Beware India! You are being led into a civil war. Or, you are already in it. This is not a rhetorical statement. In Uttar Pradesh, slaughter houses are being demolished, closed down forcibly, small mutton shops are being gutted, burnt. Livelihood of thousands is under threat, that too by the orders of the government which had promised to work for all. In Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan a hotel owned by a Mulsim is surrounded and attacked in open day light, its employees beaten up by the mob, hotel is evacuated , sealed, the owner is hounded , police join the marauders. Youth are being arrested for making face book posts on the new chief minister in UP.
I know what would be the reaction of many of my co-nationals. That the number of these incidents is insignificant when compared with the population of India. That Muslims can always change their food habit Why are they stuck in the business of slaughter houses, a cruel job? They can always find alternative ways to live. Why do they insist on eating beef, getting their women wear burqa which makes them look strange and suspicious! That was the rationale behind the demand to double check on them when they come to the booths.
This a war on the Muslims of India. It needs to be said in these very words . And the spread is wide. Thousands and thousands of Muslims in Assam are being evicted from their habitats in the name of preservation of forest lands and yet the national mind fails even to register it.
Just before the election a 16 year old Muslim boy is forcibly detained in a police station in Uttara Khand on the charge of abducting a Hindu girl is and it sent dead to his poor parents by the police. His murder at the hand of the state-apparatus fails to does not make a news. No cry of justice for him.
A Muslim student disappears from a university and all the media can do after five months is to discover that he had affinity for terrorists.
It is not only the physical injury that hurts. It is not only a Muslim of Uttar Pradesh which is feeling a prisoner of this nation called India. The message of the results were clear enough but to make it stark, a man was put in charge of the Uttar Pradesh whose existence is defined by his anti-Muslim hatred. It is this insult which pains Muslims more.
It was humiliation not only for Muslim men but to Muslim women as well, when media joined the BJP in claiming that Muslim women have taught lesson to their men by voting for the BJP in the recent assembly elections.
By closing down the slaughterhouses, the economic backbone of the poor Muslims is being broken. They are being forced to be slaves of the wishes of the state which itself is turning more and more Hindu with each passing day. The resolve to change the living style of Muslims could have been reported by the media two years back when the Home Minister of India asked the Border Security force to plug the gaps in the borders of India and Bangladesh , stop the transfer of cows and Bangladesh with an aim to make the Bangladeshis forget their habit of eating beef. Can one miss the symbolism of this exhortation ?
Let us not confuse it then by saying that it should not be narrowly seen a Hindu-Muslim thing , that it an attack on the syncratic culture of India. Let us also not compare with the attack on Adivasis in Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand or on Dalits in different parts of India. This is because, as my friend Shahnawaz explains, a news of arrest of a bearded man in some distant land does make turn all bearded men suspect , fit to be arrested and even lynched. The feeling of the fear of living under this ‘legitimate suspicion’ is distinctly Muslim. And we have seen adivasis and dalits joining anti-Muslim alliances , politically and socially. Dalits can be made Hindu and Adivasis too, it is the Muslims alone which are the last stumbling block in the project of making India a Hindu land. And since it is impossible to eliminate them totally, they need to be effectively subjugated and confined to their ghettos, dis-empowered totally so that Indian polity is not contaminated by Muslim touch.
That we are so reluctant to speak the M word is itself a proof of what has changed in India. And Muslims themselves have started pleading with parties not to utter their name for it may antagonise and infuriate Hindus.
As it is, the Christians have just disappeared from our consciousness. We lack the sensibility and empathy to realise the depth of disappointment, anger and frustration of Muslims. To most of us their fears sound hallucinatory.
Muslims across India have suffered multiple displacements. They do not any longer resent being ghettoised even with a popular consent. But now, their psychological displacement is getting complete. While observing their present being invisiblised, they also see themselves being monumentalised and their cries and shouts drown in the celebration of these syncratic pasts, Sufi music, Tajmahal and Lal Quila. The celebration of Urdu looks so obscene when you realise that a paper in Urdu in your possession can land you in jail.
Let us record that the educated and the media reported and exalted the pious and hard lives of the hate-mongers and murderers, that they weaved stories of their love for the animals with a singular aim to humanise and legitimise their hatred of Muslims. Why do Mulsims fail to find place in such kind hearts? The fault must lie in them.
Let us put it on record that India was pushed into this war by its ruling parties , the governments, that they created and fostered disaffection towards a large section of the society and stoked violence against them. Let it be recorded that the finest minds of the educated youth who form our civil services and police collaborated in this with the murderers. Let it be said that we went about our lives unperturbed when our neighbours were doubling with pain and not allowed to scream even for it would sound a sectarian cry.
It would be a long war and we would come out of it one day. With stories of the banality of violence and our shame of participating in it and mutilated bodies.
Victims are being blamed for forging victimhood. Asked to free themselves of this imaginary cage. This duplicity would be noted, in some distant time. We would not be there then. But let us stand witness to what is being done on our behalf and call it by its name. That much we can do at least.
- Tribune, March, 2017