Dr Arun Mitra
Health refers to a state of complete emotional and physical well-being. It is, therefore, important that social and environmental milieu is conducive and fulfils the criteria of better nutrition, equitable distribution of resources and affordable healthcare facilities.
There have to be sufficient conditions to prevent mental health issues. For all this, it is imperative to imbibe and practice democratic values for rapprochement of cultures, freedom of expression, right to dissent and right to demand for better life.
But when these conditions are disturbed because of political and economic interests of a few individuals, physical and mental health are bound to suffer.
For the last few years, however, we are witnessing persistent attack on values such as unity in diversity. Concocted stories are being projected, history is being distorted and false propaganda unleashed against those who disagree. These circumstances have created prejudice and bias against others in the minds of people. This has led to alienation and physical and mental trauma.
During a visit to North-East Delhi which was rocked by communal violence in 2020, engineered by vested interests, one could find several problems in the make-shift arrangements for the victims of violence. As in all refugee camps, these health issues were a result of lack of proper food, hygiene facilities, lack of family atmosphere and privacy. The sense of insecurity could be seen in the minds of all, particularly among women and children.
The worst kind of massacre in our country occurred during Partition in 1947 when Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims killed each other because a propaganda of hate was unleashed by certain forces for petty political reasons. Over 1.5 crore persons migrated from one place to the other, the biggest ever in the history of mankind.
Trains were full with people sitting even on the roof top. At many places, they were looted, killed and the women raped. Many perished on the way because of lack of food and absence of medical care. Several pregnant women died because they did not get timely care.
The violent nature of the Partition created an atmosphere of hostility and suspicion between India and Pakistan that affects their relationship to this day. The sense of mistrust against each other, generated through hate mongering against the other community, resulted in the killing of about 20 lakh people.
That was the time of colonial rule, which had conspired to split the continent on communal lines both in terms of geography and social relations.
Now, we have our own elected government and we expect it to be impartial and work as per our Constitution. But when the State supports falsehood and hate, the situation is bound to get worse.
It was unexpected of the Prime Minister to utter things such as ‘recognise them from the clothes they wear’. This was a clear signal to the bandwagon to go berserk and be rest assured of no punitive action.
When a Union minister gave an open call of ‘Goli Maro Saalon Ko’, he should have been reprimanded. But instead, he got a promotion.
We do not know what exactly happened during the Godhra riots, but what happened in other places of Gujarat that saw the massacre of hundreds of Muslims with the alleged overt and covert support of the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi is not hidden from anyone. The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had to actually ask Modi to stick to ‘Raj Dharma’.
Due to the toxic nature of the politics being propagated by the right-wing regime, we see increasing incidents of mob lynching, which were hitherto unknown in the country. And instead of the accused being punished, it is the victims who have been put behind bar in many instances.
The early release of the 11 rapists of Bilkis Banois a clear-cut sign of how things are unfolding in the country. It came about even as PM Modi spoke of the importance of according respect to women in a speech delivered from the Red Fort on August 15, 2022.
A letter by Umar Khalid published in The Wire relating his anguish for being jailed without reason or due process is a matter of huge concern.
The judgment of the Allahabad High court while granting bail to Dr Kafeel Khan should be an eye opener.
It is not just the people of the minority community, who at present form nearly 50 per cent of the undertrials imprisoned under laws such as UAPA, but people from majority community who question the current regime too meet the same fate. Subodh Kumar, the police inspector killed in Bulandshahar by an unruly mob, belonged to the majority community.
If we don’t all speak up now, such incidents will continue to happen, leading to erosion of social cohesion. Inclusive growth will suffer.
It would be naïve to think that we won’t turn into a nation such as Nazi-ruled Germany.
It must also be remembered that hatred towards any community is not forgotten for many generations.
Courtesy National Herald