The importance of being Asif Ibrahim
17 Dec 2012
A secure minority, for a secure nation
The dark clouds gathered since the early nineties have not quite dissipated. Inevitably so, since
the actions that should have been taken were never taken up, writes Firdaus Ahmed.
20 August 2012 - In the wake of the Gujarat carnage exactly ten years ago,
my debut column in India Together (see this link) addressed the issue of
security for India's largest minority. I believe now, as I did then, that the
multiple Muslim communities across India's geography can enhance their
security, by, among other measures, relying on the state and the vast liberal
majority among the non-Muslims. We must be wary of becoming pawns in
political games at the subcontinental level, and also pawns of party politics.
The only ones who gain when we fail to strengthen our internal conversations
are mafia dons, Pakistani intelligence operatives and the propaganda apparatus
of the Sangh Parivar.
In light of the events over the past month beginning with the riots in Bodo areas
of Assam and culminating in a mass exit of North Easterners from south Indian cities,
it is apt to revisit this point, and the larger issues addressed in the earlier article.
FOR FULL ARTICLE SEE indiatogether.org
It is here the conspiracy theory can be given the benefit of doubt. The departure of north-
easterners, beginning in Bangalore, spread to Channai and Hyderabad. While the police
are investigating the origin of the rumours that instigated the flight, they would do well to include
majoritarian extremists in their ambit.
Such groups have profited under the rightist government in Karnataka, evident from periodic
reports of depredations ranging from moral policing to more insidious exploits. The alacrity of
the arrival of workers of the rightist formation, RSS, on to railway station to 'commiserate'
(some of them wielding canes!) with the victims, suggests a potent line of investigation. Their
message was no doubt one of religious solidarity with Hindu Bodos, even while deprecating Muslims
for being 'just like that only'.
Shifting to the wider issue of minority security, it can be predicted to figure prominently in the long
run up to elections two years hence. The first shots have been fired with the Gujarat chief
minister unambiguously using the term 'Bangladeshis' in his Independence Day onslaught on the
prime minister. The issue of infiltrators has returned. It was last in the news when BJP-ruled
Rajasthan rounded up a few in wake of the bomb blasts in Jaipur. Clearly, the land issue in
Bodoland will have an all-India resonance, yielding up as it does a stick for the otherwise
politically bereft opposition.
It therefore seems prescient on part of the MIM MP from Hyderabad to have led a medical
relief mission to the camps of internally displaced people in Assam. Such expression of
solidarity is a useful broadcast that Muslim communities cannot be put upon in isolation.
It is useful deterrence of another Nellie massacre or Gujarat carnage. While it does give courage
to vulnerable communities, there is no call to restrict access to this aid to the minority alone as the
MIM at its self-congratulatory best states.
For full article see www.indiatogether.org
First, the interest of the global community in the South Asia region during the last decade was
an opportunity to resolve the problems between India and Pakistan, with a global 'stamp' to a
mutually agreed way forward. But this opportunity was wasted, and now that the West is preparing
to exit its war in Afghanistan, the two South Asian countries await the impending departure with
bated breath and preparations for a return to rivalry. While the implications for Kashmir are easily
comprehended, India's other Muslims too will be affected.
The second direction along which the government was hesitant to proceed was in pursuing right
wing terrorists. A significant feature of the past decade was terror bombings. These were popularly
attributed, by a media that should have known better, to Muslim perpetrators. Enlarging the line up
of suspects to include hyper-nationalists would have helped greatly, but the Centre decided to let
sleeping dogs lie. This strategy will probably come home to roost in the run-up to elections. 'Sleeper cells',
particularly those with Bengali (read 'Bangladeshi') features, will once again be in the news as fifth column.
The lack of any notable progress in other promising areas keeps the communal scene fertile for disruption.
The major plank of employment, recommended in the Sachar Committee report, has been stymied by the
government's under-prepared brief in the Supreme Court for inclusion of the backward groups of the minority
in the quota system. Second, the RK Raghavan-led SIT has inexplicably made any hope of justice recede.
The eventual outcome will be akin to apprehending the sailors on Haji Mastan's ship even as Haji Mastan
Lastly, recompense for minority members wrongly arrested for terror attacks has only been done in a few
cases in Hyderabad. Youth apprehended for the Malegaon attacks are still in jail despite better knowledge
of the perpetrators. This brings to fore the fourth and last point, that the wheels of justice have been slow
and unsteady in nailing Hindutva-inspired terrorists. Lt Col Purohit is mounting a counter-attack presenting
himself as a mole, while a lead conspirator turned approver, Swami Aseemanand, has reneged.
The government, fearing the electoral price of the tag of minority 'appeaser', is unlikely to take any of its
own initiatives any further. This may seem politic, but a resulting loss of the minority vote may end up
helping its rival to power, bringing back the toxicity of its philosophy and endangering certainly the nation,
if not the state.
So to answer the question directly, India is indeed less secure. It is the price of a wasted decade. But two
years being a long time in politics, the government can yet turn to complete its unfinished agenda.