Romila Thapar

Why Muslims owe a lot to Sardar Patel

This is the centenary of the year when Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel first met Mahatma Gandhi and India got its unifier as we know the nation today. His birth anniversary, which falls this week, was all but erased from public memory under the Congress continuance and the media/academia which controlled the public narrative. It’s only now that the man is being pulled out of history’s dusty racks.

History bears testimony how the birth centenary of Sardar Patel on October 31, 1975 was blocked from public consciousness by the dispensation of Indira Gandhi and the media/academia cabal. Contrast this with Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru’s who was festooned all over India in 1989 during his birth centenary.

You have Marxist historian Romila Thapar pointing out Sardar Patel’s role in reconstruction of legendary Somnath Temple after Independence, an act of communal and not secular ideals of India by inference, though how Nehru pushed the passage of the Haj Committee Act in 1959 is better not questioned.

Congress loses no time in terming Sardar Patel as its own, and couldn’t care less about your protest that the “Iron Man” got Bharat Ratna only 44 years after India’s independence. Try telling them that no less than three Nehru-Gandhi icons were decorated with India’s highest civilian award in between (two of them, Nehru and Indira, while they were still alive). A few awardees in between, while Patel was kept in the storeroom, could be suitably embarrassed.

All this while Patel’s has been nuanced into an anti-Muslim persona. Be it agenda-driven websites which have mushroomed lately; the known Left’s stable such as The Hindu/Frontline or NDTV, and mainstream media, Patel’s legacy has suffered in their hands. The man deserves truth even if respect eludes him from the indifferent amongst us. Sardar was no less than Bismarck—but India hasn’t been a match to Germany in gratitude.

The anti-Muslim narrative must seize our immediate attention. BJP has been tireless in pointing out Sardar’s role in India’s unification. It’s been easy for the Indian ecosystem to club the two and project it against Muslims of the country. One, it establishes their “secular” credentials and two, it kind of helps in explaining their willful neglect of the towering Sardar.

Was Patel Anti-Muslim?

The one unethical method the intelligentsia adopts is to take a quote out of its context and use it to buttress its agenda. We have Rajmohan Gandhi writing in “Patel A Life” (P. 426) that “He (Patel) was unquestionably roused more by a report of 50 Hindu or Sikh deaths than by another 50 Muslim deaths.”

Another by Rajmohan Gandhi: “…Patel could not get over his anger against Muslims whom he held responsible for the Partition; they had brought this tragedy not only upon themselves but also on others.”

Patel has been blamed for introducing the Permit system which didn’t allow Muslims to claim their Indian citizenship even if they had gone to Pakistan for a visit after August 15, 1947. He is also burnt at stake for slapping the Evacuee Property Law which meant the absorption of movable and immovable assets of Muslims who chose to leave for Pakistan. In both the instances, it was in retaliation to similar moves made in West and East Pakistan but such logic is usually lost in wilderness.

Quite a few of Sardar’s utterances are cited to hold him guilty of anti-Muslim bias. There is this speech in Hyderabad, just two months before his passing away in 1950, where he said: “I naturally begin to doubt whether Muslims here feel that their future lies in India.” (That his next sentence condemned some Hindus for celebrating Gandhi’s assassination, is studiously avoided). (Chopra, P.N., The Sardar of India, p.150.)

There are these words of Sardar’s in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in January 1948:  “The Muslims who are still in India, many of them helped in the creation of Pakistan…They (now) say why their loyalty is being questioned.”

When Pakistan invaded Kashmir, the same month, he addressed Muslims in Lucknow, thus: “I want to tell you frankly that mere declaration of loyalty to the Indian Union will not help you in this critical juncture…those who want to go to Pakistan can go there and live in peace.”

Contrast these words with the actions Patel took vis-à-vis the minority communities. He was instrumental, as chairman of the committee on minorities and fundamental rights, in allowing Muslims and Christians the right to (a) propagate their religion (b) the right to preserve their language and culture; and (c) the right to run their own educational institutions.(1)

Men like K.M. Munshi and Purushottam Das Tandon, protested that even in the 1931 Karachi session of the Congress, only the “right to profess and practice one’s religion,” and not propagation, had been allowed. But Patel would have none of it. He went by the reasoning of Christian and Muslim members that propagation of faith was central to their tenets. That’s how you have the word “propagate” in Article 25 of the Constitution. (2)

It was also Patel who gifted Muslims and Christians, and other minorities, with Articles 29 and 30, that allowed them the right to pursue their language and culture as well as control their own educational institutions. These rights are enshrined in India’s Constitution. (3)

The first Chief Commissioner of Delhi that Patel appointed was Khurshid Alam Khan. The Inspector General of the Special Police Force was a Muslim and a close confidant of Sardar Patel. In September 1947, Patel had 10,000 or more Muslims shepherded to safety inside the Red Fort. During communal violence he had free kitchens opened for them.

Many senior civil servants and police officers have left a vivid account of Patel’s sense of justice. He once rushed out in person in the middle of a night to save the Dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya. Choudhary Khaliquzzaman writes in Pathway toPakistan (P 395-396) how Patel ordered Section 144 Cr.P.C to save besieged Muslim lives.

It was in the sacred Constituent Assembly, that Patel had thundered: “…a discontented minority is a burden and a danger and that we must not do anything to injure the feelings of any minority so long as it is not unreasonable.” On another occasions he addressed Hindus thus: “If you think that you can go on constantly troubling loyal Muslims because they happen to be Muslims, then our freedom is not worthwhile.”

In 1949, the idol of Ram was installed inside the non-functioning Babri Masjid. Patel lost no time in writing to UP Chief Minister Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant that the mob must not be allowed to take law into its own hands. That the law-breakers must be met with force.

Rajaji wrote thus in “Swarajya” in 1971: “A myth had grown about Patel that he would be harsh towards Muslims. This was a wrong notion but it was a prevailing prejudice.”

In January 1948, Gandhi wrote: “Many Muslim friends had complained to me of the Sardar’s so-called anti-Muslim attitude. I was able to assure the critics they were wrong…the Sardar had a bluntness of speech which sometimes unintentionally hurt, though his heart was expansive enough to accommodate all.”

Thus here we are looking at a man who is more secular than those who employ it as a tool to push their own despicable agenda. Why would you think a man of such generosity and big-heartedness didn’t get his due from the establishment? In one short word: Nehru, his successors and the ecosystem which they spawned in their wake.

No Gandhi but there could be many Godses

This is a reprint from NewsBred.

Nathuram Godse killed Mahatma Gandhi on 30th January 1948. We also know the provocation was Gandhi’s insistence to newly-formed Indian government that Pakistan be paid the obligated Rs.55 crores from the treasury.

Godse’s full statement in his trial was banned for 20 years till the Bombay High Court lifted it in 1968.  It bears a reminder now for both Hindus and Muslims lest a similar communal frenzy overtakes the nation in our lifetimes, abetted by forces who don’t have the interests of Muslims, certainly not of Hindus, and most definitely not of the nation we know as India.

Godse believed Muslims were appeased by Gandhi at the cost of Hindus. He cited several instances such as Khilafat Movement in the early 20s; the move to separate Sind from Bombay presidency in 1928; Mahatma’s “neither support nor opposition” to the Government of India Act of 1935 which allowed elections on communal lines and prepared the way for the horrific Partition; and the Great Calcutta Killingsand Noakhali Riots where lakhs of Hindu men and women paid with their lives and honour.

The Muslim League feared Hindu domination. Hinduphobia was built upon by Jinnah and other leaders of the Muslim League, abetted by British policy of “divide-and-rule.” Gandhi’s desire for a united front of Hindus and Muslims against British never materialized. His doctrine of Ahimsa didn’t work. It only caused rivers of blood to flow in front of his eyes. His turned out to be violent pacifism.

MODERN TIMES: Muslim viewpoint

Fast forward to modern times. Muslims perceive a hostile climate against their lives and food habits abetted by the central BJP government. They don’t stop to question:

(a)if BJP indeed is communal how come it doesn’t react to hundreds of Hindu killings in Kerala and Bengal? Why Advani’s Ayodhya’s rath-yatra was completely bloodless;

(b)How come its first act was to provide new subsidy to Islamic schools;

(c)If BJP indeed was fundmanetalist, how come the most strident Hindu voices such as Arun Shourie and Dr. Subramanium Swamy were never inducted in the Cabinet?

(d)Every time a stray voice, such as Sakshi Maharaj or Jyoti Niranjan go extreme, the government most vehemently come down on it;

HINDU VIEWPOINT

Hindus have their own grouse.

(a)Hindus pride in their religion is termed as “bigotry”;

(b)Hindus can’t come to terms with Ayodhya where Rajiv Gandhi himself had allowed Hindus to worship in 1986 and where all the eminent historians, such as Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib were shown to be manipulating history and archeology by the three-member jury;

(c)Hindus detest when their nose is rubbed on the ground on their cultural sensibility, such as “jallikattu”, “Durga Puja”, “Padmavati” among others;

(d)They feel helpless when the organized intelligentsia of this country (media, academia, Left-Liberals) deny them the platform to air their views. Their viewpoint is never represented;

Above all, Hindus feel that media/Left-Liberals/academics for too long have played the role of British “divide-and-rule” in this country. Fed by foreign money and preachers, missionaries of specific countries of monotheist religions such as Islam and Christianity, every effort is being made to make a pagan religion like Hinduism suffer, and if possible, to disappear.

Englightened Hindus feel aghast that their Muslim brethrens can’t look at the example of the Vajpayee government (1998-2004) and see through this game.

(a)These very same experts had predicted Hindu fascism and that “all Muslims into the Indian Ocean” under the Vajpayee regime;

(b)Despite the Kargil outrage in 1999, Vajpayee stopped the Army to strike across the border at invaders’ base;

(c)It was BJP which had thrown the Indian media market open to foreign media ownership despite the strident opposition by these very forces who today champion the idea of “freedom of speech.”

Hence, I propose a following manifesto for Hindus and Muslims for the safety of their future generations and unity of India (for god’s sake, how many divisions you want, you stupid):

(a)That we are different but we have lived in harmony in the past and we can live in harmony in present and future;

(b)That we would learn our historical lessons and wouldn’t allow India-breakers to play on our fault-lines;

(c)That we would see each other’s point of view on cow-slaughter, such as food habits and religious sensibility and accommodate each other strictly on the laws of the land;

(d)That Hindus would come forward on killings in the name of cow-vigilante and Muslims likewise would question the media’s narrative on Bengal and Kerala as well as constant attempt to denigrate our armed forces;

Above all, our religious moorings shouldn’t be allowed to override our concern for One India, One Unity. A Uniform Civil Code isn’t an attack on Shariat. And if it is, Muslims anyway submit to such rulings in France or Australia. The majority in this country has chosen BJP to lead India’s destiny till 2019 and we ought not to let our communal prejudice or bias interfere in its task.

And certainly not allow these India-breakers a field day. They are desperate and fast losing ground. Their propaganda has no effect on the electorates. India is a virtual heaven in modern comity of nations. Muslims are safer here than in any other non-Muslim country of the world. We shouldn’t become a pawn to a handful of India-breakers who are subsisted, funded and promoted by foreign forces.

Just remember: we can all wear our religious glasses but it must show the horrible future which our children would suffer in times to come.

Jai Hind.