Friday, November 16, 2012

An Open Letter to the Ardent Fans of Bal Thackeray

The Emperor of Hindu Hearts, Balasaheb Keshav Thackeray, is unwell and ailing. I will say a prayer for his recovery. I will arrive at his doorstep and sit outside his house and pray so that his unfavorable health condition is turned on its head, and that he returns to vigorous good health. I would request the people from across the nation to arrive in the city and visit Matoshree. Yes, I respect him as I am born and raised in Mumbai. And his aura has not left me un-affected.

But there is a concern.

I am scared. I am feared of being thrown up in the air and cut in slices. Why do people fear from Shiv Sena? Isn't death inevitable? Why are shops closed?  Why do we almost virtually have no taxis or auto-rickshaws plying the roads? Why have trains remained relatively empty?

Forgive me if I am upsetting you, but an Emperor's ailing health should not compel the city's police to design a special Rapid Action Force of officers around the Emperor's house. Why should we fear of your bringing violence and needless disturbance to innocent, ordinary people? These are people who have come from different places of the county. There are a few who have lived in other countries. Some people have really no interest in politics. Some would have inclination towards liberty and modern values of secularism and unity. They may not have an intense emotional bent towards Mr. Thackeray. However, you have all their support in this untoward moment. They all understand your trouble.

Why Shiv Sena or MNS for that matter have become synonymous with vandalism? I wonder with bewilderment as to why people fear of being hurt, attacked and perhaps killed should Mr. Thackeray's condition eventually turn out to be worse than what it's now (I pray that he lives a hundred thousand years). The people of Mumbai have their rights to express. As you have the right to pour out your love for Mr. Thackeray, they have the right to invariably move freely, anywhere in Mumbai, whether Mr. Thackeray is healthy or not.

Mr. Thackeray, unquestionably for many would be a great man, has now attained a reputation that he'll be remembered in Maharashtra and Indian Identity politics for a good long time. We understand that this is a time of great sadness for you. And hopefully your Emperor will be hale and hearty soon.


Anonymous said...

I shall pray with you...

TW said...

Dear Crusader of the Mumbaikar's rights:

While I concur with you on the general sentiment of the article, which I would summarize as: "Mr Thakeray's failing health should not cause a sense of fear in a commoner", I would like to clarify that this is not the first time a commoner is under fear of vandalism for apparently no reason.

From my own experience: in 2006 when Kannada superstar Rajkumar died of a heart attack at the age of 77, similar was the mood in Bengaluru. My office let us go back at 3pm, and companies who run their own cab service, like Infosys, carried his posters on their buses to keep them safe from the perceived vandalism of Rajkumar-fans.

We have also seen unprovoked vandalism in various cities of India after the Danish cartoons incident. And I am sure neither the author, nor the general readers of this blog have forgotten the vandalism at Azad Maidan on Aug 11, 2012. In case of Matoshree, at least the ailing leader is someone the supporters have directly worked with. In the two cases I mentioned, the cause of anguish was totally alien to the city (cartoons in Denmark and riots in Assam due to Bangladeshi infiltrators). Clearly, if Shiv Sena and MNS are synonymous with vandalism, they are not the only ones. We know what will be the top entry in your thesaurus, don't we?

To clarify, I am not saying that if his death leads to vandalism that is justified. In fact I pray more for a peaceful final rites to him (if and when that sad news comes), than I pray for his long life. But at the same time, I want to make it a point that this is not the only case with such an emotional outburst, and the entire society at large needs to address such a situation and give importance to public property and safety.

Faraz Salat said...

Thank you for your comment Swaroop. I agree with you that this is not the first time we have witnessed an irrational fear in the atmosphere. However, this time, I personally experienced this, and it bothered me greatly. So, this post was my way to pour out my botheration. I strongly agree with you that our society needs to address such issues where a few people who follow one ideology become strong enough to bring damage and destruction to public safety and their properties. Once again, thank you for your time to write a comment.

Faraz Salat

My photo
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Admirer of all things that make up a global human society.