Having closely followed the debate on terrorism for a decade, I am mystified by the suggestion — made by those who have transformed Batla House in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar into a pilgrimage site — that the Indian Establishment has come to view every Muslim as a terrorist. Which person of consequence has said so? What is the evidence that the Indian State views 13 per cent of India as outlaws?
No political party and no political and religious leader have made such a preposterous suggestion. Yet, for the past month, important bodies of India’s Muslim community and “secular” politicians have worked themselves into a frenzy about the complete equation of Muslims with terrorism. What began as a run-of-the-mill protest by a nervous ghetto and a grandstanding Vice-Chancellor has escalated into a mischievous movement to scare Muslims into seeking the protective embrace of sectarian groups.
Mobilisation through fear and panic has become the signature tune of those who want to divert attention from terror and confine the Muslim community to an emotional ghetto. Worse, there is an organised attempt to coerce a confused Government into abandoning the war on terror with the threat of withdrawal of political support by an entire religious community.
The game plan is insidious but it has already had a measure of success. Under pressure, the Delhi Police has more or less put on hold the follow-up investigations into the terrorist ring that was operating in Delhi. Mercifully, the Gujarat and Maharashtra Police have not followed suit. In other words, there have been no attempts to explore the wider links of the cell operating from Batla House. Have the leads given by Gujarat Police been pursued? Has there, for example, been any follow-up of why the group maintained close links with some who nominally claim to be journalists?
There is an orchestrated attempt to undermine the faith of Muslim in all the institutions of the State. There is, per se, nothing out of the ordinary in the demand for an inquiry into the Batla House encounter made, among others, by the Minority Cell of the Congress Party. It is routine for all those with any grievance to put forward such proposals and it is not obligatory for any Government to accede to the protesters.
Yet, there is something sinister in the demand by Samajwadi Party MP Abu Azmi that 25 per cent of any inquiry panel must comprise Muslims. From here to the demand that Muslims must be tried only by Muslims is a small jump and this jump will, probably, be made during the General Election campaign.
Other institutions, too, are being transformed into extensions of the ghetto. The Minority Commission has turned into a sectarian pressure point and spends taxpayers’ money sloganeering. The National Integration Council meet last week had the usual quota of chief ministerial platitudes but beyond that it was turned into an unreal demonstration of a bid to cripple the fight against terrorism. One participant confided that there were moments the NIC resembled a working committee meeting of the pre-1947 Muslim League.
Likewise, a function last Friday in Aligarh Muslim University to commemorate the 191st birth anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan turned, predictably, into a political demonstration of angst. But it was also marked by a very revealing assertion of separateness. According to the Indian Express, “the audience jeered as a student’s dupatta slipped off her head while she was on stage to talk about Sir Syed. In her confusion, the student looked around. Someone pointed at the dupatta. Only after she pulled it back did the audience let her speak.”
The innocuous incident raises a pertinent question: Have public-funded universities like AMU and Jamia Millia accepted Mushirul Hasan’s assertion that “we owe no explanation to anyone except ourselves and to our faith” as their operating principle?
A dangerous social divide is being created between those who believe that terrorism must be stamped out and those who want to give the terrorists a protective cover built on a religious identity.
The Muslim community must not allow itself to become a shield for those who want to disfigure India. Treason can’t be made respectable.
1) Muslims should Join Mainstream @ http://indiasecular.wordpress.com/2008/10/15/to-join-the-mainstream/
2) M. Hussain on Past @ http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_30-8-2004_pg3_4
3) Dealing with past @ http://www.blogs.ivarta.com/india-usa-blog-column168.htm
4) Respect Others' Faith @ http://www.dailypioneer.com/128164/Respect-the-faith-of-others.html