There is no doubt that there have been aggressive attacks including mob lynching on Muslims, by Hindus in last 6-7 years. There is no doubt that there are many videos of BJP leaders and other Hindus that spew hatred for Muslims and call them names. There is no doubt that there are social media posts which continuously attack Muslims. There is no doubt that Muslim vendors are denied entry into some Hindu mohallas. There is no doubt that there is fake news against Muslims. There is no doubt that acrimony between the two communities has increased. But that is only half the story.
The other half is that here are equal number of aggressive speeches by Muslim politicians against Hindus under various names. There is no doubt that there have been incidents of Hindus being killed by Muslims. There is no doubt that there are umpteen number of videos of Maulanas that threaten to destroy Hinduism and India if their demands are not met. There are videos on social media declaring Sharia above the Supreme Court. There is constant barrage of messages on social media claiming superiority and final victory for Islam in India.
Also, there is no doubt that there are TV channels attacking sections of Muslims. I have not come across any responsible person attacking all Muslims, but yes, Tablighi Jamaat and other individuals and groups held responsible for crimes against the society. (And I will correct myself if I have missed something.) There is no doubt that these channels are biased and do a lot of harm in lowering levels of public debate and poisoning public mind. But there is also, no doubt, sections of media which highlight atrocities on Muslims selectively and ignore and underplay misdeeds of Muslim individuals and organisations. There is no doubt that in the name of opposing the present-day government there are venomous attacks on Hindus and India. The idea of India is declared as destroyed or dead, the nation is declared morally bankrupt. This nation does not belong to Narendra Modi, BJP and RSS alone. The so-called opinion makers when declare the whole nation as morally bankrupt and idea of India destroyed, they condemn the silent and peaceful population of this country, who are certainly a majority. And they are guilty of being blind in one eye.
This country is going through a self-reflection of gigantic order, is seriously, if somewhat erratically, engaged in a cultural and political samudra-manthan. There are mindless foot-soldiers of so-called liberals who will declare my use of ‘samudra-manthan’ as communal, as they have declared Modi’s use of ‘lakshman relha’ communal. These people hate any reference to ancient Indian culture, which means they hate the metaphors and symbols that make sense to 80% population of this country, and have acquired a cultural meaning above and beyond religion. Also, these are the same individuals who see no communalism in “la ilaha illallah’ and ‘bas naam rahega allah ka’. This double standard is destroying cultural harmony in this country. Personally, I see nothing communal in “Lakshman Rekha” and “bas naam rahega …” but find “la ilaha illallah” deeply communal. Coming back to the point, this Samudra-manthan is throwing up poison as well as nectar. It is to be seen how this society deals with the huge quantities of both.
Calling Tablighi Jamaat’s crime a crime is not hatred against Muslims. Pointing out attacks on health workers is not islamophobia. Exposing so-called liberals’ fallacious arguments is not islamophobia or hatred for Muslims. Denying possibility and plan for genocide is not spreading hate or condoning genocide. Actually, repeating again and again the false charges of preparation for Muslim genocide and exaggerating Muslim victimhood are real acts of spreading hate and fear.
Celebrating the unfounded accusations of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is cooperating with foreign powers in maligning India. And that too with an organisation which is declaredly “Islamic”; they forget that any organisation based on religion can never be impartial in understanding relationships between their brothers/sisters in faith and other religions or areligious sections of population. The OIC declares itself to be the voice of Muslim world, not of the voice of humanity. These are the countries which do not give equal rights to people belonging to other faiths. Most of them are declared Islamic states. Their track record of human rights, freedoms and equality if abysmal. Most of them have signed a letter declaring there is nothing wrong in China “re-educating” millions of Muslims of their “mental illness of religious radicalism” and keeping them in concentration camps. One who celebrates indictment of India by such a lot has to be morally bankrupt and intellectually blind.
Calling a spade a spade is no phobia, an open debate on uncomfortable issues is no hatred. Was Gandhi being Islamophobic when he said the following?
“THE BULLY AND THE COWARD
Unless this elementary condition is recognized, we have no atmosphere for considering the ways and means of removing misunderstanding and arriving at an honourable, lasting settlement. But assuming that the acceptance of the elementary condition will be common cause between the two communities, let us consider the constant disturbing factors. There is no doubt in my mind that in the majority of quarrels the Hindus come out second best. My own experience but confirms the opinion that the Mussalman as a rule is a bully, and the Hindu as a rule is a coward. I have noticed this in railway trains, on public roads, and in the quarrels which I had the privilege of settling. Need the Hindu blame the Mussalman for his cowardice? Where there are cowards, there will always be bullies. They say that in Saharanpur the Mussalmans looted houses, broke open safes and, in one case, a Hindu woman’s modesty was outraged. Whose fault was this? Mussalmans can offer no defence for the execrable conduct, it is true. But I as a Hindu am more ashamed of Hindu cowardice than I am angry at the Mussalman bullying.” (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volume 28, page 49)
Was Ambedkar being Islamophobic when he wrote the following?
“The Hindu Maha Sabha plan is no way to unity. On the contrary, it is a sure block to progress. The slogan of the Hindu Maha Sabha President— Hindustan for Hindus— is not merely arrogant but is arrant nonsense. (All sane Indians are saying the same thing about the RSS slogan of “Hindu Rashtra” today, and they are right as Ambedkar was at his time.) The question, however, is: is the Congress way the right way? It seems to me that the Congress has failed to realize two things. The first thing which the Congress has failed to realize is that there is a difference between appeasement and settlement, and that the difference is an essential one. Appeasement means buying off the aggressor by conniving at his acts of murder, rape, arson and loot against innocent persons who happen for the moment to be the victims of his displeasure. On the other hand, settlement means laying down the bounds which neither party to it can transgress. Appeasement sets no limits to the demands and aspirations of the aggressor. Settlement does. The second thing the Congress has failed to realize is that the policy of concession has increased Muslim aggressiveness, and what is worse, Muslims interpret these concessions as a sign of defeatism on the part of the Hindus and the absence of the will to resist. This policy of appeasement will involve the Hindus in the same fearful situation in which the Allies found themselves as a result of the policy of appeasement which they adopted towards Hitler. This is another malaise, no less acute than the malaise of social stagnation. Appeasement will surely aggravate it. The only remedy for it is a settlement.” (Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar WRITINGS AND SPEECHES VOL. 8, (Pakistan or the Partition of India) Ed Vasant Moon, Pub. Dr. Ambedkar Foundation, New Delhi. Page 270)
Was Nehru against Muslims when he asked the following of students of Aligarh Muslim University, in a convocation address?
“I have said that I am proud of our inheritance and our ancestors who gave an intellectual and cultural pre-eminence to India. How do you feel about this past? Do you feel that you are also sharers in it and inheritors of it and, therefore proud of something that belongs to you as much as to me? Or do you feel alien to it and pass it by without understanding it or feeling that strange thrill which comes from the realization that we are the trustees and inheritors of this vast treasure? I ask you these questions, because in recent years many forces have been at play diverting people’s minds into wrong channels and trying to pervert the course of history. You are Muslims and I am a Hindu. We may adhere to different religious faiths or even to none; but that does not take away from that cultural inheritance that is yours as well as mine. The past holds us together; why should the present or the future divide us in spirit?”
Was Lohia being a hater of Muslims and Hindus both when he had this scathing indictment of both to make?
“Muslims, because they have acknowledged Ghazni and Ghori as their ancestors, have been unable to protect their own freedom and rule. India’s medieval history is just as much a war between Muslim and Muslim as between Hindu and Muslim. The invading Muslim has fought and conquered the native Muslims. Five times were the native Muslims unable to protect their freedom. They were subjected to such unparalleled massacres as those of Taimur and Nadir Shah. The Mogul Taimur massacred the native Pathans and the Irani Nadir Shah, the native Moguls. A people who acknowledge invaders and massacres as their ancestors are unworthy of freedom and their self-pride is false, because they have no continuing identity that they can maintain. This, however, does not solve the problem of the enduring effects of a conquest if it has lasted long. Conquerors who change into natives in course of time become a part of the nation and a formula must be evolved that corresponds to this change in realities. It is one thing not to acknowledge the rape of one’s mother; it is quite another to refuse to accept its results. The Muslim has erred in acknowledging both the rape and its results, the Hindu in refusing to acknowledge either. The Hindu has been unable to protect his mother and he adopts the easy way of transferring his anger at his own infirmity on to the head of his half-brother. The half-brother in turn goes native and falls victim to another variation of the disease; his scale of values falls so low that he mistakes infirmity for prowess.” (Ram Manohar Lohia, Guilty Men of India’s Partition, B.R. Publishinh Corporation, Delhi, 2020 (1960). Page 7.)
I am aware that I will be accused of quoting out of context. My defence against such a charge is twofold. One, I am providing full references, read for yourself. Two, I have been noticing arguments and behaviour of people in the last about 6-7 months which have close parallels in the arguments and behaviour of Indian politicians and people from 1880s to 1947. The hope that we have buried the problems of past remains unfulfilled so far.
The above quoted were among the most prominent politicians of India who shaped this country into a democracy. They are makers of modern pluralistic democratic India. Their credentials as secular politicians are beyond doubt. They were trying to tackle the problems which religions—particularly Hinduism and Islam—created in Indian politics. They were equally or even more scathing towards Hinduism and Hindus when they were dealing with Hindu communalism, but they did not brush the Muslim communalism under the carpet, when it needed to be discussed.
In my view the only remedy is an open debate on all issues. A debate with complete calm and guided by reason and not emotions and indoctrinated views. We all—including this writer—should first look into our own minds. “हमें अपने गिरेबानों में झाँकने की जरूरत है”। we have to allow every one to speak his/her mind and present his/her views and arguments in the public debate. However obnoxious, abhorrent, ill formulated or fallacious those views may be, we have to first understand his/her reasons and grounds for holding those views. And then only have to systematically help him/her see his/her own errors of judgment, and we have to do it without loosing civility, without anger and with respect due to each citizen. Creating boggy of islamophobia to shut-up your opponent and blowing trumpets of victory when supporters of Islamism, Wahhabism and Islamic supremacy indict India—a democracy granting equal rights to all—is neither fair nor will it solve the problem. We certainly need to defeat the hate mongering of sizable section of Hindus against Muslims, but we will never be able to do that unless we recognise the existence of age-old aggression on and hate for Hindus in the sizable section of Muslim population as well. Remaining bound by our own prejudices and attacking others will destroy us all.
23rd April 2020