Analysis

Politicians’ Backward Approach & Muslims

There is no guarantee that electoral rhetoric, especially in Uttar Pradesh, handing out promises to Muslims, will actually be implemented once the ongoing assembly elections are over. This political exercise is equivalent to “carrots” - assuring reservation for Muslims, better education, employment opportunities and similar moves - being almost placed before the Muslims. Once the elections are over, the “stick” plays a greater role with the same leaders who had earlier promised “carrots” keeping almost silent on Muslims being arrested or killed in fake encounters. Yes, irrespective of the nature of verbal missiles being exchanged between rival parties, with each blaming the other for being responsible for backwardness of Indian Muslims, there is no denying that very few politicians have actually stood up to question negative and inaccurate charges levied against Muslims.

Remember the Batla House “encounter.” Undeniably, plenty of political noise has been made about it during the present electoral season. But what prevented the same leaders to talk in the same tone and use similar words immediately after the encounter? Among the ones who raised their voice then were Muslim clerics, few community leaders and secular activists. If the politicians making noise now about Muslims having been unfairly targeted in Batla House incident are genuinely concerned about this and other similar cases, why have they kept their lips sealed when these had hit the headlines?

Yes, of late, there certainly has been a slight change in concerned authorities’ weakness for charging only Muslims whenever a terrorist incident takes place. This is supported by several Sangh Parivar activists and their associates being charged for terrorism which also refutes the earlier stand of Muslims having being held for the same cases. Despite a lot of hype having been raised about several leaders’ concern for Muslims, it is amazing that not much has been said on their being promptly labelled as “terrorists” even when there isn’t substantial evidence to prove these charges. Of course, some credit should be given to authorities who have played a major role in refuting charges against some Muslims wrongly held as terrorists. Their release does not spell the end of what many may view as a bad dream. Barely any noise has been made about the compensation that should be paid to them on account of being kept behind bars for no fault of theirs. Similarly, nothing has been heard about the treatment that they may have faced while being held as “terrorists.” Not much noise has been made about action that should be legally taken against those who labelled and arrested innocent Muslims as “terrorists.” Why?

Herein lies the irony of the political drama enacted to woo Muslim votes. They are promised what appears to carry a strong appeal value for most Muslims, carries minimal risk of antagonizing other parties and practically no prospect of being implemented in the near future. Years have passed by, with each electoral season being witness to “reservation” being promised to Muslims. The political importance of this issue still remains largely confined to electoral rhetoric.

Of course, the respected politicians are welcome to make noises about what suits their interests most. This also implies that most have deliberately chosen not to touch on the terrorist-tag easily attached with Indian Muslims. Regarding this as entirely sensitive issue, they probably have been nagged by the fear of antagonizing extremist elements linked with majority community, who have played their part in blaming Muslims as “terrorists.” This point may also be viewed as an eye-opener to what has tended to prevent the concerned leaders from living up to the promises they have almost regularly made to Muslims during the electoral season. They don’t want to face the risk of losing votes from the majority community.

Now, this also points to existence of a major lapse in approach of most politicians while displaying their concern for Indian Muslims. Politically, they appear to be fairly backward in considering measures that can help in the progress of Muslims. To this day, these remain confined primarily to their talking about their “commitment” to ensuring reservation for Muslims. Isn’t it time that respected politicians accepted that this promise isn’t likely to spell any gain for Muslims as prospects of it being implemented in the present age remain as blocked as they were earlier. Political backwardness is also reflected in their failure to openly and fearlessly question the labelling of innocent Muslims as terrorists, the fake encounters and also the limited steps taken for compensating the Muslims who have undergone this trauma.

Against this backdrop, Indian Muslims must be credited for not having been fooled by politicians’ empty talk of ensuring progress for them. Had they been trapped by such rhetoric, they may not have carved out their own means of economic progress, primarily through self-employment.

It is time that politicians accepted the hard fact that Muslims’ “backwardness” is not as major a problem that they need to combat as is their own politically backward attitude towards displaying their concern for Indian Muslims!

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2012 on page no. 11

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