By Virag Pachpore
If we take a look at the history of Bharat after 1818, when the British East India Company brought the country under its rule, we find that there was no communal tension as such. Hindus and Muslims, who formed the Bharatiya society, lived in near perfect cohesion and peace. This unity and brotherhood was reflected during the first War of Independence fought in 1857 under the leadership of Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar of Delhi. The wily British, shrewd as he was, took a serious cognisance of the then prevailing Hindu-Muslim unity and decided to separate them so that they would not attempt to challenge his rule in future.
Later when the reins of the freedom movement came into the hands of Mahatma Gandhi following the death of Lokmanya Tilak in 1920, the British played a new game. They told the Congress leadership that they had no hesitation in granting freedom to this country but only on one condition, and that was Hindu-Muslim unity.
Gandhiji also felt the need for such unity between the two communities and decided to extend support to the Khilafat Movement launched in support of the ousted Khalifa of Turkey.
In this exercise Gandhiji neglected the nationalist Muslims in the Congress. This policy of the Mahatma resulted in encouraging separatist tendency among the once nationalist Muslims who later turned out to be vocal supporters of Pakistan.
Thus the Mahatma failed as the events that followed proved that far from coming closer to the Hindus, the Muslims succeded in partitioning this country on the basis of religion and were thus instrumental in creation of Pakistan.
After the formation of Pakistan, a large number of Muslims remained in Bharat though there was a proposal for transfer of population during the days of partition. Those who preferred Bharat, reposed their faith and allegiance in the Constitution and democracy.
Creation of Pakistan, however, brought the Muslims within the ambit of suspicion. Nevertheless, there are Muslims in the country who are committed to the well-being of this country and its people.
They are outnumbered by the religious zealots who wield considerable influence over the larger section of the Muslim community in Bharat. It is this class of Muslims whom Sarsanghchalak K.S. Sudarshan referred to as ?Macaulay-putras? and ?Marx-putras? (the progeny of Macaulay and Marx) who left no stone unturned to disturb the social fabric of the Bharatiya society for their political gains under the garb of secularism.
In such a situation it was no wonder that a section of religious bigots in Muslim community accorded greater importance to religion and religious laws than the laws of the land. Institutions like Muslim Personal Law Board came into existence, objections were raised to singing of Vande Mataram, and Muslims were being presented as a separate entity in the name of religious minority.
This has prompted a group of nationalist Muslims to rethink in terms of ?one country-one people? and thus was born the new movement called ?Rashtravadi Muslim Andolan?Ek Nayi Raah?.
It began precisely on December 24, 2002 when at an Id Milan programme a fruitful interaction between the leaders of Muslim community and RSS functionaries took place. The RSS Chief K.S. Sudarshan called upon the Muslims to shun minortism if they had pride in calling themselves inseparable part of the Bharatiya society. He said that the Muslims or Christians in India are not the minorities in real sense of the term. This term can best be applied to the Parsis and Jews who took shelter in Bharat to safeguard their religion and culture and distinct identity.
Shri Sudarshan is not the first RSS functionary to appeal to the Muslims to align with the land… the late M.S. Golwalkar alias Guruji, the second Chief of RSS, had said: ?We must understand the truth that we are the sons of this sacred soil which calls for total dedication to our motherland; we have common ancestors and therefore, our aspirations and expectations are same. Understanding, this is Bharatiyakaran.?
In the same interview Golwalkar had expressed his willingness to interact with ?right thinking nationalist? Muslim leaders to find out a solution to this vexed problem of Hindu-Muslim unity. But that could not materialise due to his demise in 1973.
Later, during the infamous Emergency imposed by the late Smt Indira Gandhi, RSS Chief Balasaheb Deoras resumed the dialogue with the Muslim leaders… But he also could not succeed in his mission.
However, it was during the ?Chintan Baithak? the present RSS Chief, K.S. Sudarshan, who was then Sah Sar Karyawah of RSS, expressed the organisation'sdesire to resume dialogue with Muslims and Christians in order to assimilate them with the Hindu society.
The process thus begun on December 24, 2002 saw meetings being held between Muslim intellectuals and RSS leaders in different parts of the country. The leaders of Jamait-ul-Ulema also appear to be inclined to redefine the word kafir and jihad in this changed scenario. Now this is no mean an achievement.
The recent convention of Rashtravadi Muslim Andolan?Ek Nayi Raah held at Delhi from February 12-13, 2004, can be described as a major milestone in this direction. Prior to this 54 such conventions were held in different cities, including Nagpur, in which resolutions demanding ban on cow slaughter, equal status to women, registration of marriage, abolition of Article 370, and peaceful resolution of Ayodhya issue through dialogue were passed unanimously.
A new thinking is emerging among the Muslims who link up their future with the future of this country. This would certainly go a long way in welcoming the Muslim masses and intelligentsia in close contact with the Hindus and rid the country of communalism in every shed or form.
Thoughts on Dialogue with Muslims
Changing face of Minority polity