Opinions

Why qabristan is central to BJP theme

UP is house to about 40 million Muslims which make them nearly 20% of its whole population, which is their largest presence in the country. How Muslims have fared in ‘all walks of life’ after perpetual politics of ‘appeasement’ throughout the Congress party rule, as accused by BJP, could not hold water as Sachar Committee report (2006) and followed by Rangnath Misra Commission report (2009), have proven to be otherwise. The UPA government (2004-14) could not even do ‘precious-little’ for it to fathom an Action Taken Report on it.  BJP came to full-fledged power in 2014 on the slogan of ‘doing-justice’ to 85% majority Hindus who have been “wronged” since independence. These two reports have found UP Muslims to be worst hit, even far below than Dalits.

The general elections are in full-flow and the rabble-rouser Giriraj Singh, in the presence of Amit Shah, at Begusarai, Bihar, called that if Muslims wish to seek land to be buried, they would need to say ‘Vande-Mantram’. This was echoed by Narender Modi saying that those who oppose ‘Vande-Matram’ will forfeit their deposits. Singh’s statement just did not come as a surprise.  I studied in an elite school in Lucknow where obviously Muslims were fewer, and we enjoyed every festival under the Sun with equal zest but by the time High School came, the portents of past-prejudices tended to cast their shadows. I could listen my Hindu friends grudging that they were ‘cremated and ashes immersed in rivers’ while Muslims are buried and thereby, holding Qabristans (graveyards) worth billions of real estate value, at prime locations all across UP and India, including the would-be smart-cities! It won’t be out of place to foresee BJP-affiliated hoodlums stopping a Muslim funeral and letting the burial done only after saying ‘Vande-Matram’, should Narender Modi come to power again.

This Qabristan/Shamshan politics is not that old as we all remember the heat it generated when Modi during his campaign in 2014 raised the issue, accusing Samajwadi Party (SP) government in UP (2012-17) to have opened its coffers for Qabristans and not as much for Shamsans.  With Qabristans now entering the political mainstream, it warrants a closer scrutiny of SP record as to why it lavished on Qabristans and left Shamshans in a lurch. It is also an open secret, once acknowledged by outgoing BSP CM Mayawati (2007-12) that 70% Muslims had voted for SP in 2012.

UP, owing to its Muslim population, has also the highest number of Waqfs/Qabristans in the country, out of which thousands have been sold out illegally, or are under illegal encroachments/ illegal occupation, and considering it as grave threat, the SP government decided to provide it with a security cover, and for that purpose it allocated 200 crore in its first budget for Qabristans/Shamsans in 2012, which was distributed to every district in UP according to its Muslim population, and on the orders of respective DMs their boundaries were built. In 2013-14 300 crore was further allocated for this. In 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17 300 crore was added again. This resulted in the making of boundaries of 87,460 Qabristans and 236 Shamsans. No wonder Narender Modi’s diatribe found its reciprocation in 2017, as after the Yogi Adityanath government, the entire work was stopped. Fifty percent of the work, however, had been completed by then. Muslims have Qabristans even in small villages and Hindus have only four-five Shamshans in a district. However, the SP for an all-round development of minorities in its budget of 2012-13 dedicated 2345 crore, and increased it to 2724 crore in 2013-14. It may be pointed out that in the first two years the SP government gave 5069 crore and superseded the amount of 4708 crore given during the last BSP regime.

Yogi Adityanath lampoons Manmohan Singh who had once said that Muslims should have the first right over resources of the country, ‘if a person holding a constitutional post speaks in this manner then think where would Dalits go.’ Dalits are the bulwark of BSP voters. How much of ‘love-lost’ he has had for Dalits since he assumed power may now be put into perspective. His government has given a diabolic logic that out of 3307 Police Inspectors posts only 2486 could be filled as the rest of the candidates were found to be incompetent. Anyone can guess that 822 posts left behind were those of the SCs&STs! In terms of selection of Civil-Police (Males) of 2400 personnel, the reserved quota was 504 for SCs but only 94 were shortlisted and out of 48 seats for STs only one was filled.  For females, 126 out of 600 were for SCs and 12 for STs but none was given their place. Not a single Platoon Commander was appointed from SCs/SCs category out of the 210 seats. Fire Service Second Officers had 20 out of 97 posts reserved for SCs and only one was appointed and none from STs. It may also be mentioned here that in 2014 there were 10197 Police Inspectors in UP and Muslims were just 236 of them, which makes 2.31%.  Only 269 Muslims were head constables out of 8224 and 4430 out of 124245 constables in UP which barely makes 4.37%.  The figures speak for themselves as the people from Dalit and Muslim denominations suffer from extreme under-representation.

In the face of this statistical reality, the polity is so grievously attuned against Muslims that parties which even vouch for social-justice are shy to mention ‘Muslim’ or ‘Minority’ in their manifestos. Any overt reference in press-notes, speeches or displays at podiums is almost prohibited. The last SP government, despite numerous blots like Bhadarsa (Faizabad), Kosi Kalan (Mathura), Pratapgarh and Muzaffarnagar riots, is still the first choice of Muslims, OBCs and with Dalits-the main plank of BSP and RLD (Jats)  coming together to form Mahagatbhandan, it is obvious that BJP is finding it too hard to swallow. What fate it has in-store will only come out on May 23.   

The writer is a lawyer, journalist and former UP State Information Commissioner. 

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