If the first reaction to the attack on Amarnath Yatra is "Where are the #NotInMyName protesters now?" or "Where is AwardWapsi brigade now?" then the terrorists have succeeded. The loss of life and the tragedy become less important than scoring 'gotcha' points.
In a more humane country, both Junaid Khan's brutal killing and the horrific attack on Amarnath pilgrims would be met with similar outrage. But the polarization that exists today leaves little room for that.
Instead the more important questions become:
If Junaid was targeted for being Muslim, why not say the Amarnath pilgrims were targeted for being Hindu?
If the killers of Junaid were marked as Hindu, why not call the killers of the pilgrims as Muslim?
These are the questions that bother us as a nation.
In a more humane country, both Junaid Khan's brutal killing and the horrific attack on Amarnath pilgrims would be met with similar outrage.
Of course, there is unequivocal condemnation of the Amarnath attack. No one is calling it anything but a terror attack, not Narendra Modi, not Mamata Banerjee. He said "India will never be bogged down by cowardly attacks & the evil designs of hate". She said "Terrorism unacceptable anywhere in the world."
The bus was not registered with the Shri Amarnathji Shrine board and was traveling after 7 pm when security cover is withdrawn on a route which is normally heavily guarded. Let the argument about labelling the attack not obscure that detail, that egregious lapse in security.
Some initial reports suggested that the bus was caught in the crossfire when militants fired on the police. Later reports say that it was indeed the bus that was targeted. In that case there is no issue at all in saying that the Hindu pilgrims were targeted because they were Hindu pilgrims, because they were Indian citizens, that this was an attack meant to send a diabolical message and that deserves universal condemnation.
The Amarnath attack raises many questions for those who provide security to pilgrims as well as for those enmeshed in the politics of Kashmir.
At the same time do we expect better from Islamic militants funded by Pakistan, if as suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba is behind the attack? This is not a fight over train seats. Or about what is in someone's lunch box. Their job is to shock and awe, wreak maximum damage and polarize. To expect them to play by Geneva Convention notions of fair play is foolish. They wanted to wreak maximum horror as we all know too well.
The Amarnath attack raises many questions for those who provide security to pilgrims as well as for those enmeshed in the politics of Kashmir. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Barkha Dutt writes that a "single incident is enough for a journey to lose its moral compass. This moment has come for Kashmir." Dutt says that Kashmiris who are repulsed by this should must also "rise up and say Not in Our Name".
But it also raises many questions for the rest of us. We are in a country that feels more polarized by the day. Perhaps an Air India did get rid of non-vegetarian meals for genuine cost-cutting reasons. Whether that hurts its brand or does anything to really make a difference to its financial woes is a different matter. But what's undeniable is that as soon as the decision was announced it was viewed as government trying to impose its sanskari values by hook or by crook.
Thus it's hard to take cost cutting as the real reason for the new Air India diet. We always suspect the ulterior motive in polarized times.
That's the case because that is what has been happening over and over again. Animal cruelty is the pretext under which cattle slaughter has been targeted. Thus it's hard to take cost cutting as the real reason for the new Air India diet. We always suspect the ulterior motive in polarized times.
The question that Amarnath raises for the government is how it will respond to the militants who led the attack, how it will beef up security. The question that Amarnath raises for us is whether a tragedy like that can bring the country together. And whether it reminds us that Amarnath or Junaid, both should be unacceptable. It does not matter in whose name they are perpetrated. Indeed if there had been enough unequivocal and prompt outrage all around for the likes of Junaid and the larger issue of lynchings there would probably not have been need for #NotInMyName protests either.