Muslims: The Way Ahead
a voice have emerged from a small section of Muslim community which
is arguing that Muslims should unilaterally forgive the pain they suffered
during the carnage of 2002. This section says that we should draw from
the reality of Gujarat where the religious and other community leaders
have refused to apologize for the crimes committed in the name of Ram.
Also that the state apparatus is so communalized that chances of getting
justice are bleak, and how long a community can live in such a state
of pity and victim hood, it affects their self respect and dignity.
This section does see that civil rights groups are fighting for the
rights of Muslim minority against odds, irrespective of their religion.
One can appreciate
the personal magnanimity of those who personally suffered serious losses
due to violence against them, like Mrs. Gladys Stains who personally
forgave the killers of her husband and children. Jesus and Gandhi urged
the people to put another cheek forward when slapped on one. One has
to see the difference between personal magnanimity and the political
assault of a section of people to victimize the weak. One has to see
that the communal violence is not just violence against person but is
also a part of political agenda of some. The crimes against a person
can not be forgiven in law, as justice is the basis of tranquility and
peace in society. The question is, can such a position of individual/
individuals to forgive the crimes against them be acceptable to major
sections of victims in Gujarat? Many a religious teaching do emphasize
on forgiveness. Are such things applicable to the situation of those
facing Gujarat Muslims?
many a precedents where the culprits have been forgiven. South Africa
was the major experiment, where truth and reconciliation commission
undertook a massive exercise in this direction. The starting point there
was that the culprits confessed to their crimes. Reconciliation followed.
Personally putting forward another cheek when someone slaps is based
on the basic human understanding that the one slapping you has a potential
for reforming, will have remorse of his actions and will feel apologetic
about what he has done.
the things are very different. The communalization of society was going
on from many decades. The demonization of Muslim minority went unhindered
for a long time, and violence was used as a method of polarizing communities.
Later Dalits, Adivasis were co-opted to unleash on the Muslim community
by clever social engineering. The truth of this has been reconfirmed
by Tehelka expose (Novemember 2007). Modi used the pretext of Godhra
to unleash the genocide. The state machinery is totally communalized,
no rehabilitation, no justice for victims, and there is a deliberate
marginalization of Muslims to the status of second class citizens! Today
in Gujarat not only are communities polarized, the partitions between
communities are becoming worse and deeper by the day. No body is asking
forgiveness as the criminals, Modi downwards, believe, that what they
did was for their religion, was right, and was needed to teach ?them?
(Muslims) a lesson. There is also an un-spelt understanding that they
will anyway be protected by the mighty arm of the Hindu Rashtra of Gujarat.
So whom are you going to forgive?
is essentially that of violation of democratic rights and civil liberties.
Problem is that Gandhi?s Gujarat has been manipulated to become Godse-Modi?s
Gujarat. Modi, the mass murderer, is hero for large sections. He is
acquiring a halo around him duly helped by a section of media. The alternative
pole, the one of Congress is more interested in electoral arithmetic
and so far has been behaving as B team of RSS combine. The defense of
democracy and forthright stand for secular values has been put on the
One can understand
the painful sigh of a section of Muslims, some of whom may be thinking
on these lines. This section, seems to have accepted and internalized
the second class status and seem to be willing to be on the bent knees
to live in this Hindu Rashtra, where Indian constitution is present
by its absence. Can there bee peace without justice? Can there be dignity
and self respect if the injustice is inbuilt into the social system
and is institutionalized to the core?
Are the civil
rights groups working just for minority community? The work of civil
rights groups is more a defense of democratic rights and civil liberties
than just a defense of rights of this or that religious group. It is
more a question of defending our constitution and not just the rights
of minorities. Can we call it a democratic society if a large section
has to reconcile its status as the one of a second class citizen? RSS
combine is celebrating this relegation of minority rights, as now more
and more villages of Gujarat are putting the hoarding of Welcome to
so and so village Hindu Rahtra of Gujarat?.
empathizing with this section of Muslims one has to turn the criticism
to the larger democratic polity. What have we done to our democracy?
How is the status of democracy judged? One of the parameters is to see
as to how safe and secure the minorities are. At another level the acceptance
of such position of Muslims is a sign of total surrender of democracy
to the religious fascism, which is on ascendance more so in Gujarat.
And this intimidation of minorities is just the beginning. As we witnessed
in Germany, the same thing is being played here in the slow motion.
Jews were the first target, followed by communists, trade unionists
and later sections of Christian minorities. Here in India the order
planned by RSS combine is Muslims, Christians, Secularists and other
weaker sections of society, in that order.
is facing elections and many forecasters are talking of Modi's return,
the time has come to put all our energies to save democracy there. The
time that we get over the diffidence, that Modi is too clever to be
defeated, that the polarization has gone too far to be repaired. These
may be part of the deliberate propaganda of the well oiled machine which
organized Gujarat pogrom. We need to reassert that there is no substitute
for democracy. The treatment of ills of democracy is more democracy
and more democracy. National integration means that we have the overarching
national, Indian community in which any injustice to one is the injustice
to all. Any undermining of the rights of one section tantamount to erosion
of the values of our freedom movement and the principles as given in
our Constitution, which these communal elements do not hold by.
the chasm between the religious communities can be bridged by broadening
the awareness about our syncretic traditions, Bhakti and Sufi. There
is an urgent need to remind people that Hindus and Muslims have lived
together for centuries. What has been propagated is opposite of this
that there is a centuries old fight between Hindus and Muslims. Even
today there is a need to remind people every where that freedom movement
was the movement in which all communities participated equally. We need
to remember that Hinduism of Gandhi and Islam of Maulana Abul Kalam
unites people while Hinduism of Godse-Modi-RSS and Islam of Jinnah-Muslim
League-Taliban divide the people.
It is never
too late to counter the negativity injected by communal forces and bring
back the humane values ingrained in our plural history to ensure that
the process of remorse, reconciliation and justice comes to the fore,
and Muslims feel as much at home as any one else. That a section of
our society is made to think that one sided forgiveness is the only
way out just shows that our system is deeply infected and needs to be
cleansed by the spirit of Indian ness. And that's where all the conscientious
and aware citizens believing in democracy have to stick together, for
getting justice for all and to soothe the wounds of those thinking of
unsolicited, unilateral forgiveness.
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