It’s unbelievable to what extent the top legislators of our governmental machinery can get it wrong, and even, more vacuously, play it wrong. Perhaps the union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde had intended to sound the right bytes when he sent off the ill-composed letter to the chief ministers, directing them to ensure that no innocent Muslim youth be wrongfully detained in terror cases. But unfortunately, the tone of the missive is horribly out of sync and plays flagrantly into the hands of those who want to rake up the communal card at the slightest pretext. While no one can deny that Muslim youths do face unimaginable prejudices and terrible discrimination when it comes to being policed for their religious denomination, names or language, Shinde’s phrasing of the situation in his directive to the CMs was ill-advised to lay the least, and in poor taste to say the least. Naturally, a cabinet minister of Shinde’s stature should keep in mind that any out of place mention of religion when it comes to terror-related cases and the delicate issue of national security is bound to rake up a communal storm. This is especially true in the context of a country grappling with the aftermath of a massive communal riot that was perhaps orchestrated in all likelihood, or was at least blown out of proportion by frenzied zealots and their rhetoric of religious fanaticism.
So, while Shinde’s directive saying that he wanted strict action against police officers indulging in ‘mala fide’ arrests, detention and torture of Muslim youths comes in the right spirit, it is poorly constructed because it leaves out youth from other religious beliefs or even other minority populations. Hence, even though the ground realities point towards an utterly skewed attitude Muslim youths in the manner of policing, surveillance and enforcement of national security measures, the nature of intervention displayed by Shinde bespeaks a stark imbalance at best and a naked wielding of the instrument of minority appeasement at worst. Hence, all the good intentions behind the order are likely to be washed away by the deluge of accusations, and not unjustified as well, saying that the home minister, and his government, the Congress-led UPA, are trying to play the secular card, yet also dividing the country along communal lines. It’s a pity that Shinde’s salvo aimed at terror camps and political factions maneuvering riots alike has fallen apart because it was phrased so shoddily.