It’s humane to love sensation. But we should know its implications. Bodily sensations may not harm anyone, but mental sensation has both strong positive and negative impacts. While having sensation by listening to good music can be a good mental exercise, getting exited with anger has little good to do with us. Although the latter kind of excitement might be necessary in places like war, it is useless or rather harmful otherwise.

In Assam, the latest sensation is Nahid Afrin. She is making headlines for being ‘threatened’ by some religious gurus among others not to perform in a function, which they see against the Sharia law. Everyone in Assam and even some Bollywood celebrities expressed ‘solidarity’ with her and she ‘vowed’ to continue her singing despite the ‘threat’. Her television excerpt has gone viral. One popular national TV channel went to the extent of saying that she was banned from the show for singing anti-ISIS song. A top police official is even quoted saying that they are probing the angle of banning Nahid for singing songs against ISIS.

Now, the truth: A ‘gohari’ (memorandum) was circulated among the public with a plea to boycott a musical nite being organised on March 25 at Udali, Hojai in the Muslim-dominated Nagaon district of Assam. The first reason given by the Islamic clerics and organisations is that such ‘cultural nites’, dance show, magic show, drama and theatre are against the principles of Shariat. Besides the function is being organised in the vicinity of mosque, madrasa, graveyard etc. The memorandum stated that the forefathers of the locals of the area worked very hard for decades to make that once ‘barren’ land livable. ‘And Udali area, with the blessings of Allah is now as advanced as any other areas of Assam,’ said the memorandum. It also expressed ‘concern’ over the fate of the present generation that is embracing anti-Sharia practices like dance, song, drama etc.

Every bit of the memorandum is objectionable. But what is also objectionable is dragging Nahid’s name into the controversy. There is a remote possibility of the letter, signed by 46 people including some top leaders of leading Islamic organisations like Jamiat Ulema and even a local madrasa teacher, targeting Nahid. But the fact remains that her name was mentioned there. Sadly, it was not the function but Nahid that became the centre of the controversy. She was one of the performers in the function. In an interview, the 16-year-old said she saw on TV the ‘threat on her’. Nobody should blame her for believing what is being believed by millions of people within a couple of hours. Millions of Indians — in India and abroad — lost hundreds of hours discussing something baseless behind the four walls, in television studios and the social media. Spare the public energy for constructive criticism and introspection.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on March 17, 2017)

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