Pray for unity, not for discord
Author: Arindam Chaudhuri
It is amazing that sections of the Muslim community in the country went overboard over alleged atrocities on fellow religionists in some distant land. And, they are supported by so-called secular leaders
Dear Muslim Brothers: I first thought of writing an open appeal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. But then I realised that it would be worse than banging my head against a granite wall. I also thought of making an emotional appeal to Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi. But then, people far more powerful, important and experienced than me have tried doing that. When I read about the riots in Assam, I was slightly perplexed. Why now? And then I was bewildered when riots broke out in Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, a town that was spared communal violence and divide even at the peak of the Babri Masjid crisis. I was shocked when I saw visuals of a mob rampaging in Mumbai, desecrating and destroying even the Amar Jawan Jyoti. I was boiling with anger and helplessness by the time I read about how bona fide Indian citizens belonging to the North-East felt so threatened that they were fleeing cities like Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. And I felt really bad when I saw pictures of a mob trying to destroy a statue of Buddha in Lucknow.
These are truly dangerous times for India, perhaps even more dangerous than the 1980s when the Shah Bano and the Babri Masjid controversies eventually resulted in insane communal violence across the country. India had been spared the madness of communal violence since 2002. Suddenly, they loom again over India like a malevolent cloud. Predictably, the demoralised, dispirited and disgraced UPA Government led by Mr Singh has sought to evade taking responsibility for this mess, by blaming Pakistan.
Apparently, morphed and false visuals of Muslims being allegedly persecuted and killed in Assam and Myanmar originated in Pakistan and were deliberately spread across India through social networking websites and text messages. But my question is: Is that justification for molesting lady constables, desecrating the Amar Jawan Jyoti, randomly attacking people from the North-East and threatening them and also destroying a Buddha statue? This is where my blunt question to my Muslims brothers, who are also fellow Indians, must be asked: Why are you getting so worked up over the persecution of Muslims in Myanmar? Why are you not holding rallies and organising protests against the daily massacre of Muslims in countries like Syria? Why are you not protesting against the senseless manner in which Shias are being butchered in Pakistan? Even more important: Is there any dearth of real problems that Muslims face in India, while they remain one of the most economically marginalised sections of the society? The merchants of hatred of all communities make hay while poor people become victims. What suicidal madness is propelling you on that path of death and destruction and more prejudice and more hatred?
Let me remind you of another instance: A local Muslim MLA of Delhi is openly defying the orders of the Delhi High Court to stop building a so-called Akbarabadi mosque and not interfere with the work of Delhi Metro. What message is he sending to the rest of India? Gandhiji committed the greatest blunder by launching the Khilafat movement after World War I, when the Turkish Empire was dismantled. Like now, Muslims in the then undivided India faced many grave problems. But their leaders thought saving a faraway Islamic Empire more important. Since then, community leaders have repeatedly sought to provoke Indian Muslims to stand in solidarity with Muslims across the world. Nothing wrong with that. But when you keep doing this, and keep completely silent when other minorities across the world face persecution and discrimination, you are painting yourself into a sectarian corner. And it is incorrect to portray and keep repeating that ‘Islam is in danger’. The brutal and sad fact of today is, an overwhelming number of Muslims being killed over matters of faith are being killed by fellow Muslims.
The fact is: Strategists in the Congress and other so-called secular parties want to continue misusing, abusing and exploiting Muslims as vote-banks. Then there are the so-called Muslim leaders who continue to impose a separate identity for Indian Muslims and perpetually portray them as victims. They are helped to a large extent by a large section of so-called intellectuals of India who actually loathe the very idea of India. The Muslims as the persecuted victim is the favourite theme of these India baiters and haters. My dear Muslim friends, don’t you think it is time Muslim leaders started paying more attention to things that really matter: Education, jobs, healthcare and financial security? There are Muslim leaders and other political parties that insist that the Indian state discriminates against Muslims. But, the Indian state treats all marginalised and weaker Indians very badly.
They include Muslims, Dalits, tribals, landless labourers, poor farmers, workers, tea stall and other push cart owners… So, please do not fall prey to this wrong propaganda that only Muslims are singled out by the state for discrimination. It was way back in 1875 that Sir Syed Ahmed Khan had recognised the value of modern education and established the Aligarh Muslim University. Why cannot the Indian Muslim community find more such visionaries? Muslims in south India do far better than Muslims in north India in terms of economic security. The answer, my friends, lies in education and I wish to see a revolution from the Muslim community for better access to education and better universities.
My earnest appeal to Indian Muslim brothers is: Please build on the positives rather than wallow in the negatives. You have been hoodwinked too long by merchants of hatred and vote-bank politics. Your destiny, and that of our children and of India, is also in your hands. The author is a management guru and honorary director of IIPM Think Tank.