Award wapsi 2.0: After Hashmi returns award, Javed Anand & MM Tirmizi may follow
As incidents of mob violence assume epidemic proportions across the country, the Narendra Modi government seems to be heading for another round of 'award wapsi'.
After renowned activist Shabnam Hashmi returned the National Minority Rights Award in protest against the government's failure to act against lynchmob attacks, two more recipients of the award – activist Javed Anand and Gujarat High Court advocate M M Tirmizi – will be following suit.
Conferred by the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), the award recognises the contribution of an individual/organisation towards protection of rights of minorities and championing their causes.
Anand, founder of the Mumbai-based Sabrang Communications, is aghast at the growing instances of lynching and deafening silence of Modi over the matter.
“Modi’s much vaunted Make in India has now given way to lynch in India. There is hardly any day when there are no reports of lynching and attacks on Dalits and Muslim. It’s time the entire country stands up to this,” said Anand who is in the process of returning the award he was bestowed in 2007.
Tirmizi, who was given the recognition in 2009 for his efforts in representing Gujarat riot victims in courts, too said he was mulling giving up the award.
The development came on a day when people from all walks of life demonstrated in prominent cities across the country against the recent spate of targeted lynching of Muslims.
Spearheaded by filmmaker Saba Dewan, the 'Not In My Name' protests are on the lines of the demonstrations held in the US opposing the Vietnam War.
Award wapasi, which first began in 2015, resumed on Tuesday when Hashmi gave up her award for the ‘utter failure’ of the NCM and the Modi government in providing even a ‘semblance’ of security to the minority community.
“The award was for rights of the minorities and when they don’t have that why should I keep that award,” says Hashmi known for her campaign against communalism.
She said the NCM has lost all its credibility for its inaction in protecting the minorities who are steadily falling prey to lynching.
“What has the panel or the government done to stop this killings? What have they done to prevent India from becoming Lynchistan,” she asked.
The trigger for Hashmi’s award wapasi was the killing of 15-year-old Junaid in Ballabhgarh near the national capital. The Muslim teenager was brutally stabbed to death and his two brothers critically injured after an alteration over train seat turned communal.
Eminent writer and Jawaharlal Nehru’s niece Nayantara Sahgal in 2015 spearheaded the 'Award Wapasi' campaign which saw a host of authors returning their Sahitya Akademi Award in protest over growing intolerance.
The intense campaign against Modi government after the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri over rumors of beef, was later joined by several filmmakers including Kundan Shah and Saeed Mirza who returned their national awards.
While the Centre’s ruling BJP has refrained from commenting over the issue, NCM chief Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi dismissed Hashmi’s allegations and claimed the lynchings were merely a law and order issue.
“All this killings are basically a law and order issue. The motives of these killings are not communal but there is this campaign going on to give them a communal angle. The NCM is doing whatever it ought to, to protect the rights of the minorities,” said Rizvi asserting minorities particularly Muslims were safe and secure in India.
Besides the NCM, the union home ministry too has refused intervention in the lynching incidents and held them as law and order issue to be dealt by the states.
Contrary to the government narrative, a study by data journalism portal IndiaSpend, reveals that a staggering 86 per cent of those killed in cow related violence in the last seven years were Muslims with almost all the incidents occurring in Modi’s reign.
The study based on English media reports centering on bovine related violence between 2010 and June 2017, reveals that 28 people were killed in 63 such incidents.
As many as 97 per cent of the attacks were reported after Modi government came to power in May 2014, and about half the cow-related violence–32 of 63 cases–were from states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party, says the report.
As per the report, 2017 is the worst-ever year for cow-related violence.
It also said that cow related violence was reported from as many as 19 of the 29 states with the BJP ruled Uttar Pradesh, Haryana Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan accounting for higher instances of such cases.