Jinhen naaz hai secularism par woh kahan hain?
By Ravi Shanker Kapoor
Consider these facts: A Muslim woman, Imrana, in a village in the Muzaffarnagar district is raped by her father-in-law. The Muslim seminary of Deoband announces a fatwa that says nothing on the punishment the depraved old man deserves, but it clearly declares the marriage of Imrana, a mother of five children, as haraam or invalid.
Meanwhile there is a thundering silence in the otherwise vocal quarters of professional revolutionaries. One wonders where have all the secularists gone? Political leaders, social activists, civil rights campaigners, champions of women emancipation, big-mouthed journalists?why aren'tthey screaming against the vile fatwa of Deoband seminary that punishes the rape victim Imrana?
All these worthies raised a stink over the statements of a totally untrustworthy witness of Gujarat riots, Zahira Sheikh; they hanged their heads in shame because, they alleged, ?pogroms? and ?genocide? were carried out in the western state; they disrupted the functions in which Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was invited; they coaxed the Confederation of Indian Industry to provide forum for Modi-bashing.
Gujarat riots offered an opportunity to deride the Hindus in general and deprecate the supposedly pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in particular; the opportunity was grabbed by the political and intellectual establishments, which are dominated by Leftists, liberals, and secularists with great ?lan. The Imrana incident, however, is a different case: here championing the rape victim'scause would amount to taking on the Muslim clergy. The secular parties are in a quandary: if they support Imrana'scause, and this is the only logical and honorable reaction, they stand to infuriate the politically influential ulema; if they abandon Imrana, their secularism could be questioned. The trade-off is between morality and Muslim votes; secular politicians have chosen Muslim votes.
While secular politicians exposed themselves as greedy seekers of Muslim votes, the so-called autonomous bodies of the National Human Rights Commission, the Minorities Commission, and the National Women'sCommission too did not cover themselves in glory by turning a blind eye to the outrage.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav has supported the barbaric clerics. ?The government will not interfere in the case till we have more details. The leaders, after all, are very learned,? he said. One may criticize Mulayam over a number of issues, but at least he is not ambiguous; he has made it clear that for him secularism means a slavish acceptance of the diktats of the most retrograde elements in Muslim society.
The Congress is confused as always. Its UP state chief, Salman Khurshid has taken recourse to sophistry and subterfuge to steer clear of the controversy. When grilled by the Aaj Tak anchor on June 28 to comment on the Imrana case, Khurshid deliberately took an ambiguous stand; he did not condemn the Deoband fatwa, nor did he say anything about the supremacy of the law of the land. By way of evading the issue, he dropped in the Gujarat riots. The next day, he talked about his party'ssympathy with ?every oppressed? soul; but again, nothing against the fatwa. And mind you, Khurshid is the often presented by the media as the ?moderate face of Islam?! With such moderates, does Islam need any hardliners?
While secular politicians exposed themselves as greedy seekers of Muslim votes, the so-called autonomous bodies of the National Human Rights Commission, the Minorities Commission, and the National Women'sCommission too did not cover themselves in glory by turning a blind eye to the outrage. These were the organizations that had cried hoarse after Gujarat incident. By the time of writing these lines, the National Women'sCommission had made an unsuccessful effort to contact Imrana.
We are also waiting for the reaction of our professional revolutionaries to fatwa announced by ?very learned? theologians of Deoband. Paraphrasing Sahir Ludhianvi, we can sing: Jinhe naaz hai secularism par woh kahan hain?
(The author is editor www.indiaright.org and can be contacted at: [email protected])