Victims of India's religious apartheid

Category: Asia, Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society Topics: Bal Thackeray, India, Islam Views: 1196

Going through my mail I came across a letter from India in which the writer highlighted the plight of Khadeeja Begum, Editor of the Urdu paper Afkar-E-Bahujan published in Nanded, Maharashtra.

This poor woman was arrested and her paper closed down for translating an article by the well known writer Ambedkar.

She was tortured and a non-bailable case was made against her. She has spent all her life savings to appeal against these charges.

The charges framed against her are dubious and the writer of the letter asked me whether translating articles of the father of the Indian Constitution Dr. Ambedkar constitutes a crime.

I believe that the problem is more than that. This is a deep rooted plan to antagonize the Muslim population and inflict physical and mental torture on them.

The sweeping flames of extremism and intolerance fanned by fascists like Bal Thackeray are now moving across India and will probably reach the South which so far has been relatively quiet and free from communal riots.

What is more worrying is that there is no alternative to communalism since the government is helpless or even an indirect partner in this macabre drama.

An observer of political and social trends in India will notice an alarming increase in communal tensions.

It seems that in the world's largest democracy, Muslims and others are used as mere vote banks to be discarded after elections. 

The pogrom of Muslims started with the infamous Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA).

While constituting 15% of the population they account for over 90% of those held under TADA. In Maharashtra State TADA has been misused by the police who mostly are Shiv Sena members to arrest and torture innocent Muslims especially the young.

Many families have complained of their young folk disappearing; some are reported to have died. At least there is one recorded case of death in police custody. The authorities say the young man committed suicide.

The communal riots in Maharashtra fanned by Bal Thackeray and his cohorts took a heavy toll of Muslim lives and property.

The state government tried to play the role of the 'honest broker'. However, it could not fool local and foreign observers of the Indian political scene. An India watcher commented that Thackeray and the Chief Minister are "two sides of the same coin". A small shop keeper said that Thakeray was at least honest enough to voice his hatred of Muslims.

However much the self appointed guardians of the "world's largest democracy" scream and boast about it; their shouts prove hollow.

The reason is that by commission or omission their government is contributing to communalism.

Take the Babri mosque, for example. No one believes that the Indian Intelligence RAW, which is good at nabbing Kashmiris, did not know of the impending attack on the mosque. What about the Prime Minister? Why were extra precautions not taken since the rumblings of the Kar Sevaks were loud and clear?

Why is the government appeasing that BJP who are now trying to inject the South with the poison of anti-Muslim hatred? The provocations against Muslims in Hubli and getting Urdu broadcast in Bangalore off the air indicates the state of dementia in the minds of these people. Do these people know that broadcasts in Malayalam are allowed in some of Gulf states?

The extent of the hatred against Muslims by these forces of communalism can be gauged by their methods to strangulate them economically.

The anti-Muslim lobby is campaigning abroad that tanneries and textiles are employing child labor.

The carpet industry has already been affected through the efforts of Swami Agnivesh who has now started an exclusive Aryan party to protect his interests. His foreign trips abroad were campaigns highlighting the alleged use of child labor.

One may ask whether child labor is not used elsewhere in India?
A major source of business for Indian Muslims is the tannery industry and this time the target are the rich Muslims of Tamil Nadu.
This industry earns foreign exchange for India.

However campaigns highlighting "endangering ecology and polluting the environment" are being carried oblivious to the fact that while India's present global market share is only 3.5% it could rise to 10% at the turn of the century.

What is the confused and bewildered young generation of Muslims to do?

They see around them poisoned chalice, hatred and venom.

They see police authorities, obeying orders of the Congress Chief Minister Pawar, on the rampage. The harassment of Muslims continues.

Municipal Commissioner Khainar who was applauded by certain sections of the Indian media for his fight against corruption antagonized the Muslims by targeting their houses and buildings for demolition. The excuse was that they were illegal constructions.

It is true that some may have been but why did this BJP-lover only focus on Muslim houses? This is what many are asking.

The Indian Muslim has become used to these terrible blows.

However the recent issuance of notices to Muslims to prove their Indian citizenship is the proverbial salt on the wound.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been asked to fill all sorts of forms and get documentation to prove that they are Indians.

The most prominent amongst them was Ali Safdar Jafri, a well- known Indian poet and a recipient of the Padam Shree.

Jafri who always preached national integration and was a freedom fighter chuckled to a friend saying "Mai Kya Karoo" - What should I do?

A friend of his said why also not ask Narasimha Rao to do the same?

In India the anti-Muslim parties - RSS, BJP, VHP and Shiv Sena have embarked on a mission to perpetuate religious apartheid. They are raising slogans not only against Muslims but openly deriding the government, already willing to appease them to overlook their deadly acts. Like growling gorillas they are slowly creeping.

Creeping in a menacing posture which, if not checked and contained, will cause havoc and break the Indian fiber.

And while pinpointing all these incidents let us not forget the plight of Khadeeja Begum.

She is being hounded by the Maharashtra government; jailed and victimized for writing an article based on one written by veteran scheduled caste journalist V.T. Rajashekaran. All the arguments in that article were fully based in published scriptures with accurate references provided. Khadeeja Begum's life is in turmoil for an article that was originally not hers. Yet no Human Right Group has picked up her case.

The Indian mass media which made a heroine out of Taslima Nasreen, the Bangladeshi writer, for her blasphemous writing against Islam remains silent. Feminist groups who picked up the cudgels on behalf of Nasreen are apparently satisfied cooking food at home. This two faced behavior is an affront to the democratic system in India.

It is no use shouting about being the world's largest democratic state. Numbers don't really count.

It is futile shouting yourself hoarse claiming to be a secular state. The United States and Turkey are too. Yet they don't advertise that. Their actions verify that. It is by action and policies that the true intentions of governments are projected.

The Muslims in India are being dealt with severely. Their hearth and homes along with their honor is being attacked. Their nationality is being questioned. Their allegiance to the land is being mocked at. And there is a deadly silence. This silence should not be allowed to continue for it would be like the lull before the storm - a storm that would sweep across India, battering away at all institutions that have been erected since independence.

The BJP should know: you can demolish the Babri Mosque but getting rid of India's 120 million Muslims is going to take a long time.

It is true for men and women of India to rise and combat this mischief.

India does not lack such type of people who can rise above petty communal feelings and guide the country to a united goal of equality and prosperity for all. If they fail to do so a bleak future awaits India.

  Category: Asia, Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society
  Topics: Bal Thackeray, India, Islam
Views: 1196

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