By Humra Quraishi
IT’S about time we look towards our very own courtyards and backyards and front lawns! Not to overlook the murky happenings taking place in the very interiors of our prime setups. And, ah yes, also out there, along the lanes and by-lanes of our mohallas and bastis.
Yes, spreading out are the tell-tale signs of the hapless human beings getting abused if not threatened and humiliated and dumped about, here and there. Mind you, there is a rather distinct pattern to it all. First the targeted person is assaulted by the Hindutva men and then when there’s some level of hue and cry then the larger Hindutva groups emerge on the scene. They raise not just Hindutva slogans but even put pressure on the political and governmental machinery to either make no arrests of “their men”/the culprits, or else to arrest the victims!
In the 2020 pogrom of northeast Delhi, numerous Muslim men were paraded as dangaiis/rioters though they were actually the victims! Not spared was even a Muslim doctor of a well-known hospital of the locality who tried to save lives in that pogrom; shockingly his name was fitted in the police chargesheet. And now, in 2021, there’s been one incident after another where the victims have been slapped with multiple charges!
The latest is Tasneem Ali, the bangle seller of Madhya Pradesh’s Indore. He was brutally thrashed by a group of Hindutva goons and when an FIR could be finally registered against those goons, there came in a bizarre twist in the case. Counter-charges were slapped on the battered-shattered bangle seller! Serious charges of child molestation and also of name change. In fact, when the Hindutva goons were seen attacking him in the videos in circulation, there’s just no mention of any molestation! Presumably an after-thought! And even if one were to believe the Hindutva lobby’s charge that the bangle seller changed his name, from his Muslim name to a Hindu name, then there does come up that vital why! Why did he hack or murder his original Muslim name? Why did he have to do so? What was that urgent compulsion?
Perhaps, to survive amidst today’s surcharged communal atmosphere! Where the Hindutva lobbies and Right-Wing backed brigades are making life hellish for the Muslims to survive on any given front – housing, education, jobs, healthcare. Even selling locally grown crops! Or even selling glass bangles from the pavement!
SIGNIFICANT TO KNOW THE SORRY STATE OF AFFAIRS WHERE THE INDIAN MUSLIM IS CONCERNED!
In 1983, it was Gopal Singh Committee report which was the first official pointer to the dismal conditions of the Muslim community in the country. This Committee, appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, headed by Dr Gopal Singh focused on the fact that the Muslims were under-represented in the various spheres, including the sarkari sphere.
Over a decade later, in 1996, the Planning Commission’s sub-group on minorities found the Muslims to be poorly represented in the police, railways, as well as the state and all-India services. According to the Ninth and Tenth Five-Year Plan documents, Muslims remain educationally backward. Citing the National Family Health Survey (1998-99) the report of the Steering Committee on Empowerment of the Scheduled Castes, Other Backward Classes and minorities, especially referred to the prevalence of widespread illiteracy amongst Muslim women. It found that while there were 32.9 per cent illiterate women amongst the Christians and 38.9 per cent amongst Sikhs, Muslim women accounted for 60.5 per cent.
And in 2002, economist Abusaleh Shariff ‘s detailed report, ‘Relative Socio-Economic Deprivation of Indian Muslims’, showed the Muslim community was comparatively worse off than the upper caste Hindu. Coupled with this, the fact that more Muslims — 66% — lived in rural areas. These findings showed overall the head count poverty and capability ratios were considerably higher for Muslims compared to the all-India average and the caste Hindus. The percentage of population below the poverty line was 43 for Muslims as compared with 32 for caste Hindus and 39 for the whole population. The findings showed that not only was the household income of Muslims only Rs. 22,807 compared with Rs 29,786 for the Hindu of the upper caste, but even where land was concerned 43 per cent of Muslim households were landless compared with only 30 per cent among Hindus… on an average the high caste Hindus owned 5.1 acres of land compared with 3.6 acres for Muslims.
And in 2006, Justice Rajinder Sachar presented to the Lok Sabha, a comprehensive report called the Sachar Committee Report focusing on the condition of the Indian Muslims, on three crucial aspects — education and health and social. Some of the findings were: Most BPL (Below Poverty Line) Muslims can’t access welfare schemes, 60% landless, equal number skip school… 94.9 per cent Muslims in BPL families in rural areas do not receive free food grains. While only 3.2 per cent Muslims get subsidized loans, just 1.9 per cent of the community benefit from the Antyodaya Anna Yojana scheme, meant to prevent starvation amongst the poorest of poor by providing food at a subsidized rate. Also, 60.2 per cent of Muslims do not have any land in rural areas (the national average — 43% ). Just 2.1 per cent of Muslim farmers have tractors (with 15,25,000 tractors India ranks number 4, after US, Japan and Italy). A mere 1 per cent Muslims own hand pumps. On the educational front, the picture was equally dismal — 54.6 per cent Muslims in villages and 60 per cent Muslims in urban areas have never attended school. Only 0.8 per cent Muslims in rural areas are graduates.
Sachar Committee’s initial findings had also stated that Muslims feel insecure and inferior in states like Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. There was also focus on Muslims as victims of bias. The committee also found shocking instances of discrimination against the community. And these include cases of Muslims not getting loans from even nationalised banks and were finding it difficult to sell or buy property.
And in 2014, came the Kundu Committee Report. An extremely significant report as it focuses on not just the dismal conditions faced by the Muslims of the country but also on the reservation issue. To quote Professor Kundu, “In fact, one of the major issues we raised was the reservation issue. Why there is no reservation for the Muslim community when it’s a known fact that there are many Muslims in the Backward Caste slots. If there can be reservations for the Hindu Scheduled Castes and communities then why not for those in the Muslim community? Why deprive them of this right!”
Professor Kundu also stressed that in certain spheres, the living conditions of Muslins are worse off than even the Scheduled Castes, “Yes, in certain spheres the condition of Muslims is worse than the SC and Backwards and these spheres are — access to medical facilities, to sanitation and water, and also access to public and sarkari facilities. These deprivations and dismal conditions are much more so in those urban pockets where Muslims reside.”
Another bizarre video went viral last week. A group of Hindutva men in Rajasthan’s Ajmer are seen hitting and abusing and kicking a Muslim beggar and his two young children.
These Hindutva men are perhaps mere foot soldiers of the BJP–RSS lot who miss no opportunity in abusing the Indian Muslims.
I’m putting down these few details from the ongoing abuses hurled at the Muslims of this country.
At the start of 2020, the likes of Anurag Thakurs, Kapil Mishras, Parvesh Vermas gave speech after speech, in the national capital, abusing and mouthing the absolutely unthinkable for the minority community.
At the start of 2019, Ananth Kumar Hedge came up with the threat — “hands that touch Hindu girls should be chopped off!” Before that, he had publicly said, “Till Islam is in the world there can be no end to terrorism!”
In 2018, Right-Wing MP, Vinay Katiyar, said loud and clear that the Indian Muslims ought to go to Pakistan!
And in 2017, Sakshi Maharaj unleashed sheer poisonous propaganda that Muslim men marry 4 times and with that produce 40 children!
Then Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti went to the extent of heaping gutter abuses along the Haramzada strain, on the Muslim community.
In 2016, BJP’s MP from Fatehpur Sikri, Babu Lal, and also BJP’s MP from Agra, Ram Shankar Katheria, (who was then Minister of State in the Union HRD Ministry) went to the extent of labelling Muslims “demons …descendants of Ravana”. All this in the open, in public speeches!
Not to be overlooked Sangeet Som’s communal speeches in western Uttar Pradesh, threatening to ignite violence. Implicated in the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013, he was also accused of stoking communal tensions in Dadri’s Bisada village after the killing of Mohammed Akhlaq… And BJP’s MLA from the Goshamahal constituency in Hyderabad, T Raja Singh, could get away even after mouthing death threats to all those who come in the way of the Ram Temple construction. “If there is anybody who has the guts to say he would stop the construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, let him come forward. I challenge that I will behead him… Until now, Uttar Pradesh had witnessed timid governments. Now, you have the powerful government. Baap ki sarkaar!”
And just days after stating that India would become a Hindu nation by 2024, Uttar Pradesh BJP MLA Surendra Singh came up with communal taunts, “those who desisted from saying ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ are Pakistanis!”
Tragically none of these abusive characters arrested!
In fact, every single week, communal onslaughts and targeted attacks are taking place.
No halts. No checks. No accountability!
Humra Quraishi is a Delhi-based writer-columnist-journalist. She is also the author of several books including Kashmir: The Untold Story. The views expressed here are personal.