Discrimination will cost Congress dearly

Bhopal: Political parties may be shedding crocodile tears over the plight of Muslims in India but they have done little to address the suffering of the community. There are shocking reports of excesses against the community members in Congress-governed states, let alone those ruled by the BJP, where anti-minority statute is a reality. Congress is doing in Assam precisely what the BJP government did in Gujarat, post-Godhra.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s warning not to ‘label’ minority communities in India hasn’t been of much help. Despite his admonition against such ‘labelling’ that fans communal sentiments, he, too, like former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, is unsure of his party’s political offensive in states like Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

It seems Congress hasn’t got enough inkling of what has been happening in these states, particularly Assam and A.P., where a large number of cases of Muslims being tortured, beaten up and discriminated against are surfacing in human rights records. With parliamentary polls not far, it could become tough for Congress, which is known for using Muslims as a mere ‘votebank’.

Muslims in these states are often being harassed on the charge of conniving with ‘terrorists’. A.P. and Maharashtra have been largely holding Muslim youths responsible for the spate of terror incidents. These states are victimising the minority community in the name of combating terror.

Akin to BJP’s Gujarat, where the state government allowed ‘state-sponsored excesses’ on Muslims, the Congress-ruled states, particularly Assam and Andhra Pradesh, are doing something similar, if not actually encouraging a ‘communal bloodbath’ for political gains. Scores of Muslim youth are missing without any legal trace in A.P. Even women are reportedly being picked up and questioned by state’s police on the pretext of acting against those supporting radical views. There is covert surveillance on predominant Muslim localities in Hyderabad, and other small towns of the state. In Maharashtra, it is the same story, whereby refusing to implement Srikrishna Commission report on December 1992 and January 1993 communal riots, Congress has antagonised Muslims who till date have been struggling to seek justice. The families of 1,500 people killed, 1,829 injured and 165 missing in the gruesome riots so far have been denied a fair deal. Instead, they are being hounded for their alleged links with terror groups.

In Assam, the situation is equally alarming. But it is A.P. that has fared terribly on Congress party’s report card. There are prolonged detentions of Muslim youths in college campuses, streets and there are strip searches being done publicly in residential localities. Analysts and human rights activists suggest that what has been happening in the name of combating global terror in London or Washington, is now happening in India. After every bomb blasts, a large number of abductions and illegal detention of Muslim youths has reportedly been taking place.

The Minorities Commission, in its report, points out that hundreds from the Muslim community have been questioned and interrogated, kept under surveillance, even beaten up and mercilessly tortured. Those who are being rounded up have no criminal background and are as blameless as anybody with no evidence in the court of law.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 September 2012 on page no. 11

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