Competing communalisms

Whenever Muslim localities and properties were attacked as revenge against some objectionable posts by some Muslims, or Muslims were targeted for allegedly carrying beef, public opinion generally decried such engineered violence.

Written by Shamsul Islam | Published:July 11, 2017 12:00 am
west bengal violence, basirhat violence, facebook violence, hindu muslim violence, religion violence, communal violence bengal, indian express news, india news, indian express opinion The violence not only weakens the democratic-secular narrative against rising Hindutva violence on Muslims, Christians and Dalits but also provides the RSS another opportunity to pose as the defender of “persecuted” Hindus.

The recent unhindered violence at Baduria and adjoining Basirhat in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district was reportedly perpetrated by Muslim mobs, protesting against an objectionable post denigrating Islam, its Prophet and holy place by a Hindu teenager from the area. The violence not only weakens the democratic-secular narrative against rising Hindutva violence on Muslims, Christians and Dalits but also provides the RSS another opportunity to pose as the defender of “persecuted” Hindus.

This fact cannot be ignored: Whenever mobs inspired by Hindutva politics have attacked the whole Muslim community for a “crime” perpetrated by an individual Muslim or group — like the killings of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 as revenge for the burning of train coaches at Godhra — the same was widely condemned. Whenever Muslim localities and properties were attacked as revenge against some objectionable posts by some Muslims, or Muslims were targeted for allegedly carrying beef, public opinion generally decried such engineered violence.

By all accounts, the Baduria-Basirhat area has no history of violence between Hindus and Muslims, not even in the pre-Partition days. The present violence appears to be the outcome of a tussle for supremacy between a Muslim “strongman” who is patronised by the TMC and a Hindu “strongman” backed by the BJP/RSS. Both of them presented themselves as saviours of their respective communities. The saddest part of the incident was the attitude of the law and order machinery in the area. The controversial Facebook post had gone viral three days prior to the attacks on Hindus. The police and senior district officials remained mute spectators to this. It seems as if they were waiting for this kind of flare-up so that the polarisation is complete.

The mobs, which roamed freely, attacking their victims and destroying their property for a couple of days, claimed that they were doing so to save the honour of Islam. The honour of Islam seemed to be so shallow and vulnerable that a Facebook post would destroy it. Moreover, this zeal for saving the honour of Islam did not extend beyond the boundaries of an assembly constituency. Muslims beyond this limited area did not bother about it. Does it mean that only Muslims in this area are true believers? The fact is that it was not a religious issue but a ploy to settle political feuds.

This lawlessness and the criminal attacks by a section of Muslims in 24 Parganas also shows how a plethora of Islamic organisations/institutions — which are found by the dozen in every Muslim mohalla — though claiming to be the guardians of Muslims and Islam, are least bothered about the strategic ends of the community. They waste their time and energy in fighting against the rights of Muslim women and enforcing sharia. They have no appetite for building an egalitarian and secular community.

It is unfortunate that at a time when the violent attacks of Hindutva organisations on minorities are under serious scrutiny in India and abroad, sections of the minority community — by indulging in senseless violence — are providing legitimacy to Hindutva terror.

It is true that during the period of violence in West Bengal, there are many instances when Muslims saved and sheltered their Hindu neighbours. It may be true that those who perpetrated the violence came from outside. But that does not reduce the degree of culpability of local Muslims. They should have fought these criminal elements and saved their neighbours. This would have strengthened the secular fabric of our country and denied any legitimacy to the politics of polarisation. Unfortunately, we are witnessing a sad scenario when Muslim communalists seem to be competing with Hindutva communalists in undoing democratic, secular India.

The writer taught political science at Delhi University

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App

  1. S
    Shall
    Jul 12, 2017 at 4:14 am
    Is this guy for real? He is basically saying, peaceful Muslims should not degrade them to the level of Hindutva terrorists! These guys live in a parallel universe.. Yes, India has a huge majority of peaceful Muslims. But this is no isolated event.
    Reply
    1. B
      Babloo
      Jul 12, 2017 at 1:05 am
      Muslims demanded Par ion. Got Par ion. Exterminated all Hindus from their majority countries reducing them to nothing. However, Muslims continued to live in India !!!! What kind of par ion was that ? Please explain ?
      Reply
      1. P
        Pannu
        Jul 12, 2017 at 3:01 am
        who is being exterminated through Mob Lynchings, Gujarat and Muzaffanager and hundreds such riots in last 70 years this entire world Human Right Organization know well.
        Reply
      2. A
        alok pandey
        Jul 11, 2017 at 11:25 pm
        So far I have hearing / watching muslim killing muslims and everyone else in name of Islam. I did not see report about Hindus killing worldwide (Hindues are not present worldwide in large number to be strong anyway). Could you point the reports to enlighten us.
        Reply
        1. P
          Pannu
          Jul 12, 2017 at 3:02 am
          Hindu killing Dalits. Maybe you do not consider dalits as Hindus.
          Reply
        2. M
          Murali Nair
          Jul 11, 2017 at 10:48 pm
          If 24 Parganas districts did not have violence earlier, it was because Muslim population was less. In WB, Muslim population has risen from 19 in 1991 to 27 now. As is the pattern seen all over world in conflicts involving Muslims, the inflection point has reached in these districts in population ratio where they resort to violence and eventual separatist movement. West Bengal, like Assam, seems to be witnessing a quickening of the process of change in religious demography that has picked up pace since 1971. We may soon have another Separatist Movement to face. Beware, Secularists, Apologists and Communists!
          Reply
          1. J
            Jimmy
            Jul 11, 2017 at 11:37 pm
            No because Feku and Amit Shah were not in power before that's the reason all Hindu Muslims in that area lived in peace together. Those who killed and caused violence do not belong to that area and were brought for this purposed. Those BJP politicians who posted fake Images to incite more violence too do not live in WB and were doing it from Delhi, MP and elsewhere.
            Reply
            1. S
              Shall
              Jul 12, 2017 at 4:18 am
              Mamta is in power in that area... If you justify a reason for violence then you should not cry when gaurakshaks kill innocents and give a reason for it. Lets not ignore the fact that there are violent Muslim communities in India and its mostly because of lack of education. Thats a problem that needs to be solved. You can keep blaming it on political group you oppose but it wont help.
          2. S
            Sanjay Bhattacharya
            Jul 11, 2017 at 10:13 pm
            Dear Mr Shamsul Islam, the religion of Islam has undergone a drastic change in the last 40 years due to influence of Wahabi Islam propagated by Saudi Arabia.Today's Muslims are much different and fanatic than what they were 40 years ago. So, please do not compare with pre-par ion days. Due to spread of internet communication, all areas have become much more connected now than what they were in the past. Muslim society is becoming more and more intolerant towards other religions. Proof is terrorism around the world. So, in stead of finding reasons for violence, it will be wise if you look into your own community. Islam has become synonymous with terrorism. So, the main problem lies with lack of tolerance in your community.
            Reply
            1. R
              Raj
              Jul 11, 2017 at 10:10 pm
              This was Communal Riot well Orchestrated by those who have Phd in Communal Violence and Riots from Gujarat Riots to Muzaffanagar Riots and hundreds of communal Riots. Everyone is aware who is posting provocative and fake images to incite Communal Riots for 2019 for warm up to 2019 elections.
              Reply
              1. S
                sochee
                Jul 11, 2017 at 8:40 pm
                The author looks like one of those scoundrels who first burnt Hindu homes, destroyed their temples and other religious places, raped girls,killed Hindus and then came to tie rakhi to cover up the naked aggression by those community of thugs in skull caps and beards. Not only the 24 parents where the present rioting happened but entire boarder area with Bangladesh has become combustible because of illegal migrants and jihadis were settled by the so called progressive Left government. Mamata is now outdoing those Commies and the natural outcome is Masjid committee not the local thana dictate the peace. The author can not be unaware of this situation. But like all other members of his community he is liar. Nothing better can be expected from him.
                Reply
                1. B
                  Babloo
                  Jul 11, 2017 at 8:13 pm
                  Garbage article. Muslims have exterminated and annhilated Hindus in a systematic GENOCIDE all over South Asia, where Muslims have grown to a majority from small minority, be it in Kashmir valley in India or earlier parts of India now Pakistan, Bangladesh. Hindus stand wiped out from 40 PERCENT of south asia. However many Hindus have no shame or any appreciation of facts and history.
                  Reply
                  1. Load More Comments