Not protests but positive approach

By K.N. Pandit

Nine Muslim organizations held a protest in the capital recently slamming Congress for victimizing Muslims who they claim are innocent. This protest was evoked by Delhi police investigations into this month’s Delhi bomb blasts.

The phenomenon of protesting against security forces and police conducting enquiries in the light of clues obtained through investigating agencies is being increasingly communalized and politicized at various levels. The trend was first set two decades ago by Kashmir Islamic insurgency in which case people came out in multitudes to protest the arrest of a suspected collaborator with insurgents or their conduit. The media would jump into the fray and click shots that highlighted so-called victimization.

In the case of Jamia Nagar investigations and rounding up of two students of the Jamia Millia, no less a person than the Vice Chancellor has come out in open support of the inmates of the institution alleged to have links with the Delhi bombers. He has offered financial support towards the legal defence of the arrested students.   

It is important to note that the law of the land is not blind to the necessity of assisting an accused in his legal defence, and the Jamia students would naturally and normally become the beneficiaries of this provision. The Vice Chancellor had no compulsion to join the issue unless he wanted to be in the limelight somehow or other. Moreover, though a central university is an autonomous body, it has to go by the norms set forth by the funding agency. Obviously, the UGC does not recommend its grants to be used for the defence of alleged criminals.

The Union HRD minister, more loyal than the king, has given a clean chit to the Jamia VC. Yet another cabinet minister has hinted that the government is considering imposing a ban on some Hindu rightist organizations like Bajrang Dal and RSS. This is UPA’s secular balancing. Incidentally, only a few days before the HRD Minister patted Jamia VC for his stand, the PMO had issued a missive to the Union HRD Minister to rein in the Jamia Vice Chancellor of Jamia, known Nehruvian alumni.

As the Jamia incident and Delhi blasts have made political position of HRD and Steel ministers farcical, it was expected that they would come out in support of the people who are protesting. After all we are going through the dark period of vote bank syndrome in this country.

Kashmiri leader Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, the patron of Peoples Democratic Party, has warned the Prime Minister of a dangerous situation developing in the country in which the Muslim community is subjected to discrimination and defamation. It is not his first open threatening. We should recall that in early 1990s, when armed insurgency erupted in Kashmir, and political process was derailed, the Mufti found a new constituency in Azamgarh to fight election for a seat in the Parliament. With the sordid story of Azamgarh as the hot bed of Islamic radicalism and terrorism, one can easily understand the commitment of the Mufti when he was taken as Home Minister in V.P. Singh government.

With extended links existing between the Muslim youth of Azamgarh working in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, and the known anti-national elements back home, it is not something unusual to expect the Muslims of the region rise in protest against any punitive measure adopted by the government to curb crime.

Nobody says that all Muslims are terrorists: nobody says that all Muslims are anti-nationals and subscribe to the concept of Islamic Caliphate from Turkey to Indonesia. Nobody believes that Islam preaches violence. These are established facts. But the question is why are only Muslims involved in bomb blasts and terrorist activities in this country? A satisfactory answer has to be produced to this question.

Either there is dichotomy in what the ordinary Muslims preach and practice or there is a revolt within Islamic society in which the use of terror is made a legitimized instrument. That the terrorists are using Muslim localities and houses as hideouts, that they are using Muslim students and others as their informers and conduits, that the terrorist seek shelter in Muslim ghettos after they execute a terrorist attack, raise questions about the intentions of wider sections of Muslim community of India.

When community elders have the understanding that police investigations pick up innocent youth and a protest against this has to be made, have not they the responsibility of issuing instructions to the entire Muslim community not to give shelter to the terrorists if they are Muslims; not to assist their subversive schemes and conspiracies, not to provide them logistical support. Should not the suspected terrorist and their accomplices be isolated and made social outcasts (tark-i-mawalat)?

Islam is a religion of immense social reach. Historically speaking Muslims always show greatest regard to the ulema and learned theologians. They are the pathfinders. In the case of terrorism making dent in sections of Muslim youth in this country, the ulema and learned men have great responsibility of stepping in and stopping aberration which could lead to disaster.

Islamic terror from which not only the Indians but the Pakistanis as well are suffering, cannot be fought and eradicated by a state on its own. Civil society has to play its role to normalize civil life and inter-community relations.

The Deoband fetwa against terrorism is here. It has been hailed as a positive move by all nationalist forces in the country. But unfortunately, the write of the ulema that should have run in the length and breadth of the country, appears to have been lost in the great radical euphoria. It is a matter of serious concern to the Muslim community that the clear verdict of the ulma against terrorism has not stemmed the tide of terrorist subversion.

Indian Muslim community needs to take stock of this situation. It should not let people get the impression that either its anti-terrorism decree is hollow or an eye wash or that it is helpless before the radicalized mentality. Whatever be the case, it cannot absolve itself of its responsibility at this juncture.

There is another aspect to the issue. Instead of joining hands to protest police investigation process done under law, and instead of heading for a confrontational situation, the Muslim elders should have constituted mohalla committees in each Muslim locality to undertake house to house check so that terrorists and anti-national elements if any, are flushed out. The security personnel should have no difficulty in contacting the locality elders and receiving brief from them. Involvement of the community to a peace process and restoration of normal civil life is of much importance. This would reduce pressures on security forces, and in the process, no innocent person would be victimized.

Indian Muslim community is faced with the same situation that faces the contemporary Pakistani civil society with the difference that Indian Muslims have tasted and even drawn mileage from a well entrenched democratic and secular arrangement. They have not only become crucial to other political parties but have floated their candidates directly and won many seats in the assemblies and the parliament. They cannot afford to disregard the democratic option,

It is not the time of giving vent to pent up anger or hatred. Societies and nations are not run by anger and hatred. We need to overcome these evils. We need to be positive towards restoring confidence among people and streamlining relations between the administration and the administered.
(The writer is the former Director of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University).

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