Pakistan and Indian Muslims

Ram Puniyani

‘Go to Pakistan’ has probably been most often used phrase used against Muslims in India. Recently in yet another such incident the SP of Meerut, UP has been in the news and a video is circulating where he, Akhilesh Narayan Singh, is allegedly using the jibe ‘Go to Pakistan’. In the video he is seen shouting at protestors at Lisari Gate area in Meerut, “The ones (protestors) wearing those black or yellow armbands, tell them to go to Pakistan”. His seniors stood by him calling it ‘natural reaction to shouting of pro Pakistan slogans. Many BJP leaders like Uma Bhararti also defended the officer. Breaking ranks with fellow politicians, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi of BJP, criticised the said officer and asked for suitable action against him. Interestingly this is same Naqvi, who earlier when the beef related arguments were going on; had stated that those who want to eat beef can go to Pakistan.

Interestingly this is probably the first time that any BJP leader has opposed the use of this jibe against the Indian Muslims. True to the dominance of trolls who support divisive politics, Naqvi has been trolled on the issue As such vibe ‘Go to Pakistan’ has been a strong tool in the hands of aggressive elements to demonise Muslims in general and to humiliate those with Muslim names. One recalls that when due to the rising intolerance in the society many eminent writers, film makers were returning their awards, Aamir Khan said that his wife Kiran Rao is worried about their son. Immediately BJP worthies like Giriraj Singh pounced on him that he can go to Pakistan.

The strategy of BJP combine has been on one hand to use this ‘go to Pakistan’ to humiliate Muslims on the other from last few years another Pakistan dimension has been added Those who are critical of the policies of BJP-RSS have on one hand been called as anti National and on the other it is being said that ‘they are speaking the language of Pakistan’.

Use of Pakistan to label the Muslims and dissidents here in India has been a very shrewd tool in the hands of communal forces. One remembers that the ‘cricket nationalism’ was also the one to use it. In case of India-Pakistan cricket match, the national hysteria, which it created, was also aiming at Indian Muslims. What was propagated was that Indian Muslims cheer for Pakistan victory and they root for Pakistan. There was an unfortunate grain of truth in this as a section of disgruntled, alienated Muslim did that. That was not the total picture, as most Indian Muslims were cheering for Indian victory. Many a Muslim cricketers contributed massively to Indian cricket victories. The cricket legends like Nawab Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Irfan Pathan, and Mohammad Azaruddin are just the few among the long list of those who brought glories for India in the field of cricket.

Even in matters of defence there are legions of Muslims who contributed to Indian efforts in the war against Pakistan all through. Abdul Hamid’s role in 1965 India Pak war and the role of Muslim soldiers in Kargil war will be part of Indian military history. There have been generals in army who contributed in many ways for the role which military has been playing in service of the nation. General Zamiruddin Shah, when asked to handle Gujarat carnage, does recount how despite the lack of support from local administration for some time, eventually the military was able to quell the violence in some ways.

During freedom movement Muslims were as much part of the struggle against British rule as any other community. While the perception has been created that Muslims were demanding Pakistan, the truth is somewhere else. It was only the elite section of Muslims who supported the politics of Muslim League and later the same Muslim League could mobilize some other section and unleash the violence like ‘Direct Action’ in Kolkata, which in a way precipitated the actual process of partition, which was the goal of British and aim of Muslim League apart from this being the outcome of ‘Two Nation theory’.

Not much is popularized about the role of great number of Muslims who were part of National movement, who steadfastly opposed the idea and politics which led to the sad partition of the subcontinent. Few excellent accounts of the role of Muslims in freedom movement like Syed Nasir Ahmad, Ubaidur Rahman, Satish Ganjoo and Shamsul Islam are few of these not too well know books which give the outline of the great Muslim freedom fighters like Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Ansari Brothers, Ashfaqulla Khan.

Immediately after partition tragedy the communal propaganda did the overdrive to blame the whole partition process on Muslim separatism, this totally undermined the fact that how poor Muslims had taken out massive marches to oppose the Lahore Resolution of separate Pakistan moved by Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The whole Muslim community started being seen as the homogenous, ‘The other’ and other misconceptions started against the community, the one’s relating them to atrocities of Muslim kings started being made as the part of popular folklore, leading the Hate against them. This Hate in turn laid the foundation of violence and eventual ghettoisation of this community.

The interactive-syncretism prevalent in India well presented by Gandhi-Nehru was pushed to the margins as those believing in pluralism did not actively engage with the issue. The economic marginalization of this community, coupled with the increasing insecurity in turn led to some of them to identify with Pakistan, and this small section was again presented as the representative of the whole Muslim community.

Today the battle of perception is heavily tilted against the Muslim community. It is a bit of a surprise as Naqvi is differing from his other fellow colleagues to say that the action should be taken against the erring police officer. The hope is that all round efforts are stepped up to combat the perception constructed against this religious minority in India. 

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

CAB Debate: Falsehoods to the Fore

Ram Puniyani

Who was responsible for Partition of India?

Citizenship Amendment Bill, while passed in both houses of Parliament has elicited diverse and negative responses all over India. On one hand we see massive protests in North East leading to death of four people. On the other there is a sever discomfort among those upholding Indian Constitution and among the Muslim community all over the country. This Bill in its present form gives the rights of citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians persecuted in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangle Desh. What is glaring is that Muslims are missing from the list. What is glaring and dangerous is that while those persecuted in these countries have been offered citizenship, the Countries like Myanmar, where worst persecution against Muslims has been seen in recent years, don’t fins any place in the list. Also even in the countries which are mentioned in the bill, there are sects of Muslims which are persecuted, but have been left out.

A lots has been written against the bill and its intention of converting our plural India into Hindu rashtra, what is also disturbing is that the defense of this Bill has been done by blaming Congress and by stating that partition was done on the basis of faith! Both these formulation are a total lie. Mr. Amit Shah while speaking in Rajya Sabha in an aggressive manner retorted that “Is desh ka vibhajan agar dharma ke aadhar par Congress na kari hoti to is Bill ka kaam nahin hota (Had the Congress not partitioned this country on the basis of religion, there would have been no need for this Bill).” In response Shahshi Tharoor of Congress said that Amit Shah was not paying attention to History class. The facts lie somewhere else.

Mr. Shah was a RSS worker who later joined RSS student wing ABVP. Contrary to what Shashi Tharoor is saying Shah has imbibed the history taught by RSS combine and seriously internalized it. We recall that even Nathuram Godse the murderer of Father of Nation, also held Gandhi, the patriarch of Congress, as being responsible for partition.  This is believed by most of the Hindu nationalists. Religion as the basis of Nationhood is by and large attributed to begin with Savarkar and then Jinnah. As such the story is much older. Before coming to roots of genesis of the idea of religion as the root of Nationhood, we also need to remember that, the British, the colonial masters, were the prime force in encouraging Muslim League on one side and Hindu Mahasabha-RSS on the other.

The British, to begin with, saw these organizations as helpful in the pursuing their ‘divide and rule’ policy. Later close to the peaking of National movement in 1942, they started keeping yet another angle in their mind. This was the geo-political realities of those times. Russia had emerged as the major other pole in the power politics of the World. It was posing the challenge to British-American hegemony of the World. Russia was also inspiring the anti colonial movements. Many of the leaders of freedom movement were influenced by socialist ideology. Keeping this in mind, division of India was one of the steps in the mind of British. The idea behind this was that they can retain their hold in the region through yet to be formed Pakistan.

Coming to the genesis of nationalism in the name of religion, it was the reaction of declining classes’, landlords and Kings, to the changing scenario, where through Industrialization, communication and modern education, India was emerging as a secular democratic nation Different groups, Madras Mahajan Sabha, Pune Sarvjakik Sabha, Bombay Association, representing the emerging classes and newer social changes started coming up and as they formed the political organization Indian National Congress in 1885. In response to this declining classes became very uncomfortable with the changes which were the root of equality. The feudal classes, Landlords-Kings of both religions were deeply shaken as the system of birth based hierarchy, on which they were presiding, started crumbling.

At this point of time the Muslim section started saying that Islam is in danger and Hindu sections presented as if Hindu religion is in danger. As Indian National organizations and parallel activities of education for dalits and women started picking up, the feudal classes saw it as an assault on the religiously ordained inequality. While these organizations initially had the participation of landlord-kings, later they succeeded in winning over other elite and still later sections of average people. This is the foundation of religious nationalism-Muslim and Hindu. So on one hand we had Indian nationalism, which can broadly be identified with Gandhi, Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh, on the other Muslim League formed in 1906, Hindu Mahasabha in 1915 and RSS in 1925. The latter group harped on ancient glorious past while the India nationalist stream saw the need for struggle against the prevalent inequality.

The articulation of religious nationalism comes with Savarkar, who saw Hindus and Muslims as two opponents, and Muslim League which saw that Hindu majority will not let them have equal rights. Hindu nationalists spread hatred against Muslims and Muslim nationalists, forming the base of intense communal violence in times to come.

It was the gravity of communal violence which forced Congress to gradually accept the Mountbatten’s (March 1947) proposal of partitioning the country. Congress in its resolution accepting the partition stated that though it opposes the ‘Two Nation theory’ (of Savrakar, Jinnah, Golwalkar-Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha and RSS), in the given circumstances it seems to be lesser evil than the communal venom which is engulfing the nation. Here again VP Menon, the architect of the Partition Plan, points out that Patel 'accepted the division of India in December 1946, while Nehru would only acquiesce six months later'."

Maulana Azad and Gandhi, did not accept the idea at all, but in the face of the rising communal tide, they had to keep quiet about it. In Amit Shah-RSS narrative Congress is blamed as Congress, leading the freedom movement, never accepted the idea of religion as the basis of nation.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED