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Was The Demolition Of Babri Masjid In 1992 The First Time When Indian Muslims Felt Unsafe?

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It is a historic fact that Indian Muslims have given to India, more than they can afford. At every step, they have not only risen, but also gone out of their way to protect themselves, their loved ones, and even their country and its Constitution. But with the foundation ceremony of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya and the anniversary of Kashmir’s lockdown, there has been visible hurt, discontent and discomfort that can be seen in many people, especially Muslims. We all know the importance that Babri Masjid holds in the hearts and minds of people, but one always wonders, especially at this time, is it just about the Babri Masjid? Or does the hurt and loneliness travel far and wide?

Muslims in India have always, at every step, felt like an outsider, as someone who was unwanted. At every point of their lives, they had to prove their patriotism — whether it was during an India-Pakistan match or something as simple as taking non-vegetarian food to school. The privilege of asking questions from the authority or showing dissent was never something that Muslims have enjoyed. Even after having half, if not the full, the share in the freedom struggle against the British, Muslims hold little to no power in the government or decision-making authorities.

The very India that Muslims are ready to give their lives for, has orphaned them. The way the majority oppresses the minority in India, the demolition of the Babri Masjid symbolises that; how minorities have to always bow down their head and accept whatever is given to them by the majority, the Babri Masjid demolition symbolises that; how one is made to feel an orphaned at their very home, the Babri Masjid demolition reminds us of that. The Babri masjid demolition represents every injustice that Muslims have faced over the years, on the very soil that they have given their lives for. It is Babri Masjid, but “not” just the Babri Masjid.

Muslims in India have always, at every step, felt like an outsider, as someone who was unwanted. At every point of their lives, they had to prove their patriotism — whether it was during an India-Pakistan match or something as simple as taking non-vegetarian food to school.

It is the feeling that an eight-year-old had when he was asked whether he was happy because Pakistan had won the match; it is the feeling that a 12-year-old girl had when she was asked to not bring non-vegetarian food to school even though it wasn’t mentioned anywhere; it is the feeling that a 16-year-old had when he was forced to sing Gayatri mantra in school assembly (there is no problem with Gayatri mantra, I just feel schools in India need to me more inclusive of other faiths); it is the feeling that an 18-year-old boy has when he is told to go to Pakistan; it is the feeling that a 21-year-old boy had when he was acquitted of fake terror charges; it is the feeling that a 25-year-old girl has when she steps out clad in her burkha; it is the feeling that a 28-year-old mother has when she doesn’t have the answer to her son’s questions; it is the feeling that a 28-year-old has when the interviewer makes a face on hearing his name; it is the feeling that a 60-year-old man has before going to the police when his home is looted; it is the feeling that Muslims have when someone calls them a terrorist.

Some Muslims find themselves inclined towards Pakistan, but the problem is not that. The problem is why they feel so. We don’t need to call that person out, but we must try to find the reason to why someone who has lived their entire life here feels more at home somewhere else, somewhere he hasn’t even visited?

The reason is simple if we look closely: if, at your place, you’re constantly reminded at every step of your Muslim identity and that you belong to Pakistan, and when you’re oppressed, you tend to incline towards anyone who is softer to you. When none of your sacrifices matter, you tend to turn away. It is very hard to love a place where a large of part of people are out to kill you, with full support. It is hard to love a place where the value for your life is less than zero.

Similarly, some non-Muslims also hate Muslims and would go to any extent to get them eliminated. We need to understand why. The reason is, again, simple if we look more closely. These people consider Muslims outsiders. They are taught so since they were young and now, this notion has made a safe place in their mind, such a safe place that it refuses to get out. They are made to believe that as India was devoured, India was meant for Hindus and Pakistan for Muslims. Their minds are crafted so well that they don’t step out of the circle of what they’ve been taught.

Some Muslims find themselves inclined towards Pakistan, but the problem is not that. The problem is why they feel so. Manish Rajput/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The common problem or the common reason for the existence of both of these issues is the lack of education. By education, I don’t mean holding a PhD degree. I mean the kind of education that forces you to make a change, an education that makes you ask questions, and finally, an education that enables you to change the lives of people.

The problem with many Indian Muslims is that they are quite behind in education. This, in turn, reduces their chances of holding any powerful position (not that you need education to hold power, but the fact that many poor Indian Muslims are busy ensuring their survival, that not enough importance is given to education). This further makes their representation in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha zero, and all of this chaos is because of poverty, because the cream layer of Muslims migrated to Pakistan in 1947. This is a void that even if Muslims tried to fill, non-Muslims didn’t let them, and now, they tell them that their religion is in danger and they need to protect it.

Same is the case with Hindus — they tell them that Muslims are outsiders, and attempt to snatch away what is rightfully theirs. Another common theory that is taught to people is the theory of ‘us and them’, and that this us need to do all they can to fight them. This is just a glimpse of what happens, but you understand the bigger picture and the path through which hate is instilled in both the communities.

The definition of secularism, which these so-called secular parties of India hold, is really messed up. No one community is better, it’s just that some are ahead while others are behind. Some follow soft Hindutva while others follow hard-core Hindutva. Nothing is different.

It’s high time we denounce these political parties, make a new political system that doesn’t have people from shakhas and affluent families. Instead, the political system should have people from reputed colleges, people who are educated and tolerant, and can reclaim India. It’s high time that Muslims and Hindus understand that they are one and keep aside the hate.

I hope this India gets successful in making Muslims feel at home and not end up making them orphans here. Tomorrow, these political parties that are making us fight won’t come when we are in trouble, but your neighbour, be it Salma or Prabha, will surely come to your rescue.

Embrace what India is and what it stands for. A long way to go, but the path is beautiful.

Fight on, spread love.

Until next time.

Is it just the Babri masjid? No, the pain travels far and wide.

P.S. Babri was, is and will be alive.

The tombs of Babri will face the fall of tyrants.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

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.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

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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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

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.

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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