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Those doubting patriotism of Muslims should do a bit of heart-searching 

Loyalty to the country is not a religion based feeling, argues Vishwanath Tripathy

Recently, a news item in a Hindi daily carried the heading: ‘Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s proposal: In case of war we shall take over internal security’.

This proposal is silly, shameless and suicidal because it is a signal to the world that internal security arrangements of the government are weak. But in fact the motive behind this proposal is something else i.e. judging the patriotism of Indian Muslims, as if the Sangh clan has monopolised patriotism. They can declare any person, organisation or community as rebel or traitor any time. They never call any mafia group, criminal, murderer, corrupt bureaucrat a traitor. They ‘honour’ only minority communities or their members specially Muslims with this title. 

To my knowledge I have not come across any worthwhile performance of minority communities, specially Muslims in the progress and development of independent India. Hence for the time being we can take recourse to some events before us.

There have been two wars between independent India and Pakistan i.e. in north-western and eastern regions where there are large population of Muslims. Did Indian Muslims help Pakistan’s invading army in any way during these wars? Or did Indian Muslims indulge in any act of internal subversion during these wars? Leave aside any act of treachery, as far as my knowledge goes, there were not even communal riots in India during the war with Pakistan which were quite likely if Muslims were provoked even slightly because the RSS workers and other Hindu communal elements spread the rumour again and again that so-and-so Muslim has a transmitter who supplies secret information to Pakistan. I myself have been a victim of such incidents. Someone has written a story ‘Yudh’ (war) based on such an incident. However credit also goes to Hindu intellectuals and other sane persons of the majority community who took care to see that such rumours are nipped in the bud.

In addition to the above, one should also remember those martyrs who were killed during the war with Pakistan, such as Brig Usman, Havaldar Abdul Hameed, Rahmatullah of Rajputana Rifles. Hameed had tied a bomb along with his stomach and blown off Patton tank. There are some more instances by considering which further light can be shed on the patriotism of Indian Muslims. 

In Afghanistan, young Muslim ‘jehadis’ from all over the world joined the militia in the war on Taliban’s side who were not totally eliminated and are active even now. Such Muslims even from USA had also joined Taliban army. It is worth mentioning and memorable that no Muslim from India has ever been caught who joined Taliban army and fought on their side nor any such person has so far been identified. Those indulging in ‘jehad’ in Kashmir are non-Indian Muslims and also no non-Kashmiri Indian Muslim has been identified. All these show that Indian Muslims have no interest in ‘jehad’ in Kashmir against India. My arguments are supported by the fact that in no region or part of our great country Muslims indulge in any campaign or carry on any movement on behalf of Kashmir and against India. That is to say, they treat the problem of Kashmir as Kashmiri’s own problem, not the problem of Indian Muslims and that too, in spite of Babri Masjid demolition, Rath Yatra etc. Can RSS offer any proof of Indian Muslims working against the country for Pakistan or any other Muslim country?

During the initial years of independence, in spite of suspicion and distrust against Muslims by communal Hindus, Muslims were appointed to important and sensitive posts in Nehru’s time. Husain Zaheer was made president of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research. Food ministry was given to Rafi Ahmad Kidwai who so efficiently improved the deteriorating condition of food problem in the country that Bal Krishn Sharma ‘Navin’ used to call him India’s ‘Ann Data’ (giver of food).

Performance of Muslims in the field of scientific research has since increased to some extent, not decreased. The biggest proof of this is the eternal performance of Abdul Kalam in the field of missile technology. Such a great performance in advanced military capability in such a sensitive field at such a critical time is that of a Muslim scientist. This is a matter of great satisfaction and pride for all of us.

Unfortunately, patriotism is a topic which is used too much verbally but to a very limited extent in practical field. People do not give serious thought to its nature and type. Too many good and bad poems on patriotism have been written but serious thought has seldom been given to it. The so-called modern society has kept itself aloof from this feeling. It is a separate thing that after the 11 September incident, American flags are being seen in the hands of American children and there is too much talk of USA.

As far as my knowledge goes, only Ram Chandra Shukla has given serious thought to patriotism in Hindi language and has done some work which is useful for us. He asks ‘what is love towards country? It is after all, love in simple language. Just as there is no love for individual without introduction, in the same way how can there be love for the country without knowing about the people, their language, joys and sorrows, their way and style of living. In short, how can there be love for the country without love for the people? If you love them, you will take care of their well-being, their pains and joys.’ That is to say, love for the country, or patriotism does not lie in exploitation of countrymen, accumulation of black money and leading a comfortable or luxurious life. It demands sacrifice; one has to undergo test for this. The time has come now when we need to understand words like love for the country, patriotism, treachery, disloyalty, rebellion etc and use them correctly instead of using them wrongly. 

There is no doubt that social conditions in India are affected by things taking place in Pakistan. No Hindu names are ever heard in Pakistan’s government, politics, business etc and there can be no comparison between the two countries on these points but conditions in India are not ideal as well. The number of Muslims in police service in India is far less than their ratio of population. Almost the same condition is there in army, administration, educational fields. However, they are coming out gradually from their seclusion. Had, meanwhile, incidents like Babri Masjid demolition, Rath Yatra, Gujarat carnage not taken place, probably they would have come out of their sense of inferiority complex and the resultant listlessness and weakness. They always talk about living like brothers. Left wing parties also are not communal.

Demolition of Babri Masjid and Gujarat events have resulted in contradictory effects. On one side these events have lowered our heads in shame but on the other, these have also shown that almost the whole country is against communalism. In this respect Indian media has really done a marvellous job. Writers and intellectuals also opposed and condemned anti-human acts with one voice. People and writers like Ashok Vajpayee, who keeps himself aloof from social and political matters, took part in protest. It is hoped that all these will have salutary and long term effects. 

Another important and noteworthy thing is that riots in Gujarat with all ferocity, were confined to Gujarat only. These had virtually no effects in any other part of the country, credit for which should also go to the country-wide reaction against the riots in Gujarat and also to the composite culture which gave us men like Kabeer, Jaisi, Tulsi, Soor, Mira, Rahim, Raskhan, Wali, Meer, Ghalib, Premchand, Nirala and others and whose product in our time was Gandhi.

The dialogue writer of the serial Mahabharat is Rahi Masoom Raza. Some people did not believe this. Rahi was an Urdu poet and Hindi story writer (which can also be called ‘Avadhi’). When Pakistani rulers began oppressing Bengali speaking people in Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), Urdu progressive writer Rahi Masoom Raza had written: 
“He who wants to lower Tagore’s literature Is no friend of Meer, Ghalib and Iqbal either. The number of people reading Persian script might possibly have gone down in independent India but Urdu literature has become more popular now than in earlier times, specially among Hindi-knowing people.” In any case, people used to say about Rahi with surprise that in spite of being a Muslim, how beautiful dialogues he has written for Mahabharat. On many occasions Rahi complained and used to say that people who say so smack of alienness because Ramayan and Mahabharat are fountains and symbols of our composite culture and all Indians have a right over them. 

The interest of communal elements among both Hindus and Muslims lies in keeping the two communities aloof from each other and to create distrust among them. It is not proper on the part of Hindus to doubt the patriotism of Muslims and Muslims to doubt the intentions of Hindus. With the passage of time, however, Muslims’ love for Pakistan is getting dissipated. Communal minded Hindus frequently propagate that Muslims are by nature fanatic. India is a secular country, but no Muslim country is secular, they say. But while saying so, they forget Turkey and Indonesia, the biggest Muslim country. 

The number of Muslims who were left in India after independence out of their own free will runs into several crores. If they wished so, they would have gone to Pakistan. In that case Pakistan would not have been so small nor India’s map would have been what it is today. But they did not prefer to leave the country of their forefathers and migrate to an Islamic country and remained in the Hindu-majority country. This was because of their love for this country, its land, its language, culture and trust in the countrymen. Under unfavourable circumstances also they not only maintained this spirit but strengthened it further. This spirit is what is called love for the country or patriotism. Test of patriotism should be not only for Muslims but also for Hindus. (Translated from Urdu)
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