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As A Muslim, My Community’s Marginalisation Makes Me Feel Meaningless And Overwhelmed

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At a time when every second person in the nook and corner of India talks about how democratic India has become, the reality hits me hard. In this period of immense modernisation, the fact which pulls no punches is that a community which has a considerable population in India seems to be marginalised with every passing day.

The socio-political plight of the minorities in India has always been a matter of debate. Muslims here are on the verge of figuring out the riddles of religion and modernity, difference and democracy, development and peace.

A very recent example of a patriarchal and casteist society is the statement given by the chief minister of Haryana, where he totters and creates chaos by his words. Our society has always been in the midst a cruel and patriarchal row – and now this incident has proved Haryana to be the most brutish one.

CM Khattar said that namaz should only be offered in mosques or idgahs. This statement clearly shows him talking like the members of some of the extremist organisations or groups like the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, an umbrella organisation for Hindu outfits.

This particular group of thugs has been disrupting the namaz for weeks in Gurgaon. These men are demanding that the offering of namaz should not be permitted in any Hindu society, neighbourhood or sector. Permission should only be given in areas where 50% of the population consist of Muslims. Isn’t this sadistic?

When we talk about democratic India, its citizens and their rights, why do we allow the presence of minorities in these discussions? Now, there are two apt questions which can be posed – why don’t we have a Muslim leadership in India, and why aren’t social reforms made for minorities to help them grow and get better?

In my knowledge, to any extent, when a social reform is made, it ultimately becomes a political agenda which does not reform the life of a single Muslim. However, it never fails to create widespread destruction. The critical issue is that we need to have a leadership which has the ability to focus on matters which are beyond faith and religion – and also, at the same time, persuade the people to follow their customs as per their choice.

Coming back to what the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti has done to those Muslims who were offering namaz, I would ask them a simple question. Why can’t we talk about the Kanwariya Yatra which creates a ruckus every year? Knowing that Muslims have been offering namaz for years, why has it only suddenly become a problem for them?

Let’s go back two years to 2016, when Jain seer Tarun Sagar spent 40 minutes in the Haryana state assembly, stark naked. If that is supposed to be considered as a religious freedom afforded to Indians, how can peaceful prayers cause any interference?

The Muslim community has often been reduced to a mere vote bank. Being a Muslim and a media student, the following analysis frightens me: the outright ruination of Muslims isn’t far, and they will be completely marginalised and polarised along communal and political lines.

Coming back to the demands made by the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, CM Khattar has given an open validation of their aims. If a Hindu-majority area has a few Muslims living in it, it will persuade the Muslims to hide – and eventually, probably ‘convince’ them to leave their homes and the society. This is not an isolated situation though – Muslims in India are continuously facing hate crimes and lynchings, from the Kasganj riots to Muslims being killed by the so-called cow vigilantes in different parts of India.

Now, what makes me fear this country of hooligans is the fact that the destructive groups like the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh are widely supported. Furthermore, when the six men who disrupted the namaz were arrested, the latter came out on the roads and started a procession demanding their release and a ban on namaz in public places. Such processions by thugs have been so rampant that not only Muslims but a vast majority of the common people in India now feel vulnerable out of the fear of destruction.

The unprecedented marginalisation of my community makes me feel meaningless and overwhelmed. Can’t Muslims only be as citizens of this country? Can’t they live only with the simple idea of following their faith? Can we not live in our own country the way we want?

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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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.

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