Note: This is a translation of Pratap Simha’s column titled, Deshapremakkinta doddade dharmaprema? which appeared in Kannada Prabha on August 18, 2012. The picture used in this piece is taken from the original. Comments and criticism are welcome as always.
“I warn the Central Government; I warn the honourable Members over here… If proper rehabilitation [Of Bangladeshi Muslims] does not take place, you be ready for a third wave of radicalisation among Muslim youth.” The person who said this wasn’t some Mullah but the MP of Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen, Asaduddin Owaisi.
August 11, in the Azad Maidan, Mumbai:
What happened in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan just three days after Owaisi made this anti-national and inflammatory speech in the Parliament? The Amar Jawan Jyoti Memorial erected in the sacred memory of the soldiers who perished fighting in the First War of Indian Independence in 1857 was desecrated by the crowd of Muslims who had thronged at Azad Maidan for a “protest” meeting. The Muslim youth who had gathered there beat the Memorial with sticks, kicked, and urinated on it. About 58 police personnel were injured in this incident. Whatever our grouses against them, Indians still hold the police in great respect because they are responsible for maintaining law and order and internal security. But then, a certain Salim Chaukia snatched a policeman’s rifle in Azad Maidan and threatened to shoot the cop with it.
What mindset, what alarming portents do these episodes demonstrate?
Just a few days before the Mumbai incident, an SMS emanated from various Mosques: “Where next after Burma, Assam, Gujarat and Kashmir? A rally has been organized at Azad Maidan to protest against the mistreatment of Burmese Muslims. The government and media made a big fuss over the five Sikhs who were killed in America. Is there no value to the lives of lakhs of Muslims? Make sure that this SMS reaches all the media and ministers in India before Sunday.”
What goal was sought to be achieved by sending such a message? Why should Mumbai’s Muslims get angry over clashes between the native Bodos and Bangladeshi illegal Muslim immigrants? Indeed, what was the necessity even, to hold a protest of this sort? Rohingya Muslims might be subject to atrocities in Burma. But why should that inflame the Muslims in India?
Indeed, this mindset hasn’t developed of late.
When we open the pages of history, we see the Khilafat movement. When the whole of India was fighting for Independence, the Indian Muslim leadership, in 1919 rallied the community to mount pressure on the British government to save the Caliph in faraway Turkey! Around the same time, in 1920, Mahatma Gandhi began the non-cooperation movement. In a bid to enlist the support of Muslims for his movement, Gandhi offered his unasked-for support to the Khilafat movement. His intentions were unquestionably noble. But then, it is incredible that he missed a crucial point of reasoning: the fact that the Khilafat movement was launched in India to save the Caliph in a country thousands of miles of away from India showed that what united them was not the love of the motherland but the love of their religion. But what happened after that? Much before the Khilafat and the non-cooperation movements ended, Congress leaders and the Muslim leadership fought with each other and parted ways. This fight also marked, and intensified the demand for a separate Pakistan. In this connection, is it possible to forget the Malabar or Moplah Rebellion?
If you are with us, we will be with you,
If you aren’t, we’ll go without you,
If you stand in our way, we’ll step over you
And win Independence
Didn’t Gandhi have the courage of V.D. Savarkar who said these lines to the Muslim community? The fact that he didn’t resulted in the Moplah Rebellion. The British government’s violent suppression of the Khilafat movement gave birth to the Moplah Rebellion. In 1921, thousands of Muslims fell upon Hindus in Kerala. About 10,000 Hindus were massacred in Kerala and more than a lakh Hindus were rendered homeless. They were raped, and forcibly converted.
Gandhi is called the Person of the Century. Equally, he was also responsible for making the Blunder of the Century. The recently-concluded poll for nominating the “Greatest Indian of the Century after Gandhi” showed Ambedkar occupying the top slot. This selfsame Ambedkar in his Thoughts on Pakistan, written years before India attained Independence says thus: “It has been proved by time that Hindus and Muslims cannot live together. If Partition becomes inevitable, we must opt for an exchange of population. In fact, the brotherhood of Muslims is not a universal brotherhood. It is restricted only to Muslims.” [Ed—not verbatim]. Neither Gandhi nor Nehru or any other Congressman understood this.
As we notice, the nation is steadily heading towards yet another round of Partition.
If America bombs Iraq and deposes Saddam Hussein, if George Bush bombs Afghanistan, if Burma perpetrates atrocities on Rohingya Muslims, why should Indian Muslims erupt in violence in India? Why should they kill Hindus in India? And in some cases, this violence erupts for no reason at all. In Sakaleshpur in Karnataka, two Muslim youths collided with a tanker and died on the spot. Immediately, a group of Muslims went on a rampage, destroying shops belonging to Hindus. In nearby Hassan, about 50 vehicles—cars and two-wheelers—belonging to Hindus were vandalized by 15 Muslim youths whom the police have arrested.
What do we call this mindset?
In a recent development, scores of Hindus have begun to flee from Pakistan seeking refuge in India. Rinkle Kumari, a Pakistani Hindu woman was abducted and converted to Islam. The Pakistan government has forcibly taken over the Gurudwaras of the Sikhs. During Eid last year, four Hindu doctors were murdered in Pakistan. These incidents certainly cause pain and anger to Hindus living in India. However, has any Hindu stoned a Mosque owing to this reason? In December 1999 when Islamic terrorists hijacked an Indian airline and took passengers hostage in Kandahar, did Hindus in India attack Muslims here? In 2000, when George Speight staged a coup and deposed the Hindu Prime Minister Mahendra Pal Chaudhuri, and threatened Fijian Hindus, did Indian Hindus attack Christians here? In 1969 Muslims attacked Hindus praying in Ahmedabad’s Jagannath temple because they heard news that the Al Aksa mosque was destroyed. Did Hindus or Buddhists in India attack Indian Muslims when the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddha statues in 2001 in Afghanistan?
Why then are Indian Muslims protesting against the atrocities on Rohingya Muslims in Burma? Why did they desecrate a national sacred monument, the Amar Jawan Jyoti? Indians accord the same respect to Ashfaq Khan and Hawaldar Hamid (who smashed Pakistani tankers) as they do to Subhash Bose, and Bhagat Singh. What does the fact that these violators kick and urinate on the hallowed memorial of our freedom fighters and soldiers show? What does it tell you where their loyalties lie? To the Indian nation, or to their religion? If their loyalty lies with their religion, what prevents them from migrating to Pakistan? How long should we bear such unpatriotic antics?
The medal-winning sportsmen in the recently-concluded Olympics visited the Amar Jawan Jyoti Memorial last Thursday and paid their respects at the shrine. What does this tell us? That every decent Indian retains this kind of worshipful respect for the soldiers who guard our nation and die for it if necessary. Those who wilfully defile such sacred national monuments are traitors, plain and simple. What would be the reaction if an RSS member or a BJP supporter did something similar to a Muslim place of worship?
Which political party or leader or media has the guts to call for the imprisonment of and strict punishment to everybody who indulged in vandalism at Mumbai? Who has the nerve to book them for treason? In fact, just the opposite has happened. The police have identified about 35-40 people who indulged in this vandalism using CCTV footage. Their response? “We will arrest them after the Eid festival is over.” Contrast this with Kanchi Shankaracharya, Jayendra Saraswati who was arrested in 2004 on the day of the Deepavali festival.
Columnist Sandeep Balakrishna has in a recent article, pointed to a noteworthy aspect. What is the record of all-Muslim nations or Muslim-majority nations in dealing with illegal Bangladeshi immigrants? In the 1990s when Myanmar was under military rule, about 250000 Rohingya Muslims fled to neighbouring Bangladesh only to be turned away. Those who stubbornly refused to do that were summarily shot and/or imprisoned. Even in the recent clashes between Rohingya Muslims and Burmese Buddhists, about 1500 Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh were turned back. Sometime in 1995-1996, the Malaysian government realized that their nation had some 100000 illegal Bangladeshi Muslim migrant workers. In February 1997, it expelled all of them. Malaysia is a nation where Islamism has been on the ascendancy for at least two decades now. What’s even more telling is the fact that the Malaysian government entered into a treaty with Bangladesh to accept 50,000 skilled workers into the country annually. However, when large numbers of Bangladeshis entered Malaysia illegally using this treaty as an excuse, Malaysia unilaterally cancelled this treaty. Interestingly, around the same timeframe, Saudi Arabia and Qatar expelled 50,000 illegal Bangladeshis. Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar are Muslim Absolute Monarchies. Did they spare a moment’s thought before expelling their Muslim brothers and sisters from Bangladesh?
Thus, when Muslim nations themselves don’t allow Bangladeshis in, why should India get defensive about chucking out these illegal Muslim immigrants who have snatched the land and livelihood of native Assamese?
The need of the hour is for Hindus to discard the inertia they’ve grown accustomed to and face the real problem of Muslim separatism with courage.
Indeed, it is insufficient to simply parrot the hoary Sanskrit verse, dharmo rakshati rakshitah (Dharma will protect those who protect it).