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Sarabjit Singh's death, Hindus, Muslims, India, Pakistan, and Kashmir
Sarabjit Singh, an Indian Sikh death row convict in Pakistan for spying for India, succumbed to his injuries in the wee hours of Thursday morning, 2 May, 2013, in Jinnah hospital in Lahore after being beaten up by the inmates of the prison. The death is indeed tragic and needs to be condemned by all Indians. The death of Mr. Singh could affect the demographic equations in the region to the extent that a single event can.

But before that let us look at how Hindus and Muslims; the two dominant demographic groupings, think about each other. Fine, it happened centuries ago but many Hindus of the North in spite of the medieval atrocities still can go to Muslims places and many among them do not have much objection in using words like Allah, Khuda, intezar, mubarak etc; all religious words. Many passionate Muslims on the Right extreme can say that Hindus don’t have anyone to worship and that is the strength of Hindi.

First of all, Muslims’ assertion that Hindus don’t have anyone to worship is funny and is based on belief about extreme superiority of Islam over other religions. Among those who go to Muslims’ places, they go there because they believe that Sufis are other forms of holy gurus and Allah and Khuda just another name of Ishvara. It is no secret that many hardline Muslims do not approve of Sufism. As far as normally spoken Hindi having too many foreign words and not having too many Sanskrit words is concerned, the explanation is simple: if Hindis had not accepted Persian and Arabic then there would not be so many Hindus. It is the flexibility, pluralism, acceptance of the dominant power and consequential conformism and apparent cosmopolitanism which saved Hindus in the North from further mass conversions to Islam.

Now if a non-Hindu is fair, good looking and is at least a middle class person then according to the way Hinduism is practiced, he or she has a high varna and is therefore easily acceptable person. Now Muslims as a group are at least as fair as Hindus as a group are and they too generally are good looking as per the subcontinent’s standard. Hindus as a majority would not discriminate against them if their classes are compatible. But still there is some disliking for many Muslims by many Hindus. What’s the reason?

The reason has to do with the fact that many Muslims are very pride of their religion and consider others, particularly Hindus, as unequal in religious matters. Hindus do not accept that much purity and according to them all are fallible some time or other and bound to be saved and healed by the Ishvara. The theory of constant creation and annihilation and idea of containment of disproportions and asymmetries is so intrinsic to Hindus that they get bogged down by Islamic insistence on too much absoluteness and they also reject the idea of truncated evolution.

The fact is that Hindus believe that sins are bound to happen sometime in their lives at least in this age of darkness. Hindus offer feeding ants or take bath in Ganga to get rid of their sins. It is not that Muslims as a group entirely do not believe in any sin or its consequential repentance. But Hindus and Muslims think completely differently. For Muslims polytheism and idol-worship are anathema and they find them nauseating. Hindus believe in forgiveness whereas Muslims as a group not so easily. But it is completely fallacious on parts of Indian Muslims to think that they are superior than their Hindu counterparts. The situation gets worsened because of the continued dispute in Kashmir.   

There is a phenomenon in psychology known as ‘normalcy bias’, whereby people are so assured of the future that they don’t believe that any adverse thing can happen. Fed up of continuity of dispute in the J&K, people of the state, particularly those in the Valley, are showing symptoms of inverse of the normalcy dispute: things have gone so bad in recent times that nothing good could happen. This along with categorical perceptions and fixations let Valley Muslims categorize India as ‘devil’, ‘evil’, ‘foreigner’, ‘oppressor’, ‘aggressor’ and what not. But this is totally false assessment and Hindus in spite of modern verbal rhetoric on the internet don’t act like the ones as believed by Kashmiri Muslims. If one looks at Kashmiri Muslims they are mostly fair, good looking, semi-urban and mostly middle class people. Kashmir was once the land of Shaivism. For these reasons Hindus, particularly the Northern ones, can easily accept them as their equals as they would have high varna. Only thing is that the call for independence must end.

This is no denying the fact that because of widely varying distributions all kinds of ideologies are present there in India but still it is the fairness, good looks and economic middle class of the Kashmiri people that can be the unifying factors. Only thing is that exclusiveness should give way to inclusiveness. Both sides must end their negative categorization of other and all should agree that Kashmir dispute is not a religious dispute between Hindus and Muslims. All sides need to give time to other sides as well to adapt and evolve accordingly.

Now let us come to central topic: the killing of Mr. Singh. Here is a plausible explanation for the unfortunate incident. Remember Pandavas after slaughtering Kauravas in the great epic battle of Mahabharata goes to seek blessings of Kauravas’ father Dhrita-rashtra. They make a wax statute of Bhima as Dhrita-rashtra had the blessing of killing one person from the grip of his fist after embracing him. Dhrita-rashtra after clinching his fist realizes that it was not Bhima and his angers cool down.

Pakistanis elites also want to cool down the temperature inside Pakistan. There is another story of regret: Kali screwing Shiva after thrashing him and breaking him into pieces and later assembling the whole. Kali also tramples on recumbent Shiva. Together these have made Shiva a national Ishvara and Hindus accepting the color consciousness which was initially the most fundamental basis of caste consciousness. It was not an easy thing as Shiva is White and Kali is Black.

Regrets make things relatively quite. Pakistan wants to mourn the death but not of Pakistanis. This may help short-term in upcoming Pakistani general elections but the death would not lead to peace or reduction in fastidiousness in Pakistan. Whether the explanation is correct or not the fact is that the death of Mr. Singh has to do with upcoming elections in Pakistan. Pakistan is also a complex state. But India is far more complex. Nobody should believe that by providing unprecedented security and amenities to Kasab India made any mistake and proved itself to be a weakling. First of all India is not Pakistan and it needed cooperation from the US in 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack case. But the brutal killing of Mr. Singh would go against Pakistan in international arena. It might have given India more edge.

Now as far as the death affecting the demographic equations in the region is concerned they may go worse from bad. These days in India and Pakistan are going to be very hot and the unstable equilibrium among various demographic constituents in the region could give way to chaotic situation in the subcontinent. But overall, things may be well under control. The incident may prove beneficial for both Hindu Right in India and Islamic Right in Pakistan. But it may fell short of achieving peace in the region with the containment of extreme Rights across both the nations. Initial conditions matter a lot and rhetoric cannot be fully undone.

I don’t suggest that all nations and their people are equal: in fact I say opposite to that. The relativism along with absoluteness needs to be properly understood.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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