Bhatkal: Controversial JSC Report: Time to wake up now!
Abdul Mateen Muniri
Milli Gazette Online
29 April 2006
Bhatkal, Karnataka: This town has been in news recently for all the wrong reasons. Two reports need a special mention, both published within a span of three months in two leading newspapers of the south, Deccan Herald and The Hindu. Both are perceived as serious newspapers. They command the respect of their readers and are looked upon even in the journalist fraternity for their seemingly unbiased and secular outlook.
These reports are related to the situation in Bhatkal. The Hindu in its 12 January 2006 issue had criticised the Karnataka Government for not implementing the Jaganath Shetty Commission (JSC) Report and called for the earliest implementation of the same. The second report was published in Deccan Herald on 23 April 2006, claiming to have laid its hands on a copy of the JSC report. It goes on to claim that the said report has found the Muslims of Bhatkal absolutely guilty for the riots of 1993. It further claimed the active involvement of ISI in fomenting that trouble. One needs to analyse this.
1. The commission has directly implicated Ajuman Hamie-e-Muslimeen Bhatkal, an eminent institution of the Bhatkal Muslims, which runs many educational institutions from kindergartens to an engineering college.
2. A Muslim social welfare organization of Bhatkal, "Lion Club", has been also been held responsible for the riots.
3. The commission has allegedly also exonerated all the Saffron outfits, like BJP, Hindu Jaagran Vedike, VHP and RSS and has allegedly quoted BJP leaders Ananth Kumar and late Dr Chittaranjan saying that no complaints have been received against these people and their organisations from Muslims.
Only the reports of the two aforesaid respected publications have been considered here. Otherwise the list is endless as the local newspapers have left no stone unturned to defame the Muslims of Bhatkal. After deliberating over these reports the following points come to the fore:
1. The ground is being prepared to declare Bhatkal a riot zone. The local media is striving hard to brainwash people and project Muslims as villains so that whenever the situation worsens there, no one would sympathise with Muslims, and any losses to life and property incurred by Muslims would be seen as justice for the "crimes" purported to have been committed by them in the past.
2. The threat is not only to the life and property of the Muslims but even their educational institutions are being targeted so that Muslims are deprived of the light of education.
3. Muslim youth are not allowed to form youth organisations. They are either blacklisted or ostracized even as Muslims are being made vulnerable.
The result of these reports was seen in the communal clashes a few weeks back. However, God had other plans and this fire was extinguished rather quickly. It seems that the few mischief mongers were unable to instigate the peace-loving people who are in the majority. The responsibility of the civil society has only increased in such a situation.
The following points should be taken into account while considering the communal situation in Bhatkal:
1. JSC report is not an ordinary report. This is an official document, if it is approved in the assembly, the innocent Muslims of Bhatkal will be unjustly prosecuted. Our
responsibility does not end with merely criticizing this report as communal. Unless this report is dismissed officially, the danger will always loom in the horizon for the Muslims of this area. The rejection of the report could have been achieved easily during the Congress regime. Not only did the erstwhile regime not dismiss it, despite repeated reminders, it went ahead and disappointed Muslims to such an extent that after winning in both the assembly and parliamentary elections earlier, it lost it the next time around to BJP which won parliamentary and the assembly seats from Karnataka for the first time post-1993 riots by projecting the Hindus as "insecure". They are trying to use this magic formula again this time round. The statement of the deputy chief minister (BS Yediyurappa) given on 1 April in Manipal should be read in this perspective.
In this whole incident one fundamental question that comes to mind repeatedly is what stopped people from making representations to the commission when the inquiry was underway. Was the commission given the importance that it deserved? Are we, the society then not responsible for the situation that we find ourselves in today.
2. Educational institutions have been targeted in this report. We cannot accept that our children belonging to any educational institution were in anyway involved in the mischief. We stand by our belief and continue to strive in educating our young generation so that they may be able to generate love and affection in the hearts of others and contribute to their country and community as responsible citizens.
3. Islam has bestowed responsibilities with respect to non-Muslim neighbours. Muslims need to analyze if they have fulfilled these responsibilities. Lessons must be learnt from the past in order to avoid altercations in the future.