India became the very first ‘eastern country’ to come out in full support of French President Emmanuel Macron. This happened when Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself tweeted with a statement that officially proclaimed the condemnation of the heinous attacks in France and extended his solidarity with the French in the fight against terrorism. This took place after the second set of attacks in Nice, France and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, many countries have opposed the language and the stance taken by Mr Macron. The European Union countries, along with Canada, the USA and UK have extended their support whereas few countries in the Middle East along with Pakistan and Turkey, have started campaigns to boycott France goods. These countries affirmed that Mr Macron has targeted the Islamic faith and profoundly insulted it in the name of defending the right to freedom of expression.
On October 16, Samuel Paty, a French schoolteacher allegedly showed a caricature of Prophet Mohammed in his class which had “hurt the religious sentiment” of a Chechen-origin teen who got infuriated and beheaded his teacher. The French police then shot the suspect. Later, on October 22 two women in hijab were stabbed under the Eiffel Tower. On October 29, three people were killed at a church in Nice when an attacker armed with a knife beheaded them. With such back to back happenings in France, it looks like the country reeling through a deep religious crisis.
In India, back in the 2000s, an article was published in a lesser-known Hindi monthly from Madhya Pradesh, ‘VicharMimansa’, titled, ” Yeh chitrakarhaiya Kasai? (Is he a painter or a butcher?).” The article targeted painter MF Husain and accused him of hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus by painting Goddess Saraswati naked.
The article had sparked waves of anger among Indians, and Mumbai Police had to register cases against MF Husain under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code. Several petitions were also filed against the renowned painter.
In the two incidents, religious sentiments of different communities were hurt in the name of freedom of speech and the actions taken were different too. The support extended to Emmanuel Macron and his statement is quite contrary to the Indian legislative fabric as guarding of the religious sentiments is an essential element of the Indian Constitution.
PM Modi shares a personal rapport with Emmanuel Macron. Mr Macron invited PM Modi to the G-7 Summit of 2019 in Biarritz. It is observed that France has shown extreme support to India at the UN Security Council on issues of Kashmir and sponsored terrorism by Pakistan. France helped India in listing Jaish-e-Mohammad, a terrorist group’s chief Masood Azhar in 2019.
This robust support to France by India could be another diplomatic move by PM Modi for maintaining strong international relations.
However, there are and were numerous crimes reported in India, which attained media attention, witnessed social media outrage but was turned a blind eye by the PM, may that be murder of Nikita Tomar in Faridabad, the Hathras gang rape, the killing of two sadhus in Palgar or the Munger firing incident.
When two Sadhus along with their driver were killed in Palghar in Maharashtra by villagers in the very presence of police officers on April 16, the nation was stunned. The brutal killing was the result of WhatsApp rumours of thieves operating in the area during the countrywide coronavirus lockdown. The country was stupefied seeing the viral video of mob lynching, which lead to outcry for justice. However, PM Modi maintained his silence without giving the much-needed attention.
His delayed reaction and action, when a 20-year-old was alleged raped, murdered by four upper cast men and reportedly burned by the police without the consent of family in the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh was not only a source of vote bank for Opposition, but angered the whole nation. The girl was allegedly raped on September 14, after fighting for her life for two weeks, she succumbed to her injures on September 29. On September 30, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath through a tweet informed the nation that PM Modi had asked to take strict action against the culprits. However, PM himself was silent about the incident.
In case of Munger, where an 18-year old boy was shot, and several others were injured in firing after clashes during the immersion of Goddess Durga in Bihar. The incident stirred the nation. Moreover, it gave a political plank to the Opposition in the poll-bound state. Opposition slammed and questioned, why BJP and PM Modi is silent on the Munger firing incident.
Meanwhile, on October 26, when Nikita Tomar, a college student was shot dead outside her college in Faridabad, Haryana, in broad daylight, the nation expected PM to respond. Yet again, he maintained silence.
Uncanny silence of the PM is an irony, while he is quick in responding to the attacks happening worldwide. PM is expected to act against the crime, atrocities happening in home.
Being amongst one of the fastest-growing nations of the world, it is crucial that the Prime Minister should start addressing the social issues of the country.