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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 14 New Delhi March 24, 2018

What Standards? Double Standards!

Friday 23 March 2018, by Humra Quraishi


During the recent election campaign in the North-East the BJP made promises to send senior citizens of Nagaland on religious trips, all the way to Jerusalem! Blatant wooing of the majority Christian population of Nagaland by setting up a senior citizens’ board which would annually select 50 members through lucky draw for a free trip to the Holy Land of Jerusalem. This tactic of the BJP is another of those double standards in governance! Not to be overlooked is the fact that just weeks back the Central Government scrapped the Haj subsidy for the Muslim community of the country.

And whilst on double standards, I ought to mention that chances of getting lynched hold high if you and I were to even spell out the word ‘beef’, but Right-wing men hailing from the North-East blatantly flaunt their beef-eating ways! Why is it that Central and State level Ministers from the North-East can openly talk of their beef-eating traditions and get away with it, but Muslim cattle-grazers and traders are lynched in public on the beef alibi!

Today, Ministers in the BJP-ruled States of the country can pass orders for government school children (including those from the minority communities) to sing Vande Mataram, to do Surya Namaskar, to read religious scriptures of a particular religion. Not to overlook the latest announcement by the Haryana Education Minister, Ram Bilas Sharma, that Gayatri Mantra will be part of the morning prayers in the Haryana Government Schools. Describing the mantra as “a gift by our saints and sages to the world”, the Education Minister said a decision to this effect was taken during his meeting with senior Education Department officials.

Provocatively communal remarks and orders are passed regularly by the BJP rulers but no question of their arrest or ouster! Last week the BJP MLA from Ballia district in Uttar Pradesh, Surendra Singh, publicly said that once India becomes a Hindu Rashtra, only those Muslims who assimilate into the Hindu culture will be able to stay in the country. ”There are very few Muslims who are patriotic. Once India becomes a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation), Muslims who assimilate into our culture will stay in India. Those who will not are free to take asylum in any other country.” He also claimed that by 2024, India would become a Hindu nation, “As the RSS completes 100 years in 2025, by 2024, India will become a Hindu Rashtra.”

This is not the first time that the Hindutva mafia has threatened the existence of the Indian Musalman in the country. Though the likes Sangeet Soms, Sadhvi Niranjans, Giriraj Singhs, Katiyars, Sakshi Maharajas, Togadias, Hegdes have been heard threatening, abusing, taunting sections of the minority community, yet they move around freely. Also, though news-reports had surfaced that the VHP and Bajrang Dal were holding arms training camps in Greater Noida, Varanasi, Ayodhya and in several other locales, where the young were getting training to attack the ‘enemy’, yet no arrests of the organisers and promoters of these terror-striking camps!

And one cannot overlook the fact that the three main destroyers of the Babri Masjid—L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati—were allotted prime slots in the very governance of this country! In fact, Uma Bharati is even today a Minister in the Modi Cabinet.

Double standards all the way, even where as serious a crime as rape is concerned. Different treatment meted out to the rapists if they are from the corridors of power or if they rape whilst communal rioting is on. During the Gujarat pogrom and even during the Muzaffarnagar riots, Muslim women were raped and molested; yet little justice for the victims.

It’s obvious there seem to be two sets of rules prevailing at the very governance level. The state machinery is treating communal characters from the various Hindutva brigades with no apparent harshness and that explains why there is a steady increase in the commu-nally surcharged unleashes. Today, camouflages are off. Stark realities stare. I do realise I’m ruled by a bunch of pracharaks and maha-pracharaks, their dictates unleashed on a daily basis. Humiliating me, throttling my very spirit; diluting my identity. No, I cannot revolt; otherwise there is danger of getting hounded by the private senas that these Hindutva rulers have raised—Hindu Yuva Yahini, Durga Vahini, Shiv Sena...

And in contrast stands the state fury against the likes of Zakir Naiks for their supposedly provocative speeches. And now with the very recent arrest of M.M. Akbar—head of the Niche of Truth, the body to propagate Islam, a regular speaker on platforms of Mujahid organisations, and the Director of the Peace International School—questions are raised on the very reasons for his arrest.

The case against him is based on the allegation that the textbooks of the Peace School create communal discord, and charges him under IPC 153 (A). To quote from a report published in the Madhyamam—“The religious textbook for Class II of the Peace School had contained a question, ‘If your classmate decides to embrace Islam, what advice would you give him?’ The case was registered following the conclusion of the District Educational Officer of Ernakulam that this question and the answers to it would spread religious hatred. The head of the Burouj Realisation of Mumbai, the publishers of the book, its content editor and designer were the other accused in the case. They were all arrested in December 2016 and put in jail for nearly a month, but later obtained bail from High Court. The school officials explain that once they found the disputed part of the lesson inappropriate, they had already given instruction that it should not be taught.... It cannot be said that the lesson that prompted registration of a case is one that overtly spreads religious hatred. The publishers clarify that this part was included as an activity to teach children that declaration of faith by truth (kalima shahaada in Arabic) is the first step to becoming a Muslim. Still, the publishers announced, since it was likely to be misconstrued, they were withdrawing the book. In other words, the Peace School cannot be said to be trying deliberately to inject enmity towards other religions, although it could be argued that under close scrutiny there was imprudence in teaching second-level children a lesson that was likely to create misunderstanding. As for the school, the contention that they had already issued instructions not to teach that portion, need not be taken as such by everyone. All the same, the propaganda to the effect that the Peace School was a centre producing hatred are malicious. It was the wide spread of such misinformation that pitted the school and its chief, M.M. Akbar, at the centre of controversy.”

Why doesn’t the Right-wing government look right! Look, what’s taught in the RSS schools! I had first heard the former Delhi University Professor Nalini Taneja talk in an open forum of the twisted history taught in the RSS-run schools. It was a shocker, as she read out and aloud several of the provocative passages from the textbooks taught in the RSS-run schools... poison dripping from each one of those sentences, enough to inculcate hatred in young minds for the ‘other’—the Muslims of the country.. The following years I have heard several academics detail what’s getting taught in the RSS schools: “The history texts are nothing but unadulterated illustration of the RSS view of history and use of history for its sectarian agenda—Aryans are the original inhabitants of India, Indian civilisation is essentially Aryan civilisation, the ancient period of history when Hindu rulers ruled was golden and India had enormous advantages during this period.. The coming of Mughals brought darkness, cruelty... Hedgewar, Gowalkar, Savarkar are amongst the greatest freedom fighters. Muslims as a community are traitors, Hinduism is synony-mous with nationalism. Also, caste, child marriages and sati are defended. Muslims, Christians and Parsees are all called foreigners. Urdu is referred to as a foreign language.”

And in 2016, during an interview given to me, Professor Ram Puniyani had detailed the teachings in the RSS run schools—“RSS has single-teacher schools, Ekal Vidyalaya, and bigger one’s as Shishu Mandirs. The pattern of authoritarianism between teachers-taught, senior-junior is very rigid. The main values which are promoted are those of conformism. Along with this the books in these schools are structured around the mythical history of superiority of Hinduism, that all was well with Hindus till the Muslim aggressors came, caste is presented as having given stability to society, Muslim Kings are presented as cruel and so on. The hatred for religious minorities is drilled into the children.”

Perhaps, it would be naive to expect anything else but these build-ups, as the RSS agenda seems to be in full-swing. Well into its implementation stage. Soon it wouldn’t be a question of Hindus or Muslims or Christians, but fascist forces versus the saner elements. All those who love this land, irrespective of their creed and caste, are seeing the dangers ahead and are trying to put up a stiff resistance.

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