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Monday, August 20, 2012

A secure minority, for a secure nation

The dark clouds gathered since the early nineties have not quite dissipated. Inevitably so, since 
the actions that should have been taken were never taken up, writes Firdaus Ahmed. 

20 August 2012 - In the wake of the Gujarat carnage exactly ten years ago, 
my debut column in India Together (see this link) addressed the issue of 
security for India's largest minority. I believe now, as I did then, that the 
multiple Muslim communities across India's geography can enhance their 
security, by, among other measures, relying on the state and the vast liberal 
majority among the non-Muslims. We must be wary of becoming pawns in
 political games at the subcontinental level, and also pawns of party politics. 
The only ones who gain when we fail to strengthen our internal conversations 
are mafia dons, Pakistani intelligence operatives and the propaganda apparatus 
of the Sangh Parivar.

In light of the events over the past month beginning with the riots in Bodo areas 
of Assam and culminating in a mass exit of North Easterners from south Indian cities,
 it is apt to revisit this point, and the larger issues addressed in the earlier article.


It is here the conspiracy theory can be given the benefit of doubt. The departure of north-
easterners, beginning in Bangalore, spread to Channai and Hyderabad. While the police 
are investigating the origin of the rumours that instigated the flight, they would do well to include 
majoritarian extremists in their ambit.
Such groups have profited under the rightist government in Karnataka, evident from periodic 
reports of depredations ranging from moral policing to more insidious exploits. The alacrity of 
the arrival of workers of the rightist formation, RSS, on to railway station to 'commiserate' 
(some of them wielding canes!) with the victims, suggests a potent line of investigation. Their 
message was no doubt one of religious solidarity with Hindu Bodos, even while deprecating Muslims 
for being 'just like that only'.
Shifting to the wider issue of minority security, it can be predicted to figure prominently in the long 
run up to elections two years hence. The first shots have been fired with the Gujarat chief 
minister unambiguously using the term 'Bangladeshis' in his Independence Day onslaught on the 
prime minister. The issue of infiltrators has returned. It was last in the news when BJP-ruled 
Rajasthan rounded up a few in wake of the bomb blasts in Jaipur. Clearly, the land issue in 
Bodoland will have an all-India resonance, yielding up as it does a stick for the otherwise 
politically bereft opposition.
It therefore seems prescient on part of the MIM MP from Hyderabad to have led a medical 
relief mission to the camps of internally displaced people in Assam. Such expression of 
solidarity is a useful broadcast that Muslim communities cannot be put upon in isolation. 
It is useful deterrence of another Nellie massacre or Gujarat carnage. While it does give courage 
to vulnerable communities, there is no call to restrict access to this aid to the minority alone as the 
MIM at its self-congratulatory best states.

For full article see

First, the interest of the global community in the South Asia region during the last decade was 
an opportunity to resolve the problems between India and Pakistan, with a global 'stamp' to a 
mutually agreed way forward. But this opportunity was wasted, and now that the West is preparing 
to exit its war in Afghanistan, the two South Asian countries await the impending departure with 
bated breath and preparations for a return to rivalry. While the implications for Kashmir are easily 
comprehended, India's other Muslims too will be affected.
The second direction along which the government was hesitant to proceed was in pursuing right
 wing terrorists. A significant feature of the past decade was terror bombings. These were popularly 
attributed, by a media that should have known better, to Muslim perpetrators. Enlarging the line up 
of suspects to include hyper-nationalists would have helped greatly, but the Centre decided to let 
sleeping dogs lie. This strategy will probably come home to roost in the run-up to elections. 'Sleeper cells', 
particularly those with Bengali (read 'Bangladeshi') features, will once again be in the news as fifth column.
The lack of any notable progress in other promising areas keeps the communal scene fertile for disruption. 
The major plank of employment, recommended in the Sachar Committee report, has been stymied by the 
government's under-prepared brief in the Supreme Court for inclusion of the backward groups of the minority 
in the quota system. Second, the RK Raghavan-led SIT has inexplicably made any hope of justice recede. 
The eventual outcome will be akin to apprehending the sailors on Haji Mastan's ship even as Haji Mastan 
remains free.
Lastly, recompense for minority members wrongly arrested for terror attacks has only been done in a few 
cases in Hyderabad. Youth apprehended for the Malegaon attacks are still in jail despite better knowledge 
of the perpetrators. This brings to fore the fourth and last point, that the wheels of justice have been slow 
and unsteady in nailing Hindutva-inspired terrorists. Lt Col Purohit is mounting a counter-attack presenting 
himself as a mole, while a lead conspirator turned approver, Swami Aseemanand, has reneged.
The government, fearing the electoral price of the tag of minority 'appeaser', is unlikely to take any of its 
own initiatives any further. This may seem politic, but a resulting loss of the minority vote may end up 
helping its rival to power, bringing back the toxicity of its philosophy and endangering certainly the nation, 
if not the state.
So to answer the question directly, India is indeed less secure. It is the price of a wasted decade. But two 
years being a long time in politics, the government can yet turn to complete its unfinished agenda.

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