Three ways to treat Indian Muslims: Hindu chauvinist forces chalk out new strategy

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

K. C. Saleem

Shawwal 19, 1418 1998-02-16


by K. C. Saleem (World, Crescent International Vol. 26, No. 24, Shawwal, 1418)

Hindu chauvinist organisations - the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) - have chalked out new strategies in their quest for electoral success leading to power in India. The well-chalked out but misleading new strategies of the BJP include construction of mosques for Muslims, alliances with parties that have in the past opposed its ideological positions and compromise on its professed commitment to combating corruption and the criminalisation of politics.

In Vijaywada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, the BJP has laid foundation for two mosques. The move is designed to mislead the uneducated or ‘secular’ Muslims to believe that BJP is not anti-Muslim. The fascist forces which include the BJP, VHP, RSS and the Shiv Sena have promoted Hindu fanaticism and hatred towards Muslims. They have always opposed the interests of Muslims and made use of, or created, opportunities to destroy their identity.

The identity of the Hindu forces has been refurbished through the Rath Yathras (chariot processions) of its leaders and the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. The election manifesto of the BJP in the following year (1993), devoted 11 paragraphs to the Ayodhya campaign - i.e., the construction of a temple in the name of Hindu deity Rama, on the site of the Babri Masjid before its demolition by the Hindu fascists - and described it as the ‘biggest mass movement in the history of independent India.’

These forces have persistently demanded the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code which is a direct attack on Muslim Personal Law. If the BJP comes to power in the elections currently underway (February 16 to March 7), it may try to implement the Uniform Civil Code which is likely to lead to serious deterioration in the already strained Hindu-Muslim relations in India.

The BJP which went on the Internet recently, has put on its website an article by its prime ministerial candidate, Atal Behari Vajpayee, which he wrote for the RSS mouthpiece, the Organiser, titled ‘The Sangh is My Soul’. He devoted two lengthy paragraphs to the ‘two-fold task’ before the Hindu organisations: one, ‘to organise the Hindus’ and two, ‘to assimilate the non-Hindus’ (meaning Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities).

In this article, which was first published by the Organiser in its issue of May 7, 1995, Vajpayee said that Muslims in India can be treated in three ways: thiraskar (they can be rejected); puraskar (they can be appeased); and parishkar (they can be changed). The BJP, he wrote, would prefer to change them, (i.e., convert them) and then ‘restore them to the (Hindu) mainstream.’

To quote him in full: ‘The Muslims of this country [India] can be treated in three ways: One is ‘tiraskar’ which means if they will not themselves change, leave them alone, reject them as our compatriots. Second is ‘puraskar’ which is appeasement, i.e., bribe them to behave.... The third way is ‘parishkar’ meaning [to] change them, that is, restore them to the mainstream by providing them ‘samskaras’ (culture). We want to change them by offering them the right ‘samskaras’ (Hindu culture). Though the BJP projects Vajpayee as sober, moderate and liberal, the article amply demonstrates his fanaticism, and utter hatred and intolerance of Muslims.

He wrote: ‘The Muslims can follow their own religion. Mecca can continue to be holy for the Muslims but India should be holier than the holy for them.’ His advice is, ‘if you (Muslims) have to choose between Mecca or Islam and India, you must choose India.’ There can be no doubt about the intentions of the leading prime ministerial candidate of India or the future of Muslims in the so-called secular democratic utopia.

Recently, in an interview carried in the Panchajanya, a magazine with close RSS connections, the BJP’s member of parliament and president of the party’s youth wing, Uma Bharati, quoted the RSS chief professor Rajendra Singh, as saying that despite the number of police stations in India and thousands of policemen, Muslims cannot be safe if they have enmity with the Hindus. ‘Their guarantee of safety and security can only be given by Hindus and only when they have good relations with the Hindus.’

This is also being seen as a signal by the Hindu fascists that Muslims can be safe in India only if they befriend the BJP. The word ‘Hindus’ is now virtually used as a synonym for the BJP by both Vajpayee in his article and Uma Bharati in her interview. It was also repeated by senior BJP leaders during the anti-Babri Mosque campaign when it was claimed that ‘80 per cent of the population of India’ wanted a Ram temple at Ayodhya. Vajpayee has said that the Hindus, not the BJP, demolished the ‘structure at Ayodhya (the Babri Masjid).

The move to lay the foundation for a few mosques in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is surely to mislead the general public that the BJP is not ‘anti-Muslim’. But this move has few takers. Another strategy of the Hindu forces is to woo the Muslims by offering them party tickets.

There are only a few takers, the likes of old Sikandar Bhakt who willingly went to the BJP fold. By projecting these traitors of the Muslim cause, the BJP has formed a ‘Minority Morcha’ - organisation for minorities. It is still not clear whether the fifth columnists in the Muslim community understand these deceptive programmes. They appear blind to the fascist moves and activities and are not bothered by the anti-Muslim agenda of the BJP and the VHP.

Recently, the BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh government issued an order that all primary school students in the state must start their day by ‘worshipping a portrait of Bharat Mata’ (a Hindu deity), and reciting Vande Mataram, a Hindu devotional song of worship. The Uttar Pradesh government was forcibly imposing the Vishwa Hindu Parishad agenda. It was the VHP which a few years ago raised the slogan, ‘Bharat Varsh main rahna hai to, Vande Mataram kehna hoga’ (If you want to live in India, you will have to sing Vande Mataram).

In 1973, the Bombay Municipality had passed a similar order. But a strong reaction from the Muslims forced the then mayor of the city to withdraw the order for recitation of Vande Mataram in Municipal Corporation schools. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has expressed its outrage at the UP government’s order and has asked Muslims across the state not to follow the order as Islam forbids idol worship.

Another strategy of the Hindu forces is to making alliances with parties that have in the past been opposed to its ideological positions and compromise on its professed commitment to combating corruption and the crimilisation of politics. After it had entered into agreements of sorts with 12-odd parties, it argued that alliances have become necessary in states where the BJP does not have its own strength.

It is now apparent that it is willing to use any method to grab power in India. Across the length and breadth of the country, from the Jayalalitha-led All India Anna Dravida Munnetta Kazhakam in Tamil Nadu in the deep south to the Akali Dal in Punjab in the north, the Samata Party in Bihar, the Biju Janata Dal in Orissa in the east and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra in the west, the BJP is depending on its partners to see it through the elections to come to power. In the past it had only four allies - the Shiv Sena, Akali Dal, the Samata Party and the Haryana Vikas Party.

In forging alliances and issuing tickets to its new friends, the BJP has thrown its so-called principles to the wind. Even criminals are given tickets. It has also gone back on its professed commitment to combating corruption. Instead, it has become a synonym for it. The party was reportedly ‘purchasing’ parliament members from the Congress(I) and other parties. Vajpayee himself has become a symbol of corruption when he claimed that he would get the majority to form the government with the help of defectors from other parties.

It is still not certain which party will come to power in the world’s largest election exercise in which nearly 600 million voters are eligible to cast ballot. The BJP’s rise, however, portends trouble at least for the Muslims.

Muslimedia: February 16-28, 1998

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