Sangh Parivar’s Anti-Muslim Stand
By Nilofar Suhrawardy, The Milli Gazette
Published Online: Oct 03, 2012
Print Issue: 1-15 September 2012
Paradoxically, to this day certain anti-Muslim elements are bent on targeting them for reasons that have practically little validity. One of them is objection of Muslims in general regarding singing Vande Matram. Well, whatever are the reasons, why should they be forced to sing Vande Matram? What is wrong if they refuse to do so? There is no denying that as a national song, Vande Matram is viewed as an important symbol in India. Muslims have not in general raised any objection to this fact. They have not taken any step which may be considered as an abuse of this symbol.
Elementarily speaking, the song is written in Bengali and Sanskrit, languages which are not understood by all Indians. In this context, it makes no sense to be forced to sing a song, which is hardly comprehensible to a majority of Indian Muslims. If they understand the song’s meaning and object to singing it as it is not in keeping with their religious beliefs, well they have complete freedom and right to abstain from singing it. Constitutionally, each Muslim is allowed the right and freedom to practice his/her religious beliefs. Please note, the Indian Constitution guarantees Indian Muslims the right and freedom to practice their religion. Each citizen has this right and freedom. At the same time, no citizen is expected to allow his/her religious practises to disturb that of others. Indian secularism stands for a multi-religious society with all religious communities allowed the right and freedom to practice their respective religious beliefs without crossing certain limits. This implies without arousing communal ill-will and/or indulging in communal violence in the name of propagating one’s own brand of religion and/or targeting that being practiced by others. The Indian law and order does not permit communal violence even if the same has religious label tagged to it.
The Indian Constitution has been specifically referred to as it does not permit abuse of any person or religious community on ground of his/her religious identity. No section of the Indian Constitution makes it legally binding on all Indian citizens to memorize and sing Vande Matram. There is no reference in legal texts to singing of Vande Matrum being compulsory for all citizens. There is no mention of any Indian, including Muslim, losing his/her rights or the citizenship of the country on the ground of his/her not willing to sing Vande Matram.
Unfortunately, to this date, certain extremist elements assume themselves to be “law-makers” particularly regarding the rights and freedoms of Indian Muslims. The same goes for these elements assuming that they have the right to dictate their terms to Indian Muslims, where singing Vande Matram is concerned. Well, they are welcome to sing it as much as they wish to. But this does not give them the authority to influence Indian Muslims’ decision to abstain from singing it. It is time this misconception was cleared. Seriously speaking, their making undue noise over Muslims’ unwillingness to sing Vande Matrum is equivalent to their assuming that the country’s law and order is decided by their decisions and not as laid down by the Indian Constitution and Parliament.
It is not possible here to highlight all misconceptions deliberately promoted by Hindutva elements against Indian Muslims, but one or two may be briefly referred to. There is no denying the fact that Muslim rulers held power in India for several centuries during the medieval period. Unfortunately, extremist elements, particularly those linked with Sangh Parivar, project this period as one where Hindus were targeted by Muslim kings. Clearly, the Sangh Parivar’s aim remains polarization of Indian society along religious lines and promoting an anti-Muslim attitude among the Hindus. If Muslim kings’ main motive was spread of religion, then Muslims in the country would not have remained a minority to this day. If they had literally used swords to spread their religion, the percentage of Muslims in the Indian population would have been 50 percent, if not more. To this day, Muslims constitute less than 14 percent of the country’s population. Why? Do extremists, anti-Muslim elements have an answer to this reality? Probably not. This is simply because they still prefer being guided by their own cooked up misperceptions and distorted versions of medieval history.
The same may be said about their continuing to tag Pakistani label with the identity of the Indian Muslims. The Muslims living in India are descendents of those who preferred partition of their families in 1947 to remain here. This makes patriotism of Indian Muslims all the more commendable. It reduces suspicion held about their Pakistan-affinity, propagated by Hindutva elements, to sheer manipulation deliberately indulged in order to isolate Muslims within their own homeland. Luckily, to this day, Sangh Parivar has not succeeded in this anti-Muslim campaign. In fact, had secular Hindus not been in the forefront, raising their voice against anti-Muslim communalism promoted by Hindutva elements, India would not have been home to the second largest population of Muslims in the world. And secularism would not have prevailed here!
This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 September 2012 on page no. 11
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