The “15 minutes” has returned to the political discourse. Five and a half years after he made that infamous comment, Akbaruddin Owaisi once again made a reference to it at a public meeting in Karimnagar in Telangana. He had spoken at that time about asking the police to move away for 15 minutes so that Muslims can show the 100 crore Hindus in India who is more powerful. He was imprisoned at that time for making the hate speech.
“Why do they (RSS) hate Akbaruddin Owaisi? They have not yet recovered from my 15-minute blow,” bragged Akbaruddin Owaisi, the younger brother of Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi.
In December 2013, Owaisi Jr had said, “We (Muslims) are 25 crore and they are 100 crore. Remove the police for just 15 minutes and see how the numbers turn out after that.”
Owaisi was focusing on the RSS while speaking about the mob lynchings that have taken place since 2014. The leader of the MIM in the Telangana assembly alleged it was the doing of the RSS and asked Muslims not to be afraid.
“No person from the RSS can ever touch our hair. Remember, the world tries to scare the person who gets scared,” said Owaisi.
As if on cue, the lone BJP legislator in the Telangana assembly, Raja Singh released a 2-min video, countering the threat with a threat and accused the Owaisi brothers of being anti-national.
It is India’s misfortune that an eye for an eye politics has come to occupy centrestage, where the leaders who are expected to lead the way towards peace and progress, spare no effort to divide people based on their religious and caste identity. People are pushed into religion-labelled chambers of hate, creating an ecosystem of toxic divisiveness.
Yes lynchings are an issue, there is no doubt about it. Jai Shri Ram, from a greeting of warmth, devotion and affection, for some has metamorphosed into a war cry. But is asking the Muslims to retort in kind the responsible way to end this scorecard of hate? Can the politicians on both sides do nothing better than macho and muscular chest-thumping?
What the likes of Owaisi and Raja Singh are doing is to keep injecting the poison of hate into the veins of their respective constituencies. Where they are told that a person of your religion is your friend but the one who is not, is an enemy.
That’s because victimhood is an awesome microwave to heat up votebanks. It elevates the politician to the stature of a protector of your life, your property, your interests. It makes the individual think in terms of being a part of a group that is bound together by a religious identity. Depending on the situation, it could be a pressure group, worse it could become a mob.
It is a depressing thought to live with. This can’t be new India. We have got the address wrong.