Death in the House of GodSep 27, 2012 | Poornima Joshi
The fact that God exists is perhaps as true as He (has to be a man) does not. The faithful can accordingly ignore the ones fortunate enough not to have found faith. It is a tribe nearing extinction anyway. The majority that is the faithful can, therefore, safely indulge in loud chants of Bollywood-inspired bhajans, the cacophony that goes on in the name of azaans, the tone-deaf singing in Gurudwaras and general aesthetic assault in His name.
Being in a minority, the faithless naturally have to suffer in silence as the God’s various armies go about bellowing mandiron se ma ne telephone kiya hai and similarly vile creations by the unpardonable Narendra Chanchal and his tribe.
Besides being a general nuisance, His name has provided instant justification of unspeakable acts of violence and barbarianism – pogroms against Sikhs in 1984 and Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 among countless similar incidents before and after these horrifying landmarks in contemporary Indian history and institutionalized discrimination against Muslims as pointed out by Justice Rajinder Sachar in his carefully documented report.
These major transgressions of law prove that it is possible to justify almost anything as long as one has religiously involved God. The kanwarias can block traffic; indeed major highways are closed down for days when these saffron-clad zealots are on the march. The Shias can endlessly go on inflicting torture on their own bodies during the Muharram processions and the various Godmen can molest women (remember the sordid goings-on in Dera Sacha Sauda?) and capture land as the stomach-shrinking Ramdev has done with admirable panache in his long and illustrious career in what the CPM MP Brinda Karat Brinda Karat would term “selling human bones as medicine”.
Talking about property, the God is among the biggest encroacher of land in India. Because He has to reside only in grand temples/mosques/churches/synagogues/gurudwaras et al, the Supreme Being occupies a significant portion of real estate in every part of India. The easiest trick in order to encroach on public land, therefore, is to build a makeshift temple (invariably referred to as pracheen i.e. ancient) or a mosque on it. Over time, it is certainly going to get legal status. And notwithstanding the other-worldliness that the Hindus tend to portray being part of the mystical Orient, Ram Lulla is actually a party to the longest standing property dispute in India – the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri mosque case. The ugly dispute has naturally promoted a political party, the BJP, that has caused bloodshed from the time it acquired any significance in the political landscape – the riots that followed the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992 and the pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.
There is yet another manifestation of organized religion’s catastrophic impact on the society. In the manner of nine unfortunate deaths in an Ashram in Deogarh, Jharkhand on Tuesday, a staggering number of 608 men, women and children have died in accidents/stampedes across the country in the last five years. Was there any rationale for these untimely and horrific deaths? Will we lay the blame on the God’s doorstep or is it time perhaps to apply human intelligence and common sense and stop these mindless deaths?
Fact Sheet: Sadiq Naqvi
A total of 608 people died in various accidents/stampedes in places of worship across the country in the last five years. Sadiq Naqvi documents the horrific trend:
September 24, 2012: Nine killed and at least 30 injured when devotees tried to rush out of gates of Ankul Chandra Ashram in Deogarh, Jharkhand.
September 23, 2012: Three people killed and over two dozen injured when a stampede broke out at Ladli ji temple in Barsana near Mathura. People had gathered to celebrate Radha Ashtami.
September 16, 2012: Twelve injured when major rush triggered a stampede in the famous Bankey Bihari temple in Mathura.
September 2, 2012: Two people were killed in a stampede at Brahmkund in Nalanda, Bihar. The incident happened when the pilgrims pushed each other for an early bath.
February 19, 2012: Six people died and another 30 were injured in a stampede at the annual Mahashivratri fair at Bhavnath Temple in Junagadh, Gujarat.
January 15, 2012: Ten people were killed which included six women when a stampede broke out at the Shiite shrine of Hussain Tekri in Madhya Pradesh.
November 8, 2011: A total of 16 people were killed on the banks of Ganges in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. Another 50 people were injured in the incident.
January 14, 2011: In a major stampede 102 people were killed when the pilgrims were returning after watching the celestial Makara Jyothi light, the most important event of the two-month pilgrimage, from a hillock some 30 km from the Sabarimala temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, in Kerala\’s Pathanamthitta district.
October 17, 2010: Ten people were killed and as many suffered injuries in a stampede at Durga temple in Banka District of Bihar. They had converged to celebrate the Navratra festival.
July 13, 2010: A woman was killed and another three were injured in a stampede in Puri, Orrisa during the annual Rath Yatra.
April 30, 2010: Five women were killed in a stampede at the gates of Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa, Haryana. Around 60,000 people had gathered at the function.
March 04, 2010: 65 people were killed and many others were injured when mad rush at a Bhandara organised by Kripalu Maharaj triggered a stampede in Pratapgarh, UP.
January 14, 2010: Seven people were killed and another twenty were wounded during a stampede at Kakdweep in West Bengal. The devotees had converged for Gangasagar Mela.
December 20, 2009: Eight women were killed in a stampede at Gopinath temple in Dhoraji, Gujarat.
September 3, 2009: Three women were killed and 90 were injured when the railings of staircase of a temple broke in Jehenabad, Bihar.
September 30, 2008: 168 people were brutally trampled to death after a false bomb scare triggered a stampede in Chamunda Devi temple in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
August 3, 2008: Nearly 150 people were killed which included almost 50 children when the rumours of a landslide sparked a stampede in the Naina Devi temple in Himachal Pradesh.
July 4, 2008: Six people were killed in a stampede in Puri during the annual Lord Jagannath yatra.
March 27, 2008: Eight people were killed and another 10 were seriously injured during a stampede at a temple in Kirali village near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.
January 3, 2008: Six people were killed and 15 others injured in a stampede at the Sri Durga Malleswara Swamyvarla temple on Indirakiladri hill in Andhra Pradesh\’s Vijayawada town.
October 14, 2007: 11 people were killed and several were injured during a stampede at Pavgadh temple in Champaner, Gujarat. Devotees had assembled for the Navratra festivities.