Ram Puniyani


The rising tide of communal violence from the decade of 1980 has consolidated the communal politics, politics in the name of religion. The party riding on the chariot of religious nationalism became the second largest party and tasted power at center for six long years and is now entrenched in a few states and knocking at the door of power in a few other states. The hope that its recent defeat in Lok Sabha elections will reduce the impact of communal politics in society or will ensure that all communities can breathe the air of civil rights and equal citizenship rights with ease, seems to be like distant drums!


The impact of the rise of this politics and accompanying effect on minorities has resulted in worsening their lot. This downward slide in the condition of minorities is very obvious, is going from bad to worse, to worst. It has resulted in the conditions for minorities where they have to live in fear, alienation and the impact of constant profiling in different walks of life. This communal politics has been talking of Hindu nation, has been spreading hate against minorities, against Muslims in particular. The Muslim community has been the major target of attack and has been bearing a huge brunt of the divisive politics being spearheaded by RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh), its progeny and by those influenced by the RSS ideology. They are not only there in the state machinery and media but also in other crucial spots of Indian social, economic and political life. The worsening plight of Muslim community got reconfirmed in the recently held national meet on ‘What it means to be a Muslim in India Today’, organized by ANHAD in Delhi (Oct 3-5).


The meeting was addressed by the victims and social activists working in the area of human rights particularly of minorities. The pain and anguish of the Muslim community was heart rending, coming through different narrations of illegal arrests, tortures, detentions and adverse judgments. The latest trick is to implicate the Muslim youth in multiple cases in different states. This will ensure their being behind the bars for good. The communal violence which has broken the back of the Indian community is being supplemented by the intense and blind police action against innocent Muslim youth, in the name of terror attacks. While the communal violence is now being orchestrated at low intensity and is scattered far and wide, in the post 9/11 period another front for torturing the community has been opened. Here the modus operandi is simple enough, there is an ‘Intelligence’ tip and that makes our efficient police machinery arrest the Muslim youth, being Muslim is the major ‘tip’ for arresting and torturing innocent youth by the guardians of law. Many youth in the middle of their education for professional lives face immense obstacles, their illegal arrests are never compensated for and nor are they supported to complete their education despite being proved innocent.


There had been many such arrests followed by all sort of illegal steps by the police. Using cars without number plates, taking victims blindfolded to farm houses for third degree torture are a new addition to the ‘efficient methods’ of the police machinery. There are enough grounds for doubt in the Batla House encounter, but it will not be taken up for honest investigation. The argument to avoid honest investigation is that it will demoralize the police force. Can we have such a police force whose morale depends on hiding the truth?


Following the Mecca Masjid blast, there was shooting by the police which killed more people than the number killed by blast. The pretext was that the crowd was menacing, which it was not. Truth of Ishrat Jahan case is out in the open but the perpetrators will remain in the seats of power unscathed, barring an odd official living in jail. While such enthusiasm in arresting Muslim youth is there for all to see, those arrested by Hemant Karkare’s ATS in the Malegaon blast case, are currently being treated with kid gloves. The apprehension is that these guilty gang against whom evidence was collected by late Hemant Karkare may not get the punishment it deserves.


The families battered by such brutal police actions and the families shattered by communal violence are on the streets unattended, marginalized and neglected by society and state. Those Muslims having successful businesses have been targeted to ensure breaking their economic backbone. This not only in Gujarat but also in other BJP ruled states. This economically marginalized community is practically boycotted by financial institutions, telephone companies and other elements of infrastructure. There are many cases where the community is being denied space for graveyards, which are either being taken away or not allowed to expand where there is need for more space. The plight of Shabana Azmi or Imraan Hashmi not getting the house in desired locality is not isolated; this phenomenon is becoming more widespread. The walls of separation along religious community lines are becoming stronger. The Sachar Commission and the Prime Minister’s 15 point program remain a showpiece for purposes best known to the state!


The myths and stereotypes in the media and social space are very much there. The large section of school text-books reinforces the stereotypes and myths about the community. So where does all this lead us? In a democracy, in a secular state, the minorities should be provided safety and dignity irrespective of their religion. The present condition of Muslims in India is nothing but abysmal from the point of view of security, economic condition and social life. A large section has started feeling the deprivations in a very painful manner.


One recalls under the domination of Brahmanical values, a caste based exclusionary social-political-system, the caste of Shudras was systematically denied the life of dignity and made to live in subjugation and ghettoization. The efforts of ‘Brahmanical ideology based politics’, the one of RSS and its progeny, is achieving the same pattern with some difference. Now Muslims are being reduced to second class citizens. This is precisely what the RSS wants, this is what is coming to be practiced at all the levels in the country. RSS progeny being in power or out of it does not matter as far as the life of Muslim community is concerned. The RSS workers and ideology have infiltrated the ‘social common sense’ through media and education. It has infiltrated the state machinery. The limit of this can be seen that the RSS controlled Bhonsla Military School in Nasik is supplying large number of recruits for the Indian army one of them being Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, an accomplice of Pragya Singh Thakur, alleged culprits of the Malegaon blast. If RSS, a fascist organization wrapping its politics in the cloak of Hindu religion, swayamsevaks can infiltrate the army, which institution in the society is safe from slow communal fascist infiltration? Which institution can be trusted for upholding Indian Constitution?


It is with this gloomy scenario around that many victims deposing in the meeting said with pain and anguish, “Is it a crime to be born a Muslim in India?” (Issues in Secular Politics, October 2009 II)



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