Muslim leaders should learn from Sikh leaders

By Kaleem Kawaja

Rajoana is a Sikh terrorist in Punjab who has been convicted by several high courts and Supreme Court for assassinating Beant Singh, the then chief minister of Punjab in 1995. After his mercy petition was rejected by the President his hanging was scheduled for March 31. But in the last one week several major Sikh organizations including SGPC (Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee) have launched a major public campaign against the orders of the Supreme Court and government being carried out on the convicted terrorist Rajoana. The result is that the UPA govt that talks so tough on terrorism has buckled and has suspended the execution of Rajoana and is proposing that the death sentence confirmed by the Supreme Court be reconsidered.

In contrast when it comes to Muslims, whenever a terrorist action occurs anywhere some innocent Muslims are arrested and the entire Muslim community in the country is made to feel guilty. And they have no recourse. From Batla House youth three years ago to the harassment of Muslims in Azamgarh to journalist Kazmi who was recently arrested in the Israeli diplomat attack conspiracy, there is a long string of such unjust government targeting of vulnerable Muslims in the name of fighting terrorism.

In the last three years many Muslim organizations have made appeals to the UPA government at the center and Congress government in Delhi state to conduct an enquiry into the Batla House incident and release the innocent Muslim youth who are languishing in jails on false charges. But no one in the government cares a hoot for that. In the last one month many Muslim groups have protested the arrest of journalist Kazmi who has been falsely implicated and arrested in the case of the attack on an Israeli diplomat’s wife. The government has arrested Kazmi just to please the Israeli government. Again the government does not give a damn to the Muslims’ demands and appeals.

At the same time the same secular UPA government and Congress party are endlessly telling Muslims that they are the friends of Muslims and will fulfill all of their genuine demands. Muslim leaders need to think seriously why Muslims being 15% of the country’s population and voters for the UPA/Congress government over the years, the government does not listen to even their most elementary and just demands. But it very quickly reverses its most serious and top level decisions when it comes to Sikhs who are less than 3% of the population. And Sikhs do not even vote for UPA/Congress. What is the flaw in the strategy of the Muslim leaders and organizations? Maybe the government understands only a certain language and Muslim leaders do not speak in that language. Why shouldn’t Muslims learn from the strategy of Sikhs - a much smaller but much more successful religious minority?

Why are Muslims afraid of adopting strategies similar to those adopted by Sikhs?

Similarly while the government implemented an amendment in the Indian constitution to allow OBC Sikhs reservation under the Mandal Commission, it refuses to listen to the vociferous demands of a much larger OBC Muslim subcommunity to allow them the same facility. Why is that so? For how long and how much inequality and injustice Muslims can withstand in the country where they have lived and for which they have died for a thousand years?

Why do the leaders of 150 million Muslims not assert their very basic rights? Why are the lessons from the elections in the last 18 months in the states of Assam, Bengal, Bihar, UP that if Muslims adopt smart strategy they can have a voice in decision making, not trickle down into the strategies of Muslim leaders at least on life and death issues of the Indian Muslim qaum?

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2012 on page no. 2

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