By Masood Peshimam*
Much has been written and discussed about the controversial movie Padmavati and the controversy does not look to die down. What is bizarre and poignant in the entire scenario is the fact that the protest bordering on violence is backed by communal political leadership. Such unfortunate development is quite unparallel in the history of protest over some film or something else in the country. What is worrying is that some of the chief ministers with saffron dispensation have sharpened their cultural knife stating that the movie has hurt the Rajput sensibilities. Any justification for the violent protest in the name of some creed or culture is to sanctify the very basis of the same.
It is not difficult to believe that the guardians of law are reluctant to act against those who violate the law with impunity. It is against this backdrop to see the statement of U.P. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who said that Sanjay Leela Bhansali is no less guilty than those issuing threats. By virtue of this the very line of distinction is blurred between the breakers of law and those trying to establish their right to freedom of expression without resorting to violence.
It’s not the statement of Adityanath Yogi forming an exception in an environment where free hand is provided to those transgressing the law & order with the political objective. The violent protest acquiring the legitimacy in the matter of Rajput honor is applied to other issues like cow vigilantism. In the name of cow protection, the spread of violence has been allowed to proliferate to such an extent that instead of initiating any action against the culprits the victims are booked and prosecuted. The very foundation of peace and harmony is shattered and the government is looking the other way. Is it not a paradox that we strongly condemn the acts of violence outside but reconcile with the same scourge of violence at home against the helpless and poor minority. Is it an instrument to silence those speaking against injustice? Any Manifestation of truth is the big headache for the communal politicians.
It is not that the diverse prejudices operating at different layers of decision are limited to one political party or outfit or the protest in the name of Rajput honor allowed to be harbored by the states with the saffron political dispensation but Congress is equally culpable in giving respect to the lawlessness in the name of Rajput honor manifest with the stance of Punjab Chief Minister Arminder Singh also falling in line with the hardliners on Padmavati issue. He has found substance in the protest while his party has different tune to sing.
Significant it is to note that it was in the Congress reign that educated Muslim Youth were implicated in the false terror cases. It’s not out of context to quote the late Prime Minister I. K Gujral who said that Indian Muslims are not involved in the terror cases. Even the present home minister Rajnath Singh said that Indian Muslims are not influenced by the extremist ideology like IS. There may be few exceptions which do not define the Rule. Despite such assertions the educated Muslims are targeted in the name of combating terror. The Muslims in India have always strongly condemned the scourge of terrorism and terrorism cannot occupy any space in the cosmopolitan culture. The policy initiated by Congress is further intensified in the BJP reign. This is how Congress practices soft Hindutva.
With reference to Padmavati, Congress sings different tunes to maintain the electoral fortune. It’s the diabolical response of Congress which many a time put Congress out of reckoning in the electoral race. Congress fails to understand that any communal response only helps in fueling the polarization of polity thus benefiting the party like BJP.
The present issue of Padmavati occupying major share of attention across the political spectrum is that it hurt the Rajput sensibilities. The fact also remains that those talking of Rajput honor and sensibilities have not seen the film. Those inconvenienced by the film have gone to the extent of threatening to chop off the nose of the actress Deepika Padukone and there is an offer of several crores over the head of Sanjay Leela Bhansali for “distorting” the Rajput history though its clarified many a time that Padmavati is a fictitious character. It’s not understood as to how the films very often based on fiction distort history. Instead sometimes history is open to distortion with the communal stance when the minorities are on the weakest turf.
In our country there is trend to paint the devil of Muslim rulers and show others as the paragon of virtues without realizing the fact that Rulers cannot be singled out good or bad on the basis of the religion. The religion can never form the basis of the impeccable track record of any Ruler. Without going judgmental over the vice or virtue of the Ruler like Alauddin Khilji the fact remains that the communal flavor in focusing and interpreting the historical events cannot be brushed aside. Rewriting history can well be perceived as positioning facts with the blinkered vision and narrow perspective.
It’s said that Padmavati committed suicide to escape from the clutches of Alauddin Khilji along with other Rajput women defined as Sati or Johar. There are conflicting version as to who was responsible for Padmini’s Sati, Johar or suicide. The eminent intellectual Sanjiv Bhatt quoting Jaisi’s Mahakavyya said that Raja Ratan Singh was not killed by Khalji’s sword but in duel with Devpal, the Hindu Raja of kumbhalner who was seeking Padmini’s hand. There is no cut and dried conclusion of the incident. The fact also remains that Rajput women committed Sati or Johar in the wake of fierce war between Rajput themselves.
The fact should also not to be missed that Padmavati is composed by the poet Malik Mohammad Jaisi around 250 years after the reign of Alauddin Khilji signifying an element of lust. The portrayal of fabled queen Padmini or Padmavati is in the realm of literary creation not based on real premise.
It’s like the movie Mughl-e-Azam touching upon the life of Anarkali. Anarkali did exist and remained in the durbar of emperor Akbar but not lived in the way the dramatist Imtiaz Ali Taj portrayed. Jodhabai, a Rajput woman was shown as the wife of emperor Akbar and it did not lead to any protest Aurangzeb’s mother was Hindu and it has not hurt any one’s pride. Such are the individual matters having no bearing on collective domain.
Muslim Rulers might have their weaknesses which cannot be defined in terms of religious identity as other rulers.
Without giving any positive or good reference to Alauddin Khilji or contemporary Muslim Rulers it can also be said that it was the Muslim Rulers who fiercely resisted the Mongol onslaught. The Mongols who also destroyed the city of Bagdad lock, stock and barrel were bent on repeating the same in our country who were prevented from doing so with the grit and firm determination of Muslim Rulers of that period or time.
Those defaming the entire Muslim Rule should be kind enough to note what Bhagat Singh had said before being sent to gallows.
Advocate Khalid Patel quoted the observation of Bhagat Singh in the court from book Grover & Grover touching upon history referred by YouTube. Bhagat Singh before being sent to the gallows for bombing the Britishers was asked as to why he bombed the Britishers and did nothing damaging to Muslims. The British judge further added that while Britishers ruled over India around 150 years and the Muslims ruled over around 800 years. The British judge was astonished that as to how there were no undercurrents of dissatisfaction against the Muslim Rule. Bhagat Singh responded that while Britishers looted and plundered India Muslims Rulers transformed India into the golden bird. He further said that the prosperity ushered into the Muslim reign attracted the Britishers to this land.
The British judge also tried to play the communal card to create Hindu-Muslim divide. The British judges also boasted of independence of judiciary which is also not convincing.
Even in the prevailing situation judiciary plays the second fiddle to the government in the third world countries. In some of the third world countries the clash between the judiciary and executive appear to be artificial.
Bhagat Singh’s words are an answer to the communal forces with the barrage of criticism of Muslim Rule in India with the flawed logic and narrow reasoning.
*Senior Maharashtra-based advocate