Amarnath Yatra and the Art of Hypocrisy

Social Commentary

Amarnath Yatra and the Art of Hypocrisy

Illustration: Shruti Yatam/Arré

Welcome to This Week in Hypocrisy, a show where the ideology is fixed and the facts don’t matter. This week we’ll be discussing the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s outburst at the National Green Tribunal, which ordered the Amarnath shrine board to cool it on all the bhajans and bells ringing inside the cave temple, which stands 3,888 metres above sea level in the middle of the Himalayas. The NGT declared the area a “silence zone” because of avalanche fears, and also because it’s generally a pristine place before the worshippers get there. The order explicitly mentioned that religious offerings would only not be allowed within the confines of the temple, and that people were free to light millions of agarbattis outside if they so wished.

Almost on cue, the VHP, which is at the forefront of the battle to remove the word secular from our Constitution, saw this as their time to shine. They immediately hit out at the “weird and direct attack” on the religious sentiments of all Hindus, since, you know, they speak for all Hindus these days. They went on to add that the order was a like a “Tughlaqi fatwa,” proving once and for all that fringe outfits can have a sense of humour just as sharp as any other mainstream outfit.

Before you go thinking that the VHP is actually championing the cause of people being allowed to make whatever noise they want in a fit of religious fervour, you ought to know that four years ago, the VHP went running to the chief minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, about how the noise of the azan, was annoying them. The prayer sound, presumably, was distracting them from properly formulating a plan to chuck rotten tomatoes at couples on Valentine’s Day.

The VHP’s response should not be confused as blind hate toward a certain religion. In response to the NGT order, which talks about one temple in the Himalayas, the VHP has demanded the banning of church bells, gurudwara bhajans, and even Buddhist prayers. When was the last time a Buddhist festival was celebrated in your lane with six loudspeakers blaring “Sheila ki Jawani” over the sound of six simultaneous drum beats?

In the past, the VHP has taken great offence at beauty contests on TV, because they care about the interests of women, but at the same time will probably have no problem accusing the one with a Muslim husband of being a victim of “love jihad”. The VHP has been pushing for the scrapping of the minority affairs ministry because that leads to segregation of religions, but then goes out and defends gaurakshaks, who seem to be targeting only Muslim men, as protectors of the law. The VHP may not win too many elections, or gather too much of a following but has clearly learnt one thing from professional politicians: The art of being a hypocrite.