It is awful that the very existence of Muslims has been reduced to meet exigencies of national security.
The warning of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) that ‘Muslims in the Bodo districts of Assam may turn ‘militant’ if their security is not ensured smacks of a deep prejudice against Muslims prevalent in different segments of Indian society.
Yes, it must be acknowledged that the NCM did try to dispel the ongoing lopsided reporting in the national media that the unabated immigration from Bangladesh is the root-cause of the riots in Kokrajhar and other parts of Assam.
An NCM delegation that toured the troubled areas stated in its report that: “The conflict this time, as far as we could see, was not between Bangladeshi immigrants and the Bodos but between the Bodos and the resident Muslims of the BTAD (Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts)”.
Media reports emanating from the riot-hit areas are horrifying and the international media seems to have also gone overboard this time. How else can one explain the following report on the Assam riots?
“Of the 78 people killed, some were butchered. More than 14,000 homes have been burned. That 300,000 people are in refugee camps is remarkable; had so many people fled across sub-Saharan Africa to escape ethnic persecution, a humanitarian crisis almost certainly would have been declared”.
However, another part of the NCM statement — “There can be grave danger in future in case militant jihadi outfits from the rest of the country start supplying lethal weapons in this area” — was a largely alarmist remark that narrowed-down a deeply complex social problem to a mere security issue.
The statement is born out of the bigoted mindset that Muslims are more inclined towards violence. It also belies ground realities. Which ‘jihadi outfits from the rest of the country’ can supply arms to the Muslims of Assam? Where is an organised jihad going on anywhere in India?
It is a matter of shame that so-called secular intellectuals have developed the habit of considering the mainly impoverished Muslims as a security threat. It is a common refrain that in case the government fails to improve social conditions of Muslims they might resort to jihad; as if jihad is not an ideology but a sentiment driven by some economic deprivation.
This is the most destructive way of thinking because it implies that in case Muslims cease to be a security threat, they will be denied their fair share of development as well as be deprived of any sense of security. So, if Muslims resort to violence, they are doomed but if they continue to be law-abiding citizens, their causes are destined to fail too.
The dynamics of Hindu-Muslim riots differ from that of any insurgency and here is not the space to analyse the phenomenon of communal riots. Whether the majority community has suffered the most or whether the usual minorities have borne the main brunt of the violence is also not the real point.
Think about it. Regardless of the oft used disgraceful statement, “what will happen if 25 crore Indian Muslims decide to revolt?”, how many Muslims in India have rebelled in a real sense during the last 65 years despite languishing in the most horrible sub-human conditions and in spite of perpetual denial of justice even after enduring the worst possible atrocities?
After the demolition of the Babri Masjid by the crusaders of the Sangh Parivar, a ghostly scenario of civil war was predicted without understanding the besieged feelings of Muslims. Irrespective of the communal riots in the aftermath of the mosque demolition, the fact that there was no Muslim rebellion against the system should have added to the reliability of the community. But question marks are still put on the loyalty of Muslims.
After the Gujarat Muslim pogrom, a spectre of Muslim insurgency was created instantaneously. Muslims refused to fall in a trap and the drama of many fake encounters was enacted to criminalise the entire community in Gujarat. Paranoia about Muslim rebellion is not based upon any concrete evidence but due to an ill-conceived and perennial distrust of Muslims.
Leave militancy in Kashmir aside since it has no linkages whatsoever to any issues pertaining to Indian Muslims. The truth is that despite the deepest of provocations, the overwhelming majority of Indian Muslims has not lost hope in the system. This should have put to rest any lurking fears of Muslims resorting to jihad even in a marginal way. Muslim masses joining militancy is a convenient but nefarious argument to deny Muslims their fundamental rights.