A Trial for Indian Democracy
Surreptitious anti-Muslim mobilisation reported from parts of UP is a test for Indian democracy and rule of law, writes Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam.
Of late we have been getting worrisome news of anti-Muslim propaganda, sinister mobilisation and hostile build-up in parts of Uttar Pradesh. Groups that have benefitted from anti-Muslim hysteria in the past are behind this mischief. They want to cash in on the expected verdict on Babri Masjid case in the coming weeks.
This is a matter of concern, not for Muslims alone (whose life, limb and property are at the greatest risk), but for the whole country, society, state and political system. At the outset I would like to clarify that Indian Muslims and their socio-religious organisations have, through a consensus, entrusted the All India Muslim Personal Law Board with the responsibility of taking vital decisions on the issue.
The Board’s stand is publicly known: The Muslim community would uphold the Constitution, respect the judicial process and refrain from taking recourse to any other process. This involves going up to the highest judiciary if needed, and we expect the other party to do the same in case of a judgment that goes against them. Surreptitious and open anti-Muslim mobilisation, reported from some parts of UP, goes against the very foundations of social goodwill as well as the rule of law.
That there is a grain of truth in the news coming from parts of UP is clear from Chief Minister Mayawati’s request for Central forces to keep peace in the state. It is heartening to note that the Centre has conceded the demand. However, what is disturbing is not the role of the Centre or the state, but the political system itself. The responsibility of keeping national life free from trouble is not the duty of governments alone, but of the entire political system, the civil society and the citizenry.
The way things are going today we are reminded of the inaction of Narasimha Rao in the run-up to the Babri Masjid demolition and the complicity of Kalyan Singh in it. The Centre committed the sin of omission and the Uttar Pradesh government’s was the sin of commission. The destruction of Babri Masjid (and 25 other mosques and mazaars) on December 6 with the concomitant killings was, thus a joint project of the Centre and the state of UP.
It is hardly reassuring to hear Prime Minister Manmohan Singh describe the Ayodhya issue as one of the three main challenges before the nation. We are not very clear as to what the UPA government intends to do to prevent habituated offenders from sowing the seeds of a civil war.
Let me be very frank here. So far the political class of this country has miserably failed to stop the Hindutva lawbreakers from their divisive, violent politics. This is a case of dereliction of duty not only on the part of governments, but on the part of the entire political class—ruling, opposition, in-between, everyone.
I wholeheartedly agree with the diagnosis that the political class in the country is not true to the Constitution. Otherwise, it would have done something to counter the violent and vicious campaigns of the Sangh and its front organisations. I do agree with Dilip Simeon’s remark that had the communists been true to their secular convictions they could have easily prevented the demolition of Babri Masjid and the violence accompanying it.
Even today there is no sign of any initiative on the part of the non-ruling (or ruling, for that matter) political class to intervene before the miscreants have their way once again.
Today, the political class does not have the alibi of ignorance about the Hindutva votaries’ intentions. The bloodshed of Ayodhya and Ayodhya-related riots is known to all of us. There is no fig leaf to cover the nakedness of the political class and its inaction in the face of the gathering storm. All political parties, big and small, must keep in mind that Muslims would regard the entire political class (not the rulers alone) responsible for every calamity brought on them by the Sangh.
Nobody can say today that he or she is not aware of what saffron terror has brought to India from December 6 till date. Allowing it to run its writ would be the beginning of the end of the idea of India itself.
One would like to know what have the hundreds of thousands of civil society organisations done to prevent the destruction of social fabric by determined bands of mischief makers. Is it still not time for them, and for the common citizenry, to get up, take note and act in time?
In case they already don’t know it, let them look at what the MP from Gorakhpur, Mahant Adityanath, and his hooligans are doing day in day out to ignite the fire of communal violence. To bolster their mischievous plan they are starting another round of “cow protection” campaign, which is sure to lead to planned attacks on Muslims in the coming weeks.
All this is a warning, a writing on the wall for us. Dereliction of sacred national duty to protect the country’s unity and integrity would never be pardoned by history. This is the time to unite and act against lawless bands to protect the supremacy of the Constitution and rule of law. This is a trial for Indian democracy. The difference between success and failure now is the difference between a secular democratic republic and a despicable banana republic. Let us see who wins the battle between the democratic state and the lawless mob. The result will decide the future of India. g