राष्ट्रीय जनसंख्या रजिस्टर (एनपीआर) को ले कर बहुत विवाद है। आज, 6 मार्च 2020, के द हिन्दू अखबार में की एक खबर के अनुसार “फ्रीडम इन द वर्ल्ड रिपोर्ट 2020” ने भारत को सबसे कम स्वतन्त्रता वाला लोकतन्त्र घोषित किया है। बहुत सी अन्य चीजों साथ इसमें राष्ट्रीय जनसंख्या रजिस्टर का भी महती योगदान बताया गया है। मैं बहुत दिन से समझने की कोशिश कर रहा हूँ कि एनपीआर से क्या क्या समस्याएँ आ सकती हैं। यह सर्वेक्षण इसी प्रयास का एक हिस्सा है।
पर सर्वेक्षण पर आने से पहले अभी के बेहद संवेदनशील माहोल में कुछ कहना जरूरी है।
एक, यह बहुत लोग मानते हैं कि बीजेपी की पार्टी के रूप में नीतियों में समस्याएँ हैं। इन नीतियों के अनुसार सरकार चलाने में भी समस्याएँ हैं। उदाहरण के लिए गौरक्षा और राम मंदिर पर जो कुछ चला है और अभी भी चल रहा है वह एक धर्म निरपेक्ष सरकार के लिए और लोकतन्त्र के लिए गलत है। इसी तरह से बीजेपी के बहुत से नेताओं के हिंसा और घृणा फैलाने वाले बयान भी बहुतायत में हैं, और पार्टी ने उन बयानों पर न तो नेताओं को दंडित किया है, न रोका है और नाही उनकी निंदा की है। हिन्दू राष्ट्र का नारा भी संघ और बीजेपी से संबन्धित लोग बार बार देते रहते हैं। ये सब आज के भारत की समस्याएँ हैं। और ये सभी जानने वाले और लोकतन्त्र में आस्था रखने वाले लोग मानते भी हैं।
दो, ऊपर बिन्दु एक में लिखी बातों के सही होने से इस सरकार की हर चीज गलत नहीं हो जाती। बीजेपी के लोकतन्त्र की धारणा में समस्याओं से सरकार के सभी कानून, सभी काम और अभी योजनाएँ स्वतः ही अलोकतांत्रिक और मुस्लिम विरोधी या उनको निशाना बनाने वाली नहीं हो जाती। अतः समग्र तस्वीर देखने के साथ-साथ तस्वीर के प्रत्येक हिस्से को स्वतंत्र रूप में जाँचने की भी जरूरत है। यह जांच हमें अपने स्तर पर भी करनी चाहिए। जिस तरह सरकार की नीतियों को भक्तिभाव से सही मानलेना लेकतंत्र के लिए खतरनाक है वैसे ही लोकतन्त्र के कथित रखवालों के हर निष्कर्ष को सही मान लेना भी लोकतन्त्र के लिए खतरनाक हो सकता है।
तीन, यह सर्वेक्षण का खाका हमारे अपने स्तर पर जांच करने के लिए बनाया गया है। आज कल फैशन में चल रहे विचारों के विरुद्ध कुछ भी कहदेना और पूछलेना लोकतन्त्र और धर्म-निरपेक्षता विरोधी करार दे दिया जाता है। इस तरह के विचार और निर्णय प्रक्रिया बंद दिमाग की निशानी होते हैं। लोकतन्त्र किसी भी विचार को अंतिम सत्य मन कर नहीं सब विचारों को जांच के काबिल मानने पर ही चल सकता है। लोकतन्त्र के मूल मंत्रों में एक संवाद की छूट और खुलापन है। जो लोग संवाद में विचार या मान्यताओं के विवेचन के स्थान पर व्यक्तियों को लेबल करके संवाद बंद करना चाहते हैं वे जिन्हें स्वतंत्र अभिवक्ती का दुश्मन माना जाता है उन से किसी भी मायने में बेहतर नहीं हैं।
चार, यह सर्वेक्षण भारत के उन नागरिकों को अपने विचार अभिव्यक्त करने के लिए आमंत्रित करता है जओ अभिव्यक्ती की स्वतन्त्रता में विशास रखने हैं, विवेक सम्मत निर्णय लेना चाहते हैं और अपने विचारों की खुली अभिव्यक्ती से डरते नहीं हैं। क्यों कि लोकतान्त्रिक निर्णयों में वेही विचार भूमिका निभा सकते हैं जो अभिव्यक्त किए गए हों। अनभिव्यक्त विचार सामूहिक चिंतन में कोई भूमिका नहीं रखते। अतः सर्वेक्षण में अपना नाम अवश्य लिखें।
पाँच, मैंने कई दिन पहले एक सर्वेक्षण किया था। उस के संदर्भ में एक मित्र ने कहा कि उसने इस लिए भाग नहीं लिया कि पता नहीं मैं इस प्रकार एकत्रित सूचनाओं का किस गलत राजनीती के पक्ष में करूंगा। जो लोग चाहेंगे उन सब को मैं सभी आंकड़े और मेरे निष्कर्ष भेजदूंगा। इस पर भी आप को शक है कि इस सर्वेक्षण के आंकड़ों का गलत इस्तेमाल हो सकता है, मेरे द्वारा तो सर्वेक्षण में भाग मत लीजिये।
सवालों की सूची दो भागों में है, भाग 1 में वे सवाल हैं जो 2010 के एनपीआर प्रारूप में भी थे। भाग 2 में 2020-21 किन लिए नए जोड़े गए सवाल हैं।
राष्ट्रीय जनसंख्या रजिस्टर 15 सवालों की सूची
कांग्रेस शासनकाल में 2010 में हुई राष्ट्रीय जनसंख्या रजिस्टर को अपडेट करने की प्रक्रिया में पूछे गए 15 सवालो की सूची इस प्रकार हैं:
व्यक्ति का नाम
घर के मुखिया से सम्बन्ध
पिता का नाम
माता का नाम
पति का नाम (यदि विवाहित है)
जन्म की तारीख
राष्ट्रीयता (घोषित के रूप में)
सामान्य निवास का वर्तमान पता
वर्तमान पते पर रहने की अवधि
स्थायी निवास पता
व्यवसाय / गतिविधि
वर्ष 2020 में राष्ट्रीय जनसंख्या रजिस्टर में जोड़े गए सवाल
भाजपा समर्थित एनडीए शासनकाल में राष्ट्रीय जनसंख्या रजिस्टर में जोड़े गए प्रश्नो की सूची इस प्रकार हैं:
माता-पिता के जन्म का स्थान
निवास का अंतिम स्थान
वोटर आईडी कार्ड नंबर
मोबाइल फोन नंबर की जानकारी
ड्राइविंग लाइसेंस नंबर
सर्वेक्षण सिर्फ भाग 2 के सवालों पर है।
यदि इस सर्वेक्षण में आप को कोई ऐतराज न लग रहा हो तो मेहरबानी करके अधिकाधिक लोगों को इसे पूरा करने के लिए प्रेरित करे। आप लिंक कॉपी करके दूसरों को भेज सकते हैं। आशा है मदद करेंगे। यह सर्वेक्षण 15 मार्च 2020 को बंद हो जाएगा।
तीन: हर गलत आख्यान की आपको कीमत चुकानी पड़ेगी, जिस भी दुष्टता को आप पुष्ट करेंगे वही आप को डसेगी, चाहे वह हिन्दू-दुष्टता हो या मुस्लिम-दुष्टता।]
एक: अराजकता में किसी का भी भला नहीं है
हमने अपना प्रातिनिधिक-लोकतन्त्र और इस की संसदीय प्रणाली अंग्रेजों से सीखी है। इस संसदीय प्रणाली की सफलता की एक शर्त की विवेचना अंबेडकर अपनी पुस्तक “पाकिस्तान ओर पार्टिसन ऑफ इंडिया” के पृष्ट 291 पर करते हैं। वे इस संदर्भ में वे लॉर्ड बलफ़ौर (Lord Balfour) का उद्धरण देते हुए कहते हैं कि संसदीय प्रणाली की ताकत सब की “इसे सफल बनाने की नीयत (प्रतिबद्धता) में होती है”। जिन लोगों ने अंग्रेजों से यह पद्धती सीखी है उनके बारे में लॉर्ड बलफ़ौर आगे कहते हैं कि “वे हमारी संसद में रुकावट डालने के तरीके तो सीख लेते हैं, पर यह उन्हें कोई नहीं समझाता कि जब असल बात आती है तो हमारी सब संसदीय पार्टियां इस बात के लिए प्रतिबद्ध होती हैं कि मशीन (अर्थात राज्य-व्यवस्था) बंद नहीं हो (यह चलती रहे)”। (They learn about our parliamentary methods of obstruction, but nobody explains to them that when it comes to the point, all our parliamentary parties are determined that the machinery shan’t stop.) अंबेडकर का मानना है कि चलते रहने, अवरुद्ध हो कर बंद न हो जाने, की प्रतिबद्धता के बिना संसदीय प्रणाली नहीं चल सकती। यह समझना सहज है की किसी राज्य व्यवस्था के भंग हो जाने पर अराजकता आती है और अराजकता सिर्फ संगठित गुंडा-गिरोहों का भला कर सकती है।
कल के द हिन्दू अखबार में बंगाल की संवैधानिक रूप से चुनी हुई, और संविधान की सपथ के कर मुख्य-मंत्री बनी सुश्री ममता बनेर्जी का वक्तव्य है कि “जो बंगलादेश से आए हैं, जिन्हों ने पहचान-पत्र प्राप्त किए हैं, और जो वोट देते रहे हैं, वे भारत के नागरिक हैं। उन्हें फिर से प्रतिवेदन देने की जरूरत नहीं है”। इस देश में नागरिकता के कुछ नियम हैं, नागरिकता कानून में अभी के संशोधन से पहले भी थे। सुश्री बनेर्जी कह रही हैं की जिन लोगों ने जैसे-तैसे भी मतदाता सूची में अपने नाम लिखवा लिए हैं वे अब स्वतः ही नागरिक हैं। उन्हें किसी प्रकार के प्रतिवेदन की जरूरत नहीं है।
मैंने अपने 29 फ़रवरी 2020 के ब्लॉग पोस्ट “व्हेर डज दिस इंडियन बेलोंग?” में यही लिखा है। कि नागरिकता (संशोधन) विधेयक का विरोध इस लिए नहीं है कि इस से भारतीय मुसलमानों की नागरिकता को कोई खतरा है, बल्कि इस लिए है कि जिन के नाम गैर-कानूनी तरीकों से विभिन्न राजनैतिक पार्टियों ने मतदाता सूची में लिखवा दिये हैं, उन की पहचान न हो सके। सुश्री बनेर्जी यही कह रही हैं। साथ ही वे यह भी कह रही हैं कि धोखे से नागरिकता लेलेना इस देश में उन्हें जायज लगता है। अर्थात वे देश के नियमों से चलाने की पक्षधर तभी तक हैं जब तक की नियम वे हैं जो उन्हें पसंद हैं।
आप ऐसे बहुत से उदाहरण देख सकते हैं जो देश की कानून व्यवस्था को ठप्प करने के लिए खुली चुनौती हैं। ये राजनैतिक पार्टियां कर रही हैं, समाज-सेवी कर रहे हैं, और कथित-बुद्धिजीवी तो इसी को अपनी महानतम उपलब्धी मानते हैं। लोकतन्त्र विधि-विधानों पर चलता है। संसद और उच्चतम न्यायालय इन विधि-विधानों के बनाने वाले और रखवाले होते हैं। जब आप यह घोषणा करते हैं कि न्यायालय और संसद की बात तभी तक मानेंगे जब तक वे आप के मन के अनुसार चलें तब आप निरंकुश हो रहे हैं, तब आप भारत के दूसरे नागरिकों को अपने आप से कमतर मान रहे होते हैं। आप को कोई कानून पसंद नहीं है तो उसे बदलवाने के लिए बहस का, प्रदर्शन का, शांतिपूर्ण संघर्ष का हक़ तो संविधान देता है; पर उस कानून को ना मानने का और जबतक वह कानून है तब तक न्यायालय के निर्णय को न मानने का हक़ नहीं है। यदि आप ऐसा करते हैं तो आरजकता कि निमंत्रण दे रहे हैं।
दो: सीएए, एनपीआर और एनआरसी की तुरंत जरूरत है
कल एक व्हाटसप्प समूह में किसी ने एक अखबार की कटिंग सब को भेजी। इस का शीर्षक है “मुख्यमंत्री और राज्यपाल के नागरिकता प्रमाण नहीं सरकार के पास, आरटीआई का खुलासा”। यह खबर हरयाणा की है। आगे तर्क दिया गया है कि “जिनके अपने नागरिकता प्रमाण पत्रों का रेकर्ड मौजूद नहीं, वे पूरे प्रदेश और देश की 135 करोड़ जनता से सबूत मांग रहे जो अपने आप में बड़ा ही हास्यास्पद है”।
मैं तो इन महाशय से उलटे नतीजे पर पहुंचता हूँ इस खबर से। मुझे तो इस खबर से यह लगता है देश में नागरिकता के रेकॉर्ड्स की बहुत बुरी हालत है। यहां लोग बिना नागरिकता के सबूत के मुख्यमंत्री और राज्यपाल बनजाते हैं। हमें क्या पता कितने लोग कहाँ-कहाँ से आकार, किस-किस तरह के अतीत के साथ, किन-किन महत्वपूर्ण पदों पर बैठ कर हम पर राज कर रहे हैं? इस परिस्थिति को तो जल्द से जल्द सुधारना चाहिए। हमें शीघ्रातिशीघ्र एनपीआर और एनआरसी पर काम करना चाहिए जिस से ऐसी स्थिति से निकाल सकें।
अभी तक रेकॉर्ड्स और जानकारियों का ठीक से रख-रखाव नहीं हुआ, नियमों के अनुशार काम नहीं हुआ, तो क्या इस का यह अर्थ है कि आगे भी यही अव्यवस्था रहे? अव्यवस्था और नागरिकों के बारे में अज्ञान है, इसी लिए तो एनपीआर और एनआरसी की जरूरत है।
मेरा दिमाग उलटा काम कर रहा है या इन भाई साहब का?
तीन: हर गलत आख्यान की आपको कीमत चुकानी पड़ेगी, जिस भी दुष्टता को आप पुष्ट करेंगे वही आप को डसेगी, चाहे वह हिन्दू-दुष्टता हो या मुस्लिम-दुष्टता
पिछले दो सप्ताह से मैं दो आख्यानों को समझने की कोशिश कर रहा हूँ।
पहला आख्यान (narrative): इसके अनुसार दिल्ली में जो कुछ हुआ वह:
हिंदुओं ने किया, मुसलमानों के विरुद्ध।
इस में सरकार और दिल्ली पुलिस ने मदद की।
दिल्ली में मुसलमानों का ‘जनसंहार’ (genocide) हुआ।
हिंदुओं ने मुसलमानों की ‘तबाही’ (pogrom) किया।
भारत में मुसलमानों का जनसंहार किया जा रहा है, यह जनसंहार हिन्दू सरकार के सहयोग से कर रहे हैं।
भारत के हिन्दू मुसलमानों से घ्राणा करते हैं और उन्हें खत्म कर देना चाहते हैं।
भारत मुसलमानों के लिए सब से असुरक्षित देश हो गया है।
इस सारी चीज में मुसलमान एकदम निर्दोष हैं, भले हैं, शांतिप्रिय रहे हैं और वे सामान्य तौर पर शान्तिप्रिय हैं।
मुसलमानों के जन संहार का ये दौर कपिल मिश्रा के बयान के कारण शुरू हुआ।
दिल्ली का दंगा मुसलमानों ने हिंदुओं पर संगठित आक्रमण के रूप में किया।
मुसलमानों ने बहुत मजबूत पूर्व तैयारी कर रखी थी।
यह देश को अमेरिकी राष्ट्रपति ट्रम्प की यात्रा के समय दुनिया भर में बदनाम करने की सजिस थी।
यह हिंदुओं दो डराने और सरकार को बदनाम करने के लिए था।
हिन्दू निर्दोष और शान्तिप्रिय हैं।
मुसलमान सदा आक्रामक और दंगा शुरू करने वाले होते हैं।
मुझे आख्यान शब्द से बहुत प्रेम नहीं है। इस में सदा ही मुझे तर्क और तथ्यों की कमी को काल्पनिक व्याख्याओं से भरने के प्रयत्न की बू आती है। ये काल्पनिक व्याख्याएँ बहुत बार निराधार और गलत आरंभिक मान्यताओं पर चलती हैं, जिन्हें सिद्ध नहीं किया जा सकता। पर यहाँ यह आख्यान शब्द बहुत ही सटीक है। मेरे विचार से इन दोनों आख्यानों में झूठ के साथ-साथ जिसे हैरी फ़्रंकफ़र्ट “बुलशिट” (बकवास?) कहता है उसकी मात्र बहुत अधिक है। फ़्रंकफ़र्ट के अनुसार बुलशिट का सदा ही झूठ होना जरूरी नहीं है। बुलशिटर सच्चाई और झूठ से निरपेक्षा रह कर जो उसे उस वक़्त कामका लगता है वह आख्यान बनाने की कोशिश करता है। और बुलशिट समाज में झूठ के बजाय ज्यादा हानिकारक होती है।
उपरोक्त दोनों आख्यानों के लिए खुदरे ‘प्रमाण’ संचार माध्यमों में, विशेष रूप सेर सोसियल-मीडिया में, बहुतायत से उपलब्ध हैं। उन्हें सिर्फ सुविधा अनुसार या अपने-अपने उद्देश्यों के अनुसार, चुनने की जरूरत होती है। बुलशीटिंग में कथित-लिब्रल बुद्धिजीवियों की महारत मोदी-समर्थकों की तुलना में कहीं ज्यादा है। जब आप सिद्धान्त-निर्माण को आख्यान घड़ने का समानार्थक मान लेते हैं, तो सिद्धान्त निर्माण के नाम पर बुलशिटिंग के अभ्यास के बहुत मौके मिलते हैं। और कथित-लिबरल बुद्धिजीवी अपनी आर्थिक सामाजिक बढ़त के चलते इसके मौके अपेक्षाकृत अधिक पाते हैं। इस लिए पहला आख्यान दुनिया भर में अधिक प्रचलित हो रहा है।
इस बात के कोई भरोसे मंद प्रमाण नहीं हैं कि यह “जनसंहार” या “पोग्रोम” था। पर विदेशी मीडिया यही लिख रहा है, भारतीय बुलशिटर्स की मदद से। इस बात के कोई बरोसेमंद प्रमाण नहीं हैं कि यह एकतरफा दंगा था, पर विदेशी मीडिया यही लिख रहा है। इस में मुसलमानों ने उतनी ही हिंसक-दुर्भावना से हिस्सा लिया है जितना हिंदुओं ने। भारत में शान्तिप्रिय और सबके प्रती सद्भावना रखने वाले लोग मुसलमानों और हिंदुओं दोनों में हैं, पर मीडिया में प्रचार एकतरफा है।
मेरे विचार से उदारवाद के लिए सत्य और न्याय का पक्ष लेना नैतिक ज़िम्मेदारी है। पर भारतीय उदारवादी दुनियाभर में मिथ्या प्रचार का कोई जवाब देने की जरूरत नहीं समझते, जब तक कि वह प्रचार उनके वर्तमान उद्देश्यों की पूर्ति करता रहे। ये हिन्दू को और देश को अशहिष्णु, क्रूर, मुसलमानों के लिए दुर्भावना-ग्रस्त और बहुसंख्यावादी साबित करने वाले आख्यान जीतने ज्यादा सफल होंगे उतना ही जल्दी पलट कर अपने निर्माताओं पर आएंगे। मुस्लिम अशहिष्णुता, आक्रामकता, इस्लामिक-वर्चश्व की भावना और मुस्लिम-वीटो की मुहिम को जितना छुपाया जाएगा उतना ही वह बढ़ेगी।
दिल्ली दंगों में दोनों पक्षों ने भाग लिया है। दोनों ने क्रूरता की है। अमानवीयता की है। शाहीन-बाग जैसे विरोध-प्रदर्शनों के पीछे जितनी धोंसपट्टी आम जनता के लिए है, जितनी ऊग्रता और दुर्भावना साफ दिखती है, बच्चों तक को सिखाई जा रही है, उसे छुपाने से वह मिट नहीं जाएगी। और बढ़ेगी।
इस बुलशिट आख्यान का एक हिस्सा दुनिया भर में प्रचारित यह है कि दंगे कपिल मिश्रा के बयान/भाषण से भड़के। मैंने कपिल मिश्रा के वास्तविक बयान और विडियो ढूँढने की कोशिश की। मुझे जो मिला वह यह है। कपिल मिश्रा ने कहा कि (1) हम ट्रम्प की यात्रा के समापन तक चुप हैं। (2) “हमने दिल्ली पुलिस को तीन दिन की अंतिम-चेतावनी दी है कि जफ्फराबाद और चंदबाग की सड़कें खुलवादे”। (3) पुलिस के सामने खड़ा हो कर कहा कि “नहीं तो (हम खुलवाएंगे) और आप की (पुलिस की) भी नहीं सुनेंगे”। दंगा कपिल मिश्रा और उसके समर्थकों के चले जाने के एक घंटे बाद शुरू हुआ। सवाल यह है की कपिल मिश्रा के बयान में ऐसा क्या है कि तुरंत दंगे हो गए? इस बयान के अलावा तो मुझे कपिल मिश्रा की कोई कारस्तानी इस दंगों के संदर्भ में कहीं मिली नहीं। तो इस आख्यान में कपिल मिश्रा के बयान को दंगों के लिए जिम्मेदार क्यों ठहराया जा रहा है? कोई तर्क? कोई प्रमाण?
यह सवाल मैं दो कारणों से रख रहा हूँ। एक, मैं समझ नहीं पा रहा कि कि दंगों की कड़ी मिश्रा के बयान से कैसे जुड़ती है। मेरी मिश्रा जैसे लोगों को दोषमुक्त करने की या उनके समर्थन की कोई मानसा नहीं है। पर मैं यह नहीं मान पा रहा कि ये बयान अपने आप में दंगा शुरू करने में समर्थ हैं। दो, मिश्रा के बयान को दंगों के आधार के रूप में स्वीकार करना पहले आख्यान के लिए जरूरी है। यही वह कड़ी है जिस के माध्यम से दंगों का पूरा दोष बीजेपी समर्थक हिंदुओं पर मढ़ा जा रहा है। तो इसे समझना जरूरी है। क्यों की आगे का बुलशिट आख्यान इसी आरंभिक मान्यता पर आधारित है।
अपने आप को प्रगतिशील, लिब्रल और धर्मनिरपेक्ष साबित करने की इच्छा रखने वाले सभी, खास कर युवा पीढ़ी के, भारतीयों को शर्मिंदा होने की बहुत आदत है। वे हर बात पर, हिन्दू होते पर, भारतीय होने पर, इस देश में रहने, पर शर्मिंदा होते रहते हैं। शायद इस लिए की शर्मिंदा हैं यह कह देना सब से सरल तरीका है अपने आप को लिबरल बुद्धिजीवी साबित करने का। मेरी बिना मांगी सलाह है की पहले थोड़ा तथ्यों की जांच करें, सब तरफ के आख्यानों को जाँचें; फिर तय करें कि शर्मिंदा होना है या गुस्सा होना है या दुखी होना है, या कुछ और। और फिर शर्मिंदा, गुस्सा, दुखी या कुछ और हो कर बैठ नहीं जाएँ; बल्कि जहां हैं वहाँ आपने काम में इस समस्या से जूझने की कोशिश करें। वरना आप की कई पीढ़ियाँ शिर्फ शर्मिंदा होती रहेंगी; आप पर भी।
On 25th February 2020 morning, after perhaps reading the morning papers, someone very close to me rang up. As soon as I said “hello” she said “What is happening in Delhi?” and started crying unconsolably. I had not seen the papers and was getting ready to leave for a day long workshop. So, my natural response was: “What happened?” She informed me that Hindu-Muslim riots have erupted, three Muslims are killed, Muslim houses are being attacked. (After a fair bit of investigation now I don’t think her picture of the situation was entirely correct, but that is another matter, and irrelevant here.) I tried to console her; it was not an easy task. One does not even know what could be said over the phone to console someone sensitive, cares for the harmony and people of the country in such a situation.
This little incident started a chain of thoughts in my mind. There are many people in India who supports CAA. Consider protests against CAA as mistaken; however, also support the right to protest of those who consider CAA unjust or against secularism. At the same time, they think, right to protest does not include right to block public thorough fares for months on end. This last is nothing but holding the general public at ransom, I even wonder if such an act qualifies as non-violent. But if they block the roads, it is the job of the police to remove them, peacefully as far as possible, but failing that by force if need be. This is because no one can hold the people at ransom. On the other hand, no politician or private individuals or group of individuals has the right to take law into their own hands, and clear the roads by force.
Someone having above mentioned views when given to understand by the one-sided media that a group of people started riots and targeted minority community, is naturally pained, feels that something deep-down is breaking; something precious being destroyed. They want to give full right to all opinions to be expressed, want peaceful solutions to all problems, and abhor violence and atrocities on anyone. What is the place for such people in present day India? Are they only to cry silently in their homes or can they play a more significant role?
They cannot align with or support the BJP and the government. Supporting CAA is not the same thing as condoning BJP leaders’ poisonous statements, and violence by BJP supporters; even when the anti-CAA protesters go violent often, and are belligerent always. Also, the government has proved itself particularly incapable in handling the propaganda war directly against CAA, and indirectly against the constitutional functioning of the country. In spite of the law being passed in the parliament, in spite of it having the support of sound logic, in spite of it being secular, in spite of it being completely in line with the Indian constitution and promises of the Indian state to minorities of our Islamic neighbours. It has nothing at all against Indian Muslims. And still the government is on the backfoot, could not convince people, could not convince international commentators who know next to nothing of India, and could not expose the deliberate mischief makers in India. It is nothing but phenomenal incompetence on the part of the government. This government is also known to be soft on mob violence. Many of its leaders express hatred and violence for Muslims. Therefore, the kind of people who are pained at violence and all kinds of untruth flying in the air can not belong to the BJP and its supporters.
Another loud and belligerent section of Indians form the most tenacious opposers of CAA. The true purpose, feelings and schemes of this group have already come on the surface. In the very initial days during Jamia protests the most inspiring ‘sheros’, as Barkha Dutt called them, made it clear that their true purpose had nothing to do with secularism or democracy. Their slogan is definitely “Allah hu Akbar” and their purpose is undoubtedly to achieve a world which confirms with “la illah ila allah”. Not to leave any doubts they told the world that their inspiration are likes of Ali Musaliar; the man who led the Mopla riots in which thousands of Hindus were given the enlightening and secular choice of “Islam or death”.
Mr. Sharjeel Imam elaborated and explained the problem, the purpose and the strategy even more clearly. It will be useful to spend some time on Mr. Imam’s exhortations to anti-CAA protesters in Aligarh, who repeatedly clapped and raise the cry of “Allah hu Akbar” at appropriate occasion. Mr. Imam explains his strategy: “… एक और चीज है जो हम दिल्ली में कोशिश करेंगे, … अगर हम स्कॉलर हैं तो इतना तो कर सकते हैं कि एक गैर-मुस्लिम अपने साथ ला सकें, … अगर हम 500 स्कोलर्स की टीम दिल्ली में बनालें मुसलमान, तो 500 हिन्दू हमारे साथ आएंगे ….तो हमारी ज़िम्मेदारी यह है दिल्ली में कि हम 500 मुसलमान 500 हिन्दू सड़कों पर खड़ा करदें अपनी शर्तों पर अपने कॉज़ के लिए, …. हमारी कोशिश यह रही है दिल्ली में कि हम एक ऐसी भीड़ को बना पाएँ जिसमें गैर-मुस्लिम हमारे साथ नारा-ये-तकबीर लगाएँ, वो हमारी शर्तों पर खड़े हों हमारे साथ…” What is important to understand in this is: that this “bhiid” should stand with them on their conditions, for their cause and should shout “Allah ho Akbar”. The purpose or the objective is not Indian constitution, not democracy, not secularism; as we will see shortly. Then what is the purpose? It has layers, let’s have a look.
“ … अगर पाँच लाख लोग हमारे पास हों ओरगनाइज्ड तो हम हिंदुस्तान और नॉर्थ-ईस्ट को परमनेंटली कट कर सकते हैं। … परमनेंटली नहीं तो कम से कम एक-आध महीने के लिए तो कट कर ही सकते हैं।” Many very intelligent Indians are busy explaining that he was not talking of severing north-east from India, he was only talking of road blockade. Listen to the whole video and decide for yourself. Some others organised a march in his support and raised slogans “शरजील इमाम जिंदाबाद. शरजील तुम संघर्ष करो हम तुम्हारे साथ हैं।” One wonders if they are with him in cutting north-east from India permanently as well. Yet others write articles arguing that even if one does not agree with Sharjeel, one should support his right to express his views. Sure, all Indians committed to freedom of speech should support his right to speak his mind. However, I am not sure if the open planning to dismember India is also covered under freedom of speech.
What are Mr. Imam’s problems and what are his goals? The man is quite clear about that. He talks of creating a group of Muslim scholars who are clear “ …कि हम हिंदुस्तान के निज़ाम और आईन से परेशान हैं। अगर ये क्लरिटी है तो ही हम आगे बढ़ सकते हैं, नहीं तो आगे नहीं बढ़ सकते।” The idea then is not to save the constitution (आईन), rather constitution is the problem. Secularism and democracy are the problems, equal rights are the problem for Mr. Imam. To him this is not a problem of CAA, this is a long fight. For what? For freedom of Muslims. According to him “मुसलमानों को आज़ादी नहीं मिली, मुसलमानों पर एक दुश्मन कौम मुसल्लत कर दी गई।” This ‘enemy kaum’, of course are the Hindus whom he wants to support their cause, on his own conditions and wants them to raise nara-e-takbir. Further down he says “जो नाशनलिज्म बोले वह हमारा दुश्मन है”. His animosity for Hindus reminds one the attitude of Muslim leaders from 1985 onwards.
Of course, there shall be a serious objection from many that Sharjeel Imam is not the representative of the anti-CAA protests, that together with Muslims there are right thinking Hindus, most of the secular, democratic and intelligent people, who are against CAA. Sharjeel does not even represent common Muslim’s views. All this may be true. What I want to point out is that a large section of the most tenacious opposers of CAA thinks like Mr. Imam. And also, that this thinking is not discouraged, not condemned, not criticised by the nice intelligent secular democratic people who oppose CAA. Because if they condemn it, they will be dubbed anti-Muslim and anti-secularism. Historians ignore that Sharjeel and Kerala Heroines are speaking the language used by Sir Syed, by Iqbal and by Jinnah.
Another most vocal, voluble section of Indian society is the so-called liberals. They do not find anything wrong in supporting likes of Sharjeel Imam, Ladeeda and Rashids on their conditions. Are busy defending them. Do not see the parallels, as mentioned above, with Syed, Iqbal and Jinnah in their language and arguments. Making the same mistake that Congress under Gandhi made: not seeing the difference between appeasement and agreement; not seeing the difference between safeguard and veto power. If one opposes these clearly Islamic supremacist forces, these so-called liberals declare him/her “the devil” in their righteous indignation. Anyone who supports CAA and opposes the anti-CAA protests becomes a devil to them. Becomes a begot. Becomes a fascist. They do not notice that calling these names to a peaceful proponent of dialogue, even with the most belligerent opponent, is bigotry, is fascism, is intolerance of the first order. And at the same time such righteous people preach freedom of speech, may be for themselves only! The core of these three sections of the population is hardened into bigotry; fringes are somewhat tolerant but ineffective.
For people like Sharjeel, and his ilk, this is not a protest to save the constitution or the democracy or the secularism. It is to declare Islamic supremacy, to tell India that determined Muslims can stop anything. And to retain the veto for Muslims in making laws in the country. The people genuinely concerned with secularism, constitution and democracy should have condemned these forces; they did not, they only supported and encouraged them. Sharjeel Imam is very clear in defining the problem. The fight is not against CAA; it is against the Indian constitution, Indian state and the “dushman kaum” Hindu. This protest is to force the government to take CAA back, to abandon the ideas of NPR and NRC. Thus, showing the Indian state and the “dushman kaum” that in spite of being a minority every law has to be approved by them first. The exact idea Muslim league worked with. The majority of Muslims does not think in this manner, and perhaps is not with Sharjeel Imams; but neither is that majority stopping or condemning them. The Muslims leaders like Waris Pathan and Owaisi rather seem to agree with the bigotry of like that is Sharjeel.
Why are CAA, NPR and NRC anathema to these people? The stock answer is: Look what happened in Assam? How many have to face untold miseries and are threatened by statelessness, by detention centres.
This is cherry picking. Assam problem was festering for a long time before the Assam accord was finalised. Demography was changing. Local representatives of some political parties were helping Bangladeshi illegal immigrants in acquiring ration cards and other documents. The NRC was not initiated even after the accord in 1985. It was delayed by 25 years. By whom? During this time an untold number of illegal migrants entered the country, tightening of the borders and fencing etc were always opposed by the same so-called liberals. Illegal immigrants were helped in settling and getting documents. Now no one actually knows how many illegal migrants are living in this country. A proper understanding of the problem and proper humanitarian solution of it requires information and data. That can be obtained by NPR and NRC. But those who were party to helping illegal entry and settling in the country are not prepared to face the reality. Thus, all out opposition to all attempts to clarify the situation. It is not fear of genuine Indian citizens being deprived of citizenship; it is the fear of discovering the extent of the problem and involvement of local leaders in it.
The criteria for NPR and NRC are not even finalised so far, and our learned professors are busy building slippery slope arguments, purely as a fear mongering trick. They tell you in advance how people will come to you, you may be marked as doubtful, how a vindictive government functionary can victimise you, and so on. Often these slippery slope arguments resemble the Gauls’ fear of the sky falling on their heads in the famous cartoon series Obelix and Asterix. The only difference being that the simpler Gauls needed no slippery slope argument for their unreasonable fear, which our more complicated professors have to constantly spin.
In this scenario and these groups dominating the discourse, what is place left for someone like the person I mentioned in the beginning of this article? Think of an Indian who wants harmonious and peaceful society; who wants equality, justice and freedom for all; who believes in equal rights for all; who believes in protection of all religious and cultural traditions. But does not concede veto power to any one; condemns all bigotry equally without distinction of majority and minority; rejects belligerence completely. None of the three major forces mentioned above have any space for such an Indian. I believed till recently that such fair thinking Indians form the majority population in this country, be they Hindus, Muslims, or any other religion. Now I am not so sure of this estimate. But I am convinced that unless such Indians guided by equality and justice come together and counter the three hardened intolerant forces mentioned above, we are heading for more turmoil. Two of these forces are clearly bigoted, the third one perhaps delusional and haughty. Think clearly, where do you belong? In one of the bigoted groups or the self-righteous haughty one or the silently crying one? If the last one; find more like you, talk with them honestly and get together. Or the place for you will vanish completely.
[In continuation of yesterday’s post titled Fallacious logic cannot kill Facts]
Minds of Indian Hindus and Muslims are shackled by their history. It is not only a restraint, but is a violent grip that squeezes all sense out of them. Hindus have a sense of shame and anger for atrocities (real and imagined) perpetrated on them by Muslim kings, this anger unjustly turns to Muslims of today. In addition for the period under colonial rule they have a sense of betrayal and antagonism for Muslims. Muslims have a sense of pride for the rule of Muslim kings, sense of profound loss that that rule was destroyed by the resurgent groups among the Hindus and British rule. Earlier they expressed this pride in the suppression of Hindus by Muslim kings openly, now spend all their energies in denying atrocities perpetrated by them. Muslims also have a sense of anxiety of assimilation and of majority in a democratic country.
Another angle of grip of history on Hindu mind is the divide between upper castes on one side and Dalits on the other. The historical atrocities perpetrated on Dalits rankle them. The upper casts want to deny that anything of that nature happened, exactly as Muslims want to deny that any atrocities happened on Hindus during the so-called Muslim era.
Any nation to create a unified and just society needs harmony and mutual cooperation between its population groups. The above-mentioned rifts colour our vision and we start interpreting everything in a communal manner due to this grip of history on our minds. We are also unfortunate because most of our political leaders and intellectuals took a route to create this desired harmony that leads exactly in the opposite direction. Rather than developing a historical sense and looking at the truth in eyes, they started creating a past that denies atrocities of Muslim era and exaggerated atrocities on the Dalits. This attitude consolidates in blaming everything on Hinduism and particularly on upper castes among the Hindus. Of course, there is much that should be rightfully blamed on the Hinduism and on the upper castes. But admitting that does not require denying the horrendous Islamic past.
We can not break away from the shackles of history by creating history of our imagination and whitewashing it of all wrongs of our chosen community; the upper castes chosen by the right-wing and Muslims chosen by the left. The whitewashing simply increases impunity in Muslims and anger in Hindus. It works to increase antagonism rather than mitigating it.
We need to develop a ‘sense of history’, and accept the truth. A historical truth is simply a reasonable picture of past created on the basis of available evidence, informed interpretation and logic. It admits variance and fallibility but not baseless imagination.
But more important is development of ‘sense of history’. What I mean by this phrase here is a cognitive attitude to past which has the following characteristics:
Being aware of the GAP: there is and always remains an unbridgeable gap between us as we are today and the past societies and communities we study in history, in other words, our supposed to be ancestors. This gap is caused by time and space. Humanity, its purposes, values, understanding and entire world view undergoes constant change. When we study the time of Harshvardhan or Akbar or Aurangzeb we need to remember that the people in that era and those historical figures had their own values and purposes; and real-life pressures and contingencies. They were not acting according to our values. Of course, we can evaluate and discuss their actions according to our values today; but identifying with them or seeing our immediate enemies or alter egos in them would be a failure of reason on our part.
Realisation by the Hindu that today’s Muslims cannot be held responsible for the actions of Muslims in the past: most of the antagonism and hatred is rooted in the irrational impulse to see today’s Muslim as somehow responsible for what Mahmud Ghazni or Aurangzeb did to Hindus. This impulse is completely stupid. I cannot reasonably hold responsible the Muslim sitting next to me in the bus for destruction of Somnatha temple. In the same Similarly, he also has to realise that he is not the worshipper of Somanatha that suffered that atrocity. It was a condemnably barbarity, and can be a matter for objective analysis; but the personal hurt and identification is illusory and harmful.
Realisation by the Muslim that it is not incumbent on his to feel responsible for the past atrocities of Muslims: The other side of the same understanding is the Muslim sitting next to me cannot see himself as the butshikan that Ghazni was. If he takes pride in the acts of Ghazni and Aurangzeb he is not only living in illusion but is also bounded in medieval anti-humanity Islamic attitude. It makes him a stunted human being and bigot. We both have to free ourselves from our respective past-bound identification and see ourselves as independent individuals today, who are capable of forming our own opinions and making our own choices.
Understanding the continuity and change: yes, we are partly a product of our past, our culture, the knowledge and literature our ancestors produced. But we are not completely fashioned out of our past as a robot or a zombie. We have our own minds and, as said above can make our informed choices. History is necessarily intertwined with our cultural heritage and religious views. Unless we are able to look at our cultural heritage and religion critically, there is no hope of freeing ourselves from the shackles of history. A Hindu who cannot admit that Rama might have committed dozens of mistakes in spite of being considered maryadapurushottam, and a Muslim who cannot admit that Muhammad might have equally mistaken in spite of being considered the ideal for Muslims; are both surely indoctrinated and are likely to be bigots as well. We have to take what supports justice and equality in our heritage and ruthlessly discard what goes against these values.
The problem at this moment is that we are not able to distance ourselves from our pasts. Distancing does not necessarily mean disowning. It only means critical appreciation and appropriate rejection. This kind of attitude to history cannot be developed in one community alone. It either happens simultaneously or does not happen. When we take pride in historical figures who were perpetrators of atrocities, we rankle the other community. When a reputed Muslim Imam calls Mahmud Ghazani his “wali” (a divinely inspiredleader, saint) on national television he is aligning with him, appreciating his acts of temple destruction and is indicating that he remains in the same tradition of idol-destruction and spreading Islam by all means. When a modern Muslim student declare Ali Muslyar as her hero and role model, she is appreciating killing, rape and forced conversions in Mopla rebellion. When a Hindu justifies Rama’s killing of Shambuk or Sita’s agnipariksha he is showing his attitude to modern Dalits and women as inferior. This owning of historical figures together with their atrocities does not allow the required distance from the past. And infuriates the community against whom the atrocities were perpetrated.
The path to create harmony between communities goes though creating distance and critical reading of history. And not through whitewashing the historical wrongs through spinning spacious theories. The creators of spacious theories and authors of articles like Ms. Subramanya’s might be well meaning people who may believe themselves to be working for harmony. But they are actually creating more antagonism, and their acts are like putting vinegar in the wounds. This kind of history destroys harmony rather than helping it; simply because facts can not be killed by fallacious logic. The quote on the title page of Ambedkar’s “Thoughts on Pakistan” is still relevant with a change of tense: “More brain, O Lord, more bain!! Or we shall mar, Utterly this fair garden we might win”. Well, we have won the ‘fair garden’, Ambedkar’s lord didn’t listen, and we have marred the garden.
A friend posted an article in a WhatsApp group by Ms. Rupa Subramanya proclaiming her judgment that “Facts Don’t Back The Argument That Most Indian Muslims Wanted Partition”. Ms. Subramanya, of course, is fully entitled to her opinion. Such articles and proclamations, however, need a careful analysis. Not because they are written with great care or give new analytical insights; but simply because they are part of a uncontrolled flood of not so subtle attempt to falsify history. I am not really interested in Ms. Subramanya’s article in particular; but am only making it an example here of fallacious arguments and questionable facts used in this grand project of falsification.
Ms. Subramanya’s article hinges on the tag line it uses: “86% of adult Muslims in British India did not even have the right to vote”. This is her main argument: that the claim that 86% Muslims voted in favour of Pakistan in 1945-46 elections is not born out by facts as 86% Muslims did not even have the right to vote at that time. We will analyse this logic in detail in a moment. Her reasoning assumes that since the franchise was confined to people who had property, paid tax or were literate; the poor and illiterate were not represented by the voting pattern, and actually, they might have been of the opposite opinion. She also advances the claim that Jinnah and Nehru became such popular leaders only because franchise was limited to what she calls elite, and both these leaders themselves were elites.
Some background and factual corrections
Before analysing her claims and arguments, however, we must very briefly dwell on some background and correct a few factual errors. The errors are not grave and do not subtract much from her argument. Nor am I correcting them here to form an adverse opinion on her judgment. I am pointing out these errors only for the sake of record. Ms. Subramanya rightly says that 1946 elections were held under the Government of India Act 1935 (GoIA 1935). But in the next sentence she talking of franchise being only 3% of the population for Central Assembly. It would be useful to bear in mind that Central Assembly elections were held in December 1945 and the composition of the Central Assembly was as per the Government of India Act 1919, and not as per the GoIA 1935.
Her claim about Muslim population being 120 million in 1946 is wrong on two counts. First, according to Ambedkar the total Muslim population in India as per 1940 census was 92,058,096; Ms. Subramanya herself gives another figure of “94 million Muslims in India” in the next paragraph of her own article. This needs to be checked. As per Ambedkar Muslim population in British India was only 79,398,503; remaining 12,659,593 being in the Indian states. The elections were held only in the British India, and not in the Princely States (called Indian States), therefore, only about 80 million Muslims were represented in the elections.
Another background information that will be useful is the composition of the Federal Legislature of India as per GoIA 1935. According to the Article 18(1) of GoIA 1935 “There shall be a Federal Legislature which shall consist of His Majesty, represented by the Governor-General, and two Chambers, to be known respectively as the Council of State and the House of Assembly (in this Act referred to as “the Federal Assembly”)”. “His Majesty” here refers to the King of England. “The Federal Assembly” is variously referred to in literature as “Central Assembly”, etc. The seats in the Federal Legislature were as follows:
Names of Houses
Council of State
Since the rulers (Kings and Nawabs, etc.) of Indian states did not participate in the elections for the Central Assembly, they were held as per GoIA 1919.
Ambedkar shows the minority representation in the lower houses of Provincial Legislatures according to GoIA 1935 as in the following table:
Seats Allotted under the Act.
Seats due according to Population.
Excess + or Deficit –
Seats Allotted under the Act.
Seats due according to Population.
Excess + or Deficit –
Seats Allotted under the Act.
Seats due according to Population.
Excess + or Deficit –
Seats Allotted under the Act.
Seats due according to Population.
Excess + or Deficit –
C.P. & Berar
The 1946 provincial elections were held as per this distribution of seats.
The results of the elections for the Central assembly are shown in the table below:
Indian National Congress
Indian Muslim League swept all Muslim seats and did not get any other. Indian National Congress swept all general seats and got 7 additional, failed to win a single Muslim seat. This is important because Congress was claiming that it represents all Indians, Muslims included. Congress not winning a single Muslim seat disproved this claim as far as elections can prove or disprove such a claim.
The performance of Muslim League can be understood from the following table:
% Of Muslim Seats won by Muslim League
% of Muslims in total popula-tion
North West Frontier Province
Muslim League won 87% of the allocated Muslim seats; 429 out of 492. The remaining about 13% seats did not go to congress or any other all-community party but to various provincial Muslim parties. One general pattern is that lower the percentage of Muslims in total population of a province, higher the percentage win for Muslim League. Which means that the voters of the provinces like Orissa, C.P., Madras, Bombay, Bihar, U.P. all were supporting the Muslim League agenda. Muslim population in all these mentioned provinces was less than 16%. The question before the voters was quite clear: should India be divided into Hindustan and Pakistan? And more than 87% seats were won on this agenda. There are some (not very reliable) data available which says that 89% of Muslim voters went to Muslim League and less than 4.5% to Congress which was opposing partition and was claiming that it represents all Indians including Muslim League. Maulana Azad was president of Congress during these elections. Again, the congress’ claim of representing Muslims at that time was busted, and it was clearly established that the Muslim League is the only true representative party of Muslims at all India level.
Spacious arguments to kill the facts
Now we can come to Ms. Subramanya’s arguments. Her refrain “86% of adult Muslims in British India did not even have the right to vote” is technically true enough, but her argument that a similarly high percentage of Muslims did not support Pakistan is not sustainable.
Today we have adult franchise. And most of the local and national leaders came from rich economic background. Aren’t the common poor people voting for them? What is more reasonable? To say that the voters in 1945-46 elections represented the mood of the Muslim population in general? Or to claim that the voters went against the mood and wished of common Muslim in those elections? Such things can not be decided mathematically or on clear deduction. One has to hazard an educated guess and form a reasonable opinion. The public mood is also indicated in participation in election meetings, rallies held by the leaders and support they indicate generally. Are there any indication from such activities that overwhelming Muslim support was not available to Muslim League? If no such indication is available anywhere, wouldn’t claims like Ms. Subramanya’s be either dogmatic or motivated?
She claims that Nehru was also such a popular leader because there was an ‘elite’ electorate. First, the overwhelming majority of the voters were elite by no means. Yes, they either paid taxes, or owned a house or land (even farm land) or were literate. But none of these things make them elite. If Nehru’s popularity depended on limited franchise it should have dipped in 1952 and 1957 election; especially as Hindus were also angry because of the partition. Have a look at the table below, for the first three Lok Sabha elections after independence, which Congress fought in Nehru’s leadership:
Why the INC with elite Nehru at its helms won respectively 74%, 75% and 73% seats with between 47.7% to 45% vote shares with adult franchise of poor uneducated Indians? Why the messiah of poor the CPI was junked by the very poor with 3-8% seats with 3-9% vote share?
Yes, Jinnah was an elite and his politics was elite till about 1930. He even proposed once that Congress should not allow membership for anyone not having a matriculation certificate. But then Jinnah changed. Dr. Ambedkar, who was in the thick of the Indian political drama writes about Jinnah’s change as follows:
“… Mr. Gandhi started by protesting that the Muslim League did not represent the Muslims and that Pakistan was only a fancy of Mr. Jinnah. It is difficult to understand how Mr. Gandhi could be so blind as not to see how Mr. Jinnah’s … influence over the Muslim masses has been growing day by day and how he has engaged himself in mobilizing all his forces for battle. Never before was Mr. Jinnah a man for the masses. He distrusted them. To exclude them from political power he was always for a high franchise. Mr. Jinnah was never known to be a very devout, pious or a professing Muslim. Besides kissing the Holy Koran as and when he was sworn in as an M.L.A., he does not appear to have bothered much about its contents or its special tenets. It is doubtful if he frequented any mosque either out of curiosity or religious fervour. Mr. Jinnah was never found in the midst of Muslim mass congregations, religious or political. Today one finds a complete change in Mr. Jinnah. He has become a man of the masses. He is no longer above them. He is among them. Now they have raised him above themselves and call him their Qaid-e-Azam. He has not only become a believer in Islam, but is prepared to die for Islam. Today, he knows more of Islam than mere Kalama. Today, he goes to the mosque to hear Khutba and takes delight in joining the Id congregational prayers. Dongri and Null Bazaar once knew Mr. Jinnah by name. Today they know him by his presence. No Muslim meeting in Bombay begins or ends without Allah-ho-Akbar and Long Live Qaid-e-Azam. In this Mr. Jinnah has merely followed King Henry IV of France—the unhappy father-in-law of the English King Charles I. Henry IV was a Huguenot by faith. But he did not hesitate to attend mass in a Catholic Church in Paris. He believed that to change his Huguenot faith and go to mass was an easy price to pay for the powerful support of Paris. As Paris became worth a mass to Henry IV, so have Dongri and Null Bazaar become worth a mass to Mr. Jinnah and for similar reason.” [Italics added]
Thus the ‘elite’ voter did not represent 86% Muslims is a fallacious argument. Yes, Muslim league started as an elite party of Muslims. It had it’s roots in Sir Syed’s Muslim Education Conference and Nawabs and what Sir Syed calls ‘Raises’. But Mr. Jinnah changed that after 1935. And finally it was party of all Muslims, elites as well as the penniless.
What does Dr. Ambedkar say on Muslim support to Pakistan?
Those who want to understand Muslim politics through Ambedkar’s eyes should read his book ‘Pakistan or the Partition of India’. Here I will give just a few hints. Ambedkar begins chapter eleven on communal aggression on page 249 thus: “[E]ven a superficial observer cannot fail to notice that a spirit of aggression underlies the Hindu attitude towards the Muslim and the Muslim attitude towards the Hindu. The Hindu’s spirit of aggression is a new phase which he has just begun to cultivate. The Muslim’s spirit of aggression is his native endowment and is ancient as compared with that of the Hindu. It is not that the Hindu, if given time, will not pick up and overtake the Muslim. But as matters stand to-day, the Muslim in this exhibition of the spirit of aggression leaves the Hindu far behind.” [Italics added].
It will take a blind man not to notice that the Hindu has picked up and is currently perhaps in the process of overtaking. And it will take an indoctrinate and biased man not to notice that what Ambedkar says here about Muslim aggression is equally true and continues unabated, even after partition.
Now, many would question that this impression is created because of the aggressive politics of Muslim League and is not true of common Muslim. There is a truth in this argument, common Muslim is as good or bad as a common Hindu. But in Ambedkar’s time Muslim politics had a character, and that character was very useful in turning the common Muslim into an undaunting supporter of the political aggression taken up by Muslim parties. Ambedkar writes on page 232-33 of the same book: “Muslim politics takes no note of purely secular categories of life, namely, the differences between rich and poor, capital and labour, landlord and tenant, priest and layman, reason and superstition. Muslim politics is essentially clerical and recognizes only one difference, namely, that existing between Hindus and Muslims. None of the secular categories of life have any place in the politics of the Muslim community and if they do find a place—and they must because they are irrepressible—they are subordinated to one and the only governing principle of the Muslim political universe, namely, religion.” [Italics added]
To test Ambedkar’s thesis, think of any political cause taken up by Muslim and see how quickly it acquires a religious colour, even today. This principle allows Muslim leaders to take the masses along with them like they did in the case of partition. The religion being the centre of politics helps politicians in gaining aggressive mass support on any issue simply by dubbing it religious.
Though it is somewhat tangential to the present issue in this article, but Ambedkar’s thinks that there was a lot of undue appeasement in the sordid story of partition. After dismissing Savarkar’s Hindu Mahasabha version of alternative to Pakistan as non-sense; he asks if Congress can provide some alternative. And says on page 270: “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.”
The reference to rape, looting, arson etc. comes in connection with Gandhi never criticising Muslim rioters, including what Ambedkar calls “blood curdling” and “indescribable” atrocities of Moplas against Hindus.
He also discusses the Muslim alternative to Pakistan, in which they demand for 50% share in everything for abandoning the demand for Pakistan. And at the end of the chapter gives a very sane advice which India did not take. His advice was: “All I would like to say in this connection is that the Hindus before determining their attitude towards this question should note certain important considerations. In particular they should note that there is a difference between … safeguards to allay apprehensions of the weak and contrivances to satisfy the ambition for power of the strong: that there is a difference between providing safeguards and handing over the country. Further, they should also note that what may with safety be conceded … to the weak to be used by it as a weapon of defence may not be conceded to the strong who may use it as a weapon of attack.
These are important considerations and, if the Hindus overlook them, they will do so at their peril. For the Muslim alternative is really a frightful and dangerous alternative.”
 1945 the Central Legislative Assembly and 1946 Provincial Legislatures.
 Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar WRITINGS AND SPEECHES VOL. 8 (Pakistan or The Partition of India), Ed Vasant Moon, Pub. Dr. Ambedkar Foundation, New Delhi. pg 419. Ambedkar mentions Census Report of 1940, I am not sure it is not a mistake, and perhaps Census was conducted in 1941.
 This figure seems to be from Census of India 1941, Vol.1.
 Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar WRITINGS AND SPEECHES VOL. 8 (Pakistan or The Partition of India), Ed Vasant Moon, Pub. Dr. Ambedkar Foundation, New Delhi. pg 407-8
The country is on the boil on the issues of Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 (CAA), possible National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR). We need to think carefully in forming our judgment on these issues. The current protesters certainly do not seem to be thinking either clearly or consistently.
Clear thinking demands looking carefully at your facts, assumptions, moral principles and constitutional provisions. If our assumptions happen to be factually wrong and/or morally unacceptable and/or unconstitutional; obviously whenever we use such premises in arguments the conclusions are likely to be unsound. Another possibility of conclusions becoming unsound is that they are logically invalid.
I make a distinction between sound/unsound arguments on one hand and valid/invalid on the other. Validity of an argument is a purely logical matter; and an argument which involves false premises can be logically valid. However, being sound requires that all the premises used should also be true, or at the least accepted as true in the context.
I also make a distinction between logical necessity and contingent factors. Contextual impact and intentions I consider contingent factors. It might be wrong but I first want to decide acceptability/unacceptability based on purely logical/rational grounds. If something fails at that level, one does need to go to the level of context, intentions and impact. If something passes the test of logic and reason; the second necessarypart before accepting the conclusion is testing it for intentions, impact and context. If it fails in the second test then in spite of passing the logical test it cannot be accepted. But talking of intentions and impact first and coming to logical/rational correctness later is certainly putting the cart before the horse, an admittedly foolish act. To my mind that is wrong order if one really wants to understand things. This wrong order also opens up possibility of imputing motives and spreading lies; in other words gives full scope to demagoguery. Thus, I find it necessary to examine intentions and impact but am not in favor of mixing the two.
This is the bare minimum and broadest characterization of the style of thinking which is necessary, as far as I can understand. Those who are shouting slogans and repeating others judgments without this minimum work are running the risk of being misled by people with vested interest.
Rational thinking operates on some content—facts, assumptions, principles etc.—all of them cannot be generated by logic or reason alone. They come from various sources of our experience, history, previously agreed upon principles and so on. Below I will try to list the premises relevant in this context, i.e. thinking about CAA, NRC and NPR; and base my conclusions on them. There is a possibility of human error in listing as well as arguments, if that is pointed out and proved one must be ready to correct. I would do the same.
This article begins with CAA. As said above; first on rational grounds and then I will try to look into intentions. But we should not forget that while BJP and RSS may have nefarious intentions that can be understood from their pronouncements and actions; the so-called liberals themselves have to be subjected to the same criteria of looking into intentions. No one can be placed above nefarious intentions; and yes, nefarious.
My premises and arguments
Part One: Moral obligation
All thinking on these two issues should first happen in the framework if Indian Constitution. The values listed in the Preamble and Parts I, II, and III should be taken as primary guiding principles. However, the whole of constitution with all so far made laws under it through due process have to be taken in to accounts. Violation of these is not admissible. (Preamble state the values and vision of a democratic society very clearly, Part one defines India, its territory and importance of integrity, part two talk of citizenship and part three defines fundamental rights.)
We may have humanitarian moral consideration which go beyond the constitutional obligation. While considering them we have to make a difference. Not accepting the humanitarian moral obligation which are not demanded by the constitution may make us “lessor moral beings” but does not make our acts unconstitutional. We are not bound to accept such considerations. Therefore, we are not obliged to accept every illegal migrant or refugee who comes to India. We have the right to decide whom to allow and whom not to allow. Allowing one does not grants the same right to other foreigners.
India was divided on the basis of religion, a separate nation explicitly for Muslims. Finally, that itself divided into two Islamic republics. A religious state is by nature discriminatory, constitutionally discriminatory.
The demand was raised, pushed and finally brought to fruition primarily by Muslims under the leadership of Muslim League. (The idea of two nation theory was first expressed by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in his lecture at Lucknow and then in another Lecture at Meerut. He also claimed that two nations cannot live on terms of equality in one country. One of them should necessarily dominate the other as Muslims dominated Hindus for more than seven hundred years. He used this argument to convince Muslims that it is better for them that they serve under the English rather than under the Hindus, as the English are at the least people of the Book. In the Lucknow lecture he argues against the Congress demand of competitive examination for jobs so that British and Indians can come to some government jobs on the basis of merit. His argument is that since the Muslims are not ready to compete at that time, therefor no Indian should be allowed. The demand for merit-based appointments was clearly in the national interest, but for Sir Syed national interest was subordinate to Muslim interest. These two things, two nation theory and national interest is subordinate to Muslim internist set the tone of Muslim politics in India and elements of this thinking still persists in Muslims and so-called liberals.)
The Hindus who believed that Hindus and Muslims cannot live together peacefully with equal rights were marginalized and rejected by the Hindu masses. One can count Savarkar and Golwalkar etc. among them.
The Muslims who believed that Hindus and Muslims cannot live together peacefully with equal rights were overwhelmingly supported by Muslim massed and made their leaders. The overwhelming majority of Muslims voted for Muslim League in 1945-46 elections is a clear proof of this. The partition of India was a major election issue in those elections.
After migration from both sides and some going-and-coming back on both sides; by 1951 almost everything was settles regarding citizenship issues.
In the light of points 3, 4 and 7 above, the Muslim population of Pakistan became as good foreigners to India, as any other foreigners, say, Chines Americans, French or Saudi Arabian. India had no legal or moral obligation for their protection or wellbeing. They achieved what they wanted and were a free nation on which India had no claim or command.
The case of minorities in Pakistan was different. They were assured (by the leaders who later formed government of free India) that India will not be divided, so they need not migrate. Later when partition was inevitable, they were assured by the same leaders that they will be safe in Pakistan.
The Nehru-Liaqat Pact is formal recognition of the historical moral obligation of Indian state in 1950 towards the safety and persecution free life of minorities in Pakistan.
Bangladesh separated from Pakistan in 1971. The Indo-Bangladesh Friendship treaty does not specifically mention protection of minorities in respective countries, but does mention adherence to principles of equality between people. However, the historical moral obligation recognized in Nehru-Liaqat Pact remains to Bangladeshi minorities, as far as I can think.
Pakistan and Bangladesh both are constitutionally Islamic states. In both these countries minorities have faced persecution based on religion. Most of the people belonging to minorities in these countries who have come to India came to avoid persecution. Thus, India has failed in fulfilling its historical moral obligation to minorities in these two countries.
The illegal migrants belonging to minorities in Bangladesh and Pakistan are thus due to result of this failure mention in 12 above.
Indian even now is in no position to ensure the safety of minorities in these countries; thus, they cannot go back. Therefore, India is under moral obligation to provide citizenship to these people, though not under constitutional obligation.
Due to premise 8 India is under no moral, historical or constitutional obligation to provide whatever support to Muslims illegally coming to India from Pakistan and Bangladesh. The obligation is only as much as to any other person from anywhere in the world coming to India illegally. Therefore, they have to follow the same path to citizenship in case they want it.
Thus, Rohingyas, illegal Muslim migrants from Bangladesh and Pakistan, Shias and Ahmadis from Pakistan, Hindus from Sri Lanka, all are in the same class as far as India’s obligation is concerned.
Minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh constitute a class for which India has a historical moral obligation. India has no such moral obligation to others mentioned above.
As far as I can think the moral obligation of India to minorities who came from Afghanistan is only as much as to any other refugee fleeing persecution, they are not at par with the people coming from Pakistan and Bangladesh. The government argument is that people from Afghanistan came when there was Taliban regime there, and the Taliban was installed by Pakistan; therefore, they are also part of the Pakistani persecution. The argument is clearly weak and cannot be accepted.
That however, does not make the whole of CAA obnoxious to me. One, because it includes someone who we do not have a moral obligation but needs the protection, it does not take away anything from any one else. Two, see point 2 above. and three, if one want to oppose CAA in this basis, one should not call it all bad and against secularism; one should demand correction.
In the light of above understanding CAA makes sense and is a necessity for India if it has spine as a nation and moral fiber to fulfil its own admitted obligation to the persecutedminorities of Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Part Two: Constitutional Possibility for special treatment for persecuted minorities of Pakistan and Bangladesh
But this could be done only if the spirit of constitution allows it. If the law made to fulfil this moral obligation goes against the spirit of Indian constitution (of which secularism is a central principle) it should be opposed, repealed. Therefore, we will try to see the constitutional position on this issue. Once we are through with the constitutional position will start looking at the issue of intentions.
Two values of constitution most relevant in this discussion are secularism and equality, which are inseparably connected with each other. Secularism as a state doctrine means separation of state policy and functioning from religious considerations. This directly implies equality of all citizens irrespective of their religion. Therefore, rights, entitlements and protection of low accorded to citizens are not affected by religion of citizens. In other words, a secular state does not discriminate on the basis of religion in any manner.
India as per the constitution is a secular democratic republic. In connection with the CAA debate articles 14 and 15 are most often quoted to establish that CAA is discriminatory against Muslims (a religious minority) and therefore, is against secularism and violates the constitution. Clause 1 of Article 15 states “15. (1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.” Note that it is about Indian “citizens” and that it prohibits discrimination on “grounds only of religion …”. Why is there this word “only” in this article? I am not a legal expert, but as a citizen it seems to indicate to me that there could be other grounds and the totality of grounds may include religion. Though, the basis of discrimination will not be a citizen’s religion alone. (I may be wrong here.) But reading the clause 2(5) of the same article with clause (1) of article 30 one comes to the conclusion that minority institutions established by religious minorities are granted exception from making rules regarding admission of students of educationally backwards communities in them. As we all know, several exceptions are granted to religious minority educational institutions in management, appointment of staff and religious instructions even when the institutions receive grant from the government.
Minorities also have their separate civil laws concerning marriage, divorce, inheritance of property etc. Such laws for Muslim community are: the Shariat Application Act, the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, the Massalman Wakf Validating Act, the Wakf Act, and the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act.
All these are examples of provisions in Indian constitution and law of differential treatment on the basis of religion. And they are not considered as violation of the principles of secularism or violation of equality. This is because the principles of secularism and equality are not understood in a dogmatic or absolute sense. It is recognised that special provisions may have to be made for classes of citizens for their upliftment or protection or advancement. The same idea of positive discrimination is used in reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. In conclusion then, the idea of positive discrimination used for the benefit of a deprived or otherwise disadvantaged class of citizens which gives them benefits over and above others is considered neither against the ideal of equality nor against the ideal of secularism. This is the position with regard to the citizens of India. But the CAA is not about citizens of India, it is about illegal migrants coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Now we shall consider their case in the light of admissibility of positive discrimination in case of Indian citizens.
For this we turn to article 14 which states: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” This article is about persons, that is all who are within territory of India, be they citizens or not citizens of India. The illegal migrants from the three mentioned countries are “within the territory of India”. The first part of the act states that “the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law”, and it may look as if the Muslims are denied equality before the law through CAA. This is the version most people are getting agitated about. But the second part says that the “State shall not deny to any person … the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India”.
The idea of equal protection of law depends of equal treatment of equals, but allows differential treatment to unequals in terms of their circumstances. “The varying needs of different classes of persons require different treatment. In order to pass the test for permissible classification two conditions must be fulfilled, namely: (1) the classification must be founded on an intelligible differentia which distinguishes persons or things that are grouped together from others left out of the group, and (2) the differentia must have a rational nexus with the object sought to be achieved by the statute in question.”
The intelligible differentia demanded in the first criteria can be formulated as thus: Those to whom India has a historical moral obligation and who are a persecuted minority in Bangladesh and Pakistan. To my mind it is difficult to justify Afghanistan. Criteria two: the nexus with the objective is obvious—equal protection of law to those who pass criteria one.
Therefore, as far as I can think the CAA is all about providing protection to those for whom India has a moral obligation and there is no violation of the principles of secularism and equality in this. This brings us to the issue of intentions.
Part three: Issue of intentions of the BJP government
A fuller discussion on intentions will require lot of space and therefore will have to wait. This article is already longer than most people read. Therefore, here I will just raise a few questions to understand the issue of supposed to be evil intentions:
If the government is within the bounds of constitution why should it not try to find out how many and who are the foreigners living in this country? There must be an intelligible reason given by the protesters.
If there is some supposed to be legitimate objection to 1 above—is it in principle or dues to practical difficulties or due to intentions? It must be clearly spelt out.
Suppose the government goes ahead with CAA, NRC and NPR, and with very bad intentions for Muslims; what can it do? Try to imagine.
Presently we don’t even know who will be asked to show documentary evidence of citizenship and who will not be asked. Nor do we know what kind of documentary evidence will be demanded. Most of it is imagination of some people. But supposethree crore people living in this country are found to be without any evidence of citizenship of this country on yet to be defined documents. What do you think the government will or can do with them? Try to imagine the worst-case scenario. Can it send them back? Where? Can it eliminate them? Those who say yes to such an horrendous thought should think again. It is possible in todays world? Can it keep them in detention centres? How long?
When I think about it, I am incapable to think anything very bad. It seems to me that the government will be forced to come up with some scheme of citizenship for them.
The key in this kind of thought experiment is precision. One has to think in terms of actual acts of injustice rather than in nebulous terms like ‘they will be persecuted’. Try to think actual acts of persecution. If one cannot, then there is a possibility of being victim of some demagoguery.
14th January 2020
 In last about 10 years the liberals have proved to be the most intolerant to difference of opinion in India. Their proves in language cannot hide their intolerance of counter views. The people who talk the most about freedom of expression, right to dissent and questioning have been the most prompt in attacking and stifling dissenting voices. Since, the very first principles of liberalism is recognizes the freedom of every citizen to order his/her own life as s/he thinks fit, and which includes freedom of speech. Therefore, I will consistently refer to the this particular group of Indian liberals as ‘so-called liberals’.
 Those who want to understand this mindset in greater detail should refer to the following:
Tiderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan by MJ Akbar
 Those who doubt this can look at the population figures of Bangladesh and almost continuously coming reports of persecution of minorities in Pakistan. This persecution is very often with the tacit support of the state.
[Before I go to the next set of slogans, it has become necessary to note that this writing is somewhat behind the changing character of the protests, the protests seem to have developed a positive character as well.
Let me explain: I am firmly for CAA, NRC and NPR, with the condition that NRC and NPR are carried out in an absolutely just and transparent manner. And I believe that is possible. I also believe that whether BJP wants or not the government can be forced to conduct this exercise in a fair and transparent manner.
The protests against CAA, NRC and NPR are becoming a movement. Strangely, in spite of this movement being AGAINST my own stand, it makes me happy. BECAUSE it is learning how to distinguish between the present-day government and the nation. Because it is discovering that tricolor is something to be respected, rather than a symbol of hated nationalism. Because it is discovering that singing national anthem is a powerful means of declaring allegiance to the country while simultaneously fighting against government decisions which we don’t agree with. Because this movement is discovering that it is the constitution which binds us together, it is the constitution which confers sovereignty of will on each of us, which becomes the corner stone in fight for justice. Because this movement is learning to see that India is something to be proud of. Because this movement is slowly but surely discarding the India bashing rhetoric and learning to fight with the present government while declaring firm ownership and allegiance to India that is Bharat.
I am for the CAA, I am AGAINST the movement opposing CAA; BUT the positive affirmation of India by my CAA-opposing compatriots also brings joy to heart. We will fight out our differences, but will swim or sink together. This is a democratic fight amongst us, not between ‘us’ and ‘them’. This is a nation making up its mind, not enemies fighting to vanquish each other. We are one people and are very lucky to have diversity of opinions, cultures and faiths. We all have equal right to try to shape India the way we wish, as long as we feel, believe and say it is “My India”.]
As a response to part 1 of this piece some friends have suggested a critique of right-wing slogans as well. I will come to that in the third part, if find some worth analyzing right wing slogans. Many right-wing slogans are clearly communal and are recognize as such by all. Some others are abusive: desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maro salon ko. Some are stupid: Dilli police tum lath bajao, ham tumhare saath hain. There is nothing to write about them. They simply express opposition and hatred. I am writing about so-called liberal slogans because they are seen as secular and not communal.
In the last part we had a brief look at a set of slogans used in protests against CAA etc. In this part trying to understand some more slogans used in the same protests. They are:
“……. Insha Allah, Insha Allah”
“Tera mera rishta kya? La ilaha illallah”
What do these slogans mean?
Allahu akbar: also written as “Allah hu akbar” and “Allah akbar”. The simple meaning is “God is the greatest”. Muslims use this daily in their prayers and, many other occasions, in a peaceful manner. But it is also a war cry, used my Muhammad himself. Terrorists use it regularly in their attacks. Even in its simple and peaceful meaning Muslims use it to remind themselves the most important belief of their faith: Allah is the greatest.
People who do not know Quran may easily accept the translation “The God is the greatest” and have no problem with it. Because atheists generally don’t mind people’s proclamation of their religious beliefs and believers in all religions have no problem with God being the greatest, when “God” is understood as the ultimate divinity not connected with any particular religion. But Allah of Quran is not that God. Allah expressly forbids setting up equals to Him. Sure 98:6 warns “Verily, those who disbelieve (in the religion of Islam, the Qur’in and Prophet Muhammad) from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikun will abide in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures.” Al-Mushrikun mains “idolaters”, worshippers of idols. One can multiply such examples from Quran in dozens where Allah warns that all those who believe in any god other than Allah will burn in hell fire for eternity.
The people who translate “Allah” as ‘the God’ in general without associating it with any particular God, be that of Bible or Gita; are admirable and have good intention of harmony. The believers in Quran when understand Allah as God in general, they are also trying for harmony being and being open minded. But at the same time Allah himself does not like being worshipped as Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna or Rama. They all are lesser and false Gods according to Quran and have no intersession power. Worshippers of all these gods will go to hell fire. Therefore, shouting of “Allahhu akbar” is a proclamation of supremacy of Allah, nay, rather a proclamation of only divine existence and of falsity of all other god.
In a protest to save secularism of the country, to establish equality of all religions, this is rather a strange way of being secular. “Har Har Mahadeva”, a Hindu war cry, will be equally objectionable in a protest for secularism. “Jai Shri Ram”, which is graduating into a war cry from a simple greeting, will also be equally objectionable.
“Insha Allah”: in its simple meaning is “God willing”. Many people say “Bhagwan ne chaha to” or “Ishwar ki kripa se”. I don’t see any thing objectionable about it, even when Allah happens to be a very stern and jealous god. This is only a way of making a wish. However, it depends what the wish is. The first time I heard this slogan was in 1916 JNU episode “Bharat tere tukde honge … Insha Allah, Insha Allah”. This certainly is objectionable. But in the current protests, as far as I know, this slogan is not used in this manner. Therefore, nothing the issue with it.
“Tera mera rishta kya? La ilaha illallah”: This is part of declaration of faith in Islamic monotheism. The full version being “laa ilaaha illa Allah Muhammadun rasool ullah”. Which means “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” Also translated as “Nothing worshipped is worthy of worship but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” Thus “La ilaha illallah” means “There is no god but Allah”. The full slogan would been “What is the relationship between you and me? There is no god but Allah”. In other words: only relationship between us is that of faith in Allah as the only God.
In secular India, one would assume, the most important relationship between citizens is acceptance of and commitment to the constitution; in addition to our shared past and culture of thousands of years. This slogan means rejecting all other relationships but that of faith in Islam. This clearly separates Muslim population or declares that ‘if you do not believe in one God, Allah, then I have no relationship with you.’ I have unconfirmed information that the slogan was used by Muslim League in this later meaning while raising demand for Pakistan.
To my mind this slogan is clearly divisive, Islamic supremacist and seriously objectionable.
Some icons of secularism
In recent protests the so-called liberals (SCLs) have projected some people as icons of secularism. It would be instructive in understanding their thinking to have a look at proclamations of these icons.
One of two icons of secularism is created out of Jamia protests is Ladeeda Sakhaloon. Together with Aysha Renna N her pictures are splashed everywhere in media, including an article written by a very reputed intellectual regarding learning democracy from youth. These two icons were interviewed by another so-called secular Barkha Datt, and their zeal is praised by SCLs no end. What Ms. Sakhaloon has to say about secularism is quoted below.
“During the protest gathering happened yesterday. Some liberals dictated us to refrain from chanting “Insha Allah” and “Allahu Akbar”. We have only submitted completely towards Almighty. We have abandoned you secular slogans long before. Those slogans will be raised loudly again and again. Those slogans are our spirit, our imagination and the one which refines our existence. You might be in a hurry to prove your secular loyalty, but we are not. We are and will exist in every space as sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters of Malcolm X, Ali Musliyar and Variamkunnath. Those slogans are our spirit and we have derived our imagination of being political from our forefathers. For you people this might be mere slogans, for us this is the one which liberate ourselves. At this point we are clear, we don’t hold any burden of chanting secular slogans and may not fit your secular vocabulary. Our engagement and approach altogether is different from you and is the fundamental difference. So, please don’t dictate us.”
I have quoted this declaration of Ms. Sakhaloon in full and unedited. Because I do not take it to be a childish or youthful boast. To me it is a declaration of Islamic supremacy and jihadist attitude. Raising such people to the status of defenders of democracy and icons of secularism is dangerous for India and an insult to the intelligence of genuinely secular citizens who believe in harmony and diversity.
She clearly declares that she, and her ilk, do not care for secularism. They derive their inspiration from the slogans I have analysed above. The three names she mentions as her ideals are very instructive. Malcolm X was an Islamist who considered white race as devil, thought its demise is imminent. Wished for white genocide. Other two, Ali Musliyar and Variamkunnath were leaders of Mappila riots (Malabar Rebellion) which though was also against British rule but indulged in Hindu genocide through forced conversions and mass killing. I can not understand what secularism means for SCLs if Ms. Sakhaloon is their secular icon. If you do, please explain to me. This person is clearly an Islamic supremacist jihadi as far as I can understand.
Another secular icon SCLs discovered during 2016 JNU episode is Shehla Rashid. Let’s see what she has to say about these slogans. Ms. Rashid twitted her views in a series of messages directed at SCLs on 30th December 2020. Let’s have a look at some of them.
“If you say ‘Hey Bhagwan’ in mixed gatherings, if you light lamps at public functions, if you use religious metaphors from the Mahabharat and Ramayana in political speeches, if your mythological works support your political work, you can’t oppose only ‘Muslim’ identity assertion!” She considers use of religio-cultural metaphors as ‘identity assertion’. And forgets that no one ever objects to “ya Allah” and “ya khuda” in common conversation; they are like “He Bhagwan”. The objection was to something much more threatening than that. However, lighting lamps in public functions is an issue which, in my view is difficult to justify. I am not sure whether it is a religious symbol or cultural without any association with religion.
“If you are embarrassed by Muslims’ cultural clarion calls, then you’re not an ally. If you are ashamed of us, then you’re part of the problem. If you are an ally, please understand that our religious, cultural and human rights are as non-negotiable as are yours.” She is asserting that Muslim clarion call will come in the form of Islamic supremacy (Allahu Akbar) and declaration of believers’ brotherhood (La ilaha illallah) and also declaration that this is the only relationship they are ready to accept. Also, note the belligerence “you are not an ally. … you are part of the problem”.
After a series of such belligerent tweets she gives a manual to SCLs: “A manual for allies: If you are opposed to Muslim identity politics, why do you want leadership of a movement that is being led and sustained by Muslims, for which Muslims are paying with their blood?
You want to be an ally? Sure! Please start by demanding that Dalit Muslims get reservation under the SC category – an instance of faith-based discrimination against Muslims by the Indian state.
Let’s try this one more time: 1) This fight is about Muslims, not about Islam. 2) Muslims are asserting their identity because the attack is based on their identity. 3) #La_ilaha_illALLAH is a cultural clarion call like ‘Hellalujah!’ or ‘Jesus!’ or ‘Hey Ram!’ or ‘Wahe Guru!’”
Now, she forgets that no one shouts “Hey Ram” or “Wahe Guru” in a protest against CAA on the ground that it is against secularism. She does not admit the clear contradiction. Second, Hey Ram and Wahe Guru are neither declaration of supremacy nor declaration of only basis of relationship.
These two icons of SCLs make a few things clear:
They don’t care about your secularism. That is your fad, they are not fighting for it.
They will fight their battel with Islamic supremacist slogans, if you don’t like it, leave them alone.
Together with this they will also wish digging grave of Hindutva, Brahmanism, Manuvad, etc. Therefore, Islamic supremacy is fine, but Hindutva and Brahmanism are not.
This is not an argument in defence of Hindutva or Bharmanism, what ever they might mean; this is an argument against all religious assertions in a protest that is supposed to be to protect secularism. “Jai Shri Ram” and “Har Har Mahadev” will be as objectionable in such protests as “Allah hu Akbar” and “La ilaha illallah”.
And those who want to chant slogans against ills in the Hinduism should imagine chanting the parallel slogans replacing “Hindutva” etc. with “Islamism”, “Mullavad”, “Tushtikaran”, etc. All hell will break loose.
Let’s understand that tilted secularism is weak secularism, and will never be able to stand on its feet. Hindu-fundamentalism is increasing and needs to be defeated. But Islamic fundamentalism also needs to be defeated. SCLs acceptance of Islamic fundamentalism (in the form of Islamic Exceptionalism) will feed Hindu-fundamentalism, and both will grow.