Yes, there is growing intolerance. But, not just under the BJP rule. It’s a social ill. In this country, doctors, supposed to be life givers, are sometimes beaten up and hospitals rampaged after death of a patient. Teachers are assaulted by rowdy students for catching them while cheating in exam. Parents are beaten up by wards. Physical torture of wives by drunken husbands is still a common menace. And most importantly, our political leaders have been intolerant irrespective of the parties. Else, we would not have had ugly fights in the parliament and the state assemblies. Marshalls would not have been required at all. After all, elected representatives are expected to have the minimum decency of not going physical against one another!

It’s not just the religion, but also the race that comes to play in case of intolerance. More than Muslim haters, there are Bihari haters in Mumbai. The community, whose people are mostly engaged in petty jobs, is targeted from time to time by so-called Marathi nationalists to carry out their agenda. In Assam too, there were mass killings of Biharis by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). ULFA did not have any enmity with the Biharis, but they took these lives just to show their Assamese nationalist sentiment! In states like Meghalaya, an outsider is known as ‘Dkhar’, a derogatory term. Is it not intolerance? Just two years ago – during this same Congress regime – two persons were burnt alive by so-called Khasi nationalists. This city has seen violence against non-tribals since over three decades. The latter being a meagre 10 per cent of the population and no right over land have been tolerating such elements all along.

What bigger example of history there can be other than the genocide of Jews by Hitler and his army? It happened just 70 years ago! Human nature cannot change to a great extent in such short span of time. However, it does not mean there is no hope and we continue being intolerant. But there is a need to see the situation with an open mind. Jumping into conclusion on the basis of one minister’s ‘intolerant’ remark would lead us to mere ignorance. The less we discuss ‘intolerance’, unless there is a criminal offence, the better is for India. Let’s not allow our leaders spend the taxpayers’ money just making remarks in favour or against intolerance.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on November 28, 2015)