A Muslim delegation led by the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind that met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 9 spoke to him at length about the “gulf” between the government and the Muslim community, the atmosphere of fear stemming from cow vigilantism and love jihad, and the need to accelerate welfare schemes for minorities. But these did not find mention in the press release put out by the Press Information Bureau of the government though the Jamiat statement did touch upon some of these.
Zahir Kazi, president of the Anjuman-i-Islam, Mumbai and one of 25 in the delegation, told The Indian Express: “Many people spoke on the issue in different tones. But the purport of it all is that the community feels it is being targeted. Extremist elements are taking the law into their own hands, something nobody should be allowed to do. Cow vigilantes, love jihad, all this is creating an atmosphere of fear, we told the Prime Minister.”
Another member of the delegation, Akhtarul Wasey, vice-chancellor of Maulana Azad University in Jodhpur, said: “We told the Prime Minister that the statements that the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and he himself had given about not allowing people take the law into their hands were not percolating to the ground level. Law enforcing agencies were not doing due diligence on this.”
The Prime Minister, it is learnt, told the delegation that regardless of the background he comes from, he is the Prime Minister of 125 crore people of the country, and regardless of caste or creed, he is committed to their welfare. “It is my responsibility, he told us, that nobody feels discriminated against. It was the statement of a statesman,” Kazi said.
But the official release put out by the PIB after the meeting made no such mention. This is what it said:
“Praising the Prime Minister’s vision, members of the delegation expressed hope that the nationwide trust that he has among the people, will ensure prosperity and well-being of all segments of society. They said that the Muslim community is keen to be an equal partner in the making of New India.
Noting that terrorism is a major challenge, they expressed a common resolve to combat it with all their might. They added that it is the Muslim community’s responsibility that under no circumstances should anyone compromise the nation’s security or well-being. They said that the Muslim community would never allow any conspiracy against India to succeed.
Expressing concern at the situation in Kashmir valley, members of the delegation said that only Prime Minister Narendra Modi can resolve the issue.
They appreciated the Prime Minister’s stand on the issue of Triple Talaq.
Members of the delegation, who are associated with educational institutions, also mentioned the progress made by their institutions, in Government initiatives such as cashless transactions, start-ups, and the Hackathon recently organized by NITI Aayog.
The delegation also appreciated the implementation of minority welfare schemes under the Union Government.
Welcoming the members of the delegation, the Prime Minister said that democracy’s greatest strength is harmony and amity (mel milap). Emphasizing that the Government does not have any right to discriminate among citizens, the Prime Minister said that India’s speciality has been its unity in diversity. He said that the new generation in India must not be allowed to fall victim to the rising global tide of extremism.
On Triple Talaq, the Prime Minister reiterated that the Muslim community should not allow this issue to be politicized, and urged the assembled gathering to take the responsibility for initiating reform in this regard.”
While the official release stated that “the delegation also appreciated the implementation of minority welfare schemes under the Union Government”, delegation members said they emphasised the need to step up these schemes.
While they expressed their appreciation about the Prime Minister’s commitment to the making of a New India, delegation members also told him that it could not possibly become a reality unless every person in the country was a part of that and Muslims were equal stakeholders in that process.
The memorandum that the delegation submitted dealt at length with the issue. “Supremacy of Rule of Law is must for the security, integrity and development of our country. No one is above the law. It must be administered with total impartiality and equality. Your recent reprimand to private groups taking law in their hands and launching murderous attacks for salvaging cows has sent the correct message but much has to be done by law enforcing agencies and the state administration. The recent incidents of manslaughter on the pretext of cow slaughter have sent shock waves of terror and fear through Muslim, Dalit and the weakest sections of the society. We are afraid that the fear and despondence if unchecked could prove highly counterproductive.”
The delegation also flagged the issue that three years after it came to power, the NDA government had been unable to bridge the communication gap between Muslims and itself. They asked the Prime Minister to fashion a mechanism that would ensure that issues of the Muslim community reach him without the elaborate and time-consuming effort of a high-level delegation from the community meeting him.
The Prime Minister assured them that some such mechanism would be evolved and there was need to keep talking to ensure they understood each other better, said one member of the delegation.
On the issue of triple talaq though, there was convergence in the two statements. Members of the delegation said that they were appreciative of the Prime Minister’s stance that the issue should not be politicised and a solution would have to come from within the community. “He said it is the responsibility of the community to look for a solution and we agreed,” a member said.