Sunday, October 19, 2008

Institutionalised Bias?

L.K. Advani with security guards (file photo)
The last-minute removal of two Muslim policemen from the security duty of BJP leader L.K. Advani who visited Khozhikode on Tuesday has elicited strong reactions from some political parties and prominent Muslims.
Muslims have alleged "religious discrimination" by National Security Guard (NSG) which was the in charge of the security arrangements at the helipad in Khozhikode. The Muslim policemen, who had undergone special training for VIP duty, were deputed to be part of Advani's motorcade. At Khozhikode, NSG officials sought the list of police personnel on duty. After scrutinising the list two Muslim policemen were dropped from the motorcade without assigning any reason.
"This is an insult to the secular face of the state. Both policemen had participated in the training sessions for VIP visit. But last minute, they were removed on religious grounds. That should not have happened in Kerala," Indian Union Muslim League state general secretary P K Kunhalikutty said.
Following protests from the Indian Union Muslim League, the Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has ordered the probe.
The Kozhikode City Police Commissioner Anup Kuruvilla John has denied that the exclusion was on religious grounds as altogether six drivers had been dropped in the final round.
"A total of 12 police drivers were chosen for the motorcade, comprising six vehicles during the trial run. Six drivers were dropped which included non-Muslims also. Only that out of the six, two happened to be from the minority community," he said.
His claim is hotly contested by many.
Yoginder Sikand, author of many books on Muslim issues, has termed this incident as part of anti-Muslim agenda. "It only shows how pervasive and widespread anti-Muslim prejudice, stoked by Hindutva terrorists has become," he told Qaum.
Nigar Ataullah, associate editor of Banglore-based Islamic Voice says that these kinds of incidents tarnish the image of Muslim community. "Acts like these all add up to produce a wrong image of Muslims," she said.
Seema Mustafa, senior journalist and editor of Covert magazine says that the same thing happened to Sikhs 1980s. She is concerned about the growing intolerance and rising Islamophobia. "Sikhs were not allowed to be inside Asian Games taking place at that time. Muslims feel victimised because of the growing Islamophobia. Muslims are made to feel as 'others'," she said.
She blamed M.K. Narayanan, NSA (National Security Advisor) for the goof-up.
"National Security Advisor owes an answer not to the Muslims but to the country," she insisted.
Senior writer Mustafa Khan feels that this incident puts a question mark on the loyalty of Muslims. "The removal of the two Muslim cops shows that the right-wing leaders do not think that Muslims are loyal. Moreover they are abysmally low in their opinion about the minorities," he said.
Anti-Muslim bias of the security agencies is a well-known fact. India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru has diagnosed this disease very early. Not many would know that Nehru was asked by IB (Intelligence Bureau) to remove Muslim cooks from his kitchen because of the angers of Partition. He categorically refused saying there is no question of it. His daughter Indira Gandhi did the same. She refused to suspect all the Sikhs after Operation Bluestar.
The grandson of noted parliamentarian Humayun Kaqbir was denied entry into RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), India's external intelligence agency because of his religion. There is an unwritten code which does not allow Muslims to become part of the premier intelligence agencies.
Nazia Erum, a Delhi-based journalist feels that Muslims are caught in the no man's land. "Very often Muslims are blamed not to be part of the national mainstream. And when we try to become part of the so-called 'mainstream' we are often pushed back to our ghetto," she told Qaum. "The idea of a pluralistic India is under threat from those who are supposed to be law-keepers," she remarked.
Qaum - Inquilab, October 18, 2008

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