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Home > 2021 > Fundamentalists Make Hay While the Sun Shines | Humra Quraishi

Mainstream, VOL LIX No 4, New Delhi, January 9, 2021

Fundamentalists Make Hay While the Sun Shines | Humra Quraishi

Saturday 9 January 2021, by Humra Quraishi

MUSINGS

January 6, 2021

As I sit writing this week’s column, there’s heavy downpour and thunder and lightning, in and around the capital city, New Delhi. With that in the background or foreground, my heart is with the farmers, who are braving it out, taking on Nature’s onslaughts together with the political treachery. The level of the Sarkari ruthlessness can be judged from the fact that though till date over 50 farmers have died, in fact, martyred, during their ongoing peaceful protests against the Farm Bills, yet un-moving sits the top brass.

My heart is also with Nisar, the hapless shoe-seller in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahar, who was harassed and arrested from his pavement stall because of the shoe manufacturing company’s brand name ‘Thakur’ imprinted on the shoe! Not to overlook the fact that Nisar was picked up by the cops at the orders of Bajrang Dal men! Mind you, this is not the first time that Bajrang Dal men have played havoc. In the last two weeks, this is the third reported incident from Uttar Pradesh when Hindutva brigades tortured innocents before getting them arrested by the cops. They ruined the lives of the Moradabad based couple, Rashid and Pinky. Thereafter, they ruined the life of the Bijnor based seventeen-year-old Muslim boy who was merely chaperoning a non- Muslim girl, after a birthday party; getting him imprisoned. Now, of course, this hapless pavement seller Nisar of Bulandshahar, who was rounded -up by the cops under the directions of Hindutva men. Ironically, the owner of the Agra based ‘Thakur Footwear’ licensed and registered company, Narendra Trilokani, was not questioned by any of the Hindutva brigades! There’s this blatant pattern to the hounding of the minority community in Uttar Pradesh. As though there’s a set Hindutva Agenda to be accomplished! Provoking one to question and query: Is the Uttar Pradesh sarkar run by the Hindutva brigades? Or is there little difference between the rulers of the day and the Hindutva brigades?

My heart is also with those sitting affected by the latest round of communal anarchy unfolding in the different towns and villages and qasbas of Madhya Pradesh. In fact, just a week back I had arguments with a colleague who insisted on describing the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Chauhan, as ‘soft and mild Hindutva face!’ No, there is nothing called ‘soft’ or ‘mild’ Hindutva. Also, seeing the very recent attacks on the property and homes of those from the minority community one can only confirm that there’s an obviously apparent communal bias in the very Sarkari machinery. Perhaps, orders from the top brass. In fact, in the long list of those recently arrested in Madhya Pradesh, it is primarily only Muslim names and surnames that stand out. Yes, very large numbers of those arrested in Madhya Pradesh happen to be Muslims! Why?

In fact, this anti-Muslim stand hasn’t erupted overnight in Madhya Pradesh. Building up, made to build up, over the last few years. One instance after another: When the Modi government was flaunting ‘Start-Up’, there was an artisan family of Yusuf Khatri in Madhya Pradesh, who were on the verge of shifting base. Pack up time for them! Yes, one of India’s prominent families in the field of art, producing and exporting award-winning Bagh prints, were considering shifting to the United States, when Yusuf Khatri’s brother and nephew were attacked by goons at the start of 2016. After those communal attacks, they found it difficult to live in their ancestral place. According to news reports, two members of the Khatri family were brutally attacked with rods and swords when they were returning from the masjid after namaaz. One news report had quoted Mohammed Bilal Khatri, Yusuf’s son, “We identified some people involved in the assault. They are all members of local Right-Wing units, but are yet to be arrested.” Incidentally, one of the victims, that is, a member of the Khatri family attacked by the goons, had received a national award for his work just a few days before that brutal attack.

In fact, over three years back, All India Secular Forum team led by L.S. Herdenia had focused on a series of communal incidents in Madhya Pradesh. Details from that report — “On October 12, more than 40 houses and about the same number of shops owned by Muslims were set on fire in two villages, Gandhwani and Pipalya, in the Dhar district …After setting shops on fire in Gandhwani the violent crowd entered Pipalya village and set many houses on fire. In order to escape the fury of the violent crowd, residents left their houses. This gave freehand to the crowd which burnt everything in the houses or looted ... In fact, nothing was left. The crowd attacked every Muslim they came across. One woman told us it was a ‘war-like situation’. Members of the crowd were hurling choicest abuses, ‘Why you are here? Go to Pakistan, you traitors!’ ”

This report also stated that ‘Hindu organizations’ have adopted a ‘unique method’ to collect crowds at a short notice. “A siren was installed in a multi-storey building…That night the siren was blown thrice which alerted residents of the nearby villages. The moment they heard the siren they rushed to Pipalya and Gandhwani and started attacking Muslim houses and shops.”

There was another startling observation made by this team: the particular police officers who made sincere efforts to control the communal situation were punished by the top political brass! Two BJP members of Parliament were sent to these villages and also to Petlawad where communal violence was witnessed. It was on the basis of their report that particular police personnel were punished because they controlled the situation and did not allow the situation to take an explosive turn!

*****

Perhaps, the rulers and administrators manning the State machinery, haven’t heard this verse of Baba Farid Shakarganj (1173-1265 AD)

"Farid, the earth questioned the sky, Where are the mighty captains gone?
In their grave they rot, was the reply
And rebuked for tasks
not done.”

******

Perhaps, those hell-bent on dividing us along caste and creed lines have not heard this verse of the patron saint of the Kashmir Valley, Shaikh Nuruddin (popularly known as Shaikh Ul Alam Nund Rishi)

"Why are you harping on the caste
His is the only caste
His essence is beyond the bounds of knowledge
The doers of noble deeds all have the same caste
If O! brother you surrender to Him, then alone will you become pure"

*****

Leaving you with these lines of Baba Bulleh Shah …

“Masjid dhaa de, Mandir dhaa de, Dhaa de jo kuch dhenda,
Par kissi da dil na dha vee, Rab dilla wich rehnda hae
Destroy a mosque, destroy a temple, destroy everything in sight.
But don’t break a human heart, for that is where God resides.”

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