(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Millions of Indians mourn such tragedies. But those vocal, be it on print, web or TV, view it from religious prisms: The divide is between Muslims-unsafe vs. Hindus- wronged. Politicians and media profit, not the nation.
The question today is: Can India afford to be divided along the communal lines? If it comes to pass, who should be held responsible? Could India as a nation then survive?
We have a prototype answer to all these questions. India was divided along the communal lines in 1947; Those who created divisions, in this case British, were responsible; India lost its’ eastern and western limbs in its quest for survival.
Do we want a repeat of it in the near future? If not, how this slide need be stopped? Should another round of Partition, at the cost of millions killed, raped and displaced, must happen again?
It all begins from those who set the narrative. British did it in decades leading to the independence: Assembly elections were held along the communal lines: Muslim candidate for Muslim constituency. Then began the chorus: what would happen to minority Muslims once we leave the Indian shores. Muslim League and Mohammad Ali Jinnah were thus armed to severe India of its limbs. The resultant tragedy of Partition has few parallels in human history.
India has survived another Partition thus far. But the same narrative is reappearing: Muslims are insecure; their culture, language and religion is in danger; majority Hindus would be the oppressors.
If it were the British who fed this narrative in pre-independence era, its media and break-India forces which is fanning the fire in our times. As oppressor Hindus was the theme before the Partition, so is the theme in our times.
Occasionally, the likes of Sadhvi Pragya and Giriraj Singh play into the hands of such forces. At times, “saffron terror” is cooked up like it nearly did in the tragic 26/11 in Mumbai. Lynchings become part of leitmotif to stoke fears of oppressive Hindu majority.
Celebrities and cinestars jump in to serve their eternal desire of being in news. Writers and scientists sign petitions in orchestrated campaigns. Data, like Lokniti-CSDN, survey how many Muslims and Christians have voted for BJP; Castes are divided into sub-castes and further sub-castes as Mayawatis, Akhilesh Yadavs and Lallu Prasads feed themselves fat on its harvests. Important magnets, like Western media and prized economists, all are part of the ecosystem which want India to go up in flames.
Hindus and Muslims do have different language and culture. But both are Indians. And a majority do see themselves as Indians. The minority are Asaduddin Owaisi who incites with the call of Karbala or Niranjan Jyoti who divides with “ramzada” vs “haramzada” quip. Hang them out to dry. As you do with the despicable dozen English journalists and at least two English national dailies who are at the beck and call of divisive forces (read casteist, Left and dynastic parties); and foreign-funded NGOs
Let this be a checklist for Muslims:
- We have always been made to feel insecure even as more people greet us on Eid than those who abuse us; (b) That there is no word as “minority” in Indian constitution, all are Indians; (c) That if “secularism” means denying a Muslim destitute woman (Shah Bano) her rights and reversing the judgment of Supreme Court, then such secularism must be exposed; (d) That if Hindu consolidation has happened around emotive Ram Temple issue, it was stoked by Congress and not BJP/RSS; (e) That for every Akhlaq, Pehlu and Junaid, there are tens and dozens of Hindu victims at the hands of Muslims which go unreported; (f) That if BJP doesn’t opt for a Muslim candidate, it doesn’t matter as long as the elected representative is fair to everyone in his constituency: be it roads, electricity, toilets, gas, health, education, all is available to Muslims as it is to Hindus; (g) That if Muslims are economically backward, it’s not because of Hindus but perhaps the reason lies in lack of scientific temper in Madarsa education; and less than fair freedom to women.
Let this be a checklist for Hindus:
- Indian constitution doesn’t favour Muslims; it allows them to run their institutions THEMSELVES not by the government; (b) If Muslims are subsidized for Haj, so are Hindu pilgrims provided for in magical Kumbh melas; (c) True, Indian history is distorted and neither Congress nor Left intellectuals have been fair to Hindus but it’s no excuse to substitute that anger against a common Muslim; (d) True, a dozen English journalists and at least two English national dailies only report crimes against Muslims, often hoax, but they have been left thoroughly exposed in the last five years; their credibility in tatters thanks to a vigorous social media; (e) Congress and Left, two parties who stoked fears in Muslims and Dalits, are today the outcasts of Indian political system; (f) That Hindu consolidation must not happen at the cost of Muslim alienation: that we don’t want new nations in Bengal or Kerala or Tamil Nadu and its’ attendant costs; (g) That for every Zakir Naik and Burhan Wani, there is also a Muslim boatman who gives up his life but saves tourists from drowning in Jhelum in Srinagar.
We have a choice to make if want to be Hindus or Muslims or Indians. We ought to ask ourselves if we don’t mind another Partition and its horrific cost. We ought to boycott a Naseeruddin Shah or a Kamal Haasan; A Javed Akhtar or a Shabana Azmi; A Swara Bhaskar or a Prakash Raj who are selective in their outrage. The same ought to happen to a Niranjan Jyoti or Asaduddin Owaisi. We ought to outcast a Shekhar Gupta or a Rajdeep Sardesai; a Sagarika Ghose or a Barkha Dutt if the only crime they see is against Muslims; We need to stop an Indian Express or The Hindu from entering into our drawing rooms if all they can see is crime against a Dalit or a Muslim.
These are small forces. Pygmies in front of a nation of 1.30 billion. Should these handful be allowed to decide if we stay together or apart? Would you blame them if tens and thousands of us are butchered and raped in Partition 2.0?
Muslims need be confident this is their India too. Before you blame others, you must ask if your education and matter of equality to women etc need a relook. As Maulana Azad once addressed them: You can’t be drowned and defeated by anyone else but yourself. Don’t hide behind the cloak of “minority” and “secularism”. Don’t seek privileges; you are no different than any other Indian. Rely on self. Those who speak for your safety and stoke your fears, couldn’t care less for you.
I grew up in Lucknow, aware of a Hindi literary icon Shivani who lived in Gulistan Colony, a pristine part of the city which housed bureaucrats and judges among others. Her daughter Mrinal Pande had already begun to make a mark in literary circles. The mother-daughter duo held mirror to everyday life, showing men and matter as they were, without any colour.
The Mrinal Pande of today bears little resemblance to this neutrality. She takes a Congress line which is understandable given the Gandhis afforded her Padma Shri (2006), chair of Prasar Bharati head (2010) and her present position of group editorial advisor, the National Herald Group (Never mind, many of us haven’t seen a copy of its print edition in our lives. The only time we are reminded of its existence is when it’s hauled up in courts for Rs 5000-crore defamation suit by Reliance Group on Rafale lies). The problem occurs when she resorts to lies as in an edit piece today and Indian Express is too happy to lap up to her vomits. That’s how the newspaper and its edit author have chosen to begin the year 2019 with.
Pande is on a bigotry-binge on Yogi Adityanath. She asserts that Yogi is “planning a large statute of Lord Ram as a sort of precursor to building a temple on what is currently disputed land.” If you are not a legal hawk, it would appear that they statue is being planned on the disputed land. That Yogi couldn’t care less about Supreme Court being the sole arbiter of law in this land. The fact is no land in Ayodhya is decided yet on Rama’s statue. In the fantasy world of Pande, the Yogi government would disregard the all-important scientific and technical matter of soil-testing and wind-tunnel testing as long as it could tamper with the disputed land and Supreme Court’s authority.
Pande then rams the lie down the throat of her readers by claiming that Yogi has forbidden “the use of loudspeakers for azaan, citing the disturbance to public peace.” The fact is that it’s Allahabad High Court, and not Yogi acting arbitrarily which has ordered the removal of loudspeakers from religious places in an attempt to curb the noise pollution. In December 2017, state government and UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) were hauled up by a High Court bench for its action on alleged misuse of loudspeakers in religious places. (So madam, it’s not just for Azaan. The court intervention is also against the temples, gurudwara and churches. And if you must blame, blame the HC and not the Yogi government.)
Pande is unstoppable now. She says that Yogi has “banned namaz being performed in any public park in the state.” She ought to be told that no less than Supreme Court in a 2009 order has banned the unauthorized use of public places for religious activities by all religions (and not just for Muslims). And why Namaz, the police has also stopped a bhagwat katha being planned by Hindus in Greater Noida this week. (Rest assured Madam unlike you on Namaz, Hindus wouldn’t make much noise and spread ill-will among communities on the matter.)
Pande further alleges that Yogi has banned cattle SALES to butchers, most of them Muslims. She needs be told that it’s been over a year and half since the rule on ban on sale of animals for slaughter (and not just cattle) has been done away with. If Pande’s sleight of words is meant to point out the ban on cow SLAUGHTER in Uttar Pradesh (and not its sales), she can’t pretend that 19 other states of India have banned cow slaughter. And that it also is not un-constitutional. Article 48 of the Constitution mandates the state to prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle. The Supreme Court’s ruling in the State of Gujarat vs Moti Qureshi Kassab interpreted the article in consonance with Article 51A (g) of the Constitution, thereby justifying a wholesome ban on bovine slaughter.
And if History interests Ms Pande, it was a Congress chief minister in Uttar Pradesh, decades before BJP even existed, which banned cow slaughter in the state. It was Dr. Sarvshri Sampurnanand who banned cow slaughter in Uttar Pradesh in 1955 with the UP Cow Slaughter Prohibition Act. (So madam, please don’t single out Yogi Aditynath and betray your hatred towards him while ignoring what leaders of the party you serve have done in the past).
Pande also has problem about Yogi Aditanath making a “big noise about saving gau mata at all costs.” It would help her to know that a cow indeed is big in Hindu world. She ought to know of Govardhan Puja (a day before Diwali); and a cow being worshipped on the third day of the Pongal. In neighbouring Nepal, a cow is worshipped as Goddess Laxmi during Diwali; Gaijatra in Nepal is dedicated to cows accompanied with a big procession. Gorakhnath (God Shiva) is the protector of cows. He is called Pashupatinath. God Krishna is called Govinda only because of his affection towards cows.
It is not accidental that Mrinal Pande chooses to address Bhagwan Ram as Lord Ram throughout her piece. She chooses a western manifestation on a man who is a “maryada-purshottam” to millions of Hindus. Let her try this trick with other religions and she would know the consequences. In passing, it must be mentioned that Ms Pande in the past had tweeted an image of a donkey to wish PM Narendra Modi on his birthday.
There is another irony which is not lost on readers of Indian Express. The day it chose to make a lead headline of the opposition’s reject of the Triple Talaq Bill in the Rajya Sabha, Ms Pande extols Pt Nehru for the good work he has done in “incremental” changes in the society. Is his party Congress stalling or going for “incremental” change in the status of women in the society? Especially for women of a religion for which Ms Pande’s heart so palpably beats. Was Shah Bano a case of gender justice or gender denial?
So these are you “credible” men and women. The “credible” newspapers. The toxicity which poisons us everyday. With blatant lies and manipulations. Are these so-called men and women of letters worthy of any respect from us?
If I was an Indian Muslim, I would have a whole lot of questions today and certainly no answers.
So far, I believed in the pictures of Rahul Gandhi, skull cap and all, in Iftar party breaking his fast, so to speak, at sunset during a day in the Ramadan month. His remarks that Congress is a party of Muslims. Now, I read he said Tuesday in Indore that his party is one of Hinduism.
It raised a whole lot of issues to my mind. Does Congress stand for Muslims, Dalits, Hindus or everyone. So far I have been told the only protectors Muslims have are Congress. They engineered a special protection for my Jammu and Kashmir brethrens and sisters in Indian Constitution. They stood up for Sharia during the Shah Bano case; are most determined for Rohingya refugees; paralyzed the country on Kathua tragedy; stalled the Triple Talaq bill, spotlight every single–half or full–lynching incident in the remotest hamlets of the country. Now they say they are one of Hinduism.
All this while, they dubbed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as sectarian and communal even though Narendra Modi never once said he stood only for Hindus. Isn’t Rahul Gandhi now being communal by opening claiming his party is one of Hinduism? Isn’t it polarizing the communities? Widening the gulf of fear and insecurity between practitioners of two religions? Is this the vision of One India or daring of a burglar who wishes to rob the home of 1.3 billions of all its valuables?
Then I look at my newspapers. My day begins with Indian Express, the “journalism of courage.” For the last four years and half, they have reported every single incident against my Muslim community, and Dalits, with sincerity and not a little bit of imagination and creativity. They have marked anniversaries of Dadri, Pehlu or a Junaid by sacrificing the space for news of their front pages. They made sure my Muslim community didn’t forget for a single day the crimes which have been committed against them during the Modi regime (Nor did they Una or Bhima-Koregaon on behalf of Dalits). Indian Express seemed seriously concerned about the future of Indian Muslims.
And look at them, now that Rahul Gandhi has jumped the ship, to my eyes at least, Indian Express choose to completely blank out his Indore comment in today’s edition (31.10.2018). Why didn’t they report Rahul Gandhi for his communal and polarizing comment? Why did they desert me and million of Indian Muslims like me who dread a majoritarian narrative in this country? Could Indian Express be said to be standing up to the idea of secular, free and equal India? Just imagine if Modi had said BJP stands only for Hinduism? (They haven’t allowed him to live down the Kabristan-Shamsaan speech to this day).
If I could ask Indian Express why for a similar offence, BJP is communal and Congress is not. Why give ammunition to right-wingers who claim there is never a pro-Hindu story on your front pages? Why make even your die-hard fans like me and other Indian Muslims doubt your sincerity when you sweep Rahul Gandhi’s all-for-Hinduism comment under the carpet?
I’ve tried to give my faith in Indian Express a second chance. What if your reporter truly miss the Indore event? Extremely unlikely for Rahul didn’t offer his comment in private. It was a press conference. Even if your reporter missed the event, news agencies such as PTI must have brought the news on your teleprinters. On close inspection, I even find this Indore press conference of offensive-comment buried inside your newspaper (Page 8).
Then why did you throw a cloak on this Rahul remark from our views? Why have double standards on BJP and Congress? If you care about us Indian Muslims or the idea of India that you numb our minds daily with, why avoid the searchlight on Mr Rahul Gandhi? Is that an editorial policy or a direction you receive from “Above”? And who’s this “Above”? Does this “Above” have the welfare of us Indian Muslims or India as a whole in mind?
These are all very disturbing questions to my mind. I hope Indian Express takes my fears in the form of questions to Rahul Gandhi. Ask its editorial writers from JNU and Ashoka University; Kancha Ilaiahs or Apoorvanands, to prove they truly speak for us minorities. That their propagation of free and secular India is not fake. Scratch the surface of Kapil Sibal and Shashi Tharoor who are never out of your reach, or representation, in your newspaper on a daily basis. You could even evoke write-ups from retired professionals such as Justice Fali S. Nariman or Chelameswar, ex-cop Julio Ribeiro, ex-election commissioner S.Y. Quraishi etc who don’t even need an invitation to fill your editorial pages.
After all, you are “journalism of courage.” You profess to stand up for us minorities. You claim to care for a free and secular India. The proof of burden that you don’t write on behalf of Muslims and Dalits only when it suits you.
The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has plans to introduce Sharia Courts (Darul-Qaza) in all 640 districts of India.
Even though Sharia Courts have no locus standi in the precincts of India’s courts, and that individuals and not a religious group is an entity in the eyes of a “secular” state, the AIMPLB recommends itself to solve the personal conflicts of Muslims in this country, citing the inordinate time a case takes in legal courts and claiming the guardianship of interpreting “Quran” the holy book for its adherents.
It’s a dangerous, calculated ploy by the AIMPLB to present itself as the upholder of “Quran” and thus obtain a complete subservience from the Muslim population of India, preparing a ground of conflict with India’s legal system which has recently made a move on the “triple talaq” issue and which is at the cusp of making a “Ram Janmabhoomi” verdict.. It’s preparing a ground for “two-nation” theory and has seeds of another Partition, another Pakistan in it.
The threat is real due to the weak nature of Indian judiciary which, in the past, passed a Shah Bano judgement couched as its “interpretation” of Sharia laws. India’s rule of government is no better in cracking a whip on a body about whom 95.5% percent of Muslim women have not even heard of.
Prof. Mohammad Tahir, an international expert on Muslim law, and a former chairman of Minorities Commisson, has no doubt that the Muslim law board manipulates Quran to perpetuate regressive laws and that it needs to be abolished. A few of the instances he cites,are worth quoting: “There are two verses in Quran on talaq. One verse says, `Divorce is only twice.’ The other Quranic verse says a person can’t divorce his wife unless there is an arbitration or reconciliation process from both sides. The Maulvis prefer to choose the first verse as law and the second as a mere morality.
“Similarly there is no Quaranic sanction for a Muslim law which treats two female witnesses as equal to one male witness… Every sensible Hadith is declared false, every sensible verse of the Quran has been abrogated.”
“Frankly I want (Muslim law) board to be abolished. It’s members are paranoid and they speak rubbish. Everytime the Supreme Court delivers a judgement, the Board says it is interfering with the Shariat.”
We have the instances of Muslim women denied fair marriage, divorce, adoption and property rights. No women-in -dargahs; polygamy etc is practiced. Prohibition on child marriage is opposed by AIMPLB. Free voices, like Salman Rushdie, would continue to be muzzled.
The fall-out and damage to India’s social fabric consequently has been massive. It has led to Muslims retreating themselves into “ghettos” and “no-go zones.” There is no assimilation and thus regressive mindset kicks in which fuels similar destructive forces of other minorities. In the name of “secularism”, the majority in India allows such self-appointed bodies to hijack and set the agenda for the minorities to the detriment of the nation.
Thus a “nation-within-nation” takes shape. It’s funded by forces which wants jihad for Muslim sovereignty across the globe. From US to Philippines, every society today is facing this challenge. First, an exclusive area is forged; it then develops into a zone which police has problem in accessing. Lawlessness emerges. Politicians fish in troubled waters. It’s not long before government loses control of such areas. Terrorism and drugs thus come to hold sway. Soon there is a call to declare them “Islamic zones.” Several European cities today are victims of such phenomenon. For example, a radical group in UK wants 12 British cities, including London, to turn into independent Islamic states.
Look at Bengal. It has hundreds and thousands of illegal infiltrators from Bangladesh, duly aided by ISI-modules. Consequently, there are 100s of villages in Bengal where police has no say, abetted of course by politicians. When fundamentalist Mullahs make a call for no-entry to the likes of Taslima Nasreen, neither police nor politicians are of any help.
Initially, the British judges in India were assisted by Muftis and Qazis. The Qazis Act of 1880 deprived the Qazis of their judicial powers. The British courts thereafter made judgment on Muslim Personal Law. There was a persistent demand in the first quarter of 20th century to have Sharia Courts. Muslims followed the Hindu Act till 1937 when the Muslim Personal Law Application Act was passed. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board came into being during Indira Gandhi’s rule in 1973.
The life around us could soon descend into chaos, anarchy, riots and who knows, civil war. That’s what happens in completely communally polarized societies with weak judiciary and appeasement politics. Similar was the situation during the final years of Raj when bigoted forces managed to vivisect India, slicing off its Eastern and Western arms. Appeasement lay at the root of it. History seems set to repeat itself and it would, unless it’s dealt with firmly and decisively. As citizens, we would be no less responsible for our indifference.
Shashi Tharoor’s edit piece in Indian Express on Saturday reminded me of my probation days in journalism with the Times of India in the 80s. My editor would look at my typed report, run circles in red every second line and send the paper flying towards the dustbin: “What the hell do you want to say?”
Chuckling, I set about circling Tharoor’s piece (see image), and literally ran out of ink. The man is as confused as his party, touching every base and sticking to none. “Jaana-tha-Japan-Pahunch-Gaye-Cheen-Samajh-Gaye-Naa” kind of delirium. A piece as bald as palm of my hand. Let’s stick to a few specific ink-circles, and not all, for I can’t afford to bore and lose you, my readers.
“Our attacks (on BJP) are based on our own convictions and about what is good and proper for the nation”: So using “neech” and “chaiwala” are part of your convictions. A wild attack on RSS as murderer of Mahatma Gandhi is part of your conviction. Blaming Centre for violence in “Sterlite” is part of your conviction. Blaming BJP for murder of Gauri Lankesh’s murder in your own governed state is based on your conviction. “Ease of doing business” and a “7.7 GDP growth” in your view is not “good and proper for the nation.” Impeachment of Chief Justice of India (CJI) is good and proper in your view.
“Congress’ core belief…inclusive growth, social justice, abolition of poverty, protection of minorities, women, dalits and adivasis”: Inclusive growth, social justice, abolition of poverty? Are you joking Mr Tharoor? Anyone earning above Rs 33 is not poor is how Congress removed poor and poverty. Six worst communal riots happened under UPA and you call it protection of minorities. Women? Ask Shah Bano. And remember how you had to apologize for making fun of our own Miss World 2017? Dalits? That’s why Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar could get Bharat Ratna only in 1990 and that too not under Congress’ regime. Further, why your heart didn’t beat for a murdered Dalit youth leader found hanging by tree in Bengal? Was it because he worked for BJP? Adivasis? Then how did Maoists and Naxalites proliferate in India?
“Congress is political embodiment of India’s pluralism…preservation of secularism”: Your kind of equality under “secularism” doesn’t extend to Hindus and their problems. “Secularism” ought to be equality; not appeasement of minorities. The world “secular” too is an insertion in the Constitution by your leader Indira Gandhi after suspending the Parliament and slapping the “Emergency” on the nation in the 70s. Secularism is nothing but a cloaked dagger by Congress to keep it plunged in India’s heart.
“We too share Hinduism, albeit an inclusive version of the faith, rather than a bigoted one”: Oh really? May we ask you Mr Tharoor where’s your reaction on 24 BJP/RSS workers killed in Karnataka under Congress rule? Where’s Congress’ concern for Hindu lives as they are butchered in West Bengal and Kerala? Show me one tweet where you have offered condolence to Hindu lives lost? Congress standing by Hinduism almost sounds like an abuse.
“The need of Rural India represents political opportunity to Congress (e.g)…the mounting farmers’ suicides”: So, tragic lives lost is a political opportunity to Congress??? But then what else do you expect from a party which clings to a dynasty and cries democracy in the same breath?
“(Congress must) Help citizens in interactions with the police…”: Now that could only happen if both citizens and police trust you with your intentions. I don’t know how policemen feel after Rahul Gandhi stormed a police station and scolded a policeman in uniform. As for citizens, they still speculate about an unfortunate death in a Delhi five-star hotel as you would recall. Where’s credibility of Congress and its leaders with the citizens of this country?
From housing to transport to potholes-on-roads to drinking water to education to healthcare to public parks to sanitation to waste management, Tharoor leaves little for imagination and a lot for mockery in his piece. Empty rhetoric, typical of Congress, the sound of an empty biscuit tin. Mr Tharoor, irony has died a million deaths in this juvenile piece of yours.