Published On: Tue, Oct 20th, 2015

Hindu India and Secular India

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

The lynching of two Muslims Mohammed Akhlaq in Dadri and Noman in Himachal Pradesh in quick succession, social media reports of inhumane treatment of Muslims, and many other unreported anti Muslim incidents throughout India may have shocked – out of many others – Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, a Dalit who was one of the group who drafted the Constitution of India; and the first Muslim Attorney General of India Mr. Goolam E Vahanvati who came to present India’s National Report for the Second Universal Periodic Review 2012 on 24 May 2012, at the UN in Geneva when he said “I stand here before you as a representative of a new India – an India built on the solid foundations laid after independence, a new India, which is confident but not over-confident, a country proud of its strengths and at the same time willing to acknowledge and address weaknesses, an India which is self-assured but not arrogant, a country which is sensitive and humane without being weak or apologetic, and an India determined to promote and protect the human rights of its people in its secular democratic polity”.

Gandhi, Nehru, Azad, Ambedkar, Vahanvati and many well-meaning Indians would be making desperate efforts to reconcile the manner of Indian justice of killing an Indian Muslim on a rumour of having eaten beef or being involved in trafficking a cow for slaughter with the India scripted in the Constitution. Ambedkar also known as Babasaheb, writes Wendy Doniger in her book ‘The Hinduism – an alternative history’ “tried to reform Hinduism; he resisted movements that attempted to convert Dalits to Islam or Christianity. Then he reasoned that since the Hindus viewed their tradition as eternal, they regarded basic elements of that tradition, such as class injustice and Untouchability, as eternal too and impossible to eradicate.” “Gandhi Ji”, he said, “I have no homeland. How can I call this land my own homeland and this religion my own wherein we are treated worse than cats and dogs, wherein we cannot get water to drink?” (Gail Omvedt – Towards an Enlightened India).

Wendy Doniger holds two doctorates in Sanskrit and Indian studies from Harvard and Oxford. She writes, “In the end he (Ambedkar architect of Indian Constitution) converted to Buddhism, translating the Buddhist concept of individual suffering (dukka) into his own awareness of social suffering, discarding a great deal of Buddhism and inserting in its place his own doctrine of social activism”. In 1956 five million Dalits, led by Ambedkar, converted to Buddhism. Ambedkar was concerned that they would still be labelled ‘Untouchables’ if they demanded places reserved for affirmative action, and we have seen that this has continued to be a problem. On the other hand, he insisted that even when they became Buddhists they should retain the rights that he had fought so hard to win for Dalits.

Modi’s India is an angry India. It seems to have returned to the political narrative designed in The Hindu Outlook edited by Mr. G. Deshpande, the Secretary General of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1947.  An article published in the issue of 9 September 1947, which is part of the debate on Kashmir at the United Nations, calls upon Hindus and Sikhs to do the following:

  1. Remove the present Government, which is composed of men of straw, and replace it by men who would be strong Hindus.

2.      Declare the Indian Union a Hindu State

3.      Prepare the country on the basis of a war with Pakistan.

4.      Impose conscription and recruit all young Hindus to army

5.      Treat all Muslims as fifth columnists

6.      Declare the professing of Islam as unlawful.

Shiv Sena has said that India was never secular but a Hindu India. On 28 January 2015, Shiv Sena demanded that the words “secular” and “socialist” be “permanently removed” from the Constitution’s Preamble. The party said that its demand is justified as India is a “Hindu nation”. Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said that the word secular was not relevant for the country as India is a “Hindu Rashtra”. It makes Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and other faiths aliens in India.

RSS is known to have sent volunteers in 1931 to assist the Dogra forces to suppress the Muslim uprising in the Valley.  In the aftermath of the 2014 poll results the RSS’ organ, Organiser, reprinted its editorials and writings of 1948.  One editorial of 15 January 1948 was entitled “Kashmir The Spiritual Home of Hindus”. It continued, “The Maharaja is more sinned against than sinning. The Hindu kingdom is one of the oldest in world history and is an indissoluble part of the cultural hegemony of the Hindustan”. The reprint’s object is obvious – Hindu Raj should now be revived in Kashmir.

In fact the Indian views expressed at the UN Human Rights Council in May 2012 and the India that has started surfacing under BJP Government in 2014 and 2015 in regards to Muslims in India and the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir (in particular Valley) are a cause of deep concern to Muslims of the State in particular and other Muslims in India in general. People who have supported a gradual and rigorous engagement and reconciliation between India and Pakistan find themselves in a sticky situation to see BJP spew fire across the international border.

UN archives have recorded the evidence that Muslim populations in the States of Alwar, Bharatpur, Patiala, Nabha, Jind, Faridkot, Kapurthala and Gwalior where wiped out either by massacre or by forcible expulsions. These records show that Kapurthala which had a Muslim majority of 235,000 was left with only two Muslims when evidence was submitted to UN Security Council on 16 January 1948. Jammu was also skinned from a Muslim majority into a Hindu majority province.

The formation of Government by PDP with BJP on a common minimum programme has produced nothing good for the people in the Valley.  PDP is heading to be discredited now and for all future references to the electorate in the Valley. It’s near rival NC in her autonomy report has slated that the accession with India is limited, provisional and there is no merger. Pakistan has held at the UN Security Council that “The Pakistan Government have not accepted and cannot accept the accession of Jammu and Kashmir State to India. In their view the accession is based on violence and fraud.” The UN Security Council Resolution of 30 March 1951 is clear on the future of the State.

It is encouraging to see that Kashmir High Court has vacated the earlier ban on beef and has given another important judgement on the sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir State.  It is a welcome decision and in line with the High Court decision of March 1953 on the same subject. India is now faced with a situation where two High Court Judgments of March 1953 and October 2015 have upheld the sovereignty of the State, The State Autonomy Committee Report of 2000 has held that the accession is limited and provisional and there is no merger with the union of India, Indian Government has pleaded at the UN Security Council that the people and the Government of Jammu and Kashmir at Srinagar were sovereign and capable to conduct a Plebiscite under UN supervision, UN Security Council Resolution of 30 March 1951 has cautioned the Government of J & K and the National Conference, that any assembly elected on the Indian side would be from only a part of the whole territory of Jammu and Kashmir and therefore not fully representative.

Importing beef issues into a Majority Muslim State and keeping it on the boil under various excuses of terrorism etc. need to be addressed in the light of the on-going Rights Movement in particular and A S Dulat’s observation in his book ‘Kashmir – The Vajpayee Years’ that “The rest of them (Indian Generals) would on one hand say that the situation in Kashmir had improved and on the other say that the Armed Forces (Special Powers)Act, also known as AFSPA could not be removed”.

The throwing up of these issues is an effort to waylay the people of Kashmir from the principal question of a free vote under UN supervision. A S Dulat has very rightly made a reference to such diversionary tactics, when he writes, “Yet the AFSPA is linked to the bigger question of how much power the army is wielding, and the movement in Kashmir has provided the army with an opportunity to expand its presence in J & K. Though army justifies its heavy deployment by periodically raising the bogie of infiltration, it is not restricted to the border: many Kashmiris feel that the army has turned the entire Valley into a cantonment”.

It may be disturbing for Indian Muslim to hear from Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar that Muslims can continue to live in India but they will have to give up eating beef because “the cow is an article of faith here”. It should not disturb the Muslims in the Valley at all. The two judgements of the Kashmir High Court, other citations above and Section 18 of Indian Penal Code set the people of Jammu and Kashmir far apart from any such general inclusion. Under Section 18 of IPC “India means the territory of India excluding the State of Jammu and Kashmir”. Kashmiri Muslim is safe but he carries a duty to defend an Indian Muslim and other Indian minorities, namely, Dalits, Sikhs and Christians.

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