Commenting on the recent cases of atrocities on Dalits, Syed Faisal Ali, Group Editor, Rashtriya Sahara, in his signed column on July 31, writes: “It is a curious game of nature where it is ‘iron which is able to cut iron’. Now along with Muslims, Dalits too are becoming victims of a new civilisational aggression. But this aggression has awakened Dalits. The awakening has put up a question before the flag-bearers of the new civilisational thrust: Can the Dalits’ awakening can put an end to the game played against them for centuries? The way in which members of a Dalit family in Gujarat’s Una town were humiliated and tortured was witnessed by the world. These sadist flag-bearers may have had the patronage of those in power. Earlier, some Dalits were killed in Haryana and Maharashtra… The manner in which the Dalits, oppressed for centuries, have been awakened has lit a new flame in Dalit politics. In the light of this flame, Dalit politics has risen up to face the oppressors of Dalits and Muslims.”
Rehnuma-e-Deccan, in its editorial on July 25, writes: “Congress and other secular parties recorded their protest against such a barbaric act of ‘Brahmanical terrorism’. But not a word was said on behalf of the PM or any responsible minister of the central government against such oppression and barbarity. The time has come for the Dalit brethren of the country to take a considered, positive decision about those who are with them and others who are not.” (apnon aur ghairon ke bare mein)
Inquilab, in a commentary on July 24, writes: “The atmosphere of the country is bad, but this is a good opportunity for Dalit-Muslim unity. If these two communities unite, they can not only protect themselves against BJP’s onslaught, they can also gain self-pride. This effort should be at the social and not political level.” Most papers have also condemned the attack on Muslim women in Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh,who were accused of of carrying beef on a train.
Muslims and UP Polls
In a very significant development reported by Roznama Khabrein on July 25, Majlis-e-Ittenad-ul-Muslemeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi had a long meeting with Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan, the most influential leader of the Barelvi sect of Muslims. Some time ago, the latter had visited Deoband and offered the friendship of his sect to those at Deoband’s Darul Uloom seminary. Neither of the two leaders gave any details of their meeting. But Maulana Tauqueer Raza later told journalists that he personally thought that they should work on the lines of the ‘Bihar model’ for elections in UP. The need is to bring together small parties, Nitish Kumar’s party, Congress and other secular forces. Owaisi, on the other hand, had hinted a day before this meeting about an alliance with the BSP, the report points out.
Interestingly enough, Maulana Tauqeer Raza, in a subsequent interview to the same paper (Aug 3) says: “After the Modi government has assumed power at the Centre, the social fabric is being strained which is very worrying. The Congress itself rolled out the red carpet for BJP. Work is being done keeping in view the history of Spain and we are being fooled. Muslim political groups should aim at concentration of strength on the basis of a common programme. Forgetting about profit and loss, our political existence should be stabilised. How long will we be the slaves of secular parties? We greatly need a Muslim party. The time of Mulayam and Mayawati is over. People are fed up with removing one and only to bring the other: Uttar Pradesh has been destroyed.”
There are clearly contradictions in the Barelvi leader’s statements given on two occasions within a week. This gives us some idea of the churning that leaders of important Muslim sects and politicians are going through on the eve of UP elections.
Young and Old Turks
The failed coup in Turkey has been the subject of much discussion. The effort of a section of the armed forces to dislodge the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has evoked largely adverse reactions. Noted poet and journalist Hasan Kamal, in his signed column in Inquilab on August 1, writes: “To say that the Turkish episode is a victory of Islamic forces over a military rebellion would be only partly true… Erdogan may be a proponent of religion but he is not an extremist. Before his emergence on the Turkish firmament, there was restriction on offering namaz in government offices during working hours, government jobs were not given to women without hijab. The supreme court had approved these laws. People were silent but not happy in this situation. When Erdogan changed these laws, it caused unrest among army and civilian officers and judges of courts who were used to enjoying power and they rebelled. But the people stood up in challenge. History shows that whether it is religious extremism or secular extremism (Mustafa Kamal Pasha’s radical steps during his rule) it creates disgust among the people . Erdogan is for moderate religion and is not an extremist.”