Four years back when the Modi government came centre-stage, fence sitters couldn’t comprehend the dangers what this Right-wing government could inflict on the country. Today, of course, they are taken aback, as institutions - and with that individuals - are getting killed rather too systematically. Murders in every sense of the term.
What a brutally horrifying attack on the 80 year old social activist, Swami Agnivesh, by Right wing goons in the interiors of Jharkhand. Why? Because he was talking of the rights of the tribal and of the disadvantaged. Tell me, is it a sin to talk aloud the problems faced by the weaker and bypassed sections or will we be beaten blue and black by goons under the direct or indirect control of the ruling political mafia! Correct me if I’m wrong, but full-fledged brigades, stuffed with bought-over local goons, are kept ready to be unleashed on anyone who dares to speak out at the havoc that the rulers are doing to our country and to us. It gets much too apparent that the rulers do not want even traces of the dark realities to trickle out in public domain.
In fact , this brings me to write, why this hue and cry if Rahul Gandhi met a group of Muslims to discuss the challenges and difficulties faced by the community. I was not invited for that meet, so I cannot comment on what was discussed, but surely a political leader has every right to ask and discuss the problems a disadvantaged community faces. Rahul Gandhi did what a leader of a democratic republic should do and is expected to do. It’s a known fact that the Muslim community has been sitting bypassed and disadvantaged on every given front and the situation has only compounded in the last four years. In several locales their very survival is at stake; what with statistics showing that a large percentage of those killed in targeted lynching, happen to be Muslims. Yet, we opt to shut our eyes to the horrifying build-ups and only concentrate on the much hyped triple talaq; nah, in no mood to accept the fact that triple talaq is totally un- Islamic and is one of the social ills to have crept in a socially and economically battered community.
Tell me, how many amongst us have gone through the Sachar and the Kundu committee reports on the condition of the Muslim community in the country? Twelve long years have passed when Justice Sachar and his team had presented in the Lok Sabha, in November 2006, a comprehensive report - the Sachar Committee Report, on the condition of the largest minority community of India. And more recently, in 2014 , the Kundu Commission Report came up, once again focusing on the conditions faced by the Muslims of this land. When I had asked Professor Kundu why his commission’s recommendations have not been implemented and this when it carried the crucial ‘reservation aspect’ to the Muslim community, he said - “Yes, one of the major issues we raised was this: why there is no reservations for the Muslim community when it’s a fact that there are several Muslims who are in the Scheduled Caste and Backward Caste slots. If there can be reservations for the Hindu Scheduled castes and communities then why not for the Muslim community? Why deprive them of this right!” Kundu also told me that its a fact that in certain spheres the living conditions of the Muslins are worse off than even the Scheduled Castes. To quote him – “Yes, in certain spheres the condition of Muslims is worse than the SC and Backwards and these specific spheres are - access to medical facilities, to sanitation and water, and also access to public/sarkari facilities. These deprivations and dismal conditions are much more so in urban pockets where Muslims reside.” To the ‘why’ the Kundu Commission Report has not been implemented Professor Kundu commented - “This commission was set up during the UPA regime but when we submitted the Report, it was the NDA government at the Centre and they have kept quiet on it. Perhaps, not in their agenda!” He had also raised a very pertinent point – “Today why doesn’t the Opposition take up this issue! Why don’t they focus on the dismal living conditions of the Muslims. Perhaps, it doesn’t suit them …comes in way the politics of their electoral gains.”
Together with these Reports and their findings, well-known academics have been writing on the rather systematic decline of the Muslim community in terms of the socio-economic conditions and also the setback they face each time a riot is ‘made to happen’. In fact, Asghar Ali Engineer’s detailed findings on the communal riots in the country after the Partition, VN Rai’s findings vis-a-vis the communal riots, and the various reports on the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 are some of those crucial pointers to the blatantly biased role played by the State machinery each time a riot is made to occur! Oh, yes, riots are ‘made to occur’ by those in power, because of the simple fact that no riots can take off without the prior knowledge of the police force and the Agencies .
There’s something or everything bizarre to the fact that though there is a full- fledged ministry for the ‘welfare’ of the minorities of this country, yet there is a growing feeling of anguish and apprehension amongst the minorities groups and communities of this country. Why have this ministry! To the minorities, it come across as nothing but a façade!
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Every genuine and committed leader ought to meet and re-meet members of all possible disadvantaged or bypassed or affected groups of the country and ask them to list out their problems. There should be a direct connect between the leader and the masses of his country. In a democracy, each one of us should carry the confidence of being heard by the top brass.
Tomorrow if Rahul Gandhi were to meet Swami Agnivesh and ask him to detail the problems faced by the Tribal and Adivasi communities and groups, will the BJP wallahs hound him once again and come up with the choicest verbal hits. Or, if Rahul Gandhi were to meet the Dalits, Sikhs, Jains, Christians, Parsis, will the Modi government attack him!
I was left bewildered seeing the reactions of the BJP to Rahul Gandhi meeting a group of Muslims. Those reactions relayed a strange mix of severe insecurity and sheer narrow mindedness. The way BJP ministers kept harping on the word ‘ Muslims’ as though they view Muslims as enemies and not as their countrymen.
Shocking and horrifying that till date the Right Wing rulers insist on unleashing hatred, setting one community against the other. If these rulers cannot feed us. they ought not to kill us by spreading sheer communal poisoning…polluting the very atmosphere. Mind you, this poisoning is much more lethal than the environmental pollution.