Skip to main content

When a Pak scribe said Modi has 'proved' Jinnah’s two nation theory right...

By Zafar Agha*
It was around nine in the morning on May 24, 2019, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed the Lok Sabha with 300-plus MPs. It was a call from a journalist friend, Muzamal Suhrawardy, from Lahore, Pakistan. I ignored the call. We liberals had a depressing day the previous evening as the opposition to Modi and BJP collapsed. The results belied reports from the ground and even assessments made by colleagues.
I was in no mood to take yet another call and explain what had happened and why. But Muzamal was persistent. He called again a few hours later. Again, I didn’t pick up the phone. Muzamal, I sensed, wanted to speak on the Indian elections. But I was in no mood to oblige a Pakistani journalist and listen to him having a dig at the rise of the Right in India as has been the case with Pakistan for decades.
We, liberal Indians, had looked down upon them for being citizens of an “Islamic” state in modern times. How could I explain the rise of a ‘Hindu Pakistan’? So, I again ignored the call. But a veteran, he was in no mood to let it go. He called yet again around 1 pm. There was little option left but to take the call. I took it with a sense of resignation and, I must confess, trepidation.
My worst nightmare began unfolding. He began by taunting me: “Agha sahib, why are you avoiding me today?” Even before I could respond, he continued in Urdu: “Arey, ghabraiye nahi. Hum aap ko Pakistan mein political asylum dilwa denge”. I was agitated and reacted rudely by asking what gave him the idea that I would be migrating to Pakistan, a country which I have not visited even once.
Muzamal was now sarcastic: “Well, we established the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and announced it right away in 1947. You pretended to be secular and gloated about it. But now you are finally the Hindu Republic of India”.
He didn’t stop at that and turned the knife in. He had done a TV programme in Pakistan the previous evening in which he focused on how “Modi has proved Jinnah’s two nation theory right”. I felt as if someone had stabbed me at the back. I felt numb. Our conversation ended within seconds. But as I put down the phone, tears rolled down my cheeks.
Muzamal said something that I believe nagged every Indian Muslim since the afternoon of May 23. No one was ready to pose it quite as brutally and bluntly as Muzamal did. But it will be self-deluding not to admit that the results of the election disturbed virtually every Muslim in the country.
My father, like a large number of Muslims, had refused to migrate to Pakistan in 1947. He was a Gandhian whose bedroom had photographs of the Mahatma on the wall. He taught us to value the ‘Ganga-Jamuni tahzeeb’, something that Gandhi and Nehru always talked about. 

Hindu Republic of India?

Yet after spending over three quarters of my life in a secular, liberal India, I was being told by a Pakistani that I, as a Muslim, had no place in the “Hindu Republic of India.’’ It shattered me and left me numb. Staggered, I wondered if this was indeed the end of the road for Indian Muslims in Narendra Modi’s New India.
Whether one likes it or not, that’s what every Indian Muslim is feeling since May 23. Why Muslims alone! All liberal Hindus also feel weighed down with similar sentiments. Indian Muslims, however, are not just in a state of shock. Like me, they have also been forced to wonder if it is not the end of the road for them in this country.
After all, Modi is no dyed-in-wool Hindu leader like Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He is a self-professed Hindutva soldier who is out to build ‘naya Bharat’, based on Golwalkar and Savarkar’s idea of India wherein Indian Muslims will be second-class citizens, a sophisticated word for a sort of slavery in medieval terms.
Muslims will be required to do what Hindus would not, live in ghettos and forget about equality of opportunity, redressal against discrimination and equal treatment before the law. Above all, they will have to learn to keep quiet and not raise their voice against injustice or in favour of what they may perceive to be their legitimate right.
In terms of history, Modi’s second coming in 2019 is no less a crisis for Indian Muslims than 1857 when the British destroyed and dismantled the Mughal Empire and pushed Muslims in north India into a civilisational crisis. The loss of the Mughal Empire was not just a change of power.
It was the collapse of their entire world view wherein their political and social institutions crumbled overnight leaving them clueless because their old world order had collapsed and they had nothing new to look up to - a state of mind that famous Urdu poet and a personal witness to the 1857 mutiny, Mirza Ghalib, described thus:
Iman mujhey rokey hai jo khincheyhai mujhey kufr
Kaba merey peechey hai, kalisa merey aagey.

(Belief restrains me as doubt pulls me on,/ have turned from certainty to complete incertitude)
In somewhat similar fashion, the Gandhian and the Nehruvian idea of India lies shattered with the landslide victory of Narendra Modi. It is just a word between the old India and Modi’s Naya Bharat. 

The BJP had been accusing Indira Gandhi for long now for inserting the word ‘secularism’ in Indian Constitution which will surely be dropped sooner than later as LK Advani promised on several occasions. It will be the formal realisation of the RSS vision of a Hindu Rashtra. And, Muslims are now aware what it might mean for them to live in a Hindu Rashtra. Frankly, it would be somewhat similar to what Pakistani Hindus are going through in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which virtually translates into ‘no’ rights for the minorities, especially Muslims.
There are Muslims in India though who believe Indian Muslims got nothing much in the last 70-plus years in India. Riots bordering on massacres, genocide and pogrom like 2002 in Gujarat but on earlier occasions as well, crumbs of a handful of second-rate jobs in the government and a few slices of power courtesy the Muslim quota are what the balance sheet records.
Yet Indian Muslims never felt so hopeless even in the aftermath of the frenzy of Partition. Educated Muslim elite like us proudly clung to the Nehruvian idea of India even after the cathartic, humiliating and devastating experience of the Babri Mosque demolition on December 6, 1992. Now even that fig leaf, they feel, is gone with Narendra Modi’s second term.
It’s a dark tunnel ahead for Indian Muslims who feel like sitting ducks, or headless chickens if you like, in Modi’s Naya Bharat. Incidents of mob violence, public jeering, hate speech on social media and lynchings are enough to make Muslims feel permanently insecure. What follows now is anyone’s guess.
The story of Indian Muslims is a sad story of the community’s decline and decay. But the Indian political establishment alone cannot be blamed for the fate that stares so starkly at Muslims in India now. Communities cannot advance on entitlements alone. Governments don’t make the fate of a community.
Instead, wise communities make and unmake governments and thus write their own fate.
A community needs to have a vision of its own to advance in times they live in. But Indian Muslims, unfortunately, love to live in their ‘glorious’ past. Only a handful of reformers like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, who established the Aligarh Muslim University, tried to link the community with modern times.

Minority welfare "ignored"

Indian Muslims in post-Independence India left their fate to avowedly secular parties who, not surprisingly, succumbed to social and business lobbies. Hindus being the dominant majority in this country, successive governments ignored minority welfare. When they were persuaded to think of doing something for the community on a large scale, they would be accused of minority appeasement and suffer from withdrawal symptoms.
What little was initiated by various governments, they were sabotaged by the bureaucracy. The Manmohan Singh government, for instance, came out with the Sachar committee report which recommended welfare schemes targeting minorities. But the benefits rarely trickled down to the intended beneficiaries. Indian Muslims rarely responded to calls of the conservatives led by the clergy on political issues. 
Yet, emotive religious issues like the demolition of the Babri mosque and their personal law were exploited by the clergy. Most such movements fuelled by highly emotive campaigns received little support among Indian Muslims but ended up strengthening the ‘Hindu Right’. Still, secular parties encouraged conservative Muslim leadership as their spokesperson. It annoyed liberals and the Hindu Right alike.
In the last five years, they lay low despite provocations. They kept their fingers crossed, bowed their head and hoped the storm would pass. The Modi government’s move to abolish even the Muslim Personal Law didn’t provoke Muslims to take to the street as they had done on various other occasions. They hoped against hope and felt their silence would be reciprocated with restraint and not provoke any Hindu backlash.
But after the election results, the Indian Muslims are both dejected and confused. The second largest community in the country, 170 million of them, constitute a little less than Pakistan’s population. And the Indian Muslims numerically are more than the population of Bangladesh. But they are in a bind and unable to figure out what they must do to break the impasse.
But if history is any guide, even such grim times tend to pass. The nightmare of 1857 and the horrors of Partition are now distant memories. The worst doesn’t last forever.
Muzamal’s offer to help me migrate to Pakistan, where he assured me that he had already identified a house I could move in to, is, however, not the first such proposal made to my family. When we were growing up in our hometown Allahabad, my late father told us about the visit by a Sikh gentleman. Refugees were pouring in from Pakistan and a reverse stream of Muslims was taking the train to Pakistan.
The Sikh gentleman showed my father pictures of two bungalows that he owned in Lahore and offered to exchange them for my father’s two bungalows in Allahabd. When we asked our father why he declined the offer, he calmly told us:
“Beta, hamarey purkhey yahan dafan hain. Phir Hindustan hamara watan hai, hum isko chor kar kaisey chaley jatey. Achchey burey waqt to atey jatey hain, watan sey jao to phir woh thodi wapas milta hai" (My son, our ancestors are buried here. Besides, India is our homeland. How could I have deserted my homeland? Good and bad times come and go. One need not desert one’s homeland in troubled times. Once you lose your homeland, you are unlikely to get it back).
The overwhelming majority of Indian Muslims in 1947 thought like my father and stayed back. When the founder of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, could not tempt the Muslim millions to migrate to the ‘Islamic state of Pakistan’, how could my friend Muzamal sway me?
India is our motherland. Why should we quit it for the fear of Hindutva? We believed Mohammad Iqbal when he wrote, “Sarey Jahan sey Achcha, Hindustan hamara”. Our faith in the country and its future remains intact.
---
*Editor-in-chief, Quami Awaz. A version of this article first appeared in National Herald

Comments

TRENDING

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

Regional parties, anti-Congress progressives, civil society groups 'joining' Bharat Jodo

By Harshavardhan Purandare, Sandeep Pandey*  The Congress party declared Bharat Chhodo (Quit India) movement against the British regime in 1942. The Congress party has now launched a movement Bharat Jodo (Connecting and Uniting India) against the Modi regime in 2022. Indian people have had a journey of 80 years since Mahatma Gandhi gave that Quit India call to the British and we have to agree that we stand most divided in our modern history when Rahul Gandhi is giving this Bharat Jodo call to the nation. And back then, Congress was a thriving idealistic political movement against the British rulers and now it is an ever weakening political organization electorally defeated several times. However, it is India at stake, not just the Congress party. That is why so many regional political parties, civil society organizations, traditional anti-Congress progressive forces like socialists and communists, intellectuals and civil servants have declared their support and are proactively partici

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

Excess to cheetah in Kuno to increase 'woes' of local people, 'disturb' wildlife balance

Bharat Dogra*  The release of eight cheetahs into the Kuno National Park ( Madhya Pradesh) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17, although accompanied by a media blitz, has raised several questions. The animals were flown from Namibia to Gwalior and from there they were taken to the release site in a helicopter. Official sources have stated that this is the first time a large carnivorous species has been moved across continents for establishing a new population. This first release will be followed by others under this project. However, precisely for this reason, it is important to be cautious because if such translocations have been generally avoided in the past, there may have been reasons for this and at the same time we do not have much learning experiences from the past. The Cheetah became extinct in India in 1952, although this very fast moving animal is still remembered in the folklore of many areas. Hence the first impulse is to say that trying to introduce and revive

Rajasthan cops 'halt' Gujarat Dalit women's rally: homage to untouchability victim boy

By Our Representative  In a surprise move, the Rajasthan police stopped a Dalit women's rally from Gujarat on the borders after it crossed Gujarat alleging that it would "disturb peace" in village Surana, Jalore district, where the gruesome incident of death of a Dalit boy took place on August 13 after he was brutally beaten up by his teacher on touching the drinking water pot. Sources said, while the Gujarat government had "no objection" in allowing the rally, which originated from the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), an empowerment-cut-technical institute for teens founded by human rights leader Martin Macwan, on September 24 morning, the Rajasthan police stopped it for two and a half hours before allowing it to proceed to Surana. The decision to take out a women's rally was taken at a DSK meeting on September 5 following a condolence meeting of the NGO Navsarjan Trust, also founded by Macwan, activists committed to work against caste-based discrimination, orga

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Older than Delhi, no other school may have witnessed so many vicissitudes as this one

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*  Behind every book there is a writer or writers. Are the books written for the personal gratification of authors? Is the purpose utilitarian, educational or to gain public ovation? There are writers who publish books because they are inspired by a purely disinterested and fair-minded pursuit of knowledge and to clarify the issues that agitate them and society. The book under discussion   is a masterstroke on the life and times of not only an institution at Ajmeri Gate, Delhi — Anglo Arabic School — but about the complex relationship between the school and the cajoled Muslim community. Just while you are at Ajmeri Gate, supposedly, the border of Old and New Delhi, barely a few meters from the cacophony and the chaos outside the New Delhi railway station, lies an island of serenity — a school much older than New Delhi, with a wholesale machine tools market on its West, a road leading to Rajiv Chowk (Connaught Place) on the East and colourful confusion of rickshaws,