Communal Hatred And Public Health

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It is a known fact that violence and development cannot go hand in hand. Harmony in society is an essential pre-requisite for development. Despite this knowledge, there have been incidents of violence based on religion and ethnicity in different parts of the world. These are perpetrated because the parties feel solidarity for their respective group and label the other groups as inimical to them. Such acts are meticulously planned and executed through the groups of people motivated to carry out the task. Therefore, in many cases those who indulge in violence have no feeling of remorse for causing injury, even killing others, including women and children. Mankind has developed through collective and collaborative efforts of thousands of years. The conscientious struggle was waged relentlessly by the people with great sacrifices to bring change against all forces who were impeding such progress.

Violence based on communal lines was propped up during the British colonial rule to create a mindset of hatred towards others and weaken the freedom movement. The violence that occurred during the partition in 1947 led to the killing of nearly 20 lakh Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs giving a clear message that no one is spared when violent incidents of this type take place. It is the innocent, particularly the women, children, and the elderly who suffer the most. Whereas injury is a visible fallout of the violence, the mental health issues are even worse. Losing kith and kin leaves a long-term impact, more so on the children who are likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They develop a feeling of helplessness and disgust, undergo depression, lose charm in studies and even develop aggressive violent behaviour. Such a situation also leads to acute financial problems, affecting nutrition and health. Many a time the victims have to live in the makeshift arrangements/refugee camps where there is no privacy, no schooling for the children, no proper hygiene or sanitation. And, this becomes the cause of several health problems.

Violence prevention is, therefore, a public health issue and requires a lot of hard work in educating the people about the danger of communal violence. The creation of jobs with proper remunerations can reduce the chances of people getting involved in such incidents. Biased and false propaganda is used to poison the minds, to distract attention from real issues like health and education, and also to hide the failures of the ruling dispensations. The state bears a big responsibility to prevent and control such happenings. But when the state is partisan and overtly or covertly supports the perpetrators of violence, the situation is difficult to control. Recent happenings in the country of spreading communal hatred by some organisations against the minorities particularly the Muslims and Christians can have serious outcomes on the harmony and integrity of the country. The majority community should realise that this mindset does not remain limited; it takes a monstrous turn. These groups would indulge in violence against anyone who questions any issue. Peace-loving people cannot sit at home and just feel disturbed; they have to speak out and talk of real issues facing society to counter such bigots even if it risks their lives. Otherwise, these people who appear fringe elements today will grow and overpower. Their narrative has to be countered effectively.

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