The mainstream media commends the Prime Minister for his acknowledgement of the special needs of backward Muslims and of Muslim women. It is being said that this pronouncement makes a decisive departure from his consistent insistence so far on taking no names, of letting the concerns and sensitivities of minority groups be subsumed in the wide and apolitical slogan of “sabka saath sabka vikas”, which papers over the many inequities and discriminations built into the notions of “development” and the “people.
It has been noted that the PM broke a silence on Sunday at Bhubaneswar.
Was Sunday last the first historic time the Prime Minister uttered the M word? The editorial teams need not dig deep into their archives to know that silence on this front was broken at least six months back in an election rally at Mahoba where he, pained by the destruction of the life of his Muslim sisters, said that the “lives of the Muslim women cannot be allowed to be ruined by triple talaq.”
It needs to be noted that the earlier occasion was an election rally and the recent one was the national executive meeting of the BJP. This time there is an addition, apart from the hapless Muslim women now he seems to care for the backwards among the Muslims.
Let us also not forget the unsubstantiated claim made after the victory of the BJP in the assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh that this time Muslim women voted for the BJP in large numbers. Jokes like “Rashida pressed the Lotus button without telling Abdullah” were being circulated on the social media. It would however be very difficult for the non-Muslims to realise that all this is a well thought out strategy to humiliate the Muslim men by telling them that your women are looking towards the BJP as their protector and patron. Do not forget that a ‘fringe’ leader asked Muslim women to say “ I love you “once to Shri Modi.
The Prime Minister is this time asked to break the silence of his government on attacks or killings of Muslims either on the pretext of cow smuggling or beef eating or luring Hindu women to their fold. With this new complaint the litany before the supreme leader gets longer. With each new horror, a new past also gets created. We are then asked then to not remain stuck in the past and move on like the murderers or their propagandists.
The man who is now presenting his government as the saviour of the Muslim women from the oppressive Islamic practices has, as yet, not expressed sorrow over the comments of his minister of local civil supplies when he was the chief minister of Gujarat who tried to justify his efforts to close down the relief camps in Dariaykhan after the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 claiming that the camps were breeding centres of terrorists. Let alone admonishing him for his insensitive remarks on an already suffering part of the people of Gujarat, the chief minster went a step ahead. In an election speech after the anti Muslim violence of 2002, he mocked his critics, “When we spend money for the development of Bahucharaji also,you feel bad. What brother, should we run relief camps? (referring to relief camps for riot affected Muslims). Should I start children producing centers there, i.e relief camps?”
Here the then Chief Minister was putting the local Hindu deity of Bahucharji against the Muslims who were displaced forcibly in the massacre under his watch. He was telling his people that state resources could not be spent on Muslims. State support for development of Bahucharji had to come at the cost of the welfare of displaced Muslims. As chief minister, it was his duty to look after the safety and well being of these internally displaced Gujaratis who happened to be Muslims but he did not even want their children to be born. He berated these relief camps as children producing factories who needed to be shut down, as his minister warned they could be potential terrorists. A concerted campaign to treat every birth in a Muslim household as a potential threat for the nation has long been in operation but the way it was done in Gujarat was extraordinary.
The new found concern for the backwards among Muslims is also to be noted in the context of the warning by the present Prime Minister to the socially backward people, who were necessarily Hindu,in the election campaign of Bihar that the Bihar government was conspiring to steal their quota to give it to a particular religious community, which was Muslim.He was then pitching the extremely backward castes and Mahadalits against Muslims.
The RSS and the BJP has always used the special treatment or provision in state schemes to create a Muslim- envy in the Hindus as was clear from the speeches of the prime minister during Bihar election campaign.
As was pointed out by an activist, all those killed in the cow-protection drive happened to belong to the same communities among Muslims for whom the Prime Minister wants to ensure social justice. They are Mostly Pasmanda Muslims. Before they get social security, they would need to live. So, how about first disbanding and disarming those cow protection groups who attack and kill Pahelu Khan,the backward among Muslims? How about arresting and punishing those who attacked and destroyed everything that the Telis and Faqirs had in Atali in Haryana?
Close on the heels of this sagacious pronouncement came the announcement of the BJP in Gujarat that it would go all out to court Muslim women using the triple talaq card and the Pasmanda Muslims by promising them special treatment.
The game plan is clear: this time it is to break the religious identity of Muslims.It may sound strange to many but this has been a long held view of the RSS that Islam in India is not a different religion. Learning from the gender and social justice discourse, it has now decided to move aggressively in this direction: to treat gender discrimination as the defining feature of the Indian Muslim life and presenting the state as the benevolent protector of Muslim women from their tormenting men. Also by recognising the need to uplift the Pasmanda Muslims, to deny any one Muslim-ness which needs recognition in India. So, Muslims no longer remain a religious minority with special rights and treatment, they are a bunch of social or gender groupings. You never say Muslim, you either address the needs of the victim Muslim women or backward Muslims.
That it was to be the language of social justice which would be used to erase Muslim reality by fragmenting it could not have occurred to its protagonists. We have also to realise that when pronouncement like these are made, they are addressed more to Hindus: to reinforce their long held view that Muslim men are cruel, even to their women and that they are mostly backwards,to be uplifted by an outside support. It fuels their anti-Muslim hatred . At the same time it leads them to imagine themselves as the rescuers of the victims of this male Muslim backward cruelty. Since Hindus are naturally liberal and eternally progressive Indians ,it is their duty to now save others. We have to see through this devious rhetorical game and call it by its name: that it is unadulterated deception.
- Tribune, April, 2017