MUSLIMS A National Asset or Liability?

Muslim Affairs

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AUSAF SAIED VASFI welcomes Dr. Manmohan Singh’s concern about Muslim marginalisation and says that Muslims must be given their due share in nation-building task.

A significant grievance of Muslim minority has been that its case has been rarely considered on the grounds of merit.

Although sometimes it had to knock at the doors of the highest palladium of justice, it is a matter of satisfaction that judiciary, at the highest level, never disappointed the wronged and the deprived. Muslims give full marks to the High Courts and the Supreme Court, human errors of judgement notwithstanding.

Fiction and Fact

The Congress-led UPA Government has, under the stewardship of Dr. Manmohan Singh, given an impression recently that it knows the difference between fiction and fact.

The myth floated so assiduously by the Saffron and its admirers, if not clients in the electronic media, is that every Muslim is a potential terrorist. The reality is different. He is just a peace-loving normal citizen. The reality about the laboriously woven myth is that the Saffron, suffering from myopia is, and was behind the calumny popularised with ulterior motives.

Mark, Recall, Note

Mark: How dexterously the Saffron diverted its opponents’ attention from those who had desecrated the statue of Mrs Bal Thackeray and turned popular anger towards Muslims, who had nothing to do whatsoever with the blasts in Mumbai trains.

Recall: How many times the Saffron has been thoroughly exposed and isolated at various fora of the country, be it the NIC or Parliament or the Apex Court.

Note: How mercilessly the intellectuals of the country expose and silence the stake-holders of the Saffron at various talk-shows of the TV channels.

But like Goldsmith’s village schoolmaster “though vanquished, yet arguing still” they continue to defend the indefensible.

A Lesson or Two

What the Prime Minister advised to the State Chief Ministers in New Delhi on September 5 has a lesson or two for thinking minds and well-wishers of the country. Dr. Manmohan Singh averred: “No innocent person should be harassed in our struggle against terrorism. If a mistake is made, effective remedial corrective measures must be taken well in time. Government agencies, particularly law enforcement agencies, must establish intimate contacts with community leaders and show adequate sensitivity to their concerns.

Chief Ministers, he said, ought to put in place effective mechanisms to achieve these objectives. On a rather cautious note, Prime Minister referred to the prevailing sense of insecurity among minorities, especially Muslims and warned that the “adverse consequences of this can be extremely deleterious for our polity. The responsibility to ensure that this does not happen lies squarely upon all of us.

He asked the Chief Minister to ponder how to assuage feelings of insecurity among the minorities, especially Muslims.

We must recognise, he said, the Muslim community in large parts of our country nurses a strong grievance of not having been active participants and beneficiaries of processes of social and economic development. All of us have an obligation to redress legitimate grievances of our minorities.

“Core Concern”

While dealing with terrorism, scrupulous regard and respect for fundamental human rights of citizens, particularly of minority communities, ought to be a core concern of law enforcement agencies.

He also added: it was imperative that “we embark upon a pro-active policy to ensure that a few individual acts do not result in tarnishing the image of an entire community, and remove any feelings of persecution and alienation from the minds of minorities”.

A Question

Has so clearly and so politely any past Prime Minister spoken on the ever-continuing pain and unease of Muslims? If you go deeper, you would find that the source of sin in Bharat is the failure of a section of our majority community in comprehending what Bharat is. This section is of the view that India is not heterogeneous or plural. It thinks that the community to which it belongs forms the majority, therefore India must be, or it ought to have been, a theocratic state.

Use of Patriotism

To usher in the said theocracy, it uses nationalism and patriotism as its tools. Its twisted logic compels it to equate its own or even its community’s interest with that of the entire country. It is here that the rub starts, especially because the said section is incapable of seeing beyond its nose.

In this age of globalisation what is the relevance of national boundaries is a different subject. What understandably does not fit in the ultra-nationalists’ straitjacket is un-patriotic. Hence their extra-ordinary stress on re-Indianising those who, they feel, are less-than-patriot and less-than-national.

For this purpose they devised long ago a two-pronged strategy aimed at their dissenters: assimilation and extermination. In the 1950s and 1960s, in the name of the government-cum-saffron sponsored “national integration” every effort was made to de-Muslimise rather de-Islamise Muslims of the country. But much success was not achieved. The Muslims saw through the game and their cogent reply was: we are all for national integration rather solidarity, but not for assimilation.


As far as the above mentioned strategy of the annihilation is concerned, read what Paul R. Brass says in his forthcoming book Form of Collective Violence: Riots, Pogroms and Genocide in Modern India: “What have been called Hindu-Muslim riots in India of the past several decades are misnamed, that they could not have been carried out with such force in so many places, in many cases for extended periods of time, and repeatedly, without the complicity of the police and the failure of the political parties in control of government and the administrative and police officers, in the districts to prevent riots or at least to contain them once they had begun. In short, what are called Hindu-Muslim riots in India are, in fact, more like pogroms and have recently, in Gujarat and elsewhere, taken the form of genocidal massacres and local ethnic cleansing as well.”

Muslim Contribution

The Muslims of multi-religious, multi-lingual, multi-cultural India do not aspire for any extra-constitutional status or treatment. They just want to live in plural polity as normal citizens, enjoying their constitutional rights and privileges.

Over 150 million Muslims of India constitute the second largest chunk of Muslim population anywhere in the world. They were, and are an invaluable asset of the plural country. It is the narrow-minded policies that have prevented their potential from proving its worth. Let this atmosphere of siege, caused by unfounded suspicion, go and let the artificially orchestrated misgivings and insane talk of “appeasement” come to an end. Then alone we can have the massive Muslim contribution to the progress of India.