Centre for Human Rights & Justice workshop
By Dr Rashmi Singh
The Centre for Human Rights & Justice (CHRJ) held a day long roundtable seminar on the state of the Human Rights on January 3, 2011 at the India International Centre. The roundtable was attended by young activists and professionals belonging to different parts of the country and were from the field of academia, legal fraternity and mass media.
The key note speakers for the event were Shri Dattatreya Hosabale, sahsarkarvaha, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and noted anti-corruption crusader Dr Subramanium Swamy, president, Janata Party.
CHRJ is headed by Senior Supreme Court Advocate and former minister Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar and has Supreme Court, High Court lawyers, Professors and media personalities on board.
Appeasement, crackdowns on protests and executive interference into judicial processes dangerous for Human Rights—Jagdeep Dhankhar, president, CHRJ
The year 2011 from the perspective of human rights has been of deep concern. Dr Manmohan Singh, our Prime Minister, plagued by electoral appeasement politics, in utter outrage to the spirit of our Constitution asserted that “Muslims have the first right on the resources of the Nation.” Surely, an unfortunate development that adversely impacts the human rights of the majority.
The midnight crackdown on the peaceful Ramdev-led agitators at the Ramlila Ground in the capital has put all to shame. In a sense even the excesses of emergency pale into insignificance. Suo moto cognizance by the Supreme Court and significant revelation by the Amicus Curie as regards the role of the state actors offers a ray of hope.
Unprecedented executive interference was made to impart a staggering blow to our justice delivery system. The myth of independence of CBI and NIA came crashing down when the Union Ministers issued executive fiats, one after the other, to these agencies and that too in public domain.
To begin with, it was the Union Law Minister who imparted an executive fiat to the CBI not to oppose the bail pleas of some 2G accused. CBI caved in. Union Home Minister issued a similar missive to the NIA by directing that the bail pleas of the Malegaon accused be not opposed. NIA obliged the de facto master.
Anti-Defection law was bestowed constitutional status twenty five years ago so as to cleanse politics of ‘aya ram and gaya ram.’ We are far from achieving this object if we consider the survival of Governments in Rajasthan and Haryana. Corruption, poverty and violence cannot coexist with human rights.
Like the previous four years in 2011 also the President could not spare time to deal with the mercy plea of Afzal Guru. One convicted and sentenced to death up to Supreme Court for attack on our Parliament is being so dealt with.
Appeasement of Minority to buttress electoral prospects is not new to some political dispensations. However, recent events have the potential to even destabilise our democratic fabric. I am referring to the Communal Targetted Violence Bill. The sinister design behind the bill needs to be thoroughly exposed so as to further human rights.
Grant of 4.5 per cent quota to Minority out of the 27 per cent OBC quota is pregnant with far reaching consequences. Firstly, it amounts to one sixth, the perceived population of Minority and secondly it ear marks electable positions on religious considerations.
Awareness is the key to furthering human rights. Society is suffering more due to the silence of good people than the violence of bad people.
The Indian state has installed minorityism against the wishes of founding fathers—Dattatreya Hosabale, Sahsarkaryavah, RSS
Soon after independence, there was a consensus in our country, that the state policy and state structure, will not be based upon any religion, this meant that citizenry of India would be united, that there would be no majority-minority discourse in the field of politics. This consensus is reflected in the constituent assembly debates.
In these debates Tajammul Hussein had said “there is no minority in the country, the term is a British creation. Britishers have gone and with them the term minority has also gone. Remove this term from your dictionary.”
What happened after that? Dr S Radhakrishnan, cautioned us, “it is not our desire in this house to have this minority perpetuity…we must put an end to this element in the state. What’s our idea? It is our desire to develop a homogenous, democratic, secular state, and the device hitherto applied to keep minorities as separate entities within the state is to be dropped, and a single nation-state is to be developed.”
There are five special devices through which minorityism is promoted.
1. The system of separate electorate
2. Separate provisions for welfare
3. Separate educational institutions (Article 30 gives this right)
4. Separate political and constitutional mechanisms like Sachar Committee provides, in fact, it is the modern version of Hunter Committee of 1871. During the British period the Hunter Committee did similar thing and now Sachar has gone one step ahead.
5. Separate language.
These devices should be disbanded.
Even in the case of language, you see this majority-minority discourse. Take the case of Urdu becoming the second official language; it is projected as the language of a particular community or religion. Generally this does not happen with language. In Kerala, Malyali speaking people, Tamil speaking people in Tamil Nadu, are both Hindus and Muslims.
There have been number of writers, poets, novelists in Tamil and Malayalam for Muslims. But slowly the impression has been created that Urdu is the language of the muslim community. In south India Urdu has never been the language of the people except for the Hyderabad Nizam state. That is why Dr Radhakrishnan included this separate language as one among the five devices which perpetuate religious minorityism.
Maulana Kalam Azad, when he called for a Muslim conference in December 1947, after independence, the great socialist leader Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, had warned, “there is no harm in Muslim leaders meeting together, but it should be with an objective of putting to an end all Muslim politics.” This is what Dr Lothia had said but we know what happened later.
In May 11, 1949 in the constituent assembly on the issue of forming a minority committee, Dr HC Mukherji, a Christian by faith and an important member said “ if this proposal finds acceptance, other than SCs no one should get reservation. To reservation demands by ZH Lari, Sardar Patel said “you have got what you wanted. You got a separate state and remember you are the people responsible for it and not those who remained in Pakistan. In the majority Hindu provinces, you the minority, led the agitation, you wanted partition and again you tell me and ask me to say for the purpose of securing the affection of the younger brother that I must agree to the same thing again, divide the country again in the divided part. For god’s sake understand that we have also got some sense.”
After independence, 4 out of 27 members of Muslim League members agreed to dissolve Muslim League party. The Orissa Muslim League unit was dissolved and some other state units were also dissolved. Then seeing this, Jinnah called the Muslim League members to Pakistan. And they all met on December 13, 1947, they attended a meeting and Jinnah advised them not to dissolve Muslim League. And Pakistan’s Qaida-e-Adam appointed the convenor of India’s Muslim League—Madras based Mohd Ismail. That’s the irony. The first work that Mr Ismail did was to demand for Muslim reservation and separate electorates.
Loktantra got converted into votetantra
The state in its power discretion and discourse has created some institutions for minorities. The government has recently declared 90 districts as minority districts. In 1987 when Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister, he brought the new education policy, and I represented in debates, my organisation then, ABVP, at least in half a dozen meetings.
I attended these meetings in Delhi and the words which the Government of India used were “Muslim dominated districts”; 42 such districts were identified then, and it was discussed what kind of education these districts needed!
Except separate electorates, all other devices have come to stay. Could the Muslim community be satisfied by these devices and has it integrated with the mainstream? Why? Muslims feel they are discriminated because they are in self isolation.
When they talk of poverty, let us look at some statistics. The Islamic world covers 1.2 billion people. The Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah has some shocking revelations. Just 5 of its 56 member countries: Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt account for 528 million of world’s poor with incomes below $2 a day. All these countries except Nigeria have Muslims constituting over 95 per cent. Indian Muslims are far better and well placed in national life, the report says.
Why are they not in the mainstream? During the anti emergency movement, there were activists and leaders from various persuasions, from Sangh Parivar, socialists, sarvodaya movement etc, and we used to have discussions. One sarvodaya leader asked me that you say you are a nationalist organisation but in your organisation are there Muslims. I said we do not have a close door policy, they are welcome, only thing is there are some fundamentals, if they accept, they are welcome. There are many Muslims and Christians in RSS but we do not present them as trophies. Then I asked him, you call us anti-Muslims, you are sarvodaya, Gandhiji founded it, he was not against Muslims, how many Muslims are there in sarvodaya? You cannot show me a single one. The question is not that Muslims are not there in RSS, they are not there in any mainstream formation, in communist parties anywhere, even if you look at the Muslim participation in the Congress conferences (during freedom struggle), they are not there.
The Minority Commission president, Justice MA Baig had talked of dissolving the Minority Commission in the 4th report but in the 12th report this was withdrawn through a resolution. Why did this happen? Baig had in the presence of Smt Indira Gandhi said that institutions such as these will create messiahs of minority politics, this will be dangerous for national integration.
Today we find that the central theme of statecraft has become minority ism. Developmental plans have also been communalised. What Muslim League demanded in the pre-partition days, those very things and now advocated and conceded by so called secular governments. This is against both the conception of India as a nation and as a state as conceived by our founding fathers and also against our civilisational values which sees divinity in all.