read in newspapers that a man or woman was thrown out of running train. This is reported just as an incident being investigated by the police. It does not stir the conscience of politicians or intellectuals. Intellectuals do not debate why some people have become so cruel that they throw their co-passengers out of running train. Intellectuals do not debate why somebody should commit crime of murdering another person just for parking his car. But they reacted very quickly when last month a group of criminals killed a 16 year old Muslim boy Junaid and injured his brothers in a running train. Apparently, altercation started over seats but soon took communal colour. The criminals called the Muslim boys ”anti-nationals’ and ”beef-eaters”, threw their skull caps on the flour and ultimately killed a young boy.
Those murderers, those criminals, deserve capital punishment but must such crimes be given communal colour because victims were Muslims? Should such incidents including lynching of 52 year old Mohammed Ikhlaq and seriously injuring of his 23 old son by a violent mob in Dadri in 2015 be considered proof that the Muslims in India are not safe and are not able to enjoy their constitutional rights to Life and Equality?
In 2015 when the news of lynching of Ikhlaq spread, politicians of all hues rushed to Dadri to show their sympathy with the victim’s family and community and intellectuals cried that ‘intolerance’ was growing in India. Many of them returned awards given to them by the government in the past as mark of protest.
In June 2017, Junaid’s murder in a running train and murder of Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer by cattle vigilants in Rajastahn (in April), angered documentary filmmaker Saba Dewan so much that she took initiative to organize mass protests. She posted a message on the Facebook asking people to join her at Jantar Mantar in Delhi in “a protest against such rising rate of brutality in India” under the banner ‘NOT IN MY NAME’ (an old slogan and rallying cry from the anti-Vietnam war movement in the US in the 1970s).
She wrote: “Shouldn’t there be protests against the lynchings especially after the murder yesterday in Delhi NCR by a mob of a 16 year old Muslim boy? If not now then when? Why wait for political formations to organize a demonstration ? Why can’t all of us as citizens repulsed by the violence get together in protest at the earliest next week at Jantar Mantar under the banner – Not in my Name.”
Protesters reached Jantar Mantar carrying posters such as “Not In My Name, Not In Anyone’s name” and “Muslim Lives matter, All lives matter”. How can politicians miss such an opportunity? Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala, JD(U)’s K C Tyagi and CPI’s D Raja too participated.
The appeal proved so effective that protest marches were organized not only in Delhi but in several other cities in India and abroad.
A social activist Shabnam Hashmi registered her protest by returning the “National Minority Rights Award” presented to her in 2008. In the letter she sent to the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) along with her award, she wrote, “I return the ‘National Minority Rights Award’ given by the NCM, which has lost all its credibility, in protest against consistent attacks and killings of the members of the minority communities…the NCM should have played an active part in ensuring the dignity, security and constitutional rights of the minority communities”. She used the occasion to accuse the Modi Government of maintaining a “deafening silence” on the attacks on minorities.
Incidentally, Shabnam Hashmi has one more grievance. She is very angry with the NCM chairperson Gayorul Hasan Rizvi because of his “condemnable statement” that those who cheered Pakistan’s victory in the Champions Trophy final against India should be “deported” to that country.
I am prepared to support likes of Saba Dewan and Shabnam Hashmi for their concern for the minority community if they are show equal concern for the Muslims of Kashmir who are being killed by terrorists who are also Muslims and if they stand by the soldiers of the Indian Army and officers and Jawans of the para-military forces who are facing bullets of enemies and stones of their own countrymen for protecting Muslims of Kashmir. The Kasmiri Muslims who are not on the pay-rolls of terrorist outfits also want to live in peace and enjoy their constitutional rights.
I am ready to support them if they demand action against politician Sandeep Dixit who called the present Army Chief “Sadak kagoonda” and the Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan who described our soldiers as “rapists”.
I am ready to stand by Dewan, Shabnam and others like them if they organize support for Kashmiri Pundits who want to return to their home land.
If Dewan, Shabnam and others like them believe that they are serving the interest of the Muslims of India by giving communal colour to crimes and criminals, they are totally mistaken. In fact, by their actions they are increasing the communal divide which is what the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), various terrorist organisations and religious fundamentalists want.
They will do greater service to the Muslims by empowering them through better education, by saving them from fundamentalist clerics who have a vested interest in keeping Muslims under fear of losing their identity.
Public figures like Dewan and Shabnam must understand that India is a secular country because it is a Hindu majority country. Most of the Hindus and most of the Muslims have no problem with each other. They want to live in peace and harmony which is possible only when all crimes are treated as crimes and all murderers irrespective of their religion are treated as criminals.
Most of the murders in running trains, most of the incidents of throwing men and women from running trains, most of the lynchings by mobs do not take place because of communal hatred. Hindus murder Hindus also and Muslims murder Muslims also. In the recent incident in which Junaid was killed, it is quite possible that had there been a groups of Hindus refusing to vacate seats, the criminals would have treated them the same way they treated Junaid and others. In that case, instead of calling the victims ”anti-nationals’ and ”beef-eaters”, they would have heaped on them choicest unprintable abuses mentioning their (victims’) mothers and sisters.
Cow vigilants taking law into their own hand are also criminals but so are those too who smuggle cows and calves out of India. Should Dewan & CO not protest against the smugglers also?
I am sure Dewan, Shabnam and others like them will be doing a great service to Muslims and to all Indians and will get mass support if they use their energy and clout to demand action against criminals because they are criminals, irrespective of their caste or religion.
Instead of raising the banner “NOT IN MY NAME”, they should please ask themselves “WHY ONLY IN HIS NAME?”
(The author is former bureaucrat and views expressed are personal)