Monday, January 20, 2014

A storm coming

There's a storm brewing in these lands. You don't have to turn the television channels on or open the daily newspapers and read the countless stories streaming in from all over the country about something or someone burning. You can just talk with the common people and talk not even about politics. You can ask them about their daily lives, their hopes, their aspirations and their seasons and festivities. People, to you, feel down and worried. While they smile, it seems forced. While they may still dream, their eyes are downcast. In the streets, in the bazaars, as you wander through the land, you can sense the tension, the taut suspense of people's impending nightmares. It's the feeling of seeing the cables slowly, surely getting cut one by one while you stand in the middle of the suspension bridge. You know the depth will swallow you. You don't know when. You can sense that people are scared.

There's an election about and neither of the big parties are making it easy for the common people to peacefully elect their representatives. The storm that's coming, however, is bigger than just the political quibbles; although the political instability is paving the way for greater troubles. One of the major parties is allied with what any sane mind would consider an extremist, convoluted, anarchist group. There's a fair chance that the party allied with the extremists may just win the election if the election is unbiased. When this faction won two election cycles ago, they unleashed a swatch of damage upon the minorities. In regions that are relatively far from the reach of law enforcement, they decimated non-muslim (and muslim also, when convenient) houses. They destroyed property and they destroyed lives built by the sweat of common people's brow. Back then, we, in the city, would read about raids and rapes happening in the dark of the night in far-flung places. The grizzly lust of retaliation for allegedly supporting the left-of-center party or worse yet, India, turned into a vendetta against anyone deemed not enough muslim. It's only been twelve years since. People in these lands remember and shudder.

Shudder they should. Lately, on top of the relatively mainstream Islamists, the more extreme, currently banned, groups are gearing up for open acts of violence in the name of struggle for Quranic law. These groups were let to do their mischief unhindered twelve years ago. That resulted in village idiots turned militants claiming small independent territories and handing out judgment according to primitive Islamic law. Even a nightmare could be more wished for, more pleasant!

You can tell people fear the coming instability and fear that whoever comes in power will either be unable or unwilling to do anything. People sense that the upcoming difficulties will just tear down any semblance of religious, cultural, and societal tolerance that still remains in this land. People fear all these but are not bold enough to take a firm step, to prevent this sectarian violence. Who really wants to put one's self in harm's way to save the minority? Who has time for that when not working for a day means a hungry day for the family?

Between hope and despair, tolerance and persecution, democracy and militancy, in this land, people walk a precarious fine line.

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