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.