Monday, December 31, 2007

Indian Muslims Review Unjust 2007

Praying for Justice: A Year of Unfulfilled Promises

New Delhi: For Muslims in Asian heavyweight India, 2007 will be remembered as a year of injustice, both politically and economically.

"Unfortunately in 2007, the pace of judiciary was slow," Javed Anand of Muslims for Secular Democracy (MSD) said.

He cited the complete ignorance of the recommendations put forward by the Sri Krishna Commission, set up to probe the 1992-93 Mumbai riots.

Anand said although the report blamed "trigger-happy" Hindu police officials for the violence nothing has happened.

"There has not been any progress at all," fumed the Mumbai-based activist.

Mustafa Khan, a university professor, also complained of lame justice.

"The year 2007 will go down as a dark year for the Muslims of India," he said.

He cited the August ruling in the 1993 Mumbai blasts where the court slapped death sentences against 12 Muslims accused in the bombings that followed violent anti-Muslim riots.

"In a sharp contrast, Hindus involved in the massacre of the Muslim prior to bomb blasts have not been even tried in the court of law."

The blasts were seen as the direct effect of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodha and the anti-Muslim riots that followed in Mumbai, the commercial capital of India.

Another example of injustices in 2007 was the manifested in the Muslim-majority rural area of Nandigram in West Bengal state.

A project by the local government to establish Special Economic Zones (SEZs) became a nightmare for Muslim residents who were forcibly evicted from their land and murdered in order to welcome multi-national companies.

"The state of West Bengal saw a communist government supporters raping and killing people of whom the overwhelming majority is Muslim and virtually taking over their land and property with impunity," professor Khan charges.


The election in the religiously-divided southern state of Gujarat was also bad news for Muslims in 2007.

"Renewed political life of Narendra Modi is not a healthy sign for Muslims," maintains Anand.

Munawwar Pheerbhoy, the chairman of Mohammed Azam Education Trust (Pune), agrees.

"It shows that communal forces are raising their ugly heads once again. Polarization is not good for Gandhi’s India."

Hindu nationalist leader Modi has been re-elected as chief minister of Gujarat.

Modi and his Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have been blamed for stoking anti-Muslim riots in 2002.
He was censured by India's Supreme Court as "a modern Nero".

In October, a weekly magazine released a series of videotaped confessions of Hindu activists bragging about Modi support for the carnage that claimed the lives of up to 2,500 people, mostly Muslims.

"Gujarat saw the rapists and murderers of Muslims…appearing on television and confessing how they raped and killed Muslims, burnt and looted their houses and shops," noted professor Khan.

"After their boasting of the crimes of genocide, they still move around freely.

"It’s so disturbing."

Economic Paradise

M.J. Akbar, editor-in-chief of The Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle, complains that Muslims are suffering from economic discrimination.

"[The] Government has been high on promises and short on delivery," he said.

"It is as if because they have been permitted to survive and vote, they do not deserve anything more."

Akbar, an ex-lawmaker who was spokesman of late premier Rajiv Gandhi, notes that 2007 was the year of booming economy for India.

Although Muslims played a key role in achieving this "economic miracle," he add, they lived in absolute poverty and struggled to make ends meet.

"The young Muslims of Bengal…are feeling totally alienated from economic growth," Akbar cites as a case in point.

India's some 160 million Muslims have suffered decades of social and economic neglect and oppression.

They are under-represented in public sector jobs, register lower educational levels and, as a consequence, higher unemployment rates than the majority Hindus and other minorities like Christians and Sikhs.

Akbar regrets that a Muslim child of 1992 has grown up watching India turn into turning someone else’s paradise.

"No one has sent him an entry ticket to that paradise. He has not even been allowed to smell the flavor of the gate."

"He has been told, implicitly, to content himself with squalor while others on the same level as him have begun to take tentative steps towards new horizons."

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