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Hijacking of a Religion
|by Pramod Khilery|
So at last we too have ushered in a time where no longer we can blame across the border elements for terrorist strikes engendered out of jihad. At the most we can only hint at complicity of across the border elements. When we heard the name Indian Mujahideen for first time, didn't we think that it was just another ploy of some terrorist outfits to distract the attention of Intelligence agencies? But it did not take more than three months for this bitter fact to be revealed that we, too, now harbor terrorists. We too now have our own homegrown terrorists whose childhoods were spent in the same ambiance and the same air as we breathed. Questions are rife rummaging through ill fated times for answers but with almost no success. It is beyond my ability even to come to terms with this bone chilling fact much less providing even logical insinuations.
Indian Muzahideen, a terrorist outfit boasting of educated and career oriented youths as its members set out one fateful day to eliminate hundreds of innocent lives across the country by launching a series of attacks. They carried out these dastardly acts on the pretext that Muslims are being discriminated against (a fact espoused by none other than Shabana Azmi) in every walk of life. It did not matter to them that this country did not stop them from becoming engineers and management graduates, companies across the country did not refuse to let them in on the basis of their religion if they had intent and talent to accomplish what they wished. And yes, unfortunately this very country did not or could not stop them even from detonating bombs and carry out their menacing deeds. I would refrain myself from citing successful Muslim names contributing to the cause of the nation but with what ground do I concede that Only Muslims are being discriminated against and that too solely on account of their being Muslims? If today, a sentiment of being marginalized runs across the community then who is to be blamed: Indian constitution, Indian governance, Indian citizens or something else. And if the question refuses to get resolved in the context of India what about the sentiment that prevails the world over?
So far as I have seen this society it is only poor and downtrodden who is most strongly discriminated against irrespective of religion he happens to hail from. It is this wretched being who is passed over and neglected in every society. Aren't we seeing Dalits condemned to only picking up the faeces and rags and doing sweeping and swabbing. Haven't we witnessed the ungodly act of keeping people away from places of worships on account of their casts? But today I see many if not more Dalits rubbing shoulders with us in our all endeavors and we just don't have another option but to respect them for what they have achieved. This testifies that working hard and rising through the ranks pays, not detonating bombs. And that makes me believe as my Muslim friends tell me that these wayward youths creating mayhem don't represent either Muslims or their views.
We all can blame either State or each other for all the wrongs plaguing our country but if we deem ourselves patriotic Indians then despite our being at the receiving end of the times, we will think it prudent to look into the innards of our beliefs and ideologies rather than looking outside and indulging in the easiest way of passing buck on to whoever seems vulnerable. I admit that incidents like Babri masjid demolition and Gujarat pogrom had in them the potential to shake the sense of security amongst Muslims. And no sane Indian can afford to either overlook these two incidents but also not to censure them in the harshest language. But I would condemn Godhra incident too in equal measure. At the same time we can't let baggage from the past hinder or even blind us from the path we have to tread on. In today's times I confess that people will be wary of renting a room or house to any person with a Muslim name. But if Muslims think this bitter fact as a case for taking umbrage rather than setting things right then neither they would be doing a service to their religion nor to their country. Is it really hard enough to comprehend the reasons that why a person who is at ease with a Muslim colleague in office and who doesn't have second thoughts before joining the celebrations of his Muslim friends has inhibitions about his house to be inhabited by any other Muslim? What pictures conjure up in the minds of people across the country when they see Muslim names being splashed on their television screens after almost every blast? I don't think most Muslims are na've enough not to understand the impact of what people read and see on their human mind. So if Muslims genuinely feel that they are discriminated against, the need of the hour is not to remain shut but to voice their protests against whatever is being done in the name of their religion. Many prominent Muslims have done that but a large scale mass movement is still awaited. Between the dual nature of opposition that is from outside and from inside it is inside opposition that is more suitably placed to impact the coup de grace to crush this serpentine of terrorism.
Ponder over these statements published in The Times of India in an article by Sameer Arshad. These statements may not represent entire community but still they do allude that reasons for being optimistic are aplenty. 'These are perilous times. Every time we step out of this locality we get stared at as if we were aliens' says Hafiz Sharik Hussain. But in the same breath he doesn't forget to say that a few bad Muslims are bringing shame to the entire community. A madarsa student Zubair Ahmed admits onus is on Muslims to clear the air and change the way they are perceived and community needs introspection. Techie Shakeel Ahmed asserts that he is proud to be the citizen of world's largest democracy and the freedom one enjoys here is unrivalled. Salman Chishti, the descendent of Khwaza Moinudddin Chishti strikes another note of optimism when he says, 'nine hundred years after Khwaza came to the blessed land of Hindustan, India continues to be a blessed land and home to us. There is no question of feeling like 'the Other' in our homeland'.
I still remember those tumultuous days of Sikh militancy in Punjab. Our neighbor who also happened to be a Sikh and our most trustful friend was so fearful of wayward Sikh youths coming to his house. He tried every possible trick in the book to shoo them away. His being a Sikh did not necessarily make him endorse a movement which was nothing but war against the country, his country, my country and our country. I am pretty much sure of the fact that any rationally thinking Muslim wouldn't exhaust his brain nerves in thinking ill of whatever discomfit he runs in to only on account of his being a Muslim. There may be other reasons as well. Recently when an editor of an Assamese daily couldn't be part of Prime Minister's delegation on his trip to America he did not blink even an eye before playing the Muslim card. He vociferously claimed he was left behind because he was Muslim. If Shabana Azmi has the reasons to feel offended because she couldn't buy a flat on account of only being a Muslim then should we also not listen to plight of million Indians who spend their entire life being thrown over from one tract of land to another without owning even an inch in entire lifetime? And what do they do if unfortunately they are not Muslims? Who do they blame? There may be truth in what Shabana Azmi said but jumping to impetuous conclusions at seeing slant pictures is not a good practice.
Discrimination in itself is a blot on society irrespective of the reasons it spring from and no one discrimination is graver or worth more substantive counter action than other. Every kind of discrimination is worth waging a battle but if the battle turns out more to be just an excuse for execution of radicalization of mind and less towards addressing the disease of discrimination than the battle is nothing but absolute treachery. Doesn't Muslim community realize that not seeing through the petty political objectives of their own narrow minded leaders and sheepishly allowing some miscreants people to bring ignominy to the religion is not going to serve any purpose? Don't we have the common sense to realize that ultimately we just don't have another option but to live together and work together for taking this country well ahead on the path of progress despite innumerable bumps and potholes? The sooner we stop this blame game and realize our responsibilities towards our nation better it is.
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