MEERUT/NEW DELHI: A mob lynched 45-year-old Qasim to death and critically injured his friend Samaydin, 55, while they were shooing away a cow and its calf from their field. Rumours of bovine slaughter were spread through the area with the mob mercilessly beating the two men. This is one of the many incidents that have dotted the Hindi heart leans over the past few years. THE CITIZEN Reproduces a poem written in 2016 but that holds true today, two years later with the situation becoming worse not better.

Jhilmil Breckenridge Mar 2016

Wake Up, My Country

I wake to the news of another lynching
As our boys scream Bleed Blue
And over the border, the Green Girls rejoice
And somewhere in Jharkhand
Two families mourn the death of their men
Cattle traders? Terrorists? Muslim?
With cloth stuffed in their throats
And arms tied behind
Hatred showing in the mob mentality
Another dark blot on our secular fabric

And I watch a short film, India, India
Of a young boy on Tuesday selling ganeshas at a temple
Another image of the same boy on a Friday
Selling taweez and chanting Ya Ali
Outside Mumbai’s Haji Ali
And on Sunday, the same boy singing the praises
of the Lord outside a church, selling amulets
And I smile
This is the India I love, the different faiths
The acceptance, the co-existence

As the morning drones on, I watch and participate
In the endless debates on Facebook and Twitter
Of people posing, taking sides, sounding pedantic
While they sit comfortably in their homes
Sipping ginger tea made by an underage maid
While their Labrador retriever is taken for a walk
By their Nepali driver and the Muslim cook smokes a bidi
In the garden with the Bihari maali where their son plays

But what will happen to the sons of the lynched cattle traders?
What will happen to the brothers of the women raped?
What will happen to the mothers of the sons killed?
What will happen to the fathers of the unborn children
Killed for their mistake of being a girl child?
Is this the India we want to grow up in?
Is this the India we want to have children in?
Is this the India we want to grow old in?

Wake up, my country, it is still dawn
The road is long and far and we have miles to walk
Towards peace and freedom and love
Towards acceptance and equality and oneness
Get off that sofa and make a difference
Participate, vote, empower, create, enable
It’s up to you whether our country goes this way or that
So, wake up, my country, it is still dawn
Wake up, my country, it is still dawn