I was talking to a friend few days ago. She is a highly educated Muslim female, a very well respected and an intelligent woman in her field. I wanted to know her perspective on politics, about her unrelenting hatred for Narendra Modi and fear of communal riots if he comes to power. Discussion went from one place to another and in the end compelled me to write this post. Consider this post a condensation or gist of my thoughts after conversation with a lot of my friends from the Minority community. What are their problems, my problems and what do they expect from these elections.
One of the biggest problems Muslims in our nation face is the threat of Communalism. After a certain point, nothing matters because getting killed in a riot is damn scary thought. It was a legitimate guess that once Muslim Pakistan seceded and brutally carved yet another Islamic nation on the subcontinent, rest of the country will be the quintessential ‘Hindu Rashtra’. India, instead, chose to be a “Religion neutral” state, or as we so fondly call it, ‘a secular state’. That was the biggest mistake that independent India could commit. It was as if a genius, hard working, good boy, suddenly decided to be this club hopping, uber cool, beer sipping dude who wanted to impress the world. Result was that he could not be any of these. We did not gain anything by being secular but lost our character and alienated a good 20% of our population. Allow me to explain how.
After 1950, every election in India has been made to be an election of survival for the Muslim community. A country that was mourning the physical loss of lakhs of their countrymen dying and ideological loss of partition was not very happy with Congress. This is the same Congress that had promised a ‘partition free’ independence. One-third of our nation was given away as charity to a few people who thought they could not survive with us. We were, again, a nation of weaklings who could not defend their territory from a few fanatics. And above all our people. From Kolkata to Lahore, blood was shed. Only anybody alive from those days will be able to describe the agony and pain of people. An estimated one million were killed during the partition, and more than 10 million fled their homes. In the pre-independence era, most of the Muslims gravitated towards Muslim league while Hindus and some Muslims looked upto congress for their collective good. It was due to this faith in Congress that more radical political outfits like ‘Hindu Mahasabha’ never became very popular. After independence this myth was shattered. Hindu psyche found itself being shortchanged. And why not! The political pundits of Hindu Mahasabha, had been crying hoarse since a few decades now.
Suddenly, Congress found its popularity on a downward curve. They needed to counter this menace. Since then, a bogey monster has been systematically created, fed and nourished for political gains. Keep the minority scared. Majority is already divided, just keep fueling the fire. Real work of art comes in scaring the minorities. Once you threaten an entire community and establish the other guy as the villain, the threatened will do anything to survive. “Hindu tumko maar dega” is still preached to children in many Muslim areas. Roti, kapda and other amenities will be thought of only if one survives. In this mission of creating and propagating fear everything Hindu is discredited and anything Hindu is demonized. Entire past of our nation is washed off to appease one set of people and leave the other set confused.
Why do I call it ‘systematic’? It has been a systematic attack on everything Indian. Let us start with our education system where everything Indian is denounced. Do we glorify our ancient Indian greats like Varahmihir and Aryabhatta? Do we teach any of their mathematical formulas? I am not sure if they are obsolete or not but I am sure that if we can teach outdated chemical experiments of Neils Bohr and physical discoveries like Kepler’s law, we can teach a few things about our own people as well. Do we even try to teach the part of our history where Alexander ‘the great’ had to stop his mission and go back? Ok, ok, I know you have heard this right wing rhetoric millions of times. Just bear with me, I am coming to the point. Anything and everything Hindu has been systematically eliminated from our timelines. It is as if nothing great came to India before Ghazni, Gori, Tuglaq or Akbar brought their clan here. This is where the problem starts. We start learning about Akbar ‘the great’ and stop even giving a second thought to Maharana Pratap, Guru Gobind Singh, Shivaji, Sambhaji, Vijayanagaram empire or Rana Sanga. We are made to mug up about a few religious nutjob wackadoodles who did nothing other than coming to our country, killing & maiming at will, converting people by force and destroying everything that we held dear, including our temples!
Today, on Ramnavmi, I am not even allowed to go and visit Lord Rama’s birthplace. Two decades ago, my predecessors destroyed an empty mosque built by a mass murderer after he broke my shrine centuries ago. When he broke the temple, was it not wrong? Idolizing an outsider as your own, is it not wrong? When I go to Mathura, I can’t go and visit the entire temple where lord Krishna was born. Why? Because half of it was razed and a mosque was built on it. Now, for me, it is very clear that an OUTSIDER came and destroyed my temples. Yes, his religion was Islam but so what! I am not going to kill Muslims today because some of the people who happened to practice the same religion came and destroyed my temples, centuries ago! If that is the logic, do I go and kill christians because Britishers ruled us for 200 years and they were Christians? That is preposterous, to say the least. So, why do I want those temples to be reinstated? After all, it happened centuries ago. And a temple is most certainly not going to aid my economical development by any means. But because it’s my national symbol! It’s a matter of my pride. It is what is supposed to be sacred to me. If I go and raze one of your most important places of worship and ask you to suck it up in the name of communal harmony, will you? Just think about the possibility once.
But now an identity of divisive interests has been created. They left the spark and we have stoked it to a full fledged fire. Nothing matters because now we, essentially the same people (who share the same Hindu ancestry, in the words of now infamous Dr. Swamy), identify ourselves with different things. For me, they were a lot of attackers and looters who tried to come, plunder and conquer. For many of you, they are idols. For the educated ones in you, they are attackers but you don’t know what to think about them.
Since most of the Muslims vote en block, you were a juicy target and still are. Appease you and a victory is more than certain. It started with giving you Haj subsidies (which a Hindu in his Religion Neutral Secular state never gets) and has now reached gargantuan proportions. Separate terminals have been created for Haajis and special flights ply countless number of times for taking them on pilgrimage. Uttar Pradesh govt. selectively gives a scholarship to Muslim students as if Hindus in UP are no more poor. West Bengal govt. selectively gives salary out of my tax money to Imams of mosques. As if there are no Hindu Pujaris in temples. Separate educational exams for minority students is on the cards now and if that is not enough one fellow comes and announces that he will kill crores of Hindus in a matter of minutes if given a chance.
Everything that even hints towards support to the Minority is a part of ‘Ganga-Jaamnee tehzeeb’. Everything that doesn’t is communal. Today, everything from our media to official bureaucracy has aligned itself strictly with the so called ‘secular’ or minority appeasing tactics. Talking about anything majoritarian is wrong. Above all, talking about the ills in the minority community has become the supreme sin. Talk about abolishing ‘Burqa’, Polygamy, Uniform Civil Code, removal of Article 370 and suddenly, you are branded a right wing fanatic. Within moments, Muslim organisations, popular politicians and parties come together and fuel the incompetence by supporting these retrograde systems. Don’t you see the pattern here? Don’t you realise how you are being misguided? For me, bigger problem is that the literate Muslim society almost keeps mum and extends its supports towards this cacophony of stupidity.
I don’t blame Muslims for not voting for the only saffron party or for ignoring all the statistics, data or reason that you try to present. Imagine how much must a group of people be scared and brainwashed if they decide to strategically vote against the saffron party. There are places in U.P, where “Jo kamal chhap ko harayega, vote usi ko jayega” comes into play. It does not matter if the other candidate is from BSP, SP, independent gangster, Congressman or anybody else! Development agenda, you ask? Nobody cares. Only criteria that matters is, “can he defeat the saffron guy”?
This happens because you think India is a secular state. It is not. It is as Hindu as it gets. Yes, it is a Hindu Rashtra. And because it is a Hindu Rashtra, minorities in India are thriving. No matter how much data I give about the riot free tenure of BJP lead state governments, it will not pacify you. Have a look around. No Muslim in the subcontinent is as happy as a Muslim in India. Heck, I will go ahead and even dare to say that Muslims in the birthplace of Islam are not as happy as Muslims in India are. I don’t consider a place where half the population can’t drive or go to a hospital freely to be a happy place. And I don’t say this with any sense of pride, I say this because I believe you are as Hindu as it gets. Our method of worship may be different, but so what? My non-veg eating mother’s method of worship is different from my strict vegetarian father’s. That is why you keep hearing how Hinduism is not a religion but a Dharma. The quarrel arises when some fanatic comes and says that his method of worship is the ultimate and nothing beats it. But I am sure both the sides will understand fairly quickly how stupid that argument is.
Have you ever thought or even tried to find out why Christians, Parsis, Sikhs, Jains etc. are not even considered a minority? Because their population has not reached a proportion where their votes could swing elections. It is in our political masters interest to keep you scared, illiterate and sick. For as long as you are illiterate and scared for your life, as long as your children are sick, you will keep doing their bidding. Have the other religious minorities (who are considerably smaller in population) been butchered?
I think it’s about time that you accept the fact that if any one radical element tries to even touch you, hundred others (regardless of their religion) in this nation will stand up with you. If a collective witch-hunt against you had to take place, it would have and no secular government would be able to stop it. India would not have waited for 67 years for a Narendra Modi to come to carry out a genocide! Case in point- Pakistan. Bangladesh. They were supposed to be a safe place for minorities. Look at the state and plight of Hindus there. Not to mention Muslims. It is in your (and my) benefit to assimilate with the Hindu culture of India and make it the glorious nation that it deserves to be. India is Secular because it is Hindu. Preserve it.