Many Indian Muslims feel insecure in their home country. “Indian Muslims are going through a terrible phase,” Javed Anand, the co-editor of Communalism Combat, said. “Fifteen percent of India’s population still feels insecure. The findings of Sachar Committee report have been really shocking.”
Anand is skeptical the findings would be implemented.
Mufti Mohammad Ismail, the chief of a newly floated political party called Indian Muslim Congress, regretted what Indian Muslims have come to. “Muslims ruled India for almost 1000 years. It was our culture and heritage,” he said.
“There was a time when we were rulers and used to sit on thrones. Today things have come to such a pass that jail is the only place where we outnumber other communities,” Mufti lamented.
“We fare poor economically. Eighty percent of Muslims are living below the poverty line. There was a time when we were the leaders in academics but now we are being led by others.”
“Hindus joined us only in the 20th century.”
He complained that Muslims are not being given their respective rights.
“The descendents of the last Mughal King Bahadur Shah Zafar are begging on the streets of Kolkata. The family members of the martyred Tipu Sultan are rickshaw-pullers today. “The widow of Abdul Hameed, who sacrificed his life in defence of the country, is on the brink of committing suicide. These are the people whose families have fought for the Independence of India. Government’s indifference is a class apart.”
But Anand, the co-editor of Communalism Combat, also reserved harsh words for Muslim politicians. “Muslim legislators are busy wasting their time in raking up fastidious issues which don’t have anything to do with the progress of Indian Muslims,” he said. He cited the recent attack on Bengali writer Taslima Nasreen, infamous for her anti-Islam writings, at a press conference last week in Hyderabad.
Television footage showed Muslim state lawmakers and activists hitting Nasreen with flowers and threatening to lob chairs.
“At a time when institutional bias has crept in our system, Muslim legislators are making a mockery of themselves,” said Anand.
Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen leader-cum-legislator Akbaruddin Owaisi has been accused of “intimidation” after suggesting Nasreen could be killed if she returned to Hyderabad, a claim which he has denied.
“Muslims have become victims of the promises made by professional mullahs acting as agents of political parties,” an angry Shamim Tariq, a researcher and columnist, said. “Muslims should be aware of the enemies within. Right-wing Hindu parties and ideologues pale in comparison to the enemies within,” he argued.
Tariq spoke of two sects of enemies within.
“One is religious and acts as the mediator of political class and other is irreligious lot which takes pride in attacking Islam.”
Navaid Hamid, a member of the National Integration Council of the central government, said young Indian Muslims were looking for direction. “Young Muslim generation feels excited due to the pace of development,” Hamid said. “At the same time, they strongly feel that they are being sidelined in governance; so there is a sense of confusion: what to do now?”
Hamid said young Indian Muslims have a strong desire to be part of the nation to serve this country.
“They feel that there should be equal share of opportunity in every walk of life. More than 55 percent of India’s population consists of youths and they are the big asset for the country.”
“The Muslim community should be utilized for a strong, vibrant nation and a pluralistic society.”
Hamid warned that young Muslims are being targeted for no fault of their own. “Whenever some terrorist activity happens in the country, fingers are pointed towards them. There is an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. This is very harmful for any harmonious and pluralistic society.”
Ilyas Siddiqui, a historian, believes that self-help is the best help.
“Sixty years ago, our own struggle and striving was beneficial for us,” he said. “Even today we should follow the path of self-help by way of the concept of civil society. This is the biggest principle. There is no need to be dependent on anybody not even government.”
Mufti Ismail has his hopes in secular-minded Hindus.
“In India, the world’s largest democracy, there are a number of secular Hindus who genuinely strive for the welfare of the Muslim community,” he said. “They believe that India cannot progress as long as its largest minority is lagging behind. They know that such progress will be a lop-sided progress and not a real progress,” added the Muslim politician.
“We must strengthen their hands.”