Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Murder in the name of communal harmony

When I first heard about Yaqoob Qureishi, the UP minister for Haj and minority affairs, offering a bounty for the murder of a Danish cartoonist who caricatured the Prophet Mohammed, the first thought that scurried terrified through my mind was good Lord, would this be instrumental in sparking off a round of long-overdue communal riots in the country? However, after observing the strange turn of events that have subsequently unfolded, I am now pleased to concede that I was wrong in my analysis. In fact, these events have stripped the veneer of apparent religious lunacy from Mr Qureishi's call for murder and bared it for what it actually is : A bold initiative to end Hindu Muslim strife once and for all. To create an India united as never before. An India where Hindus and Muslims would finally cease their attempts to try and exterminate each other from the face of the planet and instead, select a group of people chosen from both religions through the democratic process of bipartisan consensus, and exterminate that group instead.

Soon after Mr Qureishi embarked on his unification initiative by offering a reward for reducing the number of Danish cartoonists in the world by one, a fundamentalist Hindu organization joined him in his crusade for religious harmony by chipping in and offering their own reward to murder M.F Husain, the painter, who has depicted Hindu goddesses in the nude. This gesture of goodwill then set into motion a cycle of benevolent bipartisanship from fundamentalists of both sides who kept aside centuries of religious conflict in order to achieve their common goal. The goal being to eliminate any dissenters from both their religions.

Towards that end, the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee Minority Cell vice-chairman Akthar Baig reciprocated the Hindu initiative by offering his own generous bounty of 11 lakhs, that too from his own personal stash of ill-gotten cash, that would be issued for chopping off the hands of the renowned Muslim artist. All this communal agreement and goodwill would have had anyone wiping their tears in joy, except for the future limbless Mr. Husain. But even he, I imagine, would be honored to be a martyr in the fight against sectarian violence by donating his severed limbs to the country.

However, I have a couple of doubts I would like these purveyors of interfaith amity to respond to. Mr Ashok Pandey, proprietor of the Hindu fundamentalist organization in question, has announced:

"Anyone who kills Husain for making obscene paintings of goddess Sarswati and Bharat Mata, the Danish cartoonist, those in the German company printing pictures of Ram and Krishna on tissue paper and the French filmmaker desecrating Lord Shiva will be given Rs 51 crore in cash by the board"

I would like to know, just in case I decide to switch professions at this juncture and turn into a career hitman, in order to be eligible for the bounty of 51 crores, would I have to kill all the gentlemen in the list, or would the slaughter of just one of these godless infidels suffice? And does the 51 crores constitute the entire bounty amount or is it 51 crores per hit? These are relevant questions that beg clarification in order to aid any would-be assasin in making an educated decision.

Secondly, I would like to say this to Mr Akhtar Baig, who has offered 11 lakhs for chopping off Mr Husain's hands : Sir, I am deeply impressed by your business model. If I understand it correctly, you have modularized the M.F Husain assassination project into manageable sections which includes the removal of his hands, legs, hips, head, genitals, etc in a stepwise fashion. Since eliminating his hands constitutes about 11 lakhs worth of the project out of the full 51 crores, I would like to know the bounty amount I would be eligible for if I took the coward's way out and merely clipped his toenails. Would that count for anything? Anything at all?

In conclusion, I reiterate my support to this ambitious and, uptil now, hugely successful endeavour initiated by Mr Yaqoob Qureishi, a gentleman who we have been guilty of inflicting wrongful demonization upon, and whose motives have sadly been misrepresented by the media so far. Let us now as a nation, stand behind his pioneering efforts by issuing him a collective apology and wishing him the best.

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