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.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) wants a samwad and it would leave its opponents nowhere to run.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s clear position on Muslims, reservations, lynching, Indian constitution etc was like an elephant who just walked through the door of the corrupt in their own vice den.
All these years, Sangh grew and grew, preferring action for words, which allowed a cottage industry of dishonest politicians, academicians and journalists to grow fat on global agenda of fundamentalist Islamic and Christian forces—for these two religions alone want to prevail till the world comes to an end.
I deliberately ignore Left for unlike long-standing religions, the innocents are now wiser on them. The jackals who fed on the disaffected now appear flattened under their own tomes.
Earlier, RSS’ silence was seen as the proof of the guilt. Now, that they are behind mike, and on the podium, right in Lutyens’ living room, all we are hearing through the broken glass-panes is: Hey, listen, these are words, just words, for their actions won’t sync.
So, if you are silent, you are guilty. If you speak, a hypocrite. If you act, it’s only token and an eyewash.
RSS all these years had seen the futility of engaging with the rogues and its’
Republic of Propaganda. The game was so rigged, why even bother to be on their turf? This couplet more or less sums it up:
Wahi Qatil, Wahi Shahid, Wahi Munsif Thehre;
Agraba mere karen qatl ka daava kis par
(They are killers, witness and judge all rolled into one. Who do you think my relatives should appeal to on the murder?).
The new RSS wants seminars, debates and discussions. It’s a tectonic shift. Their silence didn’t win them over the urbans whose eyes and ears were controlled by the Lutyens’ Media. RSS could’ve ignored it but the devils have wedged a divide. They wanted Muslims to be insecure, anxious, troubled, jittery and skittish and a narrative to be built which would’ve painted Hindutva as murderous, fascist and totalitarians. That’s not good for the Hindus, not for Muslims and certainly not for India.
Never is a more concerted effort needed than now to bridge the divide. Hindutva would lay beaten if a Muslim child is poisoned by the chalice of his parent’s fears and grows into an alienated branch of this country in the cusp of great things. RSS has sensed the danger inherent and hence Bhagwat’s words: “If-Muslims-are-unwanted-then-there’s-no-Hindutva” is a giant leap of faith which needs be repaid in faith.
We’ve seen in recent years how Dishonests are emerging out of their rat-holes. They are fighting for survival. They are dead if their narrative of polarization is given a noisy burial. And that’s the need of the hour. RSS just doesn’t need one Bhagwat; it needs thousands of Bhagwats. They are all out there but need a cohesive force to keep them together; grow and multiply. Their voices need be sustained and spread to every household.
So far most of it is private initiative. An OpIndia here; a Swarajya there; a Litfest in Pondicherry; it all needs a structure; an umbrella which keeps the cement of edifice dry. Only if this bull is taken by its horns, would we be able to stop Kerala and Bengal from becoming another Pakistan and Bangladesh. Polarization built the narrative of the Partition. History must not be allowed to repeat itself. Such a dragon must be slayed by stout hearts, clear heads and strong hands.
Supreme Court wants new laws against lynchings. It warns of “mobocracy” which could eat away the vitals of a free, just society. What it missed was an address to itself, a reflection whether it too could have played a part in this growing “gang rule.”
Mobs taking law in its hands could have various genesis: emotional, religious, civic, political etc. Bigger the mob, bigger the suspicion that it’s part of an organized group or political party. Often state machinery colludes with it. Police, just an arm of state, is unable to overrides its bosses. But what stops judiciary?
Two issues have troubled two generations of Indians on two sides of two centuries. One is justice to the 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims. The other is Ram Janmabhoomi. To thousands of Sikh families, indeed the entire community, 1984 riots is a festering wound. As for Ram Janmabhoomi, millions of Hindus suspect that top judiciary has played its role in obstruction of a decision. We all know, Justice delayed is justice denied, isn’t it.
In the 1984 Sikh riots, 3325 people were murdered, 2733 were in Delhi alone. Powerful Congress leaders were named. Some, like HKL Bhagat, have since died. Others like Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler and Kamal Nath are still around. Nearly 10 Commissions have sent in their reports in three decades.
The Nanavati Commission, created by Vajpayee government, made public a lot of shocking details. Manmohan Singh had to apologise to the country (but not as Congress’ representative!). Tytler lost his ministry. And that’s it. Only 30 people, mostly low-ranking Congress supporters, were convicted. No prosecution for rape yet.
Police, no surprises here, kept botching up 100s of cases. Special Investigations Teams (SIT) have yielded little. It closed 241 of 587 cases anti-Sikh riots cases on lack of evidence. Most of them, admittedly, are being reopened by the Supreme Court.
Blame it on system, if you may; police and judiciary could pass on the buck to each other, but in perception of the masses, especially Sikhs, the perpetrators of 1984 riots remain unpunished. Mobs are formed when belief in the system is eroded. All three organs of the state: executive, legislative, judiciary are equally guilty.
There is no gainsaying by judiciary that it could only judge what is brought in front of it by investigating authorities. Several police officers have been indicted by various Commissions. Why not persecute them for contorting justice? Why not question the cover of exoneration which departmental inquiries have provided them?
Ram Janmabhoomi is another chore. The judgment has been pending for over two decades after the High Court verdict which gave two-third of the land to Hindus. There is no obstruction by police or Parliament. Yet, the ball is in judiciary’s court for too long.
Issues such as above weaken citizens’ trust. They then seek justice through the prism of their own outrage. A stalker is then lynched because people of this country aren’t sure when, and if, justice would be delivered. It could happen even in petty crimes, such as a pick-pocket being lynched.
The fear is, judiciary is increasingly suspected of courting populism. When judges address press conference; when it opens its doors in midnight (not Karnataka, this is about Karti Chidambaram being granted relief at Madras High Court judge’s residence), when judiciary addresses adda of a newspaper, it’s suspected of PR, showcasing itself in better light than its brothers-in-arm, executive and judiciary.
Supreme Court’s intervention on matters of lynchings are sure to warm the heart of every neutral citizens of the country. Only if such citizens could reflect whether it’s necessary. Whether India doesn’t have suficient criminal laws to deal with such issues. And if it has such laws, whether the issue is just of enforcement? Without enforcement, if the prodding for new law by Supreme Court could only make the latter appear pretty, and little else.