Dilemma of Indian Muslims

Muhammad Arif

The Muslims constitute India’s largest religious minority. They are about 170 millions in a total population of 950 millions.1 Their plight, however, is miserable. Although India claims to be a secular state, yet its minorities, particularly the Muslims, continue to be victims of violence resulting from religious, ethnic, linguistic and cultural bias of Hindu majority.
The situation of the Indian Muslims has hardly any analogy in recent history. Before independence, the Muslims of the minority provinces supported the demand for Pakistan more vehemently than their co-religionists in the majority zones which eventually constituted Pakistan. Most Hindus have deep-seated prejudice against these Indian Muslims because they hold them responsible for the division of the country in 1947. In fact, they did not stand to gain anything except the satisfaction of having helped to save the Islamic Ideology in a specified territory.2 In true contact of history, to place blame on Muslims for the partition of India is a calumny. The ultimate responsibility rests heavily on the leaders of the Congress and the majority community, whether as Congressmen or Hindu Mahasabhites.3
After 1947, the Muslims have been systematically and continuously oppressed in India. In the closing decade of the 20th century, Muslims find themselves in an unenviable position in the country. This is particularly ironic as they were in the forefront of the freedom struggle, hoping to build a nation in which they would be free to develop and prosper along the lines prescribed by their faith. But they are victims of pogroms perpetrated by mobs and police alike. There is a deliberate policy of keeping Muslims out of government jobs. More than 70 percent of Muslims in India are living below the poverty line.4 They are kept out of education and are treated badly by the majority community if they enter the free market.
Though the Indian constitution guarantees rights of equality to all citizen in theory, yet the Indian Muslims have in reality been relegated gradually to the status of second class citizens. India claims to be a secular state but its secular constitution is not yet supported by a secular Ideology.5
A secular state observes an attitude of impartiality towards all religions. Secularism is not anti-God, but eliminates religion from the matters of State and ensure that no one shall be discriminated on the ground of religion. One can worship God according to the dictates of one’s own conscience.6
Constitutional provisions of the Indian constitution from articles 25 to 30 regarding secularism have embodied generally the fundamental rights, However, the word “secularism’ did not figure in the preamble of the constitution until 1976. This gap was filled only by the 42nd amendment of the constitution, when the term ‘socialist secular’ was added to the preamble of the constitution in 1976.7
Any promulgated declaration of secularism cannot change the situation unless habits and patterns of behaviour are changed. In India secularism is still an aspiration and not a reality.8 Indian secularism can be judged best by an analysis of the fate of its largest religious minority group, the Indian Muslims. Their position has pathetically deteriorated since 1947. Despite the contributions made by the Indian Muslims in the freedom struggle of India and their remaining loyal nationalist, Muslims in India are labeled as pro-Pakistani and Pakistani spies.9 Their major problems are communal violence and insecurity, lack of education, representation in politics and Hindu fanaticism.

Communal Riots

Communal riots occur in India by some immediate specific, political, social, economic or religious cause but the sources of conflict and tension are permanently rooted in the collective Indian psyche. The general impression about the Muslims amongst the Hindus is as follows:
“The Hindu elite visualize the 700 years of Muslims rule in India as a period of forced conversions to Islam, destruction and conversion of temples into mosques and other symbols of humiliation. Muslims as a community are supposed to be exclusively responsible for the partition of the country. They consider a Muslim as an outsider, with extraterritorial loyalties, who is incapable of belonging to the country as a patriotic citizen. The Indian Muslims are treated as the fifth column of Pakistan, at least during a period of minor or major conflict and tension with that country.”10
“Islam is devouring Hinduism; Islam is a militant religion. It preaches brutality. Muslims believe in one God and one Book and are more organized. They are orthodox and fanatical. Muslims continue to be aliens and they do not adhere to the Indian civil code. If you visit a Muslim family, you will find one Muslims married to at least four women and each one of these women bears many children. Muslims have no work other than reproduction. Since Muslims do not follow the Indian civil code, they will have to pay the penalty of leaving India. Muslims are immoral. Muslims want numerically to outnumber Hindus through conversion and violation of small family norms so as to establish another Pakistan in India.”11
“The very concept of a nation is opposed to the Quran. Therefore, if they do not have any feeling of affection for this country, it is because of the Quran. The charter of the Quranic shariat, i.e. Islamic system of governance, is opposed to our constitution and law. If we have faith in our constitution, we will have to ban Quran and Islamic system of governance.”12
“On every Friday Muslims priests raise their hands and pray loudly from the Quran, “Fansurna-alal Qaumil Kafireen (2:286) (give us victory over the non-believers, the Kafirs) and millions of faithfuls say “Amen” in thunderous supplication.”13
The communal hatred which existed in its worst form immediately after independence reached new hights in 1990 due to the rising strength of the right – wing Hindu parties. The anti-Muslim riots are the work of Hindu mobs encouraged and organized by Hindu extremist parties such as RSS, BJP and Shive Sena etc. The police and army made up overwhelmingly of Hindu elements join the mob in killing Muslims and destroying their properties instead of protecting them.14
Some of the immediate causes of riots are: rival claims over a sacred site, alleged infiltration of Muslims from Bangladesh or Pakistan, inflammatory speeches by communal leaders, desecration of the idols of the Hindu deities, music before mosques, throwing colour water (gulal) over the resentful Muslims and elopement of a Hindu women with a Muslim or vice-versa. The stoning of a Hindu procession, animal sacrifice on the occasion of Bakr Eid, encroachment on public or private property, generally for constructing a mosque or a dargah, attack on a Hindu place of worship, one-sided version given by the media, partisan role of the police and paramilitary forces through open support to the rioters and armed attacks against the defenceless Muslims etc.15 It has become a general practice in India that with the arrival of each Muslim religious festival the sectarian riots are stepped up by the bigoted Hindu fundamentalists.
In every riot since independence, no matter when and where or how the riots take place; no matter who starts the riots; in the end the victims are mainly Muslims who lose their lives, property and honour. The graph of atrocities by Hindus has persistently moved upwards and anti-Muslim riots have continuously increased. To witness:

Communal Riots in India 1947 - 1995

Year/ Decade        No. of Incidents            Persons Killed                    Main Location

1947-48                     Not available                   700,000                         North India / Bengal
1950                                 564                           2,000                            West Bengal
1960                                 2689                         3,146                             Jamshedpur, Rourkela
1970                                 2657                         1,107                             Jabalpur, Ahmadabad
1980                                 5513                         4,549                             Assam, Muradabad
1990-92                           4300                          3,350                             Throughout India
1995                           Not available                   3,200                             Bombay16

From 1987-97 the Indian army has killed more than sixty thousand Kashmiri Muslims during their protracted struggle for freedom.17 In the recent past, the riots were a two to three day affair. But now the riots continue for weeks together. This shows that there is a kind of systematic and organized madness behind this scheme. These riots are pre-planned and politically oriented. Another striking feature of the pattern of communal violence is that generally riots occur in the Muslim business and small industries areas. For example, they adversely affected the biri industry of the Muslims of Jabalpur and brass industry of Muradabad during the riots. The riots at Aligarh and Jamshedpur etc. also followed the same pattern.
The attitude of the administration towards the victims of communal rioting is also callous. More often that not, the rioters are encouraged and actively helped in looting the property of the Muslims. It is significant that the rioters become more active and aggressive during the curfew hours. A new feature of the programme after the destruction of the Babri Masjid is the gang rape of Muslim women. In jammu and Kashmir, rape is practiced as part of a systematic attempt to humiliate and intimidate the local population during the counter-insurgency operation.18
In most of the communal riots, the victims were largely poor slum dwelling Muslims. However, the programs in the 1990s affected almost all segments of the Muslims society including the better protected members of the elite. In the Hyderabad riots of 1990, Muhammad Azharuddin, the Captain of India’s national cricket team was attacked at his own house. Movie stars such as Dilip Kumar, Saira Bano, Shabana Aazmi and Farah Khan have been harassed by Hindu fanatics a number of times. If the elite class of the Muslims cannot escape the mob and police brutalities, what must be the fate of the ordinary people with no access to power or money.19
These dangerous trends in India are fuelled by Hindu leaders, some of whom openly declare that they want all citizens of India to become Hindus. When these attacks take place, the state machinery that should protect the weaker party, the Muslims, is never operational. It is a timely reminder to those who romanticize the era of a united India. Further, this also sheds fuller light on the reasons why the creation of Pakistan was an unavoidable necessity.

Educational Backwardness

The Muslims in India lag far behind in the field of education. While literacy rate among Hindu males in urban India in 75 percent, it goes down to 58 percent for the Muslims. The Christians are even better than the Hindu with 78 percent literacy rate. The higher Christian literacy rate is due to the network of schools established by the Christian missionaries. The plight of Muslims is still worse in the category of higher education. Only 2.3 percent Muslims are graduates while this ratio is 7.9 percent amongst the Hindus20 (more than three times the Muslims percentage). The figures of literacy rate among Muslims are still more dismal. These are 10% among men and 0.5% among women. According to a conservative estimate the Muslims are ten times as backward in education as other communities.21
There are a number of explanations given regarding the backwardness of Muslims in the field of education. One is that Muslims, due to their particular attitude, have failed to take advantage of the vast educational development which took place in India after independence. Muslims prefer to send their children to religious educational institution than to the secular ones. Again, as a religious minority, the Muslims suffer from acute minority complex. Some complain of discriminatory attitude towards them, which has led them to demand reservation for Muslims in educational institutions.22
The main reason, however, is the problem of biased textbooks and the promotion of Hindu culture among Muslim students which tends to keep them away from school. The text books which are being used in different states appear to be an attempt to “de-Muslimise” the Muslim children. They militate against Islam and Islamic susceptibilities. Most textbooks for Hindi and other regional languages, history and social studies are larded with Hindu mythology, biased versions of medieval Indian history and misrepresentation of Islam and Muslim historical figures, leading to the alienation, and in extreme cases, withdrawal of Muslim students from schools. As an example of such material, Basic Hindi Reader for the fifth class, edited by the Director of Education, U.P. contains the following words:
Indians regard the river Ganga as sacred. It is said that emerging from the feet of Lord Vishnu, the Ganga came to Lord Shiva and from there to the Himalayas. Lord Brahma, much pleased by King Bhagirathi’s austerities, sent Gnaga to the earth to bring salvations to living creatures. The Ganga is believed to wash away all sins.
Quite apart from the mythological account of the origin of Ganga, reference to belief in its sacredness for Indians and not merely Hindus, is deeply disturbing for Muslims.
The revised textbooks in the BJP regimes present a distorted picture of medieval Indian history and exclude any positive reference to founders of other religions including Islam.
Novel methods are chosen for spreading hatred and humiliation against Islam and destruction of its religious institutions. For instance a primary school mathematics textbook has a question:
“If 15 Karsevaks (Hindu volunteers) demolish the Babri Masjid in 3 days, how many Karsevaks will it take to demolish the mosques in 15 days”?23
The Muslim era in India is often presented as a period of conversion of the Hindus by unwarrantable means, Almost all textbooks of history state that Islam came to India with the stormy sword – bearing invaders in 712 A.D. They forget that by 630 A.D. the Muslim traders first brought it to Malabar. The decent commercial ethics of the Muslim traders impressed the then Hindu rulers, and as such they did not prevent the Muslim traders from observing their religious activities. Cheraman Perumal, King of Malabar, on his own embraced Islam. The low-caste Hindus saw that the status of their fellowmen was upgraded when they embraced Islam and consequently they followed suite.24
Thus it was not the ‘sword’ that popularized Islam in India but it was the noble trading practice, cooperative nature, honesty and equality of its followers that upheld it.

Institutions of Higher Learning

The three main institutions of higher learning for the Indian Muslims are Aligarh Muslim University at Aligarh, Jamia-i-Millia-i-Islamia in Delhi and Jamia-i-Usmania in Hyderbad. The Aligarh Muslim University was started as M.A.O. College in 1875 by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan with the objective of furthering the cause of modern education for the educationally backward Muslim community. In 1920, the University was given its present status. According to the 1981 Act, the Aligarh Muslim University “is an institution of their choice established by Muslims of India, and is empowered to especially promote the educational and cultural advancement of Muslims in India.” Two Acts, the Aligarh University (Amendment) Act of 1965 and 1972 finished the minority character of the university.25 The 1981 Act is considered to be a milestone in regaining its original status. But much remains to be done to bring the ordinance and statutes in consonance with its minority character.26 The admission policy of the university does not ensure a preponderant majority of Muslim students in all its courses and faculties.
Jamia-i-Millia-i-Islamia was founded in 1920 at Aligarh during the Khilafat and Non-Cooperation Movement led by Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar along with Maulana Shaukat Ali, Hakim Ajmal Khan and Dr. M.A. Ansari. Although Dr. Zakir Hussain, the late President of India, was very closely associated with Jamia-i-Millia but even his efforts could not enhance its character as one of the major centers of either Islamic or modern learning for Muslims. The efforts to register the constitution were marred by confusion because the aims and objects were changed. The clause “Muslims should keep their education in their own hands to provide Deeni (religious) and Dunyavi (secular) education to all the citizen, particularly Muslims” was erased from Jamia’s constitution by Jamia Act 1988. Thus it lost its special minority character. Now, in every department of Jamia non-Muslims are in a majority. Secular and so-called Muslim teachers are being appointed. Even Gandhi’s name has been included amongst the founders of the Jamia. Against this policy a peaceful protest movement by the students still continues.27
Jamia-i-Usmania, situated in the present Andhra Pradesh, was founded in 1918 by the Nizam of Hyderabad, Osman Ali Khan. Its main distinction was that all modern sciences were taught in Urdu. But after independence the mediam of education was changed. At present the majority of teachers in the Jamia are non-Muslims. Muslim students are even less than 10% in this university. Muslim leaders are now demanding quotas for admission in their own institutions.28
More than 80 percent Indian Muslims are illiterate, and according to one estimate based on a sample survey, more than 70 percent of Indian Muslims live below the poverty line. Only extraordinarily intelligent Muslims students have a chance to find a place in public and private institutions which cannot ignore them.29

Cultural Insecurity

The cultural insecurity is yet another grievance of the Muslim community. Urdu is of paramount importance for development of Muslim life and culture in India. The learning of Urdu for Indian Muslims is not only a vital cultural but also a religious necessity. Urdu language is exceptionally rich in literature on Islam and Muslim culture. Numerous translations and wide variety of the exegeses of the Quran, most of the Hadith, numerous works on Sirat, and countless books on Islam and Muslims have been written in Urdu. It is a wealth of knowledge not shared by any other Indian language. Indeed, the richness of Urdu in Islamic studies is rivaled only by Arabic. According to Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, “The preservation of Urdu is the preservation of Din.”30 But Urdu language is facing ‘virtual genocide” at the hands of administration in India. It has become an alien language in the land of its birth. Since the illegal annexation of Hyderabad in 1948, Urdu has been removed from schools, colleges, courts and administration. The Constituent Assembly of India declared Hindi to be the sole official language in 1949. The claims of Urdu-speaking population were ignored. This rich language is now dying in India. Hindu politicians did not want to give Urdu its rightful place merely because it was too closely associated with Muslim culture. For them Urdu symbolizes a foreign culture. This displacement was further accelerated because Urdu became identified with Pakistan. But the majority of a specific intellectual Hindu-Muslim group holds the view that Urdu does not create a gap between the two communities.31 The fact, however, remains that today Urdu is alive only in mushairas, qawwalis and films.
The backwardness of Indian Muslims in the field of education is due to their poor economic conditions also. In India 70 percent Muslims live below the poverty line. So, poor Muslims cannot afford to send their children to schools. The kind of education imparted is not “relevant” to the sons and daughters of the Muslims. Education lacks its importance if one has to work as a labourer or serve as a peon even after getting S.S.C. degree.32
Ever since partition the ratio of the Muslims in services has followed a downward path. Today their representation in government departments is much lower than their percentage in the population. At the middle and higher scales of the government hierarchy, their percentage is no more than 2 percent. As regards the position of Muslims in the government jobs one can say that “they are last to be hired and first to be fired.”33 Bias against employment of Muslims started in 1947. Since then, secret circulars, executive policy decisions and ‘understandings’ have barred recruitment of Muslims from the rank of an ordinary peon to the position of chief secretaries in the ministries.34 The government blames Muslims themselves for their decline in the government service by such words as “the main reason is that Muslims are lagging behind in education”. But this excuse for sin is worse than the sin itself. The government is itself responsible for the backwardness of Muslims in education.

Political Persecution

In political sphere, the Indian Muslims stand nowhere and they find themselves utterly frustrated. Their population is so scattered that they cannot, on the basis of numerical strength, play any significant role in the politics of the country either on a national or state level.35 After Partition, the majority of them supported the Congress party, though a few sided with the Communist and one or two other parties. The preaching of secularism by the Congress attracted the Muslims, yet the deep-rooted Hindu prejudices against Islam and its adherents have proved too strong to allow them any significant participation in the political life of the country. On the ground of the “secular” constitution, the Indian Muslims lost all political safeguards and special protection which were given to the minorities in India during the British rule. The most important of these safeguards was the provision for separate electorate under which the Muslim voters could choose their own representatives a Central and Provincial legislatures. The Indian constitution abolished this practice in the name of secularism. What has been the result? The Muslims constitute 11 percent of the population in India, yet in the 1951 – 52 elections, they secured only 4 percent of the seats in Parliament (Lok Sabha). The Muslims representation in Lok Sabha has been insignificant over the years. To wit:

Muslim membership of Lok Sabha

Year                                 Total seats                            Muslim members

1952                                      484                                           22
1958                                      --                                               26
1962                                      --                                               28
1967                                      520                                           30
1971                                      518                                           30
1977                                      542                                           32
1980                                      --                                               46
1984                                      --                                               41
1989                                      543                                           33
1991                                      --                                               28
1996                                      --                                               23

The figures show that Muslim involvement in national politics is not in proportion to their population. It may be pointed out that a Muslim receives party ticket only where there is a sizeable or even a decisive presence of Muslim voters. The Muslim vote in 10 constituencies, including the three from India – held Kashmir is over 50 percent. In another 70 to 75 constituencies Muslim electorate make up 20 to 45 percent of the total voters. The Muslim votes in these constituencies can have a considerable impact on the outcome of the elections.37 But the problem is that in a country as varied and large as India where even the Congress has lost its national character, the Muslims cannot build a cohesive, national, political organization of their own.38 At the most they could build pressure groups and work from within their adopted political parties. Quite apart from the ineffectiveness of Muslims pressure groups even gerrymandering in the Muslims dominated constituencies is minimized in India. The Andhrapradesh BJP leaders Narendra and Jagmohan are on record as having asked for the dispersal of Muslim population to prevent future “Pakistan in India”.39
Attempts at broader alliance of Muslims with the Scheduled Castes are blocked by social distance, a lack of a sense of corporateness among the scheduled castes, sometime by conflict of economic interest, and above all by the ability of the dominant political party to buy off Harijan leaders and retain the former untouchable loyalty through patronage.40
Muslim effectiveness in the Parliament could be achieved through direct elections of Muslims. This is impossible under the present system of joint electorate. Alternative ways of representation such as proportional representation of votes polled by parties, in which case hitherto pressure groups can become major players in national politics, or the re-shaping of constituencies to create Muslim – dominated seats, or finally by the revival of separate electorate can considerably increase Muslim political power. The absolute necessity of introducing reservation, (not separate electorate) is tellingly confirmed by the experience of the scheduled castes since independence.41
An ideal way of utilizing Muslim potential in the Parliament would be to enhance Muslim participation in secular political parties, especially in the ‘crucial’ constituencies where Muslim voters are above 20%, so that the Muslim lobby may get a chance.
The Muslim support to secular and democratic parties will reduce the exacerbation of societal tension that characterizes closely contested electoral contest leading to the Hindu-Muslim communal fights.
The core of the strategy must be unity, faith and tactically voting to act as a mini-bank at the constituency level, voting for the ideologically secular but electorally viable candidate, whichever the party. Thus pressure should be exerted not the secular parties to come together, to field secular candidate and to address their concerns in their political programme and electoral manifesto.42
If Muslims do not confront their problems with courage and imagination, they are soon going to be a foregotten minority. To avoid that, they have to think in terms of being a one, single community. They should work out a strategy of participation in the democratic process as a united, conscious group which knows what is good for it and when and where.

Hindu Revivalism

Hinduism has absorbed many alien civilizations which came into contact with it. Buddhism, which was a revolt against the basic caste system was banished even though the gospel came from a son of the soil. Jainism suffered the same fate. The conflict with Sikhism, another revolt against Hinduism, continues to this day. Sikhs began to be absorbed. They inter-dined and intermarried but insisted on a separate identity, a demand which could not be conceded. And Muslims, of all the aliens, have frustrated the best efforts of Hinduism to absorb them in its fold. They have a definite, well – defined code of life which permits of no fundamental compromises; and that indeed is considered a challenge to the supremacy of Hinduism, a cult which allows no coexistence.43
Islam, which has been the religion of conquerors in India for centuries, has always been an eyesore for Hindu revivalists. Thus, any effort by the Muslims community either before independence or afterwards to forge unity is seen as a threat to the Hindu religion itself. The conversion to Islam by the under-privileged Hindu, degraded for centuries because of belonging to lower castes, is interpreted as a manifestation of Islam’s aggressive design to finish all other religions.44
The conversion to Islam of 625 Harijans in 1981 at Meenakshipuram, a small Tamil Nadu town, and the Shah Bano case judgement in 1985-8645 are the immediate causes for the present wave of Hindu revivalism. These issues were interpreted as a great threat to national security and integrity.
As a reaction to the world-wide Islamic revivalism in general and the struggle for independence in Kashmir in particular, India’s Hindu majority started to assert itself more aggressively. While the Bhartia Janata Party (BJP), a faction of the communal Hindu organization. Jane Singh, had only two seats in the Indian Parliament in 1982, by 1991 it had gained 119 seats, and in 1996 and 1998 it became the largest party by securing 161 and 253 seats in Lok Sabah respectively.46
Under its aggressive leader L.K. Advani and through its programme of Hindutva, the BJP planned to turn India into fully Hindu state. Its agenda is to build a Ram temple at the Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya and to work towards a uniform civil code for all citizens which will replace religious personal laws.47
As a first stage towards achieving this objective, the BJP intended to convert about 300 Muslim mosques into Hindu temples. The 500 – year old historic Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in the United Provinces was demolished by fanatic Hindus on 6 December 1992. Hindu fundamentalists had in fact long been clamouring for the destruction of the mosque to build a Hindu temple at the site. But the Indian authorities allowed over 200,000 fanatics to gather at Ayodhya. The act of demolition went ahead for six hours, yet there was no one to prevent the attack, no rapid deployment force, no black cats, no one to fire one single warning shot in the air. But when the crowd surged in, the security forces threw off their uniforms and joined the “warriors” in saffron.
In a country claiming to be secular where its highest court had issued a stay order, and despite the Central Government’s clear directive to the U.P. Government to maintain status quo, the destruction of this historic mosque points towards a planned conspiracy as well as treachery on the part of the Congress. The destruction of the Babri Mosque by fanatic Ram followers changed the perception which Indian Muslims perhaps still had of the Congress Government. It proved the Prime Minister’s inability to protect Muslim interests in an increasingly communalized India. The aftermath has added to their insecurity. Their protests led to attack on them which claimed over 2000 lives.48
With the desecration of Babri Masjid, all claims of Congress to secularism have been smashed into smithereens, and Hinduism bestrides the land in its true colours. It is aggressive, assertive and provocative.49
Guru Golwalkar, the spoksman of resurgent Hinduism has openly declared that the non-Hindus in Hindustan must adopt the Hindu culture and language, learn to respect and hold Hindu religion in reverence, and entertain no ideas but those of glorification of Hindu race and culture.50
In the 1998 election, BJP invoked Hindutva and emerged as the largest party and assumed power. The BJP anti-Muslim designs are no secret as its leader Advani, the new interior minister, has always been happier to play the cold, ruthless ideologue. It was his 7000 mile long rathyatra in 1990 that changed the semantics of Indian politics, strained communal harmony, and in the end led to the destruction of the historic Babri Masjid. He minced no words in making a blunt statement recently that Pakistan and Bangladesh should merge into India. Atal Behari Bajpai too speaking in the same tune and attacking the faith of the Muslims said, “the Muslims should show reverence for Hindustan as against Makka and Islam. We shall have to convert the Muslims into Hindus so as to merge them in the Hindu society.”51 More BJP ministers are deeply rooted in Rastriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (R.S.S.).
Mr. Vajpayee’s post – election efforts to soften his party’s image have included the pledge that India would remain a secular state! This does not mean that his party has suddenly disowned its Hindu credentials. But it suggests that the BJP, in leading a disparate coalition, may limit militant Hinduism to an increasingly symbolic role. Being in the driving seat, the BJP would itself have to deal with the consequences of stirring the communal pot. Therefore BJP rhetoric has scaled down.52
In short, the Muslims in India since independence have lived under precarious condition of insecurity, uncertainty and inequality. Frequently victims of pogroms perpetrated by mobs and the police alike, their position is now comparable, at times at least, to that of the Jews in Nazi Germany, and many consider themselves as stepchildren of mother India.53 Muslims are being held responsible for all the imaginary grievances of Hindus during a thousand years of Muslim rule in India. They are being subjected to well – planned and determined attack in all spheres of life. They have been rendered illiterate because of the compulsory nature of Hindi as a national language. They comprise twenty percent of the total population of India and yet their representation in Parliament in 4.50% and in services it is not even two percent. They have been virtually eliminated from the defence services because they cannot be relied to fight for their own country. There are government instructions that Muslims must not be kept at key and sensitive posts.54 The BJP has even more aggressive policy regarding the minorities.
The salvation lies in the hands of the Muslim minority itself. It is time they rose above sectarian and regional divisions. To have political weitage, they should vote en block in constituencies where they can tilt the balance in favour of any party. Greater self-reliance through the community’s own collective initiative in education, charity and philanthropy characterized by an organized collection and sound management of alms distributions prescribed by Islam, co-operatives, rejuvenation of the awqaf (trusts) and social reforms offer an alternative route to the community’s progress.
The callousness of those in power has been so cruel towards the Muslims plight that the government does not tolerate even a word of sympathy from any foreign organization, nor does it make any effort to improve the existing state of affairs of the minority community even in the name of human rights, which the ruling elite of India keeps on chanting at international forums. But the government of India should be aware that the Muslims being weak would be compelled to rise it self defence, for the defence of their faith, life and honour, and it will be their human right to do so.
India’s Muslims are as much the children of that land as others. They are there, because it is theirs by right. They need no one’s permission to call it theirs. Their blood too has enriched its soil and their sweat too has made it fertile. That is a right no one can snatch from them.
It is time that the enlightened among the Indians of all communities, but Hindus in particular, rose from their slumber. It is time that people all over the world, who believe in justice, come to the aid of these oppressed people. Left alone, it can only lead to bloodshed and inevitable disintegration of India. No soft talk can alter that reality. The law of nature respects no colours, not even saffron.