The issue that poses the most serious challenge to Indian Muslims viz. communalism, which more often than not takes the severity of fascism, makes important headlines in the vernacular Urdu press. This week also this menace emerged as the most reported issue confronting the Muslim minority in India. For it witnessed the peace and justice-loving people, both Muslim and Non-Muslim, calling upon the Government to contain this threatening phenomenon.
The Hindustan Express of June 20 gave a front-page treatment to a secular initiative to contain communalism. A delegation comprising intellectuals and social activists like Kuldip Nayar, Majeed Memon, Teesta Setalvad and Kamal Farooqui, on June 19 called on President A.P.J. Abul Kalam to express its grave concern on the rising pace of communalism in the country and seek his intervention in the matter so that this menace may be curbed.
Referring to the Modi administration of Gujarat’s bid to deprive the Muslims of the benefits of rural welfare scheme, the members of the delegation said, “Four years have passed since the Gujarat genocide but the state government is still giving step-motherly treatment to the Muslims.”
According to them, the President asked them to propose a brief, 5-point action plan to curb communalism and anti-social elements, and assured them that the rule of law will prevail in the country and the communal elements will not be allowed to disintegrate the society.
On June 22 the Inquilab covered the Indian Union Muslim League’s demand to institute an enquiry by a retired Supreme Court judge into the gun battle between the police personnel and the so-called terrorists at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur. The IUML president G.M. Banatwala has also demanded a CBI enquiry into the April 6 bomb blasts at a house in Nanded. While the Nagpur ‘encounter’ questions the credibility of police system, the latter incident has put the Sangh Parivar in the dock. The Qaumi Awaz and the Awam carried these demands on June 23.
A Rashtriya Sahara report (June 24) says Former Prime Minister V.P. Singh has called for launching a movement against the communal forces that have been hell bent upon destroying peace in the country. Addressing the All India Tahaffuz-e-Madaris (Protection of Madrasas) Convention held in New Delhi under the aegis of All India Deeni Madaris Board, Mr. Singh also said that certain forces are trying to create communal hatred in the country by defaming madrasas and ulema.
Speaking on the occasion, Congress leader Satyawarat Chaturvedi and Pandit N.K. Sharma shared the view that the allegation of abetting terrorism on madrasas is the result of a conspiracy and thus entirely baseless; there are 30858 registered madrasas in the country but none of them has ever produced a terrorist.
Perhaps in his bid to knock at the conscience of authorities concerned, Nisar Sulaiman of Delhi, in a letter (the Express, June 20), has raised his voice against the provocative diatribes made by the champions of Hindutva against Indian Muslims. Citing VHP president Ashok Singhal’s statements: “whether or not Bharat is a Hindu State will be decided by the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya,” and “Ram temple will be constructed there at any cost despite all the obstacles,” and Vinay Katiyar’s repeated assertion: “what do Muslims have in this country; they should be dispatched to Pakistan,” he wondered as to why those in power fail in taking notice of such communalists and bridling their tongue.
In another development, all Urdu dailies of June 21 reported Union Minister for Minority Affairs A.R. Antulay differentiating the treatment of communal riots from maintenance of law and order, which is the duty of a state government. In an interview with U.N.I., Mr. Antulay said communal violence affects the whole nation; so it should be tackled at the national level. To make his point home, he referred to the Gujarat genocide 2002, and said that such incidents have occurred many times and have always proved detrimental to the whole country.
Mr. Antulay was next only to the RJD chief and now Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad in asserting his belief that riots cannot take place if the officials are attentive, and they would rise to the occasion only when the political leadership is well determined to prevent communal riots at any cost.
In a letter entitled “Communal riots and the government” (the Awaz, June 21), Advocate Farhat Ali Usmani of Aligarh has traced some of the root causes of the rise of communal tension in the country and suggested certain measures to contain communal violence. He said the need is on the one hand to make the administration unbiased, vigilant and responsible, and on the other to groom it totally free from political pulls and pressures. Social organisations and selfless social workers also need to come forward to maintain social harmony.
The Awam of June 20 reported the night curfew still continuing in the riot-hit areas of five police stations in Aligarh since the communal violence erupted in the city following the murder of BJP leader O.P. Gupta on May 28. The paper also covered stone-pelting in a communal violence in Indore on June 19 when eight persons were detained.
In a letter in Dawat biweekly (June 19) Maulana Anisur Rahman Qasmi, General Secretary All India Milli Council, Bhagalpur, has drawn the attention of Muslim organisations to make concerted efforts for the welfare of the victims of riots in Bhagalpur, Meerut, Gujarat, etc. He appreciated the filing of a petition in Allahabad High Court by Muslim Forum for National Unity president Iqbal Qureshi, which demands from the Central Government to release the same kind of relief and rehabilitation package for the victims of Meerut, Maliana and Hashimpura riots as was given to the victims of Sikh riots 1984 (the petition is listed for hearing by the Chief Justice Bench of Allahabad High Court in the first week of July 2006). Maulana Qasmi wants Muslim organisations to file same kind of petitions in Patna and other High Courts for the welfare of Bhagalpur and Gujarat riots victims on the basis of the Central Government policy as inferred from the release of INR 714-crore relief and rehabilitation package for Sikh riots victims.