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Monday, August 08, 2022

For Indian Muslims, a time to introspect

India is passing through difficult times. Indeed, through dangerous times.

Written by Sudheendrakulkarni |
September 21, 2008 12:13:13 am

India is passing through difficult times. Indeed, through dangerous times. Every citizen and every community has a duty to confront the danger and steer the ship of the nation into safe and calm waters. Hindus, Muslims and Christians—all are required to introspect about the ills in their own community, as also about the forces of intolerance and bigotry that claim to act in the interest of their community.

No community is perhaps more in need of soul-searching than that of Indian Muslims. A toxic element called the Indian Mujahideen has entered the bloodstream of the community, which it must get rid of. The long e-mail that the Indian Mujahideen sent out soon after executing the serial bomb blasts in New Delhi on September 13 is nothing but its manifesto for the destruction of India. The terrorist outfit, claiming to act in the name of Islam, leaves no scope for confusion or doubt about its goal when it says that it wants to “stop the heartbeat of India”. Never before has Independent India heard such a virulent and audacious language of revenge as is contained in the Indian Mujahideen’s anti-national manifesto.

Manifestos are generally not taken seriously, given people’s disappointing experience with pre-election promises and commitments by political parties. But it would be a costly mistake, indeed a mistake of catastrophic proportions, not to take the manifesto of the Indian Mujahideen seriously. This terrorist organisation, which has metamorphosed from SIMI, has spread its tentacles far and wide, establishing hideouts and sleeper cells in several congested Muslim localities in our cities and towns, as is evident from the encounter that took place on Friday at Jamia Nagar in the heart of Delhi. The martyrdom of police inspector Mohan Chand Sharma in the encounter has no doubt sent a wave of gratitude and admiration across the nation. But the episode has also underscored a stark truth: the organisation, part of a global network of Islamist terrorist organisations, is not only driven by a clear goal, but it also has leaders and theologically-indoctrinated foot-soldiers who have the motivation to do everything—including sacrificing their own lives—for the advancement of their goal. So far India has seen serial blasts. The day may not be far off before our cities begin to witness well-targeted suicide missions and political assassinations of the kind that have taken place in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. All in the name of Islam’s triumph worldwide—and in India.

Since this war on India is being waged by misusing the name of Islam, which belongs to the comity of the great faiths that our country is proud to be home to, it is incumbent on Indian Muslims to boldly counter the Indian Mujahideen and other externally supported terrorist outfits working with similar hostility towards India. But the community can counter this enemy within only by introspecting more and by collective articulation than has been the case so far.

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It is worrying to see that many vocal Muslim commentators have chosen to be in denial mode—denying the fact that the culprits behind the bomb blasts in various cities are Muslims; denying that SIMI may be engaged in anti-national activities; denying even the existence of an organisation called the Indian Mujahideen and insinuating, instead, that it is a phantom created by the security forces to give Muslims a bad name. “A fake encounter,” is how certain reports on Muslim Internet sites have described the Jamia Nagar incident. Some Muslims even to this day deny that Al-Qaeda was behind 9/11, claiming it to be a Jewish conspiracy to defame Islam worldwide.

Equally worrying is the tendency to project any police action against a suspected member of the community as action against the community as a whole. That the security forces must be diligent, fair and unbiased in discharging their duty is undeniable. Those who violate this code must be chastised and even punished. But to complain that the entire community is targeted when the security forces do their normal duty of intelligence-gathering and investigation is to handicap the Indian State, whose first responsibility is to protect the citizens, Muslims included. An overwhelming majority of Muslims want peace and are as opposed to terrorism as non-Muslims. However, the outcry that Muslims are being targeted whenever the police do their normal duty—or when the police cannot do their duty because of their failure to enter a ghettoised Muslim locality for fear of inviting such an outcry—strengthens the prejudices that many non-Muslims have about Muslims.

Indian Muslims need to introspect on another point: whether the shrill and persistent propaganda that they are a persecuted and oppressed community in India is helping or hurting them. This propaganda has no factual basis whatsoever. True, the Indian Muslim community suffers from certain inequities and disabilities, but this is substantially true about other communities too. There is nothing in India’s Constitutional order, in our democratic political system or in the secular ethos of our society that inherently discriminates against Muslims. Nevertheless, the propaganda that Muslims do not get justice in India, echoing similar poisonous propaganda that the Muslim League had mounted before 1947 as a rationale for its demand for India’s Partition, is being systematically conducted both within the country and globally. This has naturally influenced a section of educated Muslims, radicalising them in the direction of Islamism. It is high time right-thinking Muslims asked themselves an important question: should Muslim grievances—yes, they have many legitimate grievances—be addressed within the framework of India’s secularism and democracy or through the agenda being advanced by the Indian Mujahideen? They must also ask themselves a related question: are those self-styled “secular” political parties and leaders, who treat Muslims only as vote-banks, friends or foes of the community?

About the soul-searching that Hindus should do, read this column next week.

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First published on: 21-09-2008 at 12:13:13 am

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