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Mainstream, VOL LII, No 46, November 8, 2014

Minority Group’s Second-Class Positioning

Sunday 9 November 2014, by Humra Quraishi


There has been no recent history of any major communal violence in and around Delhi. Yes, with just about one exception—during the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition, several Muslim dominated areas such as Seelampuri and adjoining areas were affected with a large number of Muslim youth rounded up by the police. I was there that particular afternoon in Seelampuri to write/report on the situation and saw for myself dozens of Muslims arrested. Why? Because they were protesting against the demolition of the Babri mosque and the local political goons were attacking them.

Thereafter, there has been no major communal clash. No, I would not credit good or fair or just governance for this. No, certainly not. There are three significant factors why Delhi has not witnessed communal clashes: a large percentage of the Muslim population reside in their ‘own mohallas and bastis’-and these includes Old Delhi, Okhla, Jamia Nagar, Zakir Bagh, West Nizamuddin. Also, they are getting increasingly and systematically sidelined on the political and business and educational-cum-social spheres; with that it’s apparent that they do not have the grit to speak out. Also, over the years, especially in these recent years, they have realised it’s safer, for sheer survival, to adopt a second-class positioning! Communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar, well-manufactured by the Right -wing brigades, dragged along another reality of the day—the actual culprits would be honoured by the political rulers whilst the victims made to die a slow death in tents and refugee camps! This situation is further compounded by another vital factor—in the last few months there have been news trickles of several Muslim families made to ‘exit’ from their ancestral villages. Yes, this has been happening in several villages in and around the national Capital—in particular those villages where there were only a dozen Muslim households and there was tremendous pressure on them to leave ‘peacefully’. Uprooted from their ancestral lands, these Muslim families left overnight without any countering or resistance.

Perhaps, they realised there’d be little sense in taking on the culprits flourishing amidst a biased and tilted machinery.

With this backgrounder, last week’s communal clashes in Delhi’s Trilokpuri have come as a shock. Or not really, for going by the trend of the BJP-RSS, they relay their dominance by manufacturing riots and with that more than relaying they are in total control, and with that the minority groups ought to sit back in that second-class positioning!

On Sahir Ludhianvi’s Death Anniversary ...

Last week on Sahir Ludhianvi’s death anniversary—he passed away on October 25, 1980—I was reminded of what Khushwant Singh has written about him. I quote—“Sentimental, sensitive, sensuous, generous, but at the same time edgy, quick—tempered, hypersensitive and quarrelsome—Sahir Ludhianvi was all these as well as the best and the most successful of our lyrists. He was also the hardest of drinkers. Apart from Scotch what Sahir thirsted for was appreciation. I was surprised at the childish joy with which he celebrated the award of Padma Shri. And when his fellow Ludhianvis decided to honour him, he travelled all the way to Punjab and back to Bombay by rail (he had a morbid fear of flying) to be acclaimed by his native city ... I had many encounters with Sahir in the homes of common friends and spent a few evenings at his home in Juhu, close to where Balraj Sahni lived. If any evening passed without an unpleasant incident, I regarded it as a minor miracle. Sahir was particularly touchy when he found himself in the company of the newly rich who pretended to enjoy shair-o—shairee. There is no dearth of them in Bombay, where the film industry has thrown up as many millionaires as it has spawned versifiers.”

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