Professor B.D. Desai visited us in U.K. last year as a guest of the Asian Rationalist Society (Britain). We visited Professors John Rex and Mohammed Anwar at Warwick University, Ranjit Sondhi at Heart of Birmingham teaching PCT, the Social Science Department at Birmingham University and Professor Desai gave talks to well-attended meetings in Birmingham and Derby. He sent the following account of the current situation in Gujarat where he describes the Muslim communities having to bear the brunt of the backlash following terrorist attacks. While these may have been done in the name of Muslims it has become an excuse to terrorise and scapegoat the Muslim community bringing back frightening memories of Germany in the 1930s.
Frightening Scenario of Gujarat. Babubhai Desai, Surat
A very serious situation prevails in Gujarat since the blasts in July 2008. The print and the electronic media carry headlines about the arrest and so called confessions and statements of the witnesses. The media carries a bias against the Muslims in general. Nobody is worried about the consequences of generating hate campaign against the Muslims which constitute a substantial section of the society. The entire community ,as it were, has been driven to the wall. Less than half a percent is supposed to have been involved in the criminal acts but an atmosphere has been created as if the entire community is criminal!
Let guilty be Punished
Let it be made clear ,that such acts of terror need to be wholly condemned, killing of the innocents be never underrated. The guilty must be booked and be awarded the harshest punishment they deserve. Nobody has a right to take law in their hands and disturb communal peace and law and order.
A grave situation has arisen as a result of the way Indian state in general and Gujarat in particular has reacted to these unfortunate developments.
A myth has been systematically built up ,over the years ,that India is the land of the Hindus and that they are being reduced to minority by the vote bank politics.The fact is Hindus enjoy obvious dominance in positions of power, economy and cultural/educational institutions, they are being indoctrinated by radical Hindu parties like the BJP, to see themselves as under attack by aggressive, monotheistic religions, especially Islam, which is invariably framed as a terrorist religion, pampered minority by the secular state in order to garner votes. That the Muslims constitute a pampered minority is a most pernicious myth that has been swallowed by many educated Hindus who should know better. The evidence, in fact, points to the exact opposite. Muslims in Gujarat, and for that matter in India, are at the bottom of the heap according to many key indicators of wealth and literacy which has been detailed in the Justice Sachar Committee report. There has been no significant increase in the population growth either. This has been the sad position of Muslims in spite of the so called pampering of Muslims by the Congress party that has been in power for over major parts of years since Independence. There has been a growing suspicion of the Indian state claiming to be secular. Minority religions in India – Islam/Christianity/Sikhism – do not see the Indian state as respecting their legitimate religious demands. Muslims are angry at the destruction of the mosque in Ayodhya and the Gujarat state’s complicity in violence in 2002. Sikhs still carry deep wounds that years of harsh anti terrorism measures have left behind. Hindus in turn accuse the Indian state of not being Hindu enough and pampering the minorities for political purposes.
Victims of mutual hatred
This background should give us the clue why things are as they are today. This has generated anger in both the communities. Muslims are angry at the way the state has been behaving with them, Hindus are angry at the Muslims because no party has ever given them secular ideas, as against this, media education has painted them in a bad light all these years. This ANGER is rooted wrongly and unless it is uprooted enough this unfortunate developments will continue dividing the Indian society widely.
Anger is the root of all terrorism . Once peaceful Muslim groups tended to become radical due to internal anger over domestic grievances, such as treatment of Muslims in Gujarat. There is an increase in the flow of new recruits of Muslims to radical organizations, .Thus formerly peaceful Muslims now tend to get radicalized. The Indian Muslim community is alarmed at this development and have, rightly, begun to condemn terrorists acts taking place in India.( the habit of suspicion is so strong that the Hindus are not taking this seriously enough ) Actually this has led to a split in the SIMI between those advocating terrorism and those advocating peaceful political means of dissent. Radicalization has always been there among Muslims in Gujarat since 1969 riots, but what is comparatively of recent origin is extreme militancy since since 2002 genocide in Gujarat.
SO HERE IS A SITUATION WHERE BOTH THE COMMUNITIES ARE PLACED AGAINST EACH OTHER NOURISHING STRONG SUSPICIONS.There is a vicious circle of hatred unless this is removed communal virus will continue to take its toll.
The Rural Scene is no different
The rural scene is no different. Though Gujarat has a long history of peaceful existence of various communities and a rich syncretic culture, the systematic communalization of the rural Gujarat has been underway especially since the BJP came to power in the state. Even the SC and ST sections who are part of the victims of Hindu’s ire and anti propaganda have fallen prey to the communal virus.There are certain villages with signboards telling that this is a PURE village meaning, there are no Muslims!
The middle class psyche of Gujarat wants the state to be of a totally homogenized one. Any attempts by the sober or the secular people to rethink has been fiercely opposed. Human rights activists are being ridiculed in the media. Any indirect sympathy will result into opposition, as if it is a crime to show sympathy for the underdog. NON VIOLANNT RESISTANCE AGAINST OPPRESSION IS THE ONLY WAY OUT.A movement should be generated in solidarity with concerned people of the country to destroy the communal poison.
Role of the Congress
In Gujarat the Congress has done precious little to win the confidence of the Muslims. Between the BJP and the Congress, it is the Congress that should be blamed for the present situation as it had promised to remain Secular, the Muslims trusted and gave votes but the Congress betrayed.. The genocide of 2002 was a glaring example when the Congress fared poorly.. The BJP did not raise false hopes, instead it preferred to remain pro – Hindu openly. For fear of losing , the Congress did not give tickets to Muslims, perhaps except one, and today, there is not a single Muslim MLA in the Gujarat assembly. The commitment of the Congress is skin deep , and tolerated only for tactical purposes.
It is said that the Congress party has been pampering the minority at the cost of the majority. Had the Congress been following pro minority policy the socio economic condition of the Muslims should have been much better than what it is today. The Justice Sachar committee report has provided the shocking data of the economic condition of thje minority in India.
The SIMI organization was banned since the BJP was in power.. When the police could not provide enough evidence of their supposedly anti national activity, the Judge of the Tribunal ordered to lift the ban wrongfully imposed on SIMI. As the allegation goes , if the Congress had been for the minority the Centre would not have recommended reimposition of the ban within 24 hours.
Once again if the Congress had been for the minority , Justice Shree Krishna Commission report should have been implemented seriously at least during Congress rule in Maharashtra. Shree Bal Thackaray of the Shiv Sena has openly urged the Hindu Youths to be ready to become human bombs to fight out the minority â€œthreats. The so called pro minority Congress has hardly done anything in the matter. The so called secular Congress is wary of taking legal actions against communal forces for fear of losing votes of the majority Hindus.
Role of the BJP
The BJP is a right wing Hindu party and RSS Pracharak for over 25 years, CM Shree Narendra Modi is an avant garde for Gujarat.He has been telling
that , NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE TERRORISTS, but ALL TERRORISTS ARE MUSLIMS, This is part of the systematic hate campaign unleashed by the BJP. This mischievous statement has caught the typical middle class psyche deep enough in Gujarat. Let us see how far this is true.
(1) If preparing and throwing a bomb makes one terrorist then what about the VHP/Bajrang Dal caught making bombs in Nanded in Maharashtra, in ————————————. And again in Rajivnagar area of Kanpur in August 2008,
THEY ALL ARE NOT MUSLIMS !
(2) Inciting communal violence, conniving at police atrocities and taking charge of the police Control Room, and give illegal orders amounting to death immediately after the unfortunate killings of innocent Hindus at Godhara——— all these are acts of Terror.
THEY ALL ARE NOT MUSLIMS
(3) If killing of the innocents is a terrorist act then what about the twelve Muslims killed in fake encounters. The details of these horrendous act have come out in the trial court in Ahmedabad. To protect those killers of fake encounters is equally amounts to terror.
THEY ALL ARE NOT MUSLIMS
(4) Those belonging to under world gangs, undertaking anti social activities, extort money and kill people who do not obey , compelling persons to withdraw innocent remarks should amount to acts of terror.
THEY ALL ARE NOT MUSLIMS
(5) To rape innocent women to take revenge against a community, to loot the shops and destroy properties of innocents— if his is part of terror , then all these terrorists are NOT Muslims.( To publicly say that criminals have NO religion but privately propagate that they are all Muslims.)
(6) Burning a helpless person is the highest act of Terror .In 2002, as is evident,
Innocent women, whom one has never met nor ever heard their names, were burnt in broad day light in full view of the public. Thos who set them on fire and equally those who were onlookers are all terrorists.
THEY ALL ARE NOT MUSLIMS
(7) Creating hurdles in the due process of law and justice, threatening the witnesses, denial of right to engage a lawyer for legal defense, ridiculing, threatening and physically preventing a lawyer to enter the Court, if this is a part of the terrorist act then ALL THESE ARE NOT MUSLIMS.
(8) If preventing a particular community to enter their native villages, forcing them to withdraw legal cases, leave them at the mercy of the God, without providing basic amenitiesâ€”if this amounts to terror them ALL THESE ARE NOT MUSLIMS.
(9) Forcing the entire community to leave the village for allegedly unlawful acts of violence should also be considered act of terror. In cases of land disputes, and inter castes marriages, this has been the common refrain for the Dalits in rural areas. Then is this not an act of terror?. ALL OF THEM ARE NOT MUSLIMS.
(10)To break the jail , to kill an accused in judicial custody, to torture those who have not even been chargesheeted should amount to act of Terror.THEY ALL ARE NOT MUSLIMS
(11)To take law in hand and kill people carrying cows for slaughter and butcher the butchers is an act of terror. THEY ALL ARE NOT MUSLIMS.
Role of the Judiciary
A development of far reaching and frightening implication for the stature of the Indian Judiciary has taken place wherein the Bar Associations of several parts of India have effectively banned advocates from defending Muslim Youths branded as terrorists . Even before the trial they presumed to be guilty. In Gujarat the ban is informal.. There are instances wherein they are humiliated, ridiculed and criticized..
The police has been humiliating Muslim detainees on the ground of religion. There has been widespread communalization of the police force in the country. In typical case in Gujarat, the Police has imposed 42 cases and as per law ,for each one , the Judge can order 15days of police custody hence the Muslim accused will be spending whole one year in custody before being charge-sheeted. Judiciary and the police are not interested in due process of law but want to damage reputation for belonging to a particular community.