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Signpost:
McCarthyism is here
By M. Zeyaul Haque

Today I write this column with a heavy heart. The dark night of McCarthyism has finally descended on the country. Anti-Muslim voices are getting shriller by the day. Each and every part of India with some appreciable Muslim presence has been declared an ISI hotbed. Whether it is Bhatkal or Gulbarga in Karnataka, Dhaka in Bihar, the eastern UP districts bordering Nepal, or Kishanganj on Bangladesh border, each and every area with a 20-30 percent Muslim population is sought to be defamed as the hub of anti-national activity.

As I said earlier, the teaching and practice of Islam (symbolized by madarsa and mosque) are close to being declared ‘seditious activities.’ The community elders had sensed this trend way back in early 1993. In a long interview, Qazi Mujahidul Islam Qasmi had told me then that the Ayodhya campaign and the ISI scare unleashed with it seemed to be a gameplan to hunt down the community's youth. The "fundamentalist" Qazi Sahab has turned out to be right.

Another person whose fears have come true is the late Ali Sardar Jafri. This great poet had seen Mumbai burning in the wake of Ayodhya, ‘...and the hatred for Muslims burned too,’ Jafri wrote. At that moment of sorrow and humiliation he wrote a poignant poem which he first titled Hey Ram, Mahatma Gandhi’s last words uttered after he was fatally shot by a man of the persuasion of the mosque demolishers. Later Jafri changed the title to Raj-Niraj. All those fears now seem to be coming true.

We have come to a point where if we question communal slander, we ourselves would be branded communal. This is like MalcolmX, Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela being branded racist for questioning white racism. This is one of the tried and tested fascist methods of silencing criticism.

The lack of access to national media has virtually silenced us. Anybody can get away with writing whatever balderdash he or she chooses to, without a thought of being contradicted. For example, see what Tavleen Singh has to say about us in the recent India Today. I wonder if anyone can say such things about others without being contradicted. We have been denied the right to reply, or to explain. If we try to deny baseless allegations against us, wise men of the media would call it ‘retaliation.’ Why, they can call it even retribution? After all, they have the power of the rotary and web offset on their side. And what is the fun of having power if you don't misuse it? This is what trial by press is all about.

I remember a brief meeting with one of our brightest and ablest leaders, Syed Shahabuddin, in 1993. In replay to a question about Babri Masjid, he said in anguish: ‘Are we denied even the legal and constitutional recourse?’ Yes Sir, that is the case today. If you do that, you would be branded a communalist, or worse.

We discover that if we object to anti-Muslim slander, we are accused of being sympathetic to ISI. We say, ‘do whatever you like to ISI, but don't defame the entire Muslim community of India.’ The tormentors have succeeded earlier also in this game of chicanery. Whenever somebody objected to the Babri Masjid demolition plans, the perpetrators of this crime would say: ‘You have to choose between Shri Ram and Babar.’ The fact was that Muslims chose to keep their mosque and continue to respect Shri Ram, without brining Babar in the picture. Again the choice is between accepting defamation and being branded anti-national. Both ways the result is the same.

In 1993 we had expected the campaign of calumny to taper off. On the contrary, it continues unabated. There is no sign of this ending anytime too soon. Last fortnight I happened to see a community elder, Saiyid Hamid. He observed sagely: ‘This seems like continuing further. The pent up energies have yet to work themselves out.’

That reminds one of Faiz’s couplet:
Haan gardish-e-ayyaam abhi aur barhegi 
Aur ahl-e sitam mashq-e sitam karte rahenge
(Yes, the stars would turn even further,
and the tyrants would get even more tyranical.) 
q
Raj Niraj

Gulashan mein bandobast barang-i- digar hai aaj 
Qumri ka tauq halqa-e bairoon-e daar hai aaj.                  Ghalib

Suna hai bandobast ab sab ba-andaaz-i-digar honge
Sitam hoga muhaafiz, shehr be deewaar-o dar honge.

Sazaayen be-gunaahon ko milengi begunaahi ki
Ke fard-e jurm se mujrim ki munsif be khabar honge

Faqat mukhbir shahaadat denge aiwaan-i-adaalat mein
Faqat teer-o tabar, shamsheer-o khanjar mu’tabar honge

Sajaai jaayegi bazme aza eeza rasaanon se
Kafan pahnyaagenge jallaad, qaatil nauha gar honge.

Rasan mein maaon aur behnon ke baazoo bandhey jaayenge
Shaheedan-i wafa ke khoon bhare nezon pe sar honge.

Manaya jayega jashn-e musarrat soone khandron mein
Andheri raat mein roshan chiraagh-i chashme tar honge

Jo yeh ta’beer hogi Hind ke dereena khwaabon ki 
To phir Hindustaan hoga na uskay deedawar honge

Ali Sardar Jafri
7 January 1993

A celebration of lawless law

Now there is another dispensation in the Garden
The ring round the dove’s neck has become the lock 
on the Garden’s door.                Ghalib

There is a rumour about a new order in the city
The despot will be the guardian, no need for walls or doors.

The innocent shall be punished for their innocence 
The judge will be in the blissful ignorance of the charge against the accused.

Only informers will testify in the Halls of Justice 
Arrow and axe, sword and dagger alone will be authentic.

At sessions of mourning the tormentors will be honoured guests
The executioner will prepare the shroud, the murderer will lament.

The skies will resound with the clamour of false grief
Tears of orphans and widows will flow in vain.

They will tie up the arms of mothers and sisters 
The heads of martyrs to faith will be carried high aloft bloodied spears.

Orgies of joy among desolate ruins
Glimmer of tear-dimmed eyes in the black night.

If this be the meaning of Bharat’s old dreams 
Then the land and its seers will be gone.

Translated by Iqbal Masud

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