By MV Kamath
Battleground India: Prognosis of Hindu-Muslim Exclusivism; Maloy Krishna Dhar; Vitasta (Times Group Books); Pp 495; Rs. 599
Anybody who would like to know how Pakistan happened to come about and who were the villains should read this highly revelatory book by Maloy Krishna Dhar whose outstanding scholarship is beyond challenge. Plainly put, it is a book on the behaviour of Muslim rulers in India and how it has affected both Muslim and Hindu subjects in different ways. It tells us how Islam first came to penetrate India and how Islamists sought to destroy Hinduism, isolate Muslims from native Hindus and by and large seek to enslave the locals.
As Dhar bravely puts it: “In the ages of the Sultanate or their successful conquistadors, the rulers did not try to liberate the Indians. They enslaved them”. But Dhar also notes: “India was the only country and the Hindus were the only culturally different people in Asia who would not be totally converted to Islam”. Not that the Islamic rulers did not try. According to Dhar: “Death was the only penalty prescribed for idolators by most Islamic schools of law!” Compromise with the natives was as unthinkable as it was preposterous”. Invaders like Babar were barbarians. When he defeated Rana Sanga, the Rajput king, Babar ordered, in grand Moghul style, the erection of a pillar with the severed heads of Hindu soldiers.
Babar, says Dhar, was an avid destroyer of Hindu temples. He adds: “Majority of the Muslims were converted Hindus – converted on the points of sword and under state pressure”. Aurangzeb, of course, was in a ruthless class all by himself. “He ordered (in 1669) destruction of Hindu schools and temples…. Cartloads of idols were taken to Delhi and were spread on the portals of the Jama Masjid for the pious Muslims to trample the Hindu idols under their feet”. How nice. Conversion went in on a grand scale.
According to Dhar, between 1200 and 1570 AD rough estimates indicate that no less than 70 millions were converted at stages in Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh with the maximum impact in Bengal where, out of a total population of 70 million, 27 per cent were Hindus. To quote Dhar “The Muslim rulers enjoyed the cream and the ruled Hindus were subjected to social and economic ignominy”. After the British took over power, for the Hindus ‘Patrotism’ was identified with the re-discovery of Hindu-Indian nationalism.
For the Muslims ‘patriotism’ stood for restoration of the lost ‘glory’ and reclaim out of Hindustan what was once achieved by the sword and establish a distinct political nationalism that would protect separate cultural, religious and other identities of the Muslims”. Dhar brilliantly analyses the role of the Muslim after the British took over in all its sickness. They wanted to drift closer to the British, out of aversion to the Hindus.
Dhar recalls Sir Syed Ahmed whose sole aim waa “to overcome majority Hindu domination and to carve out a separate nation for the Muslims… by drifting nearer to the British”. But what was Sir Syed afraid of? That Hindus would make an effort at re-conversion? What they would destroy mosques? That they would not give Muslims jobs? Under Muslims rule – one has only to remember the example of the Nizam’s Hyderabad – 70 per cent of jobs went to Muslims! Sir Syed must have a bad conscience. Nobody among Hindus asked for reservations!
Following 1857 and the formal establishment of British rule came the formation of the Indian National Congress, which the Muslims stayed away from. The subsequent political climate in India, how Muslim leaders abhorred it and the coming into prominence of a net of Muslim leadership is well documented.
The manner in which Muslim leaders sought to win over British affection; the manner in which Mohammad Ali Jinnah started to push his concept of Pakistan and the threats that he issued from time to time, Jinnah was no more non-violent than was Mao. Under his direction, rivers of blood were to flow in Calcutta when he called for Liberation Day.
At one point Dhar notes pathetically that between 1942 and 1947 “the ambience of communal hatred and divide travelled to the deepest core, destroying whatever sense of assimilation and brotherhood had been established over the centuries.” In all this, Dhar maintains that while “the Hindutva majority has been often blamed, Muslim exclusion has been hardly analysed” and that “very little critical analysis of Muslim communalism has been attempted by the established scholars and historians”. That is called secularism by our intellectuals.
Coming to the latest developments, Dhar points out to efforts by Muslim jihadists to break up India again, Writes Dhar: “Would the jihadi ambience prevailing in several parts of the Muslim world and in India’s neighbourhood jeopardise the country’s (India’s) territorial integrity and would the demographically increasing Muslim population demand creation of another homeland?” Good question.
Our liberal intellectuals and ‘secular’ Hindus would do well to read this book. Dhar’s findings are startling, but they are based on facts. The Muslim world, one fears, still lives in a medieval era when times have changed and even a religion-based country – to call it a state or a nation would be hilarious – has become irrelevant. We are living in changed times.
(Vitasta Publishing Pvt. Ltd., 2/15, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110002, [email protected], www.vitastapublishing.com)