Happy Diwali, not for them
The unity in diversity of India is best observed outside India especially within desi student communities. Come International Students Day or India coffee hour or Holi, Diwali you’ll see all these students from different regions of India coming together to put up a tableau to showcase India. More than representing India the draw actually is free food and there after freedom to dance on Bollywood tunes. Diwali celebration usually takes place at local Gurudwaras (Sikh place of worship), Holi is at the Hare Krishna temple and Navratri Raas (dance) is where ever Gujrati community can find cheap venue to accommodate hundreds of people according to fire marshal’s rules. Last night was no different like always free buses plied students from school to Gurudwara for lungar and fireworks. Lots of sweets and sumptuous dinner followed by fireworks makes a good outing but the fun was soured for some when the hosts announced midway through the dinner there were going to be no fireworks as for the Sikh community this time Diwali coincided with the day of mourning for 1984 Sikh genocide.
For most students were born a decade or after the fateful happenings of 1984 so they had no idea about community sentiments some were disappointed as there were no fireworks and few others were indifferent. Here was one community abroad seeking answers to a state sponsored pogrom while the citizenry of this country had moved on. This reminded DG of another massacre no one ever talks about, a year and half before Sikh genocide of 1984 in a small village called Nallie, Assam cut away from mainland in the paddies cornered by a river 3000 people were hacked to death both by locals and the state machinery. Three days of bloodshed and not a word out to anyone anywhere. Living in Assam and on the state machinery that is all DG as a kid heard all the time. Another community forgotten.
The following decade was nightmare of Punjab, it was not cake walk for Kashmiri Pundits in Kashmir, now it is not for the Kashmiri Muslims either. While people struggled to stay alive from bullets and political apathy in these states cities of Jaipur and jodhpur, Rajasthan experienced their first communal riots in 1991 (there was not a single death or report of communal violence in 1947). Then came 1993 Mumbai and many more in between fallen of the public memory. Many were lost to arrac in South of India and dalit murders. Central India is witnessing systematic elimination of native people by the establishment. Recently Patna High Court declared no one killed 58 dalits in Laxmanpur Bathe in 1998, they just died like those motor vehicle accidents just happen. The Godhara 2002 riots seem fictional and now it is Muzaffarnagar 2013.
Starting 1983 in the paddies of Nallie coming to sugarcane fields of Muzaffarnagar in 2013 all one can conclude is unity in diversity. Diverse communities in every nook and corner of this great country experiencing their humanity challenged and destroyed that is the unity they exhibit but forget to claim it. Lives lost, murderers acquitted and survivors struggling to stay alive and trying to light a lamp of hope each Diwali in the darkest hours of despair that someday their dead will get justice and their living will see the culprits punished. Yet they do not find the commonalities to stand by one another and speak for one another to challenge the political apathy in this nation.