The hatred being pumped into our hearts through social media has polluted our society. In the land of sacred Ganga, we are witnessing streams of innocent blood in the name of religious fanaticism. Small kids are raising hate-filled slogans at public meetings. What kind of India are we trying to build? What kind of person will the children, being brought up by parents filled with hatred, become?
This is not the first time our motherland is witnessing religious fanaticism and believe me neither this period is the worst. In 1947, mechanizations by the British and their stooges resulted in the Partition of our beloved nation. What followed was one of the bloodiest chapters in the history of human civilization. Millions of Indians, Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs, were killed in the name of religion.
Begum Anees Kidwai
At that time everyone believed that India could never rise again. The children after witnessing the bloodshed would grow up into adults thirsty for more blood from ‘opposing’ religious groups. The foreign press had written off India as a nation. How could a nation survive whose capital was witnessing genocide?
What ‘intelligent’ minds could not understand was the spirit of India, the Indian ethos which has allowed India to survive for thousands of years while Rome, Greece, Persia, and Arabs rose and fell.
Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew
The Indians knew how to defeat hate. This ancient nation understands how to move into the future when the present seems gloomy.
In 1947, the national capital was burning. People were being killed and properties looted. Sikh and Hindu refugees from West Punjab, now Pakistan, were pouring in and Muslim residents of the city were under attack from religious fanatics. Even hopes were hopeless. But, did India concede defeat? No.
Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew, Begum Anis Kidwai, Sucheta Kriplani, Subhadra Joshi, Dr. Zakir Husain, and several comrades of Bhagat Singh who had led people against British colonialism took it upon themselves to steer the nation out of those tragic times. The old guards with the help of young blood started a program to diffuse hate.
Zakir was looking after the affairs of Jamia Millia Islamia. It was decided that “Jamia helped in converging a movement at one point. Now, our time demands that the movement diverges into the localities and settlements.” It was still 1947, Delhi was burning and young Jamia students started schools across the city. The Muslims were too terrified to send their kids to school while Sikhs and Hindus would not trust Muslim volunteers. The volunteers started gathering small kids to play. Children were innocent, they wanted to play and soon kids from all religious groups started playing with them. Volunteers started teaching them.
Within a few months of getting uprooted from their homes, these kids forced their parents to meet people from ‘other’ religious communities. Among the volunteers who taught these kids, there were Sikh refugees, Muslims, and Hindus. The future of the nation, those children, soon declared regarding the children of ‘other’ communities, “we will meet and make them our brothers”.
When Mahatma Gandhi was informed about the success of this experiment he appreciated and blessed this initiative.
After 75 years, we again need to revisit the importance of schools, playgrounds, and public spaces where children from different religious groups can interact freely. Right education for children is the only weapon that can defeat these divisive anti-national forces.