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Published in the 1-15 June 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Open letter to Manmohan Singh

Munaf Zeena, president of the Council of Indian Muslims (UK) (www.coim.org.uk - emial: info@coim.org.uk) sent the following open letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh:

Dear Mr Prime Minister,

Manmohan SinghCouncil of Indian Muslims congratulates you on becoming the 15th - first from a minority community - Prime Minister of India. We hope that after coming to power you will work for a factual "shining India" in which each Indian citizen feels safe and secure, physically, mentally, culturally, religiously and linguistically.

After the anti-Sikh riots in 1984, Khushwant Singh had written in the Sunday magazine that for the first time he had realised how the Muslims would have felt in Moradabad during the anti-Muslim riots of 1982. Unfortunately Moradabad was not the last to witness the cruelty being meted out on Muslims. It was followed by Meerut and Bhagalpur. However, the savagery and ferocity displayed in Gujarat surpassed all the barbarism that had happened in the past. We are sure that as a member of a minority community like Khushwant Singh you too understand the difficulties being faced by Indian Muslims.

In other states where Muslims did not have to go through the tragedy of the scale which they faced in Gujarat, the story, however, is not much different. During the last more than 50 years they have undergone the trauma of having to witness their loved ones killed in cold blood, roasted alive, raped, being made homeless and jobless, detained under POTA, harassed by the law enforcement agencies, defamed by the media and children in schools forced to perform saraswati vandana.

There is a long list of the injustices meted out on Muslims in the name of integrity and security of the country. These injustices and systematic discrimination are rooted in the hatred being spread, since the very first days of independent India, through school text books. The BJP merely intensified this campaign which has invariably being followed since 1947 by all the successive governments. The present communal tension is nothing but the eruption of the volcano created by all of the previous Indian governments regardless of their party alliances and ideologies.

By reviling Muslims and projecting them as villains, who according to the propaganda, during their hundreds of years of rule, gave nothing to the country except destruction of temples, rape of non-Muslim women and at the end the partition of the country, wittingly or unwittingly greatest damage has been done to the inter-communal relationship that Indians had been enjoying for hundreds of years. While on the one hand such a poisonous fiction is creating hatred in the minds of Hindu children about their Muslim compatriots, on the other hand it is depriving Muslim children of a real sense of belonging. 
We are sure that you as a person who has deep insight of the demographical impact on a country's economic progress and prosperity, cannot be unaware of the fact that by marginalising a 20% population of the country i.e. Muslims, India will never be able to utilise all its available human and material resources in building the country to its fullest possible potential and thus be able to stand abreast with the developed nations of the world. 

The fact is that despite all the negative propaganda and notwithstanding deliberate discrimination against them wherever Muslims were giving the chance they established their worth by an outstanding performance in their respective fields. In the army they became Brig Usman and Havaldar Abdul Hameed, in Science they became Abul Kalam, in sports they became Manssor Ali Khan Patodi, Saleem Durrani, Mohamad Kaif and Irfan Pathan. Yet, in spite of their services to the country they remain lowest on the ladder of employment and opportunities. Their representation in parliament continues to become thinner and thinner by the passage of every count.

Mr Prime Minister, you have already established your name as the architect of India's economic reform. We hope that by accepting to lead the country as a Prime Minister you will also overhaul the system and stop the unfair practices of which Muslim community is the worst victim and whose confidence is badly shattered. We therefore urge you to: 

1) Make sure that justice is not denied to the victims of Gujarat genocide and the perpetrators of crimes against humanity do not go unpunished;

2) Take measures to give Muslims their due representation in government, private sector, armed forces, parliament and the police;

3) Detoxify the poison spread by communal forces and teach children in schools healthy lessons from the history like, for example, that Babar had asked his son not to slaughter cow and to respect the feelings of Hindu brothers; that Muslims played a major role in country's freedom struggle and sacrificed their lives for this great country.

4) Look at the causes of communal hatred and treat the virus that is debilitating the foundations of the country.
We pray for your success as India's PM and for the prosperity and betterment of the country.

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