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Do Muslims feel safe anywhere?


by Balbir Punj

Dear Hamid Ansari Sahib, I had the privilege of serving as a member of Rajya Sabha (2008-14) while you were the presiding officer of the Upper House in your capacity as the vice president of our Republic. Sir, you conducted yourself with finesse, tact and grace during your decade long tenure. So your parting remarks came as a bit of surprise to me.

In your interview to Rajya Sabha TV and also while delivering your final address as vice-president, at the 25th annual convocation of the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru, you made two points—that cultural nationalism is an “illiberal form of nationalism”, and fear and unease were growing among “Dalits, Muslims and Christians” in India.

Sir, for now we shall ignore your remarks about how Dalits and Christians feel. But whatever you said about Muslims feeling “insecure” in India is indeed true. Sadly it’s not the complete truth but half truth—more dangerous than a total lie.

You obviously cannot be speaking for all the nearly 200 million Muslims of the country. But there may be a large section of Muslims feeling insecure in India. But is there any part of the globe where one or the other section of Muslims does not feel insecure or alienated from the country of their origin or residence?

Do Muslims feel safe in the USA or China?  In spite of growing bon-homie between socialist China and an Islamic Pakistan, Muslims are at war with the state in the Xinjiang province of the Communist nation. Why?

What is the situation in Europe? Muslims have serious problems with all the countries of the continent and they express their resentment through periodic incidents of violence. From 1970 to 2016, in 46 years,

5, 215 innocent people have died from bombings 2,463 from assassinations, 2,270 from assaults, 957 form hostage situations, 183 from hijacking, 88 from building attacks, according to a Washington Post analysis. Many of the culprits in each of these unfortunate incidents were Muslims.

Sir, the situation is worse in our neighbourhood (Pakistan and Afghanistan) where Muslims are over 95 per cent of the total population. The minorities (Hindus and Sikhs), living long before the arrival of Islam there, have virtually been liquidated during the Islamic rule. In both these countries, sections of Muslims continue to feel “insecure” and resort to violence either against the state or each other. The killers and their victims, both, swear by Islam.

According to official figures, 62,403 is the number of Muslims that were killed in Pakistan in the name of faith between 2003 and 2016 end. In Afghanistan 1,662 civilians have been documented as killed and 3,581 injured till June end, this year alone.

Look at the figures from Iraq. Last year, 16,393 civilians lost their lives and 11,263 have been killed till July end this year (2017). I need not mention here the havoc caused by ISIS. Guns and bombs are operated by “humans”, who in turn are motivated by a mindset which, in all these cases, is shaped by theological fundamentals.

Should not one look at such religious beliefs which inspire believers to kill non-believers, even at the cost of getting themselves killed? Why is the community always at war, with itself in an entirely Islamic society and with the state or non-Muslims, when in minority?

It’s unfortunate, but true sir, that a large section of Muslims have never felt safe in India either. If it weren’t so, would there have been a demand, backed by “direct action” for the partition of the country on a theocratic basis?

Sir, we all know the story behind the creation of Pakistan. A large section of Muslims did not feel “secure” living as equals with Hindus, in spite of Gandhiji bending backwards to placate them and their sensibilities. While the Communists provided all the intellectual frame work to support the Muslim League’s demand, the departing British happily joined the conspiracy to vivisect India.

A tired and pusillanimous Congress leadership acquiescenced and the evil deed was done. For the last 70 years an “insecure” Pakistan has continued with an overt and covert war, in the spirit of “holy jihad”, against “kafir” India. So “insecurity” continues to haunt a section of Muslims in India where they are a growing minority (in term of numbers) and in Pakistan as well which is a declared Islamic state.

Sir, the unfortunate lynching of Akhlaq at Dadri in 2015 and recent killing of Junaid in an altercation in an over-crowded train near Delhi may have triggered such an overreaction on your part. And while doing so, you forgot that these hapless men were part of a country which recorded 33,981 murders, 36,735 rapes, 66042 riots and over one lakh suicides in 2014, according to the statistics available with the National Crime Record Bureau.

Can someone be immune from such crimes on the basis of religion? Does not such an expectation smack of a sense of entitlement? All crimes, irrespective of the religion of the culprit or of the victim deserve to be put down with a heavy hand.

Recently, Mukesh Pandey, 30, IAS and District Magistrate of Buxur committed suicide. Imagine instead of being a Brahmin, the unfortunate young man had been a Dalit or a Muslim. Sir, this calamitous incident would have been exploited a la Rohith Vemula, a Hyderabad University scholar who committed suicide in January 2016.

As it turns out now, Vemula was not a Dalit and he did not commit suicide because of any persecution at the hands of the authorities. But a false narrative was built and publicised at a global level. Sir, don’t you think, you too, may be inadvertently contributing your bit in promoting this false narrative further?

Former Rajya Sabha member and Delhi-based commentator on social and political issues

Email: punjbalbir@gmail.com

Courtesy: The New Indian Express