By Prafull Goradia
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appears to have an open mind on reservations for Muslims. He did entertain a delegation of Jamiat ul Ulema-e-Hind. If only he or the Congress party was aware of Islamic compulsion for separatism, this meeting would not have taken place. What is surprising is that the Congress leaders continue to negotiate with Muslim leaders, their sectarian demands despite the bitter experience which climaxed in the first Partition of India in 1947. The cost of the vivisection and the suffering it caused millions of people are known.
Due credit should be given to Muslim leaders for their candour and eloquence to state their demands and seldom hiding their intentions. It all began with Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan declaring in 1886 that the Hindus and the Muslims constituted two different nations. The 1887 Congress president Badruddin Tyabji stated in his presidential address that no Muslim question can be decided except by the Muslims within the Congress. In other words, the party as a whole had no right to decisively deal with Muslim questions. As if this was not enough, the community went on to form the Muslim League in 1906. The new party was influential enough to persuade Viceroy Minto and Secretary of State Marley to provide for separate electorates as part of what were called the Morley-Minto reforms of 1909. The foundation of separatism was thus concretely laid. Yet, the Congress leaders turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the League designs. Eminent leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak signed the Lucknow Pact of 1916, conceding separate electorates, in complete oblivion of Islamic compulsions.
It is difficult for a momin or a faithful Muslim to coexist with a non-Muslim majority. For the simple reason that he considers other non-Muslim as a kafir or an infidel with whom he can be neither a subordinate nor an equal. So long as he is a ruler, as was considered in India until 1858 when the Moghul emperor was replasced by Queen Victoria, the majority did not matter. Until that year India was recognised by the world ummah as darul Islam or a land of the Muslims.
M.R.A. Baig, a senior bureaucrat in the Nehru government, has written in his book The Muslim Dilemma in India that in the final analysis neither the Quran nor Muhammad advocated coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims. The use of the word kafir is not confined to the Hindus. It is extended to all non-Muslims. Sura v, Aytat 51, of the Holy Quran states: O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and Christians for friends. They are friends to one another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk. This then is the God ordained compulsion which makes it difficult for a momin or a devout Muslim to coexist on his own terms.
When it is not possible to have his ways in a particular society, a momin is advised to emigrate or undertake hijrat. This was the example set by the Holy Prophet when he undertook hijrat from Mecca to Medina in the year 622 AD. As it were, for the benefit of the Congress leaders five lakh Muslims of India demonstrated what hijrat meant when they migrated to Afghanistan in 1920. This was a reaction to the refusal of the British rulers to retain the Sultan of Turkey as the Caliph of all Islam. No matter how hard the Muslims demonstrate their priorities, the Congress leadership just would not see the point and the Gandhian tradition continues to be followed by PM Manmohan Singh.
Since taking over as the head of government, Dr Singh has endorsed reservation for Muslims. The Congress government in Andhra Pradesh went on to implement the proposal which has been struck down by the High Court. Way back in 1951, the Supreme Court had turned down a Madras proposal to reserve posts on a religious basis. Similarly, out of the blue, the UPA government has decided to have two more minority commissions as if the present one was not sufficient. Such a commission has, in the past, interfered even in the work of the Archaeological Survey of India. The function of the ASI is to explore and discover the country'sheritage. When, in 1978, the ASI discovered a rich harvest of idols including one of the Nandi bull around the Rudramahalaya Complex in Siddhpur, Patan, the commission used its muscle to have all the discoveries buried back. It has been described at length in the fourth annual report of the Minorities Commission.
The NDA government had begun to reduce the scope of the hajj subsidy by excluding, as a first step, income tax payers from getting this assistance to go to Mecca. Even some Muslim leaders have recommended that the subsidy be reduced. Dr Singh has increased the amount per head and brought back the income tax payers into the subsidy'snet. This means that even a billionaire can claim state help for performing the holiest of holy deeds recommended by his religion. A total of 82,000 potential hajis are set to go at a cost of Rs. 20,000 per head this year. The PM must remember that many a Hindu considers the Haj subsidy as pernicious as the jeziya or the poll tax imposed by Muslim rulers on their kafir subjects. Most tax papers in India are Hindu and all beneficiaries of the Haj subsidy are Muslim. Above all, Dr Singh has covered himself with the rare distinction of being the only Indian PM to have a minister of the Muslim League whose single point programme was the Partition of India. Is this not like sowing a seed for a second partition of India?
(The writer can be contacted at 145, Sunder Nagar, New Delhi.)