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Kasganj events: How nationalism is being misused to polarize society with an eye on 2019 election

By Adv Masood Peshimam*
On the eve of festivals the police in Maharashtra, particularly in cities like Kalyan, make very effort to maintain communal harmony and social stability. No stone is left unturned to secure a peaceful environment. In meetings convened by the police plenty of opportunities are provided to create a better chemistry between Hindus and Muslims. The police on the eve of festivals is quite categorical in convincing the people that any communal trouble is not in the national interest.
Police efforts to inspire the confidence of the people to celebrate festivals in a peaceful environment have drawn massive admiration. But no such efforts are needed on the eve of celebrating national festivals like 15th August or 26th January to restrain potential trouble shooters. Social fabric is never threatened on such occasions.
However, what happened on 26th January at Kasganj in UP where the Muslims were celebrating the Republic Day was very sad. The tricolor was about to be unfurled. And suddenly there surged a crowd equipped with lathis, rods, sticks, and other weapons towards the participants of the Republic day celebration.
There was provocation all around, antagonizing people. Soon antagonism descended into bitter confrontation. The whole incident looked to be part of a conspiracy with allegations flying thick and fast that Muslims were antagonized by anti-Pakistan slogans. Their patriotic credentials were questioned.
In the melee one Chandan Gupta was shot dead, which resulted in collapse of law and order. There are different stories set afloat concerning the tragic killing of Gupta. Samajwadi Party general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav said that he was killed by Hindus. One top official of the UP government said that he was not killed by Muslims, and had to bear brunt of her bold talk.
In a further elaboration it has been pointed out that the accused, Salim, was not present on the scene of the alleged crime. It is for the UP Police to investigate the matter and unearth the truth. It is for the UP police to find out whether it is Salim who killed Chandan Gupta or Kamal Sonkar. However, notwithstanding the efforts to fathom the truth the fact of the matter should remain that no soft corner is shown to the culprit and the real culprit should not be left scot free.
Concerning the allegations that Muslims in Kasganj were provoked by anti-Pakistan slogans, this is open to dispute. Creation of Pakistan is a catastrophe for Indian Muslims. Its multiple reasons, including Jinnah’s intransigence to carve out a new nation, spelt infinite trouble to Indian Muslims.
Maulana Azad tooth and nail opposed the creation of Pakistan. With his patriotic credential intact, stoutly opposing Pakistan emotionally, he asked Indian Muslims as to who would offer prayers at Delhi’s Jama Masjid, who would spread chadar or pay floral tribute to the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, and what would be the plight of Taj Mahal and other monuments on the eve of partition?
With reference to the splendorous monument Taj Mahal, there were pernicious attempts to paint it as a Hindu monument, which failed. Then there was the aggressive talk of demolishing Taj Mahal. It’s difficult to pull down Taj Mahal as it churns out a large chunk of earning. However, with the failure of the pernicious efforts to damage the Taj with misplaced bravado, there is now a new effort to created pand to the saffron hue and cry, despite the fact that no namaz is allowed in Taj despite it being a Muslim mausoleum. Those implementing the saffron agenda at Taj should be asked: Would Muslims be allowed to offer namaz at non-Muslim places of worship? It is a case of armstwisting of the powerful over the weak.
Those linking Indian Muslims with Pakistan should not forget that in Jammu & Kashmir Muslim cops are very often killed at the hands of terrorists. It’s easy to whip up anti-Muslims sentiments in the name of Pakistan. It’s like giving a bad name to the dog to kill it. Against this backdrop it is relevant to quote what Magistrate Raghvendra Vikram Singh has said. He said, “It has become a trend for some to enter Muslim localities by force, raise anti-Pakistan slogans and then create ruckus”.
Maintaining social fabric of the country is being torn apart by fringe elements. Singh said, “Such fringe groups are coming up in every part of the state, taking the same ugly route to instigate people of the minority community by forcefully entering their locality in the name of nationalism. These people don’t care about the fabric of our mixed culture and brotherhood”.
The statement of the Bareilly District Magistrate is the silver lining in otherwise dark clouds. Clouds have only further darkened with the BJP coming to power. There is rise of provocative communalism in UP, thanks to communal politics practiced by UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath. He has failed to curb the forces which are out to polarize society in the name of religion.
Worse still, Muslims, despite bearing the brunt of riots, have had also to face the heat of the police, as suggested by the findings of an independent inquiry committee. Minorities or anyone else for that matter can never be safe when law fails. It’s the duty of police to restore law without any prejudice or bias.
In contrast, the track record of his counterpart in Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis is fairly comfortable, though it is a different matter that he did not accommodate a single Muslim in his cabinet.
It’s the incessant targeting of minorities that drew the ire of the 67 IPS and IAS officers who wrote a letter to the Modi government drawing attention to the worsening plight of minorities on one pretext or the other. In the letter, published in Indian Express, former IPS and IAS officers expressed their deep concern over the rise in the communal politics, accentuating communal clashes. The game of communal one-upmanship with the sinister proportion and design has been condemned officers in contrast with the silence of the “caged parrots” of political parties. The letter refers to the incident of Satna in Madhya Pradesh, where singers were prevented from singing Christmas carol. The letter also gave other accounts of unsavory incidents of communal nature.
Novel Salve a social activist from Kalyan in Maharashtra. He has condemned the Satna incident in Madhya Pradesh, saying that the constitution has given rights to the minorities like Christians to practice their religion. No one has the right to violet the very basic tenets of the constitution.
In this context it is worth quoting what Shabbir Alam, studying CCIE at ACIT Mahim, Mumbai. He said that Muslims are weak due to their lamentable lack of presence in the administration. Administration is power. Muslim bigwigs lecture Muslims to join IPS and IAS cadres without realizing the bitter fact that the discrimination is practiced down the line. They  are not accommodated either in residence or services. However, the scenario is not that bleak, as there are secular forces who believe in and practice justice and oppose all sorts of discrimination.
Notwithstanding the uncompromising stance of certain sections of society towards communal forces, the fact remains that the situation has come to a stagemwhere there would not be any other Dilip Kumar, Mohd Rafi, Naushad, Mehboob Khan, Sahir Ludhyanvi, Majrooh, so on and so forth. Despite viciousness of the environment, the other side of the coin should not be lost sight of. There is a counter narrative, that there are Shahrukh Khan, Amir Khan, Salman Khan and Saif Ali Khan. They experience embarrassment the moment they utter some word over some controversy.
They cannot sing a different tune, which means some sort of trouble. Sometimes these Bollywood Khans have to bear the brunt despite their secular ethos and cosmopolitan culture. The fact also remains that it’s due to the environment full of prejudice, there is shrinkage of Muslim celebrities, whether in Bollywood or any other walk of life.
In cities, liberal environment plays restraint over communal influences, unlike villages. It is for Muslims to see that they also remain more disciplined as disciplined living minimizes risk. However, small towns like Kasganj in UP are susceptible to communal forces. The whole vicious environment is plagued with pernicious efforts to polarize society in the name of nationalism with an eye on 2019 elections. It is for the secular forces to come up with a counter narrative to defeat the communal forces. The road to success only lies in unity of the liberal and secular forces. Otherwise, the scenario is doomed.
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*Based in Kalyan, Maharashtra

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