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EDITORIAL: 16-31 May 2001

Violence, paranoia and hidden agendas

Once again parts of north India are witnessing communal violence, rather violence against a ‘particular community’ to borrow a wicked term coined by our so-called ‘national’ media when it comes to Muslim victims. Once again we see a minister in a state government leading mobs to attack Muslims, villagers near Moradabad have been butchered, Mozaffarnagar has again seen violence, a funeral procession has again been fired at in Kashmir and a Rajasthan mosque has been pulled down in a repeat of the Babri, or ‘the disputed structure,’ to use another sinister euphemism which has gained currency thanks to a timid press which shows off its powers and prowess particularly when there is a trumped up scoop to embarrass Muslims.

These and many more acts of official and mob violence have occurred in the recent past within the fabricated environment of hate being encouraged by people occupying high seats of power. This paranoia has now gained official sanction through the GoM report on internal security which looks at Muslims as ISI agents and considers their mosques and madrasas as dens of terrorism and factories of extremism. Within the context of this paranoia we can understand how a (Muslim) superintendent of police is humiliated at the hands of constables in the national capital. If this is the helplessness of an SP, what could be the plight of ordinary Muslims under the present dispensation...

Encouraged by the present government at the centre, extremists have started enlarging their private armies and imparting arms training in the open. Reportedly they have started usurping functions of the state like intelligence gathering, watching various areas, keeping a tab on visitors and persons going abroad and the like. Other minorities like the Christians too are feeling the brunt.

A number of Muslim organizations have raised their voices and held meetings recently to discuss the impending dangers in the light of the GoM report and the steady saffronization of the official machinery and education. Resolutions have been passed and delegations formed to meet important leaders including the prime minister who has assured that Muslims have nothing to fear. But can we trust his assurances when his own subordinates flout them with impunity...

The present activity on the part of the community should continue until the situation changes on the ground level and Muslims are no longer subjected to persecution. On the other hand it is time the powers that be realize that the information peddled from Washington and Tel Aviv about the impending dangers of Islamic extremism are false and have nothing to do with India. If the US is exploiting the Muslim World and sheltering Israel, victims are bound to feel resentment and fight back, and if Israel is occupying other people’s lands and turning their lives into hell it has to anticipate retaliation. But all this does not apply to India. If madrasas in Pakistan and Afghanistan have been radicalized it is purely a local phenomenon which has nothing to do with madrasas per se. It is the CIA which misused these institutions and mobilized their teachers and students to fight its proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Once radicalized, things did not go back to the normal after the Soviet defeat since some people had tasted power, influence and money and they were not content to go back to the life of containment and subsistence they led earlier. These factors are alien to madrasas in India. True, madrasas with their teachers and students have played a role in the freedom struggle. Names of Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmood Hasan and Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani may not be known today to the new generation but they are giant pillars of the freedom struggle in which they did not gain anything in monetary terms, rather, like all freedom fighters, they lost whatever they owned. Madrasas in India have no other history or connection. True, some financial help has come their way in recent years from Gulf states but it is strictly for building new mosques and erecting new madrasah buildings to replace the old dilapidated structures. The donors are very conscious that funds should not be used for any other purpose. Any investigation by honest officers will vouch for this fact. We at MG have taken the trouble and our investigation, published in the 16 July issue, has satisfied us that the charges are utterly false. It is time the government of India went about this chore and gave itself, the country and the Muslim community their peace of mind so that a lot of official and popular energy being wasted these days is put to better use. After all our country needs a healthy and peaceful environment to progress and compete in a fast changing world. We cannot and must not allow ourselves to be victims of other people’s hidden agendas...

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