Hate is ugly

By Raffique Shah
June 10, 2024

Raffique ShahSenior Maha Sabha official Vijay Maharaj must be one very disappointed man, mud plastered across his face. According to Maharaj, Planet Earth ought to have shifted its political axis, with cataclysmic consequences, last Tuesday, June 4. But Mother Earth is not known to bow to mankind’s will or wishes, especially if—as seems to have been the case here—they come flashing “power” cards engraved with names such as Maharaj, Modi and Maha Sabha.

What am I griping about today? Maharaj—who was addressing an Indian Arrival Day function in Penal—after cleverly working his script, briefly charted the journey of Indian indentured immigrants in Trinidad from arrival to today. He suddenly and quietly asked his audience about the significance of June 4. I asked around the house if anyone knew of the significance of the day. My daughter said India’s election. As Maharaj continued his script that was laced with ominous warnings about the brewing power of India and Hindus, I linked what she told me to the conspiratorial tone the platform had taken—and I must confess, I almost threw up.

Maharaj was suggesting that when Modi took absolute power in India from the next Tuesday with the requisite majority to change constitutional legislation in India’s parliament, the superpower of Hindus would be unleashed on that huge, religiously diverse and multicultural country, turning it from sectarian to the Hindu Republic of India.

Not only that: Maharaj hinted that he didn’t see a problem with Hindu domination—not just in the East, but in the West also, even going as far as to say that the world would now be run, not from Washington, like it currently is, but from India.

It was at that point that I, listening attentively now, almost threw up. Even before he became prime minister, under his tenure as the chief minister of Gujarat, many Muslims and Christians were slaughtered at the hands of Hindu fanatics, none of whom were ever charged, jailed or executed for their crimes. Are these people trying to export fanaticism to our relatively peaceful country? Here was Sat’s son, appearing to be making thinly veiled threats of Hindu power and dominance of the world including little Trinidad and Tobago.

I know, too, that Maharaj will want to remind readers that I was a licensed mutineer, and in 1970 I mounted a Black Power horse and almost waylaid the Eric Williams-led government. That is par for the political course and for writing on the history. I would be failing in my duties as an independent commentator if I neglect to point out the inflammatory nature of Maharaj’s speech. I have in the past advised local leaders who capture the mood of the people of this country when they have reached the point where “talk done”, “dey ready for action”—I have been there and done that. How well I remember in 1975 when I held a mass meeting at Oropouche#2 Scale junction and a foolish PNM activist attempted to drive through the crowd, hurling abuses at them. Predictably, the angry mob forced him to stop, pulled him out of the driver’s seat and rained blows on him. I knew I had seen his daughter in the car. I took control of the microphone and publicly called on my members to take his daughter to safety and to stop beating him. That is how a responsible leader moves.

And I don’t see that in today’s leaders.

Maybe I saw that because I was a mutineer. Remember, I led a mutiny in which hundreds of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition were used and only one soldier lost his life. The “High Command” could have been slaughtered. They were not. Such was the anger among the rebel soldiers, blood could have flowed by the barrel that day; but we were trained soldiers and humane rebels who did not want our country to drown in blood. That saved Trinidad and Tobago from such experience then.

I use this anecdote above to show my bona fides—when I was between 25 and 30 years old, I had seen leaders twice my age abuse the powers that often allow them to grind their opponents into the ground.

I also wish to tell Maharaj that Modi lost big in India because he is promoting religious fanaticism, which the sane and sober voters saw as a level of hate not belonging in India.

It does not belong here, too. Or anywhere else.

Hate is a primitive instinct, which, once unleashed, becomes very hard to unravel.

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