“My husband was in Phool Sawangi, hundreds of miles away from Malegaon when the blasts took place in Malegaon a year before. The whole village is witness to this fact. Tell me, how can he plant a bomb in Malegaon when he was miles away?” asks Salma Bano, a resident of Phool Sawangi near Nanded and wife of Zahid Akhter. Zahid is one of the accused in Malegaon September Blasts case. With sheer helplessness written large in her eyes and almost bewailed, she adds, “No way! But he is still lingering into the jail.”
Ironically, this is not an aberration in the country; the Muslims have been at the receiving end from the Police Department and other Government officials in India ever since the Independence. Whenever something happens in any part of the country, finger of suspicions are immediately raised towards the Muslims without taking into account the impact of such attitude on the community, “This is nothing but a mental torture and it looks sort of state sponsored pestering through the machinery”, says Altaf Ansari, an activist. And once this is done, the Muslims are now lucky if they can avoid indiscriminate detentions of their educated youngsters.
Very recently, the same thing was observed after the Makkah Masjid Blasts in Hyderabad as well. Like in Malegaon, as soon as the blasts took place, the speculations of the Muslim involvement started circulating even before any investigation actually took place.
God forbid saying, the State Machinery is working on some pre-planned strategy to nab the Muslims. However, a close study of the Sachar Committee Report confirms this notion to some extent. It is worth recalling what the report says about the trauma, to which the Muslims are subjected to, when such things make rounds in the society.
The Prime Minster of India constituted a High Level Committee led by Justice Rajendra Sachar for assessing the Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslims in India. After an extension of few months, the Committee ultimately handed its report to the Prime Minister in November last.
And the report! It was as if, someone has counted the bleeding wounds of an injured body! Beyond doubt, first time after the independence, any report has succeeded in addressing the actual grievances of a beleaguered community on official level in such a comprehensive manner! The grievances, which were cleverly kept hidden from the world till now!
As expected, it was a near storm everywhere in the country when the report was made public. And after the dust settled down, it became clearly known to everyone that the Muslims in India are far behind, in almost every field, in comparison with their fellow countrymen. Worst, they are forced to live under the dilemma of being treated as Anti-National.
The burden (or price?) of loyalty
Along with many other torments the community is forced to live with, the report has highlighted ‘the mental torture’ by the media and the agencies that keep on questioning the loyalty of the Muslims towards the country. The Report has observed, “They carry a double burden of being labeled as “anti-national” and as being “appeased” at the same time. While Muslims need to prove on a daily basis that they are not “anti-national” and “terrorists”, it is not recognized that the alleged “appeasement” has not resulted in the desired level of socio-economic development of the Community.”
It further says, “Concern was expressed over police highhandedness in dealing with Muslims. Muslims live with an inferiority complex as ‘every bearded man is considered an ISI agent’, ‘whenever any incident occurs Muslim boys are picked up by the police’ and fake encounters are common. In fact, people argued that police presence in Muslim localities is more common than the presence of schools, industry, public hospitals and banks.”
The report goes on to add, “Communal tension or any untoward incident in any part of the country is enough to make Muslims fear for their safety and security. The lackadaisical attitude of the government and the political mileage sought whenever communal riots occur has been very painful for the Community.”
Now the most awful act on the part of the Government! The Muslims had expected from the Government that it would have taken some immediate corrective measures at least in this regard. However, very unfortunate to state that one really fails to find anything the Government has done in this regard.
Is the Government really serious over the Report?
Not a single day is passed when a leader, however small or big, forgets to reiterate the Government’s seriousness over the Sachar Committee Report and its concern for the revival of the Muslim Community. Some even suggest, backdoor high-level activities are underway and some thing good for the community will definitely come out of it. They even advice to hold on for sometimes as the Government policies take time for implementation.
True, the Government initiatives, schemes and policies take time and if they are related to the Muslims, they take even more time. However, the Muslims wish to know what steps the Government has taken for easing out the “burden of suspected loyalty” from the beleaguered community. What the Government has done to counter the malicious propaganda against the Muslim community and what it has done about the alleged atrocities against the Muslims.
Just in case you are listening dear Prime Minister
Lately, we have seen some statements by the Prime Minister and other ministers urging the concerned departments for restrain and when the Prime Minister said, he had not slept for the whole night after watching the TV images of Glasgow accused’s parents, it was really mother of all statements in this regard. Nonetheless, one is sorry to say that the attitude of the officials and various departments towards the Muslims remain the same and ceases to show any kind of reversal. Otherwise my dear PM, why is Zahid still behind the bars when Haneef is enjoying into the free air? Why is Salma still away when Firdous Arshiya has found her love?
And it is here that the suspicion comes into one’s mind about the sincerity of the Government over the report. It is high time for the Government to realize at least now that, more than bread and butter, what the Muslims in India need today is a better peace of mind. Enough of the rhetoric, it is time for the action now.
It is really interesting to recall what Hasan Kamal, a senior journalist and activist had said in a recent meeting on ‘Islam and terrorism’, “Give us TEN years of peace, I just ask TEN years of peace for the Muslims, then you would see, to what height we take this country to.”
By Aleem Faizee