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‘Forced To Become Muslim’: Thank You PM Modi For Resolving My Complex Identity Issues

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By Shehla Rashid Shora:

I would like to congratulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi for completing one year in office. I would also like to thank him for resolving my complex identity issues in just one year. For the past several years I have been straddling numerous identities, partly in my own search for political clarity. It has been one year since Narendra Modi took over as a Prime Minister of India and people have already started evaluating his achievements. I will leave untouched for now, the question of what he has or hasn’t achieved, but would like to highlight the foremost achievement for which he, along with his ministers, deserves ample credit. In span of merely one year, Modi has forcefully converted countless secular, free thinking Muslims, to Islam.

Photo Credit
Photo Credit

Before I begin to explain what I mean by this I would like to point out that Indian Muslims are nearly the only political community in India who are secular. I need only point out to the most important example to illustrate my point. Any psephologist will testify to the fact that caste-based identity politics is getting strengthened in India. Political parties consciously field candidates belonging to the dominant caste in a given constituency. For all his claims of non-sectarian politics, Arvind Kejriwal explicitly invoked his caste status as a baniya ahead of his massive victory in the Delhi Assembly elections of 2015, as did Narendra Modi by laying claim to the OBC status. In a recent TV show by Ravish Kumar in western U.P., the respondents had no qualms in admitting their preference for candidates of their caste. In the progressive circles of Indian intelligentsia, the development of Dalit politics is broadly seen as a positive development, and rightly so in my opinion. Late Prof. Rajni Kothari had a positive appraisal of caste as a force of mobilization in democratic politics. I think that I have made my point clear. One cannot think of Muslim identity politics in the same manner in India today. In fact, the very use of the M-word is not a very Kosher choice of terminology (imagine the use of the word Halaal in place of Kosher, for instance!).

The immediate retort to my argument will be the imagined “appeasement” of Indian Muslims by the Congress. Without entering into a debate about the material reality of this so-called appeasement, I would like to emphasize the larger point that whether Muslims have traditionally voted for Congress or, more recently, for the Aam Aadmi Party, we have never had adequate representation in the Parliament. The current ruling party does not have a single elected Muslim representative in the Parliament. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar had strongly emphasized the importance of self-representation of Dalits and Muslims in decision-making bodies including the Cabinet. Even the promises of reservation for Muslims by certain parties have fallen flat on their face and, at some level, we always knew that these claims are fake. The only material difference that the claims of so-called secular parties have made to the situation of Muslims is that it has earned them the notoriety of being a pampered lot, thanks to the relentless false propaganda of some imagined “Muslim appeasement” by RSS. While the myth of a Muslim ‘vote-bank’ has been successfully passed off, nobody would bother to talk about the baniya vote-bank or the Jat vote-bank. In the Lok Sabha election of 2014, in which BJP and RSS consciously united the Hindu vote (asli Hindu) for Modi, nobody spoke of a Hindu vote-bank.

Were Indian Muslims not secular, there would have been many more of us in the legislatures. Having said that, the image of a ‘secular Muslim’ is not politically beneficial for anyone: we have Chetan Bhagat and Yogendra Yadav alike lecturing us on how to look for a “new leadership”- as if we have a leadership of our own in the first place. Even when these so-called intellectuals appeal to us to be non-sectarian, they address us in the collective, blissfully unaware of the diverse voting patterns, political ideologies, class positions and caste statuses that divide the Indian Muslims electorally. However, none of the politicians has been as successful as Mr. Narendra Modi in bracketing us into one single identity. Numerous Muslim youth who would otherwise refuse to base their primary political identity on their religion have been forced to identify as nothing but Muslims.

Famous French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre in his book Anti-Semite and Jew famously said, “The anti-Semite creates the Jew”. On the 16th of May, 2014 when Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, I felt betrayed. Not so much as a feminist outraged about the rapes of women in Gujarat in 2002. Not so much as a socialist worried about the ensuing capitalist hegemony, but primarily as a Muslim who had faith in Indian secularism. On the same day, the Supreme Court of India acquitted all the accused in the Akshardham Temple attack case, all of them Muslims of course, at the same time slamming Narendra Modi and the Gujarat police for falsely framing them in the case. Not only did it not make news, a bus carrying student protesters to the Gujarat Bhawan in New Delhi was abducted by the police and manhandled! As if these events were an indication of what was to follow.

And the new Prime Minister did not disappoint me one bit. In fact I was surprised by the remarkable swiftness with which the communal agenda was unleashed, that too with acquiescence of large sections of the society and the media. In the semester that followed I took a course on Minorities, as part of which we were asked to maintain a news collage related to minorities. I had long stopped subscribing to newspapers for the gory start that they give to my day. However for this particular course I started subscribing to two leading English national dailies. These were the months of by-elections in certain constituencies and what I discovered to my utter surprise was the active collaboration of Indian media in creating the twin myths of love-jehad and a predatory Muslim male, committed to nothing but increasing the Muslim population! That was until the complainant in the so-called Meerut gang rape and love-jihad case spoke out against her forced involvement and the false charges that she was made to level against her lover. It was only after the news of her family having received money from the BJP surfaced that the media decided to give it a rest.

I have been politically active for some time and have seen horrible cases of rape, exploitation, murder and riots being blacked out by the media and there was no way, logically, that love jihad should have been on the front pages of national dailies for three long months, especially when, during the same period, the Supreme Court of India had slammed right-wing groups for dividing the society on the basis of unsubstantiated claims of forced conversion of Hindu girls. Obviously, this latter part was not deemed good enough by our media to be reported. It is impossible in the first place for a primarily unsubstantiated news, to capture front page space for months without the collusion of the government and the media owners.

In the months that followed we heard cabinet ministers calling minorities “haraamzade” (bastards), proposing to declare Gita as the national book, cancelling the religious holidays of minorities, and what not. Open calls to turn India into a Hindu rashtra, blatant attempts to remove the words “secular and socialist” from the Constitution and to install statues of Nathuram Godse in temples and public spaces followed, but did not seem unusual- signalling the death of the secular streak that used to be outraged. Now there is too much to outrage about and very little reaction time. But every single time, I have been forced to respond as a Muslim. In that sense, I am a ‘Sartrean Muslim’, created by the anti-Muslim!

My only hope lies in the fact that Modi has not discriminated among the oppressed. Changes to the Land Acquisition Bill, easing of restrictions on child labour, massive cuts in public sector jobs and spending on health and education, marathon demolitions of urban slums inhabited by lower caste, working class Hindus and Muslims, desecration of churches, all-out attacks on environmental activists, imposition of upper caste hegemony on food habits – these are only a handful of “achievements” of the Modi government, not to mention the complete failure of the promise of development and return of black money. The only class of people that Modi has actually befitted is the 1% rich corporates. I would like to identify with the other 99%. My hope lies in the 69% who did not vote for Modi and in the new recruits to this 69% that Modi has managed to earn through his policies- a glimpse of which was seen in the Delhi elections.

 

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  1. Mujeeb Lone

    Unbelievable very good.

  2. Kartikeya

    Just saying, there was one elected ‘MUSLIM’ minister but since he was involved in a controversy, he was removed.
    Another thing, Najma Heptullah, a muslim, is a minister in the Modi govt, though she wasn’t elected from any constituency.
    Also, your claim that Indian Muslims are nearly the only political community in India who are secular is not only laughable but stupid. The political parties in India, especially Congress has played the muslim vote bank card in almost every election.
    About black money, a bill has just been passed, we may want to give him some time before calling it a failure. It’s just been a year that he has been in office.
    About the attacks on churches, it’s been proved that they were just like any other attacks and not an attack on the Christian community. Please do a fact check.
    I had heard about JNU students being leftist and anti-modi but don’t be so biased when your’re writing a article, if you wish to be a journalist, that is.

    1. Guneet Narula

      – TWO ministers. Oh my god.
      – All parties play that card, but the perception that all ‘Muslims’ of any region are a single vote bank, or one single homogenous identity is not only laughable but supremely stupid as well.
      – Black money bill is a stunt.. of course the foreign wealth of the Indian upper class needs to be taxed, but this advertising that the rest are going to gain something is a shitty lie. The top brass of the ruling elite will benefit, if at all.
      – How has it been proved that the attacks were just a coincidence? And who proved it? The Christian community recognizes them as an attack on their identity and religion, does that not matter?

  3. nishil

    This is one of the most immature write up I have read in a long time.The reasons given are absolutely ludicrous.

  4. adi

    another senseless mulla crap

  5. Faiyaz

    Dil ki baat keh di aapne …. Sharing

  6. Piyush Aswani

    What BS is this. I think the media that you consume is different from the media I consume.

    I mean come on; social security, power increase, big international MoUs; Why does no one seems to talk about that?

    I think you need to get out of your swanky college and get some reality check. The reality that exists on the grass roots. I mean for 24 years I have been waiting to get a road build here at my village; and if you will see the speed of work you will be surprised. Yes, surprised. Not lightly surprised, like a big massive blow of surprise on your face.

    Also, the state parties are working their asses off to compete with Modi l, which btw is the most ideal condition of democracy.

    Muslims have been voting as a combined vote bank for as long as I can remember. Yes I do agree that the voting patterns change as the social and economic demographics change but the change is unaccountable to say the least.

    What I do agree on is thay Muslims do need more representatives in the gov. But here’s the thing, that has to work both ways. Muslims too have to come out and claim their place.

    1. Robby chugh

      Bhai what can u expect from 1 muslim. this article is enough evidence that they dont want development or at least look for development. Their brain limit is restricted to religion only. what to expect from the follower of a book which says everything is haram outside this book.

    2. Khizar

      I guess u havnt gone through our Quran please refer it 1st you will then know which are those things which are restricted and which are not.

  7. Kiran Raj Pattathil

    //I would like to point out that Indian Muslims are nearly the only political community in India who are secular//

    I am from Malappuram district in Kerala (66% Muslims). We’ve never had a non-muslim MP or MLA. Even the CPI(M) fields only Muslim candidates. It’s not like I have any problem with that or anything, but your observation is pathetic. Just like any other community in India, muslims too vote only for their caste. Please read more newspapers. Every muslim majority constituency in India has a muslim representative.

  8. Robby chugh

    Hahaha muslims and secular what a joke ???? From being born till death u follow only ur book and rest everyone is haram how can that community be secular. Why do u call urself even a minority???just to get minorities benefits. 20 crore people aren’t minority. Why dont u learn from the real minorities of the country like Sikhs buddhs parsis. They are well off people. Why dont u teach science and maths to ur prople instead reciting them quran which u dont even understand. u only want more masjids to open not more schools for muslims. A muslim will hardly vote for a good hindu instead will vote for a bad muslim. Can give u 100 of examples. JNU hates modi thats evident but wroting stupid articles like this aint gonna make ur point.

    1. Khizar

      Mr. Robby I think u need to correct ur self we as MUSLIMS UNDERSTAND THE HOLY QURAN n read it understanding the meaning. Quran itself is our science n maths it teaches us of being a good human.

      I would request u to give me 100 of examples. As u have mentioned in ur comment.
      Will wait for ur reply .

  9. abdul ghani faiyyaz

    Masha allah…well stated facts

  10. shashwat

    It is ironic that you still stereotype Narendra modi as a sole responsible evil for 2002. It was the congress leader bilal who lead the procession and what happened to train coach filled with swayem sewaks is well known. You have yet again played the game showing Indian muslims as the only victims. I doubt you understand your own religion and what islamic fanatics are capable of. You forget to blame kashmiri muslims who demand kashmir and self proclaim it as a land allah on predicate of religious majority. You forget to mention the victims parangas 24 west bengal. If you are so open towards inter-religion marriage which you definetly are. I propose you to marry me and you can remain a muslim. But when a muslim marries a hindu women why is it that he cannot convert to a hindu? Show me any case where it might have had happened. Please its a request, just because you have problems with modi and have stereotyped him as anti-muslims, i can go a little more to past and remember aurangzeb, and thank him to unite us as a hindu. We are thr most tolerant religion in yhe world. You call yourself secular. Yes may be but the ones that are given islamic talim are not. Because it does not teach tolerance. Look into the situations of minorities in pakistan, bangladesh. And please make sure that you refrain from hyping. You are vote bank and you all vote as one. It is worthy and easily discernible when you look into the support akhbaruddin receive from the so called secular Indian muslims. If you are done with all the evil spitting. And proving yourself just a fanatic anti-modi. Who cannot look forward to his policies. Who just want her fellow muslims to slay themselves into loaths of centuries back teachings and remain uneducated and socially outlied. Go and make sure you understand and analyse things better. It is not just rhetoric that will work against modi. It will require yet another intifada from your fellow people like you did in 1990 january where your likes raped and touchered the KPs as if you afe bestowed to do so to other religions. It is well known fact that there is exists no muslim country which is democratic and where people of other faiths can live freely. Stop crying you people are most happiest muslims ever existed on this earth.

  11. Abhi

    Religion should not even be considered in the government in the first place.

  12. Shreya

    Your opinion is biased with no real facts. And the media that you are calling biased is the same media that highlighted the issue of ghar-wapsi and love-jihad etc. Every Indian community is secular.But, their are radicals elements in every community but at large Hindu, Musilm, Jat or Sikh, all Indian communities are secular. We don’t have a Pakistan problem, minority completely chased out or anything of that sort. Our religious intolerance is moderate and that is okay. I will like to add, the fact that even after 70 years of independence we have not had an huge exodus of the any minority except in Kashmir which we of course fail to notice which just sad, shows that unity in diversity is what India represents and will continue to.

  13. anoop

    Your writeup is valid but not entirely convincing. Probably because we are fed into this stereotyping by media and the parties. One thing is 100% sure. The communal agenda is a top priority and they (Sangh Parivar which includes BJP) is systematically pursuing it ..see the pattern 1. Attack everything related to a minority religion. 2. Evade the issue when there is an outrage 3. Silence as a policy when asked for response from our most eloquent PM.
    Thus we have bigots calling minorities as haraamzaade, Mohan Bhagwat directly attacking Mother Teresa, propaganda about lovejihad, active pursuit of Hindu religious votebank creation and consolidation by cow slaughter ban etc.
    How do they blunt the left socialist democratic pluralistic ideology based parties, simple by overhyping and clever packaging of development. Most of the policies they follow are UPAs continuation. Most bills were pending from UPA time, which they opposed then but pursuing with vigour now. If we call them hypocrites it won’t hurt them. Thick Hide. Development mantra simple. ..corporate raj. UPA=NDA.
    Now coming to identity politics, your observation may or maynot be true that Muslims are no votebank but common perception is different. The benefit of doubt is that in North there are several socialist parties to whom Muslim votes maybe divided. In our state Kerala, Muslim League holds a definitive connect with majority of Muslim community votein the northern region, but coming to southern parts of Kerala the picture is different.
    You had mentioned about YY asking Muslims to find new leadership. I support that. But not for political reasons. We need to see some figures who can change the perception of Muslims and work for issues of priority.
    identity politics based on communal divisions is the most dangerous thing. minority politics and majority politics eats off each other’s tails.

  14. najma

    Comment * BJP KA GIFT MUSALMANO KE LIYE.

    1) Naukri aur Education me 5% Reservation cancel.

    2) Beef Band (10 Lakh se zyada musalman
    berozgaar)

    3) Zabardasti dharam parivartan (Ghar wapsi)

    4) Hindu mohallo me musalmano ko ghar nahi.

    5) Sarkari Naukri muasalmano ko nahi.

    6) Musalmano ka voting Right chheenne ki
    koshish.

    7) Musalmano ki jabran Nasbandi.

    8) Masjido Par hamle.

    9) Musalmano par aur unke gharo par hamle.

    10) Muslim aurto aur ladkiyo ke saath Zaleel
    harkate.

    11) School, College, Bus, Train har jagah Tassub.

    12) Pakistan bhagane ki dhamki.

    13) Musalmano par zulm hone par. Kisi bhi news me koi khabar nahi.

    14) BJP ki sarkar me abtak Poore Hindustan me
    600 se zyada dange. (har dange Muslim mohallo
    me)

    15) Har dange ke Mulzim musalman (Dange karne
    wale, RSS, wishva hindu parishad, Bajrang dal,
    Shivsena Deshbhakt)

    16) Jurm koi bhi kare Case sirf musalmano par.

    17) Hindu bam ke saath pakda jaye to woh
    begunah” aur musalman Doctor ho ya engineer ho
    par sirf Shak ki buniyad par Atankwadi.

    18) Jain, Gujarati mohallo me Makan dukan Lene ki
    ijazat nahi.

    19) Azaane band

    20) Masjide Sarkari Naqsho se gayeb

    21) Gujrat Dango ke aaropi ba izzat bari aur unko Promotion.

    22) Taj mahal ko mandir banane ki sazish

    & Continues…

    Bus Karo Modi ji

    Na tumhara saath chahiye na tumhara vikas chahiye.

    Hame apne Haal par chhod do,
    Kyonke jab se aapki sarkar bani hai, Musalman, Christian, Panjabi, Kisan, businessmen Sab
    Pareshan hai.
    Plz yeh message har kisi ke saath share kijiye.

    Jabtak ham aawaz nahi uthayege Tab tak hamare haalat nahi badlege………..

    1. raj

      you always blame Narendra Modi but have you seen that he has done that or the other minister are ding under the name of Narendra , modi
      see as you are on other side so you always feel that opposite person is doing is wrong why Don’t you see in Hindu who are in Open
      Cast also facing same problem there is only Benefit for Shedule cast & Back word class people who born in that cast so people in hindu are also
      poor but they don’t CRY like you that Education me 5% Reservation if you study hard & get good % no one will have guts to stop your admission
      or beg for Reservation work hard so that no one can stop you in getting what you want , & about Zabardasti dharam parivartan
      see it is not compulsary who had done with minority it is only the Hindu who has gone into Praise the Lord ( Christan) for small
      amout of money because they have took advantage of hindu being poor thye know that they can’t convert muslim in Christan
      so they are making Hindu christan by giving them Monthly Rice & Wheat food & convert them to christan

    2. Srinivas

      How much lies can you spit out? Amazing

  15. Shriya

    I stopped reading after this
    //I would like to point out that Indian Muslims are nearly the only political community in India who are secular//
    LOL You cant expect any better from an AISA member a dumb COMMUNIST

    1. anoop T

      i loved to read the insight of a muslim,what they are and what they think they are

  16. Alax

    There’s a weird tendency of the left/communists. All religions are good, except the majority in their country.
    The lefties in U.S. are against evangelists, whom Indian lefties will lay down their lives for.
    The left in Pakistan glorifies Hinduism for its inclusiveness (from exile)
    and for Indian left, “saffron terror” is the biggest threat. This leads them down weird paths,
    where they end up fighting for the extremists who hate them

  17. anoop T

    muslim and secularism are completely 2 mutually exclusive events,i thank gods that apj abdul kalam sir never went to a madrassa and instead he studied in a good school and yeah he was secular not because he was muslim its because he was born and brought up in tamil nadu or else he would also have been one among u just like u people create ur own group were ever u go ,u people can vote for a bad muslim than vote a good hindu,and i liked how destroyed u were when modi became PM its a fact that burnol company reaped large profits in muslim localities after the elections of 2014,u know what a good thing about modi is after he became PM wheteher he done good or not i am not fully educated about it in detail but i can say this with confidence atleast 25 % hindus have united just because we are hindus and no one can take away our rights and give it to some muslims because they were are and will always be vote bank as u people have always listened to some mullah or imams mostly and thanks to show ur true colours because thats what u were from the day u were born only because india is already diverse u people were forced to wear ur mask,so good luck lead ur pathetic muslim way of living,i can say one thing any other religion excluding islam can live together in harmony,when u people come the problem starts its not just in india u can search every other country were muslims are minority,u people boast a lot on genetics and all that bullshit ur zakir naik taught you but when u get ur ass kicked u cry like babies ,remain happy with your muslim brothers and sisters

  18. Inner Peace

    Well its a nice title but a little misleading as well. It specifically Targets our PM no doubt people have this habit. But I still don't understand your hate with him.Its like I'm a Hindu because 800 years of Muslim tyranny in our country and pseudo secular and leftist forced me to be a Hindu, are you even serious

  19. Lokesh

    ‘Forced To Become Muslim’

    YES, but not now, 1000s of years ago by the barbaric Muslim invaders 🙂

    You are trying to make the argument that you have become more Muslim now. Aren’t you the one who wrote about scientific miracles in quran few years ago?

  20. Syed Husssain

    Excellent write up.Everything she has mentioned in her writing is based on facts.My those friends who are criticising her has no genuine basis for that.Criticism for criticism sake doesn’t make any sense for the benefit of the country.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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