Special Reports

Communal Violence Based on Myths: Puniyani

Patna:   “Communal politics resorts to violence, and in turn the social issues related to the lives of the masses are sidetracked.  Communal violence bases itself on the myths and stereotypes against the weaker groups and minorities.  This creates hatred and distance between the communities.  Communal violence is a phenomenon where innocent people get killed”, said eminent rights activist and former professor of Biomedical Engineering of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai, Prof. Ram Puniyani.  He was delivering a lecture on “Need of communal harmony for Development” organised by the Peace Foundation here at Urdu Bhawan on 19 December.

Dr Ram Puniyani speaking

Prof. Puniyani said that at the religious level, Islam and local Hindu traditions interacted and strengthened Sufi saints and Bhakti Cults.  Kabir had a large following among the poor from amongst Muslims as well as Hindus.  Mir Miyan, another sufi saint, laid down the foundation-stone of Harmandir Golden Temple at Amritsar.  The dohas of Abdur Raheem, popularly known as Rahiman, are still a source of inspiration for all of us.    

On instances of temple destruction, he said that those were only to loot the wealth stored there.   Muslim rulers demolished some mosques also.  Ghaznavi’s army had one-third Hindu soldiers and out of twelve generals, five were Hindus.  Similarly, Aurangzeb too demolished temples as well as mosques.  He also gave jagirs (fiefs) for the maintenance and upkeeping of Hindu temples.  Hindus had a large presence in the Mughal administration.  During Shahjahan’s rule, the number of Hindu kings was 24% and this number went up to 34% during the reign of Aurangzeb.  

On the wars between Hindu and Muslim kings, Prof. Puniyani emphasised that those were only for political reasons and for expansion of their kingdoms.   Those were not wars  between Muslim and Hindu communities.  Raja Mansingh, a Hindu, represented Akbar and on the other hand Rana Pratap’s main associate was his Muslim general Hakim Khan Sur.  Similarly, Shivaji was never anti-Muslim.  He had many a Muslim soldiers in his army and his main lieutenant was Siddi Sambhal, a Muslim.  Also, Shivaji’s private secretary was Maulana Haider Ali.  

On conversion, Prof. Puniyani said that no religious belief can spread by sword.  The first mosque in India was built in Kerala where no Muslim soldier ever entered.  He quoted Swami Vivekananda who said that Dalit Hindus embraced Islam to escape the atrocities of casteism and to attain social equality.

On demolition of the Babri Masjid, he said that there was a time when Sant Goswami Tulsi Das, a true devotee (bhakt) of Lord Rama and the author of Ram Charitr Manas, wrote that he is “a slave of Ram, lives in a mosque”.  But today’s so-called Ram bhakts want to demolish mosques, he said.  

Naushad Ansari, President of the Foundation, delivered welcome address.  Mohammad Quasim, Advocate, Patna High Court, Secretary of the foundation, informed the audience about the activities of the foundation in the fields of education, employment and communal harmony.  

Buddha Sharan Hans, I.A.S (ret’d), Vice President of the Foundation, stated that upholding peace and maintaining law and order is the duty of state.  (M Naushad Ansari)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 January 2016 on page no. 13

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