Will real indian muslim stand up?
I clearly recount an unbearably hot summer afternoon in the Capital, when my former boss saw something on her computer screen which made her hop and walk up to my cubicle – this was rare as she never left her bastion. She screamed, ‘Why do you people do this to us?’ I was stunned. ‘Ma’am what are you talking about?’ pat came my reply.
She referred to a bomb blast which had taken place in India. So much for the talks of a pseudo-liberal majoritarian sentiment being coloured by highly energised emotions of a nervous woman. I simply told her not to slate ‘us’ as those ‘people’ and terrorists, in general, should not be associated to a religion. She walked off in a huff and went back to playing farmville on Facebook (I could see the updates of her farm prospering in the next few seconds on my Facebook page as she sowed cabbage seeds in it). I was disturbed and tried to understand her outrage, but the mere idea of ridiculing and attacking you for your identity is intolerable.
But now with India’s skyline laced with the slogan of acche din visiting us, should the average Muslim in the country be celebrating with promises of good governance and growth or should they shut themselves in a shell and seal their mouths? I think the latter is the option when cases like the murder of a young boy in Pune, glaringly stare us in the face.
The brutal murder of Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh last week, allegedly by members of Hindu Rashtra Sena, has come as a shocker to similar youngsters living across the country. According to reports, Shaikh, a 28-year-old IT manager was targeted in Hadapsar by the hate mob as he stood out in his beard, skull cap and pathani suit. Errrrr... so do I fear covering my head and looking like a Muslim? Next in line who have posts which attract the wrath of crazy fanatics and be brutally murdered? The mere thought is scary.
I agree to the arguments by detractors who condemn this killing but position themselves to the extreme right, saying that Islam should allow criticism as well. Their favourite and repetitive example being Salman Rushdie. But when things cross the boundary of drawing room discussions and lead to a gruesome murder on the street, every kind of argument ends right there.
Even as the voices of dissent from the liberal majoritarian lot emerge, you have a section lauding the unacceptable and brutal act. Slogans like ‘One wicket down’ just mirror that blind hatred which exists in a niche segment but is propelled nationally. I have a grave reservation for any sort of radical ideas which promulgated by the majoritarian or minority (not even that now) lot. But when I, as an educated Muslim, who stands at par with many from other communities, is slated as a hardliner questioning the existing dynamics, just because I do not fall for the reservation crumbs thrown by the so-called secular United Progressive Alliance government or the divisive regime, I refuse to bow down to pre-conceived notions being hurled at me.
There are many like me, who question dynamics of the existing structures within the religion as well its perception from the outside. But is it a crime now in a so-called multi-cultural/ethnic/religious/lingual country to allow an expression of thought which is free from gruelling biases? Let us just be! We are born here and like you all (the ‘majoritarian’ lot) have the right to live in peace.
This incident just pushes the community right back into a dark deep cave. One fears speaking. One fears presenting themselves as a Muslim. Reportedly after the Pune incident, many Muslim boys shaved their beards and stopped wearing pathani suits. They instead chose a safer option of pants/jeans. What does one do? Live in fear then? Do not voice opinion on a social networking website or what? You are dead. Bizarre! What does an average Indian do in such a case – simple, ‘pity’ the ‘petty’ ‘puppy’.
The newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday addressed this issue in Parliament as well. Clubbing it with incidents like the Badaun rape-murders and the Manali tragedy, had caused him pain. ‘In the last few days, there have been incidents, (irrespective of) whether we are in power or not, that have caused a lot of pain,’ he said in Lok Sabha.
‘Whether it is the Pune killing, or the killings in UP, the drowning of students in Manali, the rapes of our sisters... all these incidents must provoke us to look inwards and seek answers,’ he added.
I am glad he at least brought up the issue at this forum, as the brutality of the Pune techie’s murder although can’t be compared to the other incidents which are grave as well, but a murder and hate crime like the other two cases is simply intolerable.
Lastly, I would want to ask my reader, whatever said and done, does writing something on social media justify brutally killing someone? Have some guts and debate instead! Tear apart your opponents with words rather than resort to weak and callous methods like murder. But what do I say, with a community stated to be like ‘puppies’, I am hoping that the achee din aa gaye hai slogan translates into reality for the average Indian Muslim as well.
The author is special correspondent at Millennium Post