April 05, 2018

India: The Maulana who set aside personal grief and calmed a frenzied mob must get justice - Editorial, The Times of India

The Times of India


Power of one: The Maulana who set aside personal grief and calmed a frenzied mob must get justice
April 3, 2018, 2:00 am IST TOI Edit in TOI Editorials | Edit Page, India | TOI

How does one find compassion, reason and sense of duty in the moment of grave provocation, sorrow, injustice and loss? It is these finest human qualities that the Imam of Asansol’s Nurani mosque Imdadul Rashidi summoned when news of the brutal killing of his son reached him and a mob baying for revenge had assembled. Rashidi’s entreaties to his followers that any violent response would force him to leave the town and subsequently desisting from naming anyone for the crime simply because he was not an eyewitness has few parallels in an increasingly polarised society.

By preventing the mob from taking the law into its hands Rashidi has done his duty as a responsible citizen and come to the aid of the police. Now it is the responsibility of the Bengal government to do justice to this man. It must nab the killers and prosecute them. Recall how the father of Ankit Saxena, whose throat was slit by his Muslim lover’s family, defused a fraught situation in Delhi, when he distanced himself from those with communal designs and reposed faith in the state to deliver him justice.

Too often governments have let down victims by not doing its job as the prosecuting agency. Our legal system treats crimes against the individual as offences against the state because of the understanding that victims, owing to their weaker position, need help to bring culprits to book. Yet as we have seen in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots and elsewhere, governments – often for political reasons and in defiance of the justice system – are eager to spare the accused, creating victims twice over. When tested, citizens like Rashidi and Yashpal Saxena renewed their faith in India’s secular Constitution, society’s plural values, and their own individual humanism. Let us all strive to match up.