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Opinion: On Aryan Khan’s Arrest, His Muslim Identity And Living In Post-2014 India

The slugfest underway amidst Aryan Khan’s arrest in a drug-related case has elicited a spectrum of feelings from people throughout India and has been a subject of chronic drama and escalating brouhaha.

Satire and jokes, sadness and empathy aplenty for the Khan family; yet, let us not forget the case for what it is, shrouded underneath the disenchantment of the drugs case.

Shah Rukh Khan has been vocal about the rising Islamophobia in the country.

Why Is Aryan Khan Being Targetted?

I am of the opinion that it is happening because the person in question belongs to a community that is despised and reviled by certain factions in India.

Let’s stop twisting the narrative to make it anything other than what it is: a Muslim man being targeted because of his identity. Let’s put a halt to the charade and label the problem as what it is.

Shah Rukh Khan has consistently been at the forefront of condemning rising Islamophobia in India. His immaculate brilliance has captivated the eyes of billions, his international stardom bears a voice that the world respects and listens to, and using that he has frequently pointed out the burgeoning religious intolerance through his movies. Shahrukh Khan has always emphasized deepening societal divisiveness in our country.

As a consequence, it comes to reason that they would come for him – and his son and they did. As if to demonstrate, unless you do not adhere to the government’s notions, you will be scraped, grilled, and made a spectacle of. Inordinate polarisation and politicized targeting have remained a source of concern in India for a while now.

Prosecutions are spurious and serve no purpose except to coerce individuals to comply.

If a celebrity of Khan’s prominence can be so easily hauled into this, then imagine the plight of an ordinary citizen, a common Muslim man, is no battle against the state’s oppressive savagery.

Religious fundamentalists have used political allegiance as a weapon throughout history, and the reigning BJP is following suit this time. To deny that it isn’t a propaganda war would be walking a belligerent path of disservice to one’s conscience.

Persecution of Muslim minority over trivial matters is a major issue for a country like ours, which prides itself on being a secular republic. When news as big as the seizure of 3000 kg fails to captivate media attention, then matters as heavily publicized as above only reinforce the flagrant stigmatization of Muslims in India.

Even a nuanced kid would tell apart the difference between 3000kg of heroin worth 21000 crores vs 6 grams of charas. These 21000 crore rupees can potentially destabilize the entire Indian economy and probably costs more than the entire central vista project! But that doesn’t bother us, because it does not serve the propaganda that Aryan Khan’s case would.

There hasn’t been a week that I haven’t read of a Muslim man being lynched by Hindutva mobs for trivial reasons, from the Bangle maker in Madhya Pradesh to a youth being lynched in Karnataka in open broad daylight.

Living As A Muslim In India

As a Muslim, you are perpetually exhorted to establish your nationality every single day.

The burden of proving their profound appreciation towards the nation was always expected from Muslims by the ones distributing certificates of nationalism. Even Aryan Khan’s vow to serve society stems out from the same societal expectation of proving their loyalty to these scumbags.

The trepidation that hate-mongers have instilled in the mind of the public is that now, Muslim daily wage workers sometimes have to go by a different name altogether to be employed.

A day in the market and would you realize the alacrity of the situation, uncountable vendors guarding their religion within the secret chambers of their hearts, house helpers in metropolitan areas adopting less dubious names that’d make them employable to their rich upper-caste Hindu employers, who have been so massively poisoned with communal agenda. It has boiled down to a point where it feels like there’s no viable threshold to halt the rise of anti-Muslim hate crimes in India.

love jihad
UP’s recent Love Jihad law is yet another attempt to criminalize Muslims.

Rather than being used as legitimate legislation to help victims, statutes like Love-Jihad are instead being used to harass Muslims. Even though India has the necessary legislation in place that provides equal rights for all citizens, it’s not happening.

It’s more evident now that India has downgraded from ‘Free’ democracy status to ‘partly free’ democracy according to an annual report on global political rights and liberties.

Even educational spaces are not particularly prone to islamophobic activity. The Swaddle, in its study this march concluded the Muslim kids were greatly disadvantaged in availing the same quality education as their Hindu counterparts. Schools in Delhi, refraining from admitting Muslim students is just a small glimpse of the larger problem.

If the National Capital with a high level of education among people fares this bad, then is there a doubt how the rest of the country would fare? The seeds of segregation are often sowed early within. The idea of ‘They vs Us’ is often implanted early in such elitist schools with huge capital power. The state is loathsome, how often do you see a brahmin kid being bullied or discriminated against in school?

 

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I bet it’s rare, but this is not the case for kids from reserved categories and the Muslim community; all hate directed at these children stems from massive anti-muslim content promoted on social media platforms.

Many social media influencers with huge colossal followings have now become an agenda-setter, from running vicious trends on Twitter, to unabashedly promoting hate speech via their videos; they’ve been budding from each corner in this country. So far that many don’t even mince their words, as if a license granted to them exempting them from punishment for tearing apart the societal fabric and perpetuating hate with zero impunity.

Given the immensely colossal following of these handles, the repercussions are bound to be disastrous. when the same content, delicately laced with communal poison, is alimented off every single day, how would it not corrupt young millennial minds?

India Post 2014

Hate crimes against Muslims have increased significantly, especially in the second term of the Prime Minister of India. Over their seven-year stint, the BJP has introduced several policies and laws that indirectly aim to curtail Muslim liberty in India. These laws have been subjected to much criticism by social activists, scholars, Hindus, and Muslims, and students alike.

And by doing so, they draw the ire of the ruling establishment which includes the trend of labelling anyone who criticizes the ruling BJP, as “anti-national” or “foreign-conspirator” trying to malign India’s image on the international front.

PM Narendra Modi
Hate crimes have been on the rise since Narendra Modi and the BJP came into power in 2014.

When Narendra Modi was elected for the second term as Prime Minister in 2019, leaders since then haven’t even put a concerted effort to mask their violent communal slogans. It’s blatant!

How will they when their top ministers day in and out give out controversial remarks targeting the Muslims? Such is the condition of matters in our political landscape. No commission, agency, or electoral commission has taken cognizance of the matter yet.

That very year, Delhi burned and choked and went aflame in light of communal fires. It saw its most violent uprisings in decades. The CAA-NRC Act that many critics opined to be Anti-Muslim was passed unilaterally. Massive protests ensued for months in the heart of the Indian National Capital. Meanwhile, Shaheen Bagh emerged as an icon of resistance. But what closely followed was the wrath of the government, who, through its vigilant Hindutva mobs incited otherwise peaceful protests, that resulted in the death of 52 civilians, majority of which, again Muslims. Thousands of families were uprooted as Muslim neighbourhoods were stormed, burned, and looted.

The Delhi pogrom of 2020 culminated into one of the worst riots in the city’s history. Muslims bore the brunt of the disturbances—three times more Muslim casualties were reported than Hindus. The riots were far from spontaneous, they were a systemic effort to weaken and massacre the Muslim populace demanding against the bill.

When leaders of the government of the day, go out mobilizing the mobs, making hateful speeches, it’s imperative to note that we are doomed down the path of fascism. How can an average Muslim have faith in the governmental apparatus when they are reminded of their substandard status every day through such vile assaults?

The mainstream media has made a concerted effort to conceal the state’s barbarism. And those who muster the courage to speak are either mowed down or killed like Gauri Lankesh, or either put behind bars like Umar Khalid, Siddiqui Kappan, and Disha Ravi.

We must speak up for our brethren, fight for their rights and ours. Question anything and everything that fosters injustice. We must have the spine to call out the bigotry, lest we as a nation are bound to perish. Speak up now, before it’s too late.

The time is now!

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        Find out more about her campaign here.

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