At a time when every second person in every 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 constitutes a majority of the population in India seems to be marginalising others, with every passing day.
The socio-political scenario for the minorities in India has always been in question. 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 our 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 cruel and patriarchal – and now, this incident has proven Haryana to be one of the more brutish places.
CM Khattar said that namaz should only be offered in mosques or idgahs. The statement clearly portrays him talking and taking the side of the members of some fringe groups like the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, an umbrella organisation for Hindu outfits.
This particular group of thugs has been disrupting namaz at various places in Gurgaon for some time now. These people are demanding that the offering of namaz in any Hindu society, neighbourhood or sectors should not be permitted. The permission should only be given in areas where there is a 50% population of Muslims. Isn’t this sadistic?
When we talk about democratic India, its citizens and their rights, why do we not permit people from the minorities within the discussion? Now, there are two apt questions which can be asked:
1. Why don’t we have a substantial Muslim leadership in India?
2. Why aren’t social reforms made for the minorities to help them live and grow better?
In my knowledge, to any extent, when a social reform is made, it ultimately becomes a political agenda which does not actually reform the life of a single person it’s intended to. However, it never fails to create widespread destruction. The critical issue is that we need to have such leaders who totally have the ability to focus on matters which are beyond faith and religion, but at the same time also persuade the people to follow the reforms seriously.
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 for everybody? And while they have known that Muslims have been offering namaz for years, why has it become a sudden problem for them?
Let’s go back two years to 2016, when Jain seer Tarun Sagar spent 40 minutes in the Haryana assembly – in the nude. If that’s ought to be considered as ‘religious freedom’ afforded to Indians, how can offering peaceful prayers and namaz not be accorded the same freedom?
The Muslim community is often represented by such leaderships that use them as vote banks, or resort to attractive ‘minority-ism’ in the name of the Indian Constitution. Being a Muslim and a media student, the following predictive analysis frightens me – that the outright ruination isn’t far when the Muslims of India will be completely marginalised along communal lines and politics.
Coming back to the demands made by the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, CM Khattar has given an open validation to their aim. If a Hindu-majority area has a few Muslims living in it, it will persuade them into hiding themselves – and possibly, eventually leaving their societies and homes. This is not an isolated situation though – Muslims in India are continuously facing hate crimes and lynchings. Some of these are:
1. The Kasganj riot where two groups fought over flag-waving. Before this situation could be controlled, a masjid was demolished.
2. Muslims being killed by the so-called ‘cow vigilantes’ in different parts of India and hate crimes like mob-lynching have become rampant. Some of the victims are Pehlu Khan (Rajasthan, April 2017), Junaid Khan (June 2017), Anwar Hussain and Hafizul Sheikh (August 2017, Bengal) and Mohammad Afrazul (December 2017).
Now, what makes me fearful of this country of hooligans is the fact that the destructive groups like Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh are supported. In this case, when the six men who disrupted the namaz were arrested, the latter came out on the roads and began a procession to demand their release and ask for a ban on namaz in public places. Such processions by thugs have become so rampant that not only Muslims but people from other communities also feel vulnerable out of the fear of destruction and of losing their lives.
The unprecedented marginalisation of my community makes me feel meaningless and tends to overwhelm me at present. Can’t Muslims just live as India’s citizens with the simple ideas of their ‘Muslim-ness’? This is not about making demands but a plea to allow us to appear as Muslims in a country of their own and live the way they want.
Featured image used for representative purposes only.