08 September, 2011


Wednesday, 07 September 2011
Terror has struck the nation again – this time at Delhi – claiming scores of lives and maiming many more. The usual claims, accusations and excuses will follow. While I join the nation in offering profound condolences to the bereaved fellow-countrymen, I draw the nation’s attention to the following:
a. In the short term a systematic and sustained hunt for the terrorists should be launched and handled professionally. If caught the perpetrators should be tried and brought to justice in full public glare expeditiously. Until the case is solved, every suspected must be put under surveillance, without any discrimination. Not only the terrorists but also those that aided them should be dealt with under the law swiftly.
b. In the long run, however, this will not suffice. I may be courting controversy here. I begin by assuming that today’s terrorists are Muslims. We need to win the Muslims in general and the Muslim social activists, clergymen and political workers through enduring linkages set deep into the grassroots. In order that this works effectively we must come out clean first.
c. As an activist working in the local communities I can say that Muslims in general harbour a huge sense of injustice across all age groups, and classes. Consider these: the marauders in the infamous Sena-instigated Mumbai riots remain unpunished despite a scathing report of Justice Sri Krishna. The demolishers of Babri Masjid have mostly risen in their social hierarchies. The terrorist-killers of over 2,000 Muslims of Gujarat not only remain scot free but have been hailed and rewarded as virtual heroes, and honoured for their misdeeds by none other than the CM. And this architect of genocide himself has emerged as the most popular Hindu leader of the nation!
d. The Executive law-making that hurts Muslims is so routine that it doesn’t even make news. For instance, for over a fortnight even goat and buffalo meat has nearly vanished from Ahmedabad –thanks to a brutal police crackdown on suspected beef sellers. Abattoirs are routinely closed down as if these are anti-national factories, as if Muslims are second grade citizens.
e. The grudges the Muslims carry on several other issues, in their everyday life, are not invalid and do call for serious and sustained review by all far-sighted people.
f. Although several people, me included, work ceaselessly against these barbaric – and clearly counter-productive – acts [refer my Urdu book KHITAB-E-NAU, or Gujarati book NAVU PRABHAT, or read my English series NAI SUBH] we lack credibility because we have not been able to earn them simple justice in everyday matters.

g. For instance, we have built the only Park accessible to the three lakh plus Muslims of Juhapura, Ahmedabad, on an earmarked green land, entirely at our cost. But neither the government nor the municipal corporation does even provide water for the 200+ beautiful trees the Park gives Ahmedabad. Just a kilometre away, though, in the Hindu Vejalpur there is a thriving park every half a kilometre. There is not a single public college, hospital, govt department or a public sector undertaking in this sprawling township. Who do you think would command people’s loyalties here? Not patriotic activists? Not educated professionals, and not harmony advocates, surely?
h. If we treat a whole community as pariah, as outsiders, will they not get detached and become indifferent to the common suffering? Would you feel connected with a government that has not appointed a single representative of your community in its cabinet, or on any worthwhile PSU, for an entire decade? I wouldn’t - and I don’t!
i. Until the Supreme Court intervened, fake encounters to eliminate Muslims – to appease the powers that be – were routine. And no one has yet been punished for the Malegam, Mecca Masjid, Jama Masjid blasts either. A muslim-suspected carnage of 56 Hindus in Sabarmati Express invited a ‘natural reaction’ as Modi called it, and led to the murder of over 2000 Muslims. 68 Muslims perished in Samjhauta Express and no one has been hung. This doesn’t exactly inspire Muslim confidence in the state and its agencies.
j. Come February 2012 and we will be mourning the decennial of the Gujarat genocide. How does a person like me face the common Muslims who not only have not received justice and compensation, but have instead to salute the very people they regard as their murderers?
k. Most Muslims in a veiled manner counter: Muslims may kill once, but they are killed everyday – slow and sustained death, in a thousand different ways. Listen to their refrain for once seriously.
l. India must get rid of terrorism of all kinds: Green, Saffron, Khaki. And justice – complete, transparent, swift – may hold the key to this.
m. Let’s wake up and begin by booking the guilty of Gujarat 2002 now. Consult Sanjiv Bhatt, Rahul Sharma, Rajneesh Rai or Satish Verma, if not Teesta Setalvad, Mukul Sinha, Girish Patel et al.
n. While we stand shaken in solidarity with our Delhi brethren, we must not shirk our responsibility to seek a permanent resolution of the menace of terrorism. Let’s act before the terrorists usurp our social space permanently and before Indian Muslims begin to regard their terrorists as their heroes.

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