E.H Carr, well-known historian and philosopher, pointed out somewhere that even though the facts did not tell the whole story yet they are as important for writing as bricks are for a building. Facts are not enough to write a good analysis but undoubtedly necessary, which cannot be overlooked.
Yesterday, as I read ‘Are Umar Khalid, Safoora Zargar, Sharjeel Imam being groomed as netas by their opponents?’ by Abhijit Majumder, I wondered if the author has ever tried to look upon the meaning of ‘facts’ in his dictionary. There is no denying that in a society where ‘facts’ are being treated as ‘anti-nationals’ nobody cares for them ,so Majumder gets space at a reputed portal with all the factual errors in his piece.
Mr. Majumder has ‘analysed’ four people in the opinion piece, Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, and Shehla Rashid. Though the whole ‘analysis’ is a fig out of his imagination; in this piece, I will be concentrating upon his analysis of Sharjeel Imam in particular. My bias drives out of the factor that as the younger brother of Sharjeel, I know him the most.
Mr. Majumder, at the outset, has explicitly blamed Umar Khalid for raising the slogans “Bharat tere tukdey hongey..” and “Bharat teri barbaadi tak jung chalegi…” The author seems unaware of the ‘fact’ that the matter is still sub-judice and the authenticity of the videos are still questionable. At no point in the ‘analysis’ does he care to write ‘allegedly’ and deliver the judgement, much like many of TV anchors, that Khalid had actually committed a crime against the nation.
The author then moves on to Safoora Zargar, claiming that she was at the forefront of anti-CAA-NRC protests, which ‘immediately led’ to the rioting in Delhi. Mark Twain had advised somewhere that adjectives should not be used freely; Mr. Majumder should follow him.
What is immediately? According to the dictionary, ‘immediately’ means ‘without any intervening time’. Safoora was part of the protest which had started in mid-December, 2019. The riots broke out at the end of February 2020. The ‘intervening time’ is more than two months, which cannot be called ‘immediately’. It would have been correct to write that, “Speech of Kapil Mishra immediately led to the riots”, since rioting started just the next day after his infamous speech.
Mr. Majumder further claims that “the drivers of Hindutva engine”, (I believe he was talking about BJP and RSS), do not act out of emotions and are not known to commit mistakes. What should I say about it? Is he being a rational human being or a devout religious follower of a cult where BJP and RSS are infallible gods?
He wants us to believe that BJP does not, rather cannot, err and whatever happens, is a part of a ‘divine’ plan. It is too bad to even warrant criticism.
Mr. Majumder then went on to make another sweeping comment and I quote; “Muslim campus leaders like Umar, Sharjeel and Shehla Rashid have projected themselves as communists to acquire the academic veneer of ‘progressiveness’..” Since the piece has been published with the Firstpost, I wish that he had tried to read Sharjeel Imam’s articles published on the same portal.
The author should know that Sharjeel Imam has been one of the fiercest critics of left politics, Congress, and Westernization. Rather, there had been campaigns from the left-leaning groups to portray him as someone who is trying to weaken ‘a solidarity’ among ‘anti-BJP’ forces.
Sharjeel Imam took admission at JNU, in 2013, and initially worked with a few leftist groups but only to get disillusioned. In April, 2017, for the Firstpost he wrote, ‘JNU: Left-wing students shouldn’t act superior, Islamophobia is running rampant among them’ where Imam argued that Shehla Rashid, Ayesha Kidwai (then JNUTA President) and other leaders of AISA (the incumbent leftist party in JNU) were deeply Islamophobic. Not to mention that he faced a huge backlash from the leftists on a left dominated campus.
Within a month, Imam published an open letter with the Firstpost titled, JNU and the politics of alienation: On AISA that failed a Muslim comrade. Imam, citing his own personal experiences, pointed out that AISA, the incumbent leftist party on JNU campus, is deeply anti-Muslim, which uses Muslims only for political gains without any sincerity. In this letter, he publicly announced his decision of severing ties with the leftist groups.
Meanwhile, Imam wrote another article, Left-wing groups speak of women’s empowerment, but their politics are still dominated by men. In the article published with the Firstpost, he pointed out that the women empowerment of left parties is limited to the slogans and there was a negligible representation of women at the higher posts of the parties. He pointed out that Brinda Karat was the first woman in Politburo of CPI-M, appointed in 2005. Interestingly, her husband was the General Secretary at that time.
Within a week, another article was written by him for the Firstpost, In Bengal, Left parties’ secular ideology, posturing has done nothing for development of Muslims . Making use of the Sachar Committee Report and other empirical evidence, Imam pointed out that 34 years of left rule was actually one of the worst governments for Indian Muslims. Through the government policies, it was ensured that the Muslims in West Bengal remain backward.
In June 2017, Imam wrote another well-researched article for the Firstpost, Remembering 1980 Moradabad Muslim massacre: A harsh indictment of ‘secular’ and Left politics. Through his reading of the newspapers, police reports and oral traditions he brought out the fact how left-leaning journalists and scholars, including Romesh Thapar, blamed Muslims after police fired upon them indiscriminately killing hundreds.
In another article, which was not with the Firstpost, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and the de-Islamisation of a Muslim revolutionary, Imam argued that the left activists have tried to co-opt Faiz Ahmad Faiz as an atheist poet devoid of Islam, while his poems are full of Islamic imagery and could not be understood without understanding Quranic terminology.
All these articles made left parties uncomfortable and blamed him of being extremist and Islamist. Here, I would like to bring one more article with the Firstpost, In pre-Partition India, Muslims too celebrated Janmashtami: A look back at reverence for Krishna in works of Urdu poets. Imam, a keen scholar of Urdu literature as well, pointed out that how a devout Muslim poet like Hafeez Jalandhari could invoke devotion towards Lord Krishna as a hope to free India from the British rule.
The point I want to drive home is that the argument that Sharjeel Imam works in the garb of communism is completely baseless. In fact, he is one of the fiercest critics of the Indian left. Moreover, the argument that he is an extremist is also a fig of imagination. He is the one who respects all while practising his own faith.
Mr. Majumder went on to claim that Sharjeel Imam is ‘Asaduddin Owaisi 2.0 minus his intellect’. There is no parallel between Imam and Owaisi. They have hardly any political or ideological common ground. Further, what does he intend to say by ‘minus his intellect’?
For a matter of fact, Sharjeel Imam had secured All India Rank 225 in IIT-JEE and completed his B.Tech and M.Tech from IIT-Bombay in Computer Sciences, worked as a computer science researcher in Amsterdam and pursued M.A. M.Phil and PhD in Modern History at JNU. Does the author want to say that a lawyer’s (Owaisi in this case) intellect is more than Imam? If he wanted to claim this then he must put forward some concrete argument.
A famous Urdu poet Jaun Elia has written, “People who should read, have started writing.” Mr. Majumder fits the description.
(Author is the younger brother of Sharjeel Imam. A Masters in Journalism, he is into active politics in Bihar.)