Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why “they” love to hate a young, educated Muslim?

By Shehzad Poonawalla,
It’s been 63 years since we became independent but how many more years it will take for us to become liberated is anyone’s guess. As vocal democrats and committed secular liberals, my family has been at the forefront of shunning those who speak the language of fundamentalism and violence, whatever be the hue of this hate-filled ideology- green or saffron. For us, those who instigate in the name of political Islam and those who uncork the poisonous vials of political Hindutva, represent the two sides of the same coin.
My brother Tehseen has been a prolific writer and an open supporter of better ties between India and Pakistan. In article after article, he has justified why we need to choose peace over war and how India’s true position in the comity of nations would be attained by eliminating visible poverty, which should be our most important constitutional commitment. Yet it seems that, a vocal section, those who have made nationalism and patriotism their sole privilege, would continue echoing an outdated line of how my brother is sympathetic to Pakistan (because he happens to be Muslim) and should be asked to leave India.

"Mr. Shehzad Poonawalla. Jay Maharashtra
We have learnt through Facebook that you are going to celebrate Valentine's Day. V-Day is western culture. It is alien to Hindu Culture. Therefore, the Shiv Sena opposes it time and again.
Therefore, we ask you not to celebrate V-Day. Or else we will protest against this in the 'Shiv Sena' style.
This be noted.
Janu Akhade
Former Councillor (Pune Municipal Corporation)
Vadgaon Sheri Vidhansabha Matdar Sangh
Jayesh Pawar
Shiv Sena functionary/incharge, Yerwada, Pune"

And this is not the first time (and perhaps it won’t be the last time) that those who harbor this mindset will target us. Will they succeed in making us change our secular ways? Never! Today, this politics of targeting and branding is something every young, educated Muslim must be ready to contend with. Is it unfair? Surely it is. But can we get disappointed with our democracy and our country India for what a right winged good-for-nothing fringe element does? Certainly not.
Yes we will have instances of Shiv Sena writing threatening letters to us “warning us of Shiv Sena style action” if we screened the movie My Name is Khan or chose to do fund raisers for de-worming of slum children or even filing complaints against us as they did against my brother for proudly donning the Indian flagpin on his chest! Ironically, Bal Thakeray always kept accusing Indian Muslims of wearing the Pakistani flag on their sleeves so one wonders why his henchmen had a problem when a young Muslim chose the Indian Flag! But then I guess, the Shiv Sena is a reflection of this fringe element that cannot see India as a secular nation brimming with the Gandhian-Nehruvian Ganga-Jamuna Tehzeeb. What was even more disturbing was the fact that the Pune Police actually asked my brother to visit the Police station and “warned” him against wearing the flag as if he were a criminal! But we are in no hurry to let go off a right the Indian people have laid down their lives for. For over a century our forefathers, Tilak and Maulana Azad, fought against the British to raise the national flag and not a single piece of legislation, be it the Flag Code or any other set of rules and regulations, prohibits an Indian from wearing the flag pin with pride and respect. So why must my brother back down? Because the Shiv Sena threatens us to do so?
The targeting will continue be it as ridiculous as the “hatetehseen” group created on a popular social networking site Facebook to denounce my brother as an enemy of India or it may be more serious, as we have seen in Gujarat in 2002, where a systematic genocide of over 2000 people was sponsored by the State, with its chief minister “acting as a Modern Day Nero” as observed by the Supreme Court. The young educated Muslim will have to contend with a large number of biases and resultantly it shouldn’t be a surprise that a large proportion of undertrials/convicts languishing in jail happen to be Muslims which is perhaps much higher than the ratio of Muslims to the total population. However, the representation of Muslims is very low when it comes to government jobs, schemes and services, enrollment into universities, availability of health and sanitation facilities, access to political power or to loans from public sector banks (even though Muslims being a largely entrepreneurial community would need greater access to capital!)- which has been well documented by the Sachar Committee and Ranganath Misra Report. But none of this should end up scarring or making us feel victimized simply because this is not how the larger, secular majority in India behaves. One still believes that Indian Muslims are in a far better position than Muslims elsewhere and therefore it is incumbent upon each one of us and this silent, secular majority to defeat this narrow, parochial mindset based on cultural misrepresentations and hatred.

And there is reason why I believe that we can defeat these communal forces. It’s because we as a nation have chosen our constitution to have a secular mandate and agenda right from the very Preamble. It is because for every villain of Gujarat there are hundreds of heroes like Vir Rathod, Harsh Mandar and Teesta Setalvad who have helped in providing refuge, securing justice and are lobbying for laws like the Communal Violence Bill recently drafted by the National Advisory Council which will prevent the repetition of Gujarat 2002. And for every 30 odd people who chose to hate my brother Tehseen for his secular ways, there are over 5000 who chose to stand by him and support him.
Jai Hind!
(The author is law graduate from Pune’s Indian Law Society and political activist)
 Source :

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails