Guwahati, August 14, 2019:
Amid rising scrutiny of social media platforms for ‘hate speech’ and other forms of ‘insensitivity’ (with many people also having been arrested for Pro-Pakistan posts in the wake of the Pulwama terrorist attacks), a sensational post from a Gauhati University P.hD scholar has set the alarm bells ringing.
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The girl in question, Rehna Sultana, took to Facebook to post the following statement on the occasion of Bakr-Eid. She wrote, “Today, we are also participating in Pakistan’s joy by gorging on beef! What I eat, depends on the interest of my taste buds! However, don’t make yourselves the subject of controversy simply by talking about the taboo subject of ‘beef’.
This message had the internet community shook, before the poster was compelled to take down the message. What is interesting about this post is the the girl who wrote this message is a P.Hd scholar at the vaunted Gauhati University, one of the oldest institutes of higher learning in the region.
This post is raising several questions: Who is this girl? What is her relation with India’s arch-rival Pakistan? Why is she posting about her personal food preference in social media? When she tries to identify her with her food preference how can she warn others.
These types of comment will foment tension is sure to foment tensions in the Gauhati University campus.
What is even more shocking is that this P.hD scholar from Assam is apparently supporting Pakistan at a time when the neighboring country’s tension with India are at an all-time high in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370. This is testimony to the fact that despite the local authorities’ claim of cracking down against ‘cyber criminals’ and ‘social media offenders’, communal hardliners tend to get a free pass, more often than not. Another question that arises from this entire episode is that, does this not pose a threat to national security?
The attempt to divide the people along religious lines on a pious occasion such as Eid, that too on the basis of food, can be seen as nothing but to instigate the people and turn Hindus and Muslims against each other. Moreover, by equating the joy of gorging into Eid delicacies with Pakistan, the poster sends a clear message — that Pakistan is the only country where Muslims can truly feel at home — whereas, the truth is that the very fabric of India as a nation remains ‘secular’.
However, this secularism is threatened by communal elements on both sides — Hindus who intimidate people not to consume pork, and Muslims who assuage that Muslims would feel more welcome in Pakistan. Communal tensions also came to a head last week when a man refused a Zomato delivery for being assigned a non-Hindu delivery agent.
However, these fringe elements are more commonly found in platforms like social media, while actual bhaichara is more prevalent in the gallis and nukkads of the country, and Hindus, Muslims, as well as Christians were seen participating in Eid festivities.
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