The real culprits unfortunately are “we, the silent majority.” It is time we hold a mirror to our society and look at what we should be doing rather than remaining silent onlookers pointing fingers at others.
Moral and thought policing is an act forced by a tiny section of the society in the mistaken belief that they are promoting “good values” in the society. There are enough penal codes to prevent and punish any obscene act or writing, which can create deliberate disharmony. Why do we then have killings and threats resulting from moral and thought policing?
We are witnessing horrifying incidents of moral policing in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and other countries by extremists. Journalists of French magazine Charlie Hebdo were murdered for their writing. Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasrin from Bangladesh, and Ayyan Hirsi Ali from Somalia are hounded for their views. Is it fair to protest if some want to celebrate Valentine days or organise Miss India pageants?
The media telecasts these incidents because of their shocking sensationalism, yet several have not been reported. Recently, writers M M Kalburgi, Narendra Dhabolkar and Govind Pensare were murdered for their writings and views.
The Dakshin Kannada and Udupi districts have become a fertile ground to promote moral and thought policing. No action is being taken; instead leaders and human rights NGOs are criticising fringe groups in the media. Unfortunately, DK and Udupi districts which lead on many social indicators have ended up creating an environment of fear and hatred in the name of moral policing.
We need a long-term strategy involving the public to stop such cold-blooded murders. One could be to form a Stop Moral and Thought Policing Committee (SMTPC) to promote several groups under the leadership of Deputy Commissioner to build bridges of communal harmony and to monitor their progress. Every major private school engagement groups, religious institutions should come together to take steps to support SMTPC.
Second is to stop finding faults with the fringe groups, who are the products of our own society. Social harmony should be a subject in religious and educational institutions to prevent formation of such fringe groups and withering of existing ones.
Role of media
Thirdly, media should stop sensationalising such news and start condemning them. They need to stop publicising the names of activists involved in moral policing and their affiliations. Publicity helps fringe institutions carry out such activities and build their political capital.
Fourth, the police should improve their intelligence gathering on the nefarious activities and plans of the fringe activities involving moral policing to help SMTPC.
A majority of Indians are tolerant and have co-existed with a variety of cultures. Moral policing is against the basic teachings and philosophy of Indian culture.
India’s partition is the best example of how religious and cultural sentiments fanned by some power-hungry people with no vision ended up in the massacre of thousands of innocent people. The same is happening as terrorists in many parts of the world are killing thousands of innocent people. It is up to us to spread awareness and stop murders in the name of religion and morality.