If they are sincere in earning their livelihood, 'secular' investigative journalists
aiming for Narendra Modi's jugular have a job on hand. They must examine why
1.In the post-Godhra violence in
Gujarat, 8,000 armed tribals
descended on Sanjeli town in the tribal heartland of Dahod district with
bows, stones and gunshots, killing 15 fleeing Muslims and destroying 450
Muslim houses. The killers, be it noted, were tribals and not the urban
elite moved by the Hindutva ideology; nor were they city goons armed
with the Bajrang Dal trishul.
2.In another post-Godhra episode, 7,000 armed Adivasis marched into
Bodeli town in Chotte-Udepur tribal area of Vadodara district, intent on
massacring Muslims who had fled there after being driven out of the
3.As a sequel to Godhra, 15,000 Hindus, mostly armed Thakurs of the
Other Backward Classes, burnt 250 Muslim houses, causing large-scale
4.The Godhra carnage resulted, till last known, in about 140 dead Muslims
in unprecedented tribal-related violence in Gujarat.
5.The presence of Muslims in a relief camp at Chotte-Udepur was opposed by Hindus.
The National Human Rights Commission, which recently unleashed a scathing,
of the Modi government, also has an unfinished task. So have other human rights activists that have
mushroomed in various names and hues. All of them must examine why --
Police intervention that spared savage death to some 250 Muslims in incident
1 above was not
highlighted by the media.
The police who saved hundreds in incident 2 above were denied media attention.
Bhagvesh Jha, collector of Vadodara, and other senior officers who were fired upon by tribals
while trying to rescue trapped Muslims in incident 2 above did not make news.
Now 'secular' journalists are self-acclaimed liberal intellectuals when
it comes to Hindu-bashing, and
will, therefore, scorn at any appeal to them to introspect or investigate anything that even smells of
anti-Muslim sentiment. On the other hand, they will love to front-page, for instance, the accusation by
one Mushtaq Masken of Sanjeli that the macabre Godhra killing was not a communal riot but, hold
your breath, a devious Hindu plan to wipe out the Muslims of Gujarat. That's worse than the Islamic
charge against the Jews of America for the tragedy of 9/11.
But if, by some miracle, these 'secular' media people do some serious probing,
they will find out that
the tribals of Gujarat blame local Muslims for their exploitation, especially of women. The communal
teaching and pan-Islamic brotherhood of the Tableeghi Jamaat movement could well be the other
In the big towns, cities and metros, the feeling is going round, it seems,
that the educated Hindu class
-- those white-collared and professional people who read between the lines and are least concerned
with minority vote-bank politics -- is veering to the conclusion that "enough is enough".
The overt and covert appeasement of Muslims by the political class and
the media is finally, it appears,
becoming too stifling even for the traditionally tolerant Hindu. This class, for instance, has noted how
the 'secular' media has largely ignored the fact that on March 27, the special tribunal headed by a
Delhi high court judge, S K Aggarwal, has upheld the central government's ban on the Students
Islamic Movement of India announced in September last. "Would the media not have gloated over
such a decision if the upheld ban had been on the RSS or VHP?" these Hindus ask. Active networking
on the Internet by Hindu groups and individuals has helped to intensify such feelings.
Take, for instance, a recent interview given by Ravi Shankar, a disciple
of Mahesh Yogi and founder
of the Art of Living Foundation that's now getting widespread international recognition. In that
interview Ravi Shankar revealed that the annual income from the 40,000 temples of Karnataka is Rs
400 million, of which only Rs 5 million are spent on the temples while the rest goes to the government;
in contrast, the income from religious institutions of the minorities is just Rs 5 million and they get
grants of Rs 80 million.
Again, he says, the minority community institutions are fully exempted
from taxes whereas majority
community institutions are not. He believes "these disparities should go. Everybody should be treated
equally." The unbiased couldn't agree more because that's what secularism is really meant to be. [The
interview is available as message number 283 to members of the Yahoo! message board.]
Some judicial decisions are also abetting this animosity against Muslims.
Thus, on April 8, the Supreme
Court dismissed as 'frivolous' a public-interest petition seeking a court directive to bar Muslims from
offering prayers in places other than mosques. The court slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 on the petitioner
and said: "People like you [the petitioner] are causing bloodshed in the country."
Varanasi-based businessman Arun Kumar Jaiswal had filed the petition to
redress the inconvenience
caused to people of other communities because of namaaz being offered in public places. He ended
up paying Rs 10,000 and earning an insult, though there is no disputing that namaaz on Mumbai's
public roads had forced the celebrated writer Dom Moraes to go to court several years ago. "Where
was the need for the apex court to make that morbid, unproven allegation against Jaiswal?" ask
Hindus. "Would the court dare to pronounce such an insult against a Muslim who went to it with a
petition against the maha aartis of the kind initiated by the Shiv Sena in 1993?" they ask.
Other Hindus, educated and not-so-educated, point out how not a single
Muslim leader of note has
asked his/her community to yield the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya as a respectful gesture to Hindu
sentiment. Those in the know point out how, after the overwhelming variety and volume of evidence
provided by the Hindu representatives regarding the destruction of a Ram temple for building the Babri
structure, the Babri Masjid Action Committee members just didn't show up for the crucial concluding
meeting that was part of Prime Minister Chandrashekhar's initiative in 1990 to resolve the issue.
A taxi driver in Mumbai perhaps summed it up best the other day by asking,
"If we Hindus are not to
be permitted to build a Ram temple on the sacred spot in Ayodhya, are we expected to build it in
Pakistan or Saudi Arabia?" His view on the Muslim ghetto attitude is also revealing. "Sa'ab, if you go
through Mohammed Ali Road and Bhendi Bazaar areas," he said, "you begin to wonder whether
you're living in the 21st century or in the mediaeval age." "No interest in becoming highly educated, in
mixing with other communities," he concluded. And remember, he, a taxi driver, said all that before
Vajpayee said some of that in Goa recently.
But the Ayodhya affair and the Godhra fallout are only symptoms of what
was apprehended over half
a century ago when our Constituent Assembly was debating the contents of free India's Constitution.
Below are some of the views expressed in that august house.
"For the sake of securing the Muslim League's co-operation we have been
accepting many things
against our ideals. We should now put a stop to that and should not ignore our fundamental principles
for the sake of coming to an agreement with the Muslim League."
(Shri Purshottam Das Tandon)
"The conception of a nation does not permit the existence of perpetual
or permanent minorities. Either
the nation absorbs these minorities or, in course of time, it must break up. Therefore, I would say that
it is a good thing that we have these legal and constitutional safeguards, but that ultimately no legal
safeguard can protect small minorities from the overwhelming domination of big masses, unless on
both sides an effort is made to get closer and become one corporate nation, a homogeneous nation.
That process has been shown to us by the United States of America, where peoples of different races
have, with one unfortunate exception, been absorbed into one nation."
(Mr M R Masani)
"I have no hesitation in saying that notwithstanding the agitation of the
Muslim League for the partition
of India, some day enough light would dawn upon the Muslims themselves and they too will begin to
think that a United India is better even for them."
(B R Ambedkar)
The strongest thought came from Syed Karimuddin. He warned the minorities
that if they wanted to
continue a communal approach and activities, they should be aware that it would not be possible to
prevent the majority community from propagating majority communalism.
It would appear, after Godhra, that a Muslim's prophecy has come true --
precisely for the reason he
envisaged more than 50 years ago. Karimuddin, of course, had not factored in the fact that vote-bank
politicians, 'secular' media 'intellectuals' and some ivory-tower members of the judiciary would abet
Tailpiece: Out of the 4,461 questions raised in Parliament during the second
session of the 13th Lok
Sabha, says the National Centre of Advocacy Studies, Pune, only eight pertained to the minorities.
And none of them were from 'Maulana' Mulayam Singh's Samajwadi Party that projects itself as the
champion of Muslim interests. Add QED to that statistic.