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Double standards defeat democracy
By Saeed Suhrawardy

Muslims are vocal about their commitment to secular democracy. They richly deserve the privilege for the sacrifices they offered during the struggle for the freedom of the country. After independence of the country they have richly contributed to the growth and progress of the nation in every sphere of life.

They have full faith in the Constitution of India, which confers on them equal rights like other citizens. Unfortunately the elements which have come to power through the democratic process, have faith neither in democracy nor secularism. They may be critical of Pakistan and Taliban, but they have no qualm of conscience in building bridges with a theocratic state like Israel.

They swear by the Constitution just for the sake of retaining power. Their ideal remains ‘Hindu Rashtra.’ They have never concealed their intentions. They have been restrained from attaining their goal by the fact that the people have not conferred on them the desired mandate. The logic of numbers has so far defied them. It is not surprising that they have adopted different standards in dealing with different sections of the society.

The ban of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) by the Union Home Ministry lacks judicial objectivity. It does not show any concern for national interests. The alibi advanced in support of the decision is that the SIMI has the opportunity to prove its innocence before the tribunal. It will get the opportunity to show whether it has extremist links or it is capable of engineering communal riots.

But there is an unfortunate impression of bias in the Home Ministry’s latest action. The chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have been demanding ban on SIMI and Bajrang Dal. If vitiating the atmosphere with communal politics is the justification for the ban, there are a number of other organizations that qualify for similar ban. Not only Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Shiva Sena and their mother outfit Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have been persistently engaged in similar actitvities. All these organizations are different variants of religious fundamentalism. This mind-set is the breeding ground of terrorist activities. The list of their atrocities is fairly long one.

The leaders, workers and sympathizers of SIMI may well turn back and retort. We are made for each other. It is their activities that provide fuel to the fire ignited by us. Congress ministries may not be serious and determined about their fight against communalism. But at least in this case the Union Home Ministry has ignored their demand for ban on Bajrang Dal.

It is possible that SIMI activists are guilty of making inflammatory speeches and publishing similar material. But has the Union Home ministry not heard about the inflammatory speeches of Sadhvi Rithambra, which Sangh Parivar put on the public address system in crowded localities during L.K. Advani’s rath yatra? Were those accused of raping women in Surat riots and videotaping them doing a service to the civilized society?

Those who burnt a hospital in Thane were not engaged in humanitarian act. What has the Union Home Ministry to say about those who instigated riots to celebrate the 75th birthday of Ashok Singhal, the leader of Vishwa Hindu Parishad? Such activities are no less a threat to civil society than the activities of a bunch of fanatic Muslim young men.

It is a dark chapter of the current regime that when Graham Staines and his two sons were burnt alive in Orissa, two of its senior ministers declared that the incidents were part of ‘an international conspiracy’ and the Home Minister went overboard in praising the Bajrang Dal.
What stops the Home Ministry from banning the VHP, Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal when they go about inciting communal passions, distributing inflammatory literature, demolishing mosques and burning down churches? It appears that Union Minister Mr. Advani is determined to exploit the universal anger against terrorism for another bout of minority baiting?

What about the credentials of those profess commitment to secular democratic values, but prefer to keep quiet before such flagrant acts of injustice? For the fruits of power they continue within NDA.

Muslims have yet to learn about their genuine friends and foes. There are many wolves who move about in sheep’s clothing.

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