An open letter to Mr. Arvind Kejriwal—the chief minister of Delhi

Dear Mr. Arvind Kejriwal,   Salaams!

We have never met. Nor spoken to each other. Nor crossed paths. Not even seen each other’s faces. Of course, I have heard you on the small screen. And I must say that till about last fortnight I was left impressed with you, with the way you had spoken out, and all those promises held out in your speeches…One felt somewhat assured that the citizens of the capital city will be able to live safely and securely, with you as the chief minister of this city-state. I was under the impression that you’d be able to take on the fascist Hindutva forces and the communally-tainted creatures who seem hell-bent on destroying this country. In fact, I recall having arguments with people who clubbed you and your political party with the RSS – “AAP is the B-team of the RSS.” Nah, I couldn’t really believe this, because you didn’t come across as communal…You came across as straightforward.

In fact, each time you spoke of being religious, I felt all the more reassured, because religion nudges us to respect and value human life and whatever comes along with it…

Sadly, that sense of feeling secure was very, very short-lived for me. The pogrom of Delhi 2020 has left me feeling all too shattered and much too pained. Yes, as an Indian Muslim, I am feeling cheated…as though stabbed in the back! If only you had even hinted that you were not in a position to protect the minorities from the goon-brigades, the Muslims and Dalits and the Christians and all the non-Sanghis of this capital city, would have voted for the Indian National Congress.

One is feeling totally disillusioned and terribly distressed after this 2020 pogrom – the carnage and killings and well-planned, targeted attacks reminding one of the 2002 pogrom. Tell me, what happened to your promises along the strain that you will take care of each citizen of this city as the elder son of each family, irrespective of caste and creed factors? Where were you when hundreds from the minority community were getting hounded by the Hindutva goons? Where were you and your ministers and cadres when wounded and distraught Muslims were not even spared by cops? Have you even bothered to suspend if not arrest those two particular doctors (attached to two Delhi hospitals) who hurled communal comments on Muslim patients, who had been brought to those hospitals by activists? Why didn’t you insist on the arrest of the hate-speech givers – those well-known politicians whose speeches, well-captured in videos, are laced with nothing but hatred and abuses and gutter filth for the ‘other’ – the Musalmaan of Hindoostan.

Also, there should be a distinction between hate speech-givers and all those who reacted in self-defense? Yes, there’s an obvious difference between those who insisted on attacking with those trying their utmost to put up resistance and not get killed by the armed brigades all set to destroy them.. That’s a different matter altogether that today the hapless victims get arrested and not the Hindutva killers and their masterminds! Such are the bizarre, communally-twisted times we are destined to be living or dying in!… MrKejriwal, you must be aware that today there is dismay and anger in the mohallas of North East Delhi, because though the pogrom-plotters and provocative hate speech-givers are not arrested but to quote the locals, “We Muslim victims are being made scapegoats…can’t we protect ourselves!” Yes, they mentioned the name of one such “scapegoat” – Mr. Tahir Hussain of your own party whom you quickly disowned.

You didn’t even react when Sangeet Som, who is himself a riot-accused of the Muzaffarnagar riots, called your suspended AAP councilor, Mr. Tahir Hussain, a terrorist! See, how easy it gets for the communal Hindutva characters to throw these obnoxious terror tags on the anyone from the minority community. You should have told the likes of Sangeet Soms to mind their language and shut up, and not terrorize an already battered and shattered minority community…The situation is so dismal, that those hapless people who tried to put up some level of resistance to save themselves and their children and families from the marauding Hindutva goons, are the ones getting hounded and harassed and arrested. What’s happening, Mr Kejriwal? Is this good governance?

Mr. Kejriwal, if you genuinely care about the pogrom survivors of North East Delhi, then reach out to them, now and immediately. Nah, not by well-crafted speeches from miles away from their charred homes and shops and mosques. Haven’t we heard enough of them! The immediate and urgent need is to see to it that each human-form devastated in this pogrom is provided a roof over his or her head and also a means to survive – pension or employment. Also, see to it that the blatant humiliation and hounding of the Muslims is halted. He or she wants to live in dignity in this country – their own country.

Yes, today as an Indian Muslim I don’t want to hear any of those fake and hollow promises. I want my basic right as a citizen of this democratic republic to live with my head held high and not sit scared in some corner, apprehensive and fearful that the “wolves” together with the cops will attack me and my children and snatch away from right to life and livelihood! Why? Because I am a Musalmaan and my existence and survival perhaps does not suit the RSS rulers and the dubious agenda up their sleeve.

Mr. Kejriwal, do you realize how tough it gets to live if one’s snatched off the basics of existence. Please step out, and see how the victims are managing to carry on and rebuild their lives. Hundreds are sitting devastated and looted and ruined. They are also apprehensive that the “wolves” could attack them once again!

These are absolutely genuine fears of the pogrom survivors. What precautionary measures are you and your government taking to protect the lives of these survivors who voted for you only last month? How will you ensure that the Hindutva brigades don’t wreck their lives and livelihoods? How will you ensure that the minority community is not targeted, once again?

I know Corona virus is difficult to control but the deadlier communal virus can be controlled if and when the political rulers do want to control it! Control it before more human lives are sniffed out. Communal virus can be controlled if you ban all communal outfits and brigades. Together with that, suspend the communal officers and doctors and whoever you find is out to destroy human life and everyday living.

Also, try halting all that poisonous propaganda against the Muslamaan of this country, that the Right-Wing lobbies have been unleashing for the last few years. Also, try reaching out to the madrasa children – the most vulnerable in the community as they stand out with their skull caps and a large number of them are either orphans or from very modest rural backgrounds. Yet, these hapless poor children are first in the firing line … Hindutva goons have been attacking them in this capital city and getting away, un-checked and un-arrested!

Let me end this letter by telling you what actor-turned-politician Sunil Dutt had told me in the backdrop of the civil strife in Somalia. Sadly, Dutt sahib died before he could put this into practise but you and your colleague, Mr Manish Sisodia, could try it out in the schools under your government---years back, when I had asked Sunil Dutt what can be that one possible solution to halt communal rioting in our country, he had said,“There can be only one solution! Only last night I was going through the latest Time magazine issue and the photographs of the civil war-ridden Somalia shocked me so much that I couldn’t eat…It was dinner time but couldn’t touch a morsel. Just couldn’t! Those photographs hit …photographs of human beings injured and ill, crawling about, rendered so frail and weak that many couldn’t even walk! Those photographs showed the disasters taking place because of the ongoing civil strife in Somalia. I’m going to suggest that those photographs should be displayed all over our towns and cities, at all public places… in colleges, schools, universities, offices, libraries. And displaced with this caption: See what internal war or civil strife or unrest can do to you, to your country, to your fellow countrymen!”

Together with the ‘happiness class’ in your Delhi government schools, try and reach out to the students from the minority community as they sit baffled and tense; after all, many of them have witnessed carnage and killings from close quarters in this pogrom 2020.

I do hope and pray peace prevails. That’s why I’m ending this letter with ‘As-Salaam-Alaikum '(My peace be on you!) …I didn’t quite realize the meaning tucked in this greeting, till Mr Khushwant Singh had pointed it out to me. And with that, he wished me only and only with this greeting.

After all, aren’t we all craving and praying for peace to prevail in our country and all over the world.

Warm regards,   Humra Quraishi