• The blatant omission of Muslims in ‘New India’

    Humra Quraishi

    October 18, 2019

    What did the establishment achieve by the two-month long clampdown in the Kashmir Valley? Little point for the sarkar to be coming up with patent one- liners along the strain that “now that the internet and mobile connectivity is restored. So, all is back to normal in the Valley!” No, for this time, snapped were not just mobile and internet connections but even the remotest possible chance of the Kashmiris’ faith in the government of the day. That trust lies snapped…forever!

    The Kashmiris feel betrayed and cheated and even humiliated. Even the manner in which their leaders – the Hurriyat and even the elected mainstream politicians — have been treated by the government of the day, has hit Kashmiri pride. Without going into details whether those leaders managed to do any good for the region or not, the basic fact that stands out is that they do represent Kashmir and Kashmiris. Yet, the way they were arrested and detained was as though they were a terror-striking lot! Their very survival and release is at the mercy of the sarkar.

    In fact, the release of these leaders in twos and threes comes across as pathetic. How can these Kashmiri men and women, ‘leaders’ of their people, be meted with such third-class governing tactics? Of course, this has hurt the pride of the Kashmiris. Their leaders can be picked up at any given time, under any possible alibi, detained and caged, and to top it, they are not even allowed to let out even a sigh. Otherwise, anti-national labels could be hurled at them.

    Kashmiris are also hurt by the lukewarm response coming in from various quarters. What surprises me is that though Bollywood has used various Kashmiri locales for numerous films, yet not a single voice has been raised against the plight of Kashmiris. Why this insensitivity? Why couldn’t any of Bollywood’s Khans or Khannas or Kumars or even the ‘Kashmir ki Kalis’ spoken out and stood in support of Kashmiris? What are they scared of – their films getting censored or sabotaged or side-tracked? Sad and unfortunate, moreso so in the backdrop of the fact that though Bollywoodwallahs love to ape the West, none is taking a clue from Hollywood superstars who miss no opportunity to be critical of US President Donald Trump and his policies.

    And even as the rest of us are getting fed on the ‘all is getting back to normal in Kashmir’ diet, the Muslim community of the country is extremely wary of the government’s moves in Kashmir and even beyond. Right from summer of 2019, ever since the Right-wing rulers began lacing their speeches with blatant onslaughts on Muslims, the worrying graph is accelerating. Home Minister Amit Shah’s speeches come across like that of a Hindutva spokesperson, not of a democratic republic’s politician. In fact, in one his recent speeches, Shah mentioned all the other communities of the land except Muslims …this speech was in the context of NRC (National Register of Citizens), where he said that Hindus, Sikhs and Christians will remain safe in India.

    Why this blatant omission of Indian Muslims? Not to overlook the fact that several Muslims chose to, opted for, remaining in their country, India, after Partition. They did not want to cross over to the newly carved Pakistan. Several who went there, came back to live the remaining years of their lives right here. Many even let go of their mothers, fathers and siblings, who were keen to cross over, but decided to stay put.

    There are hundreds of such Indian Muslim men and women, but the names of poet Nida Fazli and singer Talat Mahmood come up rather too spontaneously. During my interactions-cum-interviews, Fazli had told me that his entire clan, and also his fiancé and her family, had crossed over to Pakistan but he stayed back. Though loneliness haunted him in those initial years, he remained here…buried in Mumbai he lives on through his verses.

    Today, not a day passes without one incident or the other that accelerates the apprehensions running deep within the Muslim community of India. Ironically, even the murderous attacks on the forms and psyches of the Indian Muslins being brushed aside, so much so that now a fresh wave of propaganda has begun – ‘No lynching takes place in modern day India’!

    In the background or foreground of this, Right-wing commentators and spokespersons quip: “See how happily and peacefully Muslims are living …see no riots are taking place.”

    There is little need for riots, as each day is a nerve-wracking day for Muslims, whose sheer survival is getting tougher. There is communal tension in the atmosphere, in and around mohallas, inside classrooms, along the highways. The fear runs so deep that ghettoisation is on the rise and so is withdrawal from public space.

    For Indian Muslims today, it’s a question of sheer survival with one’s identity intact. The Sachar Committee had focused on the social-economic-educational and semi-political aspirations of the Muslim community, but what happened to its findings? Nothing, really. The situation remains dismal. As it is, the situation on the housing or economic or educational or survival fronts remains grim, add to that the load of rising insecurity and apprehensions.

    Till about six years back ago, one could breathe freely and not worry about what the future would hold. Today, after witnessing what the Kashmiris are going through in the past over two months, the Muslims are a more worried lot. If lynched and attacked, they cannot even cry out, lest they be told by those manning the so-called governance that “no lynching takes place on this land”!


     

    The writer is a senior journalist. The views are personal.

    First published in Newsclick.

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