When Malaysia'sHindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) chairman and Barrister at Law (Lincoln'sInn) Shri P. Waythamoorthy was in Chennai on a mission to garner moral support to the agitating minority Hindus for their basic rights in his country, even most of the mediapersons repeatedly questioned him as to why should they focus on their religion while calling their organisation instead of projecting themselves either as Malaysian citizens of Indian origin or Malaysian Tamils. The bewildered HINDRAF chairman was confused for a few seconds and soon recovered to retort: ?It is because as Hindus by faith and culture that we face the challenge.?
The mediapersons were still uncompromising: If you call yourself an ethnic minority of Indian origin or Malaysian Tamils, it would be easier to get their voice heard at every quarter, they argued. Frankly speaking, this is the mindset of most of the people especially in Tamil Nadu, as a result of the ?socio-political infection? called pseudo- secularism and the seventy five years old influence of Dravidian movement that has sowed the seeds of parochialism in the minds of the gullible.
Shri Waythamoorthy sadly revealed that he had to face similar questions almost everywhere, even though he was explaining that the issues were related exclusively to the citizens of Malaysia as Hindus. In the guise of development and improving infrastructure, hundreds of Hindu temples are being razed to the ground in the Malaysian capital, whereas deviation takes place in haste from the original plan if a mosque stands in the way. And many of these temples are hundred years old; some seventy five or fifty, constructed during colonial days. Among those demolished, only a few were offered alternative sites but they are either adjacent to drainage or unfit for any congregation. Even then, after years of patience, Malaysian Hindus did not plan to air their objection to the Malaysian government. Their sole objective was to march peacefully to the office of the British High Commissioner to submit a memorandum to the queen of Britain to remind her Majesty'smoral responsibility in resolving their issues. Malaysian government, despite claiming to be a democracy, did not allow this normal democratic practice, and had also taken ruthless repressive measures to suppress their grievances, determined to teach them a lesson so that they do not dare in future to let off their steam in public.
Though the Malaysian Mohammedan state boasts that its society is multi-cultural and multi-faith and that it is tolerant to other religions, Wahabism, the intolerant, high handed oppressive brand of Mohammedanism is gaining ground with every passing day in Malaysia. Quite contrary to its earlier shade, Malaysia'sofficial dark green is becoming darker and darker very fast. This is the reality today, not only in Malaysia but all over the world, wherever Mohammedan community has its presence. Increase in the number of Mohammedan women in black burqua is the indication for Wahabism having taken deep and strong roots in their mohalla or jamat.
Issues before Malaysian Hindus for being Hindus are varied. Mother and child, husband and wife are forcibly separated if one'sname is mistakenly or purposely registered as Mohammedan. If any Hindu male gets converted to Mohammedanism, his wife and even major offsprings are automatically taken for granted to be Mohammedans. They are sent to religious reformation schools if they raise any objection to their forced conversion. It is needless to explain that these so-called religious reformation schools are nothing but similar to concentration camps of communist countries. If a Hindu finds his or her religion wrongly registered as Mohammedan and application for rectification is filed, there ends the peaceful and normal existence of that person. The religious reformation school alias concentration camp opens its iron gates and until the person changes his or her mind and consents to be a Mohammedan, he or she is virtually a prisoner. A recent case of this sort of arrogance is that of one young mother by name Revati, who was separated from her small baby and husband, and shut in the religious reformation school just because she wanted her religion to be corrected as Hindu in the records. All along, she had been a practising Hindu, living with her grand mother since her childhood, who is also a Hindu but her parents living elsewhere were converted to Mohammedanism at a point of time. That was enough for the administration to treat her also a Mohammedan. Again, a Hindu, just because either intentionally or inadvertently registered as a Mohammedan, when dies, is forcibly buried in a Mohammedan burial ground, deprived of Hindu rites.
These are some of the Hindu specific issues for people in Malaysia for being Hindus. And a Hindu wrongly recorded as Mohammedan wants to be officially corrected as Hindu so that he or she need not be under the purview of medieval Mohammedan civil code of Sharia that is in force in Malaysia. There is also much more socio-cultural neglect for being Hindus. In the light of these facts, it is quite essential for Malaysian Hindus to identify themselves as Hindus instead of projecting as citizens of Indian origin or Malaysian Tamils. Calling themselves as people of Indian origin will make them vulnerable to the charge of being unfaithful to the country that has accepted them as its own citizens, still fond of being identified as people of the country from where their forefathers migrated. And if they pose as Malaysian Tamils, they would be voluntarily limiting their scope to a narrow linguistic circle in drawing attention and sympathy.
Today, Hinduism has become universal, true to its ancient characteristics of Vasudhaivakutum-bakam. There are many non-Hindustanis who willingly and devotedly follow Hindu faith and its rich culture. In depth study of Hindu philosophy has drawn many non-Hindustanis to be staunch Hindus, without any need to getting converted to Hinduism ritually. And there are many Hindu organisations now with international reach to take up any Hindu cause. Also, many Hindus with the origin of Hindustan irrespective of the difference in their mother tongue are living as one community in various nations with legitimate citizenship.
Going by these factors, it is time not only for Malaysian Hindus but Hindus all over the world to identify themselves as Hindus so that the feel of oneness would solidly stand in support behind them in all their efforts to retain their faith and culture and assert their rights.
(The writer can be contacted at Second floor, 67/12, Bajanai Koil Street, Pallippattu Main Road, Chennai-600 113.)