As a Hindu NRI, here is why the Nupur Sharma incident pains me
The suspension, death threats and protests against BJP leader Nupur Sharma of the party have fueled a national debate over the correlation between freedom of expression and religious sentiments. I would like to take this opportunity to express two similar incidents possibly related in some way and discuss my perception of life as an NRI, particularly as a Hindu, over the past seven years.
The first incident I faced after the Kathua rape case in 2018. Many Indians regardless of their religious beliefs protested this incident on social media and also on the streets of India. I was living in the capital of the province of Alberta in Canada at that time. Suddenly, a notification popped up on Facebook that a rally was being held in the city to condemn the reprehensible incident in Kathua. While the heinous incident in Kathua should be condemned in the strongest words, the event itself surprised me greatly. I found this event offensive as the organizer attempted to portray Muslims as being oppressed by Hindus in India and this led me to comment on this post to debunk their baseless claim with the fact that the percentage India’s Muslim population has grown steadily while Pakistan’s and Bangladesh’s Hindus are being wiped out through ethnic cleansing.
As a result, I received a death threat on Messenger. Consciously, I contacted the local police station at that time to avoid any trouble. I was advised not to pursue this further. Thanks to their advice, I stopped my case there and moved on, because it was extremely difficult for me to fight against this force as an international student.
The second incident took place after the landmark verdict of the Honorable Supreme Court of India on Ram Janmabhumi. I went for a coffee during my lunch break and suddenly a group of students from one of our neighboring countries called me for a chat. They had known me before and we had a friendly relationship despite the fact that they belong to a different religion. That day, they suddenly started asking my opinion on Ram Janmabhoomi’s verdict. I said very clearly that I was extremely satisfied with the judgment.
They started telling me it was unfair to them. I tried to shut up and ignore them, and afterwards they started abusing Lord Rama and Lord Krishna to provoke me. I kept smiling all the time and tried to dispel their doubts. Before leaving, I politely explained to them that to make a baby you need a sperm from the male and an oocyte from the female, so it is not possible to give birth to a child if the sex of this person remains unknown. I further asked them to explain this inconsistency according to their religious beliefs. For this comment they filed complaints in many places against me. Again, I was advised not to agitate other students based on religious issues as this could lead to drastic actions against me. So, I continued with a smile.
I have no fault with my government when I had to remain silent abroad after my friends from another religion deliberately abused my religious beliefs, but when a Hindu woman in India is forced to keeping silent to react to abusive comments about one’s religious beliefs really hurts! Reiterating Swamiji’s notion of being a Hindu, I believe that every religion is true. Also, being a scientist, I believe that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
Nupur Sharma’s comment on the Prophet Mohammad was a reaction to recalcitrant comments on Hindu beliefs made by a Muslim panelist on that show. Therefore, it makes no sense to leave her alone and fight against the system that killed Kamlesh Tiwari in India or Charlie Hebdo in France. Nupur Sharma’s suspension from BJP should not be a matter of concern for us, but those who use Nupur Sharma’s backlash to capitalize on political mileage should be identified as traitors to the nation. Being the homeland of Hindus, in India, we should have the freedom to use our freedom of speech meaningfully to criticize those who held faith in the medieval mentality with a lack of common sense, respect and gratitude.