Polarisation from Independence till now

Faraz Akhtar
When the British left India in 1947, the country was divided into two geographical regions. One with Muslim majority became Pakistan and the other one remained India with Hindu-majority.Partition of India and Pakistan not only divided geographical regions, but the hearts of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs as well. Pakistan was created, but a large number of Muslims remained in India. After the successful attempt of division by some leaders of both sides and the British, the next step was that a hate propaganda began that continues to marginalise Muslims.

Constantly, extremist groups try to make Muslims feel that this is not their country. “we are the inhabitants of this land, you came from foreign land and you have no contribution in the struggle of Independence,” goes the refrain.

  Constantly sowing the seeds of communal venom created a “reaction group” whose mind is full of hate and extremism towards the minority. Its reaction comes in the form of communal violence, which has a history from Calcutta (1964), Nellie (1983), Anti-Sikh Riots (1984), Bhagalpur (1989), Babri Masjid (1992), Gujarat (2002), Kandhamal (2007), Muzaffarnagar (2013) and so on. Some scholars have described incidents of anti-Muslim violence as politically motivated and organised. They called them pogroms or acts of genocide, or a form of state terrorism with “organised political massacres”, rather than mere “riots”.

These events create a panic among minority communities in India, and they no longer feel safe here.  As far as Christians and Sikhs  are concerned, they continued to live in mixed populations as their percentage in population is too low to be noticed. Christians make up 2.3 per cent of the population and Sikhs 1.72 per cent. Muslims, who make up 14.23 percent, have been migrating to Muslim majority areas and such migration has accelerated. Most of such migration have been in urban areas.  

Interestingly, such areas are called Mini Pakistans, e.g., Jamia Nagar and old Delhi area in Delhi; Matiaburj, Rajabazar in Kolkata; Mumbra, Muhammad Ali Road in Mumbai, for instance.

A general attitude is created among Muslims to live only in areas where a sizeable section of the population is Muslim as it’s safe.

The task of communal forces has become easier to sow the seeds of hatred as there is no direct social contact between Muslims and Hindus. It creates a huge problem in initiating an inter-faith dialogue/ communication between Hindus and Muslims.  Muslims are missing the opportunity to introduce Islam to non- Muslims. As non-Muslims do not know Islam they do not feel empathy with Muslims.

Most good residential areas do not allow Muslims to buy homes, forcing them back into their ghettoes. This reminds one of the British times when they cordoned off the best hotels and residential areas from Indians, putting up boards that read: “Dogs and Indians not allowed.” Are we moving towards apartheid?  

The writer is a student of Computer Science and Engineering at Delhi College of Technology and Management.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 December 2015 on page no. 2

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