Illusory “Muslim Appeasement”

If Muslims were actually appeased in India, politically, socially and of course, economically, the respected politicians would be left without any political-card to woo votes of country’s largest minority community. There would not have been any bias against them. They would not have been considered as second class citizens by extremist as well as conservative sections of the majority community. Doubts and speculations would not have been entertained over their constitutional rights, including that of equality, the freedom of speech and that of pursuing their religious duties freely.

But this is grim side of grievances still afflicting a considerable section  of Muslims in the country. Of course, it would be incorrect to assume that each and every Indian Muslim is a victim of such prejudices and biases. It would be equally wrong to blame each and every non-Muslim, hailing from the majority community, as responsible for entertaining a biased approach towards Muslims.

Yet, had BJP leaders not started objecting to what they have described as “Muslim appeasement” policy of the Congress-led UPA government, the issue may not have been deliberated upon. True, during its nine-year tenure, the Congress-led UPA government has during its first and second terms addressed certain grievances faced by Muslims. Now, the big question is whether actions have been taken to remove and/or at least reduce the same? If some effort has genuinely been made, why should it be viewed as a part of some “Muslim appeasement” policy? There would not have arisen a need of drawing attention to their grievances if Muslims had not been targeted by anti-Muslim extremist and communal elements. In essence, it is surprising that several political leaders have raised objections to even considering and proposing actions regarding sufferings of Indian Muslims. What does this indicate?

Does this imply that they do not want communal problems of which Muslims have been victims to be removed? Besides, equally relevant is the fact of viewing the same as a policy of appeasing Muslims. It is indeed stunning that suggestions and proposals made to address communal problems targeting Muslims in secular India be viewed as a means of “appeasing” them. Well, if these problems are not seriously taken care of, it would be an indicator of a very dangerous, anti-secular approach of the ruling central and state governments. Ignoring them, turning a blind eye towards the same and/or maintaining rigid silence about required action would imply that politicians in power are more concerned about appeasing anti-Muslim extremist and communal elements. They are more concerned about not annoying these factions than addressing grievances affecting Muslims targeted by similar elements.

Please note, the Congress-led UPA government has, till date, primarily proposed the need to address problems being faced by Muslims. These include imprisonment of innocent Muslims wrongly labelled as “terrorists.” So, if the government is considering setting up fast-track courts to look into cases of Muslims incarcerated for years for alleged involvement in terrorist activities, why is BJP agitated about it? Why have several BJP leaders labelled this as a “Muslim appeasement”? Would the BJP prefer continuance of communal harassment of Muslims along these lines, that is imprisoning them as “terrorists” without their being judicially declared as guilty? Would the BJP prefer allowing the so-called custodians of Indian law and order to continue imprisoning Muslims without any substantial proof of their being terrorists? This amounts to allowing severe errors being committed by Indian personnel literally go unnoticed. Ignoring this lapse has in recent past proved very damaging for the country’s secular ethics. It cannot be forgotten that Gujarat-carnage may not have assumed the serious stage it did, if all keepers of law and order in the state had given greater importance to their uniform, their duty and their official responsibilities. If the lapse continues to remain unchecked, there is no guarantee that officers would start paying serious attention to playing a responsible role, rather than letting the same be affected by their own anti-Muslim communal prejudice and/or that of certain political elements.

From this angle, when and if fast-track courts are set up to look into cases of Muslims arrested for their alleged involvement in terror activities, they would also play a crucial role in cautioning concerned authorities for labelling Muslims as “terrorists”, simply because of their religious identity. This policy cannot be described as that of appeasing Muslims. It aims to secure them justice, which as Indian citizens they are constitutionally entitled to. It aims to prevent arrest of Muslims as suspect terrorists, without their being any substantial proof against them.

But if the BJP has chosen to attack Congress-led UPA government for its “Muslim appeasement” policy, the nature of its political design cannot be missed. The BJP is apparently bent on using this communal card with the hope of winning support of the majority Hindu community. If the next parliamentary elections were not round the corner, the BJP may not have been probably tempted to go overboard in lashing against the so-called “Muslim appeasement” policy of the central government, which really does not exist!