What’s it about the Book that makes people commit such atrocities?

News that a Pakistani student was lynched by his fellows in a Pakistani university has not elicited much comment in India, otherwise so quick off the mark about anything to do with ‘beef’. Earlier there was the very public killing of an Afghan girl who was beaten up, run over by a car, burnt and tossed into a stream, after she objected to a vendor selling amulets, something she considered un-Islamic. He shouted blasphemy and she was lynched in a most brutal manner.

There have been other such incidents in our friendly neighbouring country, with people using blasphemy to settle personal scores. An unthinking fanatical population reacts instantly to the cry, “Islam is in Danger” to commit without blinking an eye, the most appalling acts.

In India, such would-be actions are toned down by the fact that there is no blasphemy in Hinduism, the majority religion, whose mores prevail generally. However the recent murders of people by ‘beef’ activists show that attempts are being made to Islamicize Hinduism and create new ‘crimes’ like blasphemy and sacrilege. A new breed of Muslim Hindus is afoot.

The lack of action against these people indicates a breakdown of law and order, or a different unconstitutional conception of it. In many cases of atrocities by caste Hindus against Dalits, the police refuse to take action because they tacitly agree with the actions of those violating the law, since they belong to the same community and hold the same beliefs. As we have also seen in the recent killings of cattle traders, the police arrest the victims and let the perpetrators go scot-free, with a mere slap on the wrist or less.

Even a casual reading of any religious text reveals that exceptions are made for a particular class of people, usually men, or sometimes one man in particular, to whom the usual mores and restrictions do not apply. In any other case, this would be the subject of immediate questioning. But people are reluctant to question the motives of a religious text, supposedly received directly from that Big Man in the Sky. Every religious text should be the subject of scholarly analysis. We may then find that the motives underlying the authorship were somewhat less than divine.

As a thinking human, I refuse to be categorised and I reserve the right to make up my own mind about anything I read, religious or otherwise. No one may tell me what to think.

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