Other States

‘Indian Muslims are silent but sad’

The events of August 5 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in Ayodhya are being analysed across the country. A section of Muslim intelligentsia feels that he said “nothing to assuage” the feelings of the community which has been most affected by the Supreme Court verdict.

“Most Muslims had reconciled to the Supreme Court verdict but August 5 events and the speech were mounted as a day to celebrate it as a victory and rub salt into the wounds of Muslims,” said Mirza Asmer Baig, professor of political science, Aligarh Muslim University.

On the change in the slogan from Jai Shri Ram to the supposedly more inclusive Jai Siya Ram, Prof. Baig said it was the tone that mattered. “And it was that of a victor. I guess Mr. Modi can’t afford to be inclusive even if he wants to as his hardcore voter doesn’t want to give even an inch to the Muslim community,” he said.

‘Illiberal democracy’

By putting August 5 parallel to August 15, Prof. Baig said Mr. Modi “pushed India towards an illiberal democracy and a Hindu Rashtra”. “Holding the bhoomi pujan on the same day when Article 370 was revoked was more of a political move than a plan according to planetary equation. It seems it will be marked as a day of cultural liberation.”

With this, he said, Mr. Modi had decisively moved India towards the right and, ideologically, the opposition parties would have to play on the ground of cultural nationalism set by him. “Words like secular are no longer being uttered during election campaigns as we had seen in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections,” said Prof. Baig.

He feared that the Muslims would become political pariahs and the likes of AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi would gather traction in the community. “I guess that is what the BJP wants because whatever they say, their electoral politics is still based on perpetuating hatred against Muslims.”

Noted historian Ali Nadeem Rezavi said, Mr. Modi, by invoking 500 years of waiting, was probably hinting at the Mughals, a period when many of the valiant Rajputs were co-rulers. “Did they not think of the Hindu ‘asmita’ (pride)? Even the Maratha clans gained prominence during these 500 years. All these groups should ponder over their role,” he said. “Wish he would havealso referred to the second directive of the SC: the building of a mosque on different land. Right now, Indian Muslims are silent but sad.”

Citing a couplet of saint Tulsidas wherein he talks against caste divisions and describes himself as a ghulam (slave) of Lord Ram and suggests that he would sleep in a mosque, Prof. Rezavi reminded that the author of Ramcharitmanas was a contemporary of Akbar. “We should remember that many of the Ayodhya temples were built through grants given by the Nawabs of Awadh, and by calling Ramji Imam ul Hind, Allama Iqbal summed up what Indian Muslims think of him.”

‘New India’

Wondering whether the presence of the Prime Minister during bhoomi pujan and the reference to the beginning of a new India in his speech meant establishing a “Hindu Rashtra”, Suhaib Sherwani, former professor of English literature at AMU and a member of CPI’s U.P. State Council, said there should be no place for theocratic states in the modern world.

“I personally oppose both the conversion of Hagia Sophia [museum in Turkey] into a mosque as well as the participation of state machinery in bhoomi pujan. Those who justify the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque have no right to feel offended by the state-sponsored bhoomi pujan and vice versa. In this sphere, the Indian Muslims need to do a lot of soul searching and mend their ways,” he said.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 4:04:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/indian-muslims-are-silent-but-sad/article32289329.ece

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