Survey seeks views and suggestions on the community problems

By Abdul Bari Masoud

In the wake of the prevailing precarious condition of the Muslim community, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s Department of Community Affairs has launched an online survey. It seeks thoughts, inputs, suggestions, ideas and recommendations from the concerned members of the community as well as others on the theme.

In the current socio-political scenario, for example, what are the top three social issues facing the Muslim community, in your opinion? How about the top three economic difficulties facing the Muslim community? Describe in depth, among other things, were questioned in the poll.

In an exclusive interview with Radiance, Malik Mohtasim Khan, Secretary, Department of Community Affairs of JIH, said India is going through its most critical period since Independence as a consequence of the continuing assault by communal forces on the very foundation of the Constitution. This has created a challenging situation for not only the second largest religious community but also for other communities, too. Khan, who also visited the poll-bound Gujarat to ascertain the situation there, said the people are yearning for a political change but it seems that the opposition parties are failing to win the confidence of people in the state.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: First tell us what is the context of this online survey?

A: There are many issues that India is confronted with, including issues that the Muslim minority is facing. However, Muslims specifically face a number of problems. The Community Affairs Department of the Jamaat is focusing on these challenges because it believes that resolving them will help solve the community’s issues.

Q: What makes this exercise so important?

A: In the hatred-filled socio-political environment of today, the democratic institutions are constantly under attack. The RSS has utilised the BJP as a political tool to limit constitutionally guaranteed liberties ever since taking office in 2014 and has done so at every available opportunity and because of this fringe has transitioned to the mainstream. What was once illegal has become legal. Furthermore, starting at a young age, institutions and public places teach kids how to use weapons. Universities have been turned into a platform to advance the partisan agenda of the government in power and crush any dissenting viewpoint. The BJP’s divisive goal is being perpetuated by rewriting history texts to suit it. Every public space is under moral surveillance. The concept of privacy is being destroyed. The highest echelons of power have ruthlessly assaulted citizens and civil society for speaking out.

In the light of the above-mentioned situation, the survey seeks to ascertain the views of new generations and concerned members of the community on these issues.

Q: What are the specific problems the community faces?

A: Numerous concerns, including education, economy, jobs, and reservations have been unresolved for a very long time. Following mob lynching, bulldozer politics, and the CAA-NRC, the fascist force has raised new concerns such the hijab, azan, and others. In order to develop both long- and short-term plans for tackling these concerns, we need to know what the younger generation thinks about them. Then we will make a roadmap in the light of the survey’s findings.

Q: The survey is based on 11 questions; please tell us what are the most important questions?

A: We have asked the questions that are common in nature. Such as “In the current Socio-Political Scenario, according to you, what are the top three religious challenges for the Muslim community? Describe in Detail. We have also asked strategies and solutions to tackle these challenges which the respondents will describe.

We have sought the responses on the three biggest financial and educational issues and challenges facing Muslims. Questions related to issues of religious identity, women, politics, leadership and safety were also asked.

Q: Did you ask a question on any specific issue?

A: Some people said the country is on the verge of genocide as hatred has become the hallmark of the current polity. There is also growing concern of insecurity and justice among Muslims and weaker sections. Don’t go the number of questions as all the questions are inter-connected. Basic idea behind this exercise is to ascertain the views of people and chalk out a strategy to tackle and address these issues in a democratic manner.

Q: Did the survey ask for suggestions on how to bring the community together?

A: We are all aware that the Ummah is a united front on all the major community-related problems. There is only one issue, and it will continue to exist as ego conflicts and particular prejudices get in the way of leadership cohesion.

Q: To whom the questionnaire was sent?

A: As I said, the core agenda behind this exercise is to know the sentiments and views of the younger generation. We have all mailed questionnaire to all concerned members of the community.

Q: Will you assess it and plan a course of action for the future if you receive positive feedback?

A: We are keeping our fingers crossed that we will get good feedback from the community. The whole exercise is meant to devise a new strategy to tackle these emerging challenges. For readers’ information, Jamaat’s Community Affairs Department has been trying to address these issues on a long-term and short-term basis for a long time. We hope the Survey findings will provide fresh inputs and ideas to work more scientifically.

Q: Apart from the survey issue, I want to ask about the Gujarat election as you recently visited the state where the 15th assembly elections are due on December 1 and 5. What is your assessment?

A: You are aware that the BJP has been in power since 1997. The BJP government has failed on all fronts, and the public is sick of it. They want a change badly. The opposition parties, particularly the main opposition Congress, appear to be unable to gain the public’s trust, which is the biggest issue.

Q: Muslims account around 10 to 11 per cent, but they have been politically marginalised since BJP came to power. What is their inclination in the wake of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen entry into Gujarat politics?

A: Muslims are currently on the periphery of politics. The present 182-member Assembly has only three Muslim MLAs. Their strength earlier oscillates between 8 and 5. The entry of MIM causes several adverse effects. Because the candidates for the MIM and Congress are Muslim, there is great concern that the traditional Muslim stronghold of Jamalpur in Ahmedabad city may go for the BJP for the first time in this election. I made an effort to convince people not to split the vote but the problem is with leaders who do not want to sacrifice for the cause of the community.

Q: Since the 2002 pogrom allegedly organised under the State patronage, how is the communal environment in the state now?

A: The horrific riots still haunt the people who are trying to forget it. I saw people of both the communities are reconciling. In rural areas, there is a good bond between Hindus and Muslims. It’s a good sign. There is a need to work on the ground for improving the communal situation in Gujarat.

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