IN the final analysis, after all is said and done, the one big question that arises in the mind is: What do the Indian Muslims really want? When, during the long-drawn talks with the British, Congress leaders finally—and may it be said most reluctantly—agreed to the country’s Partition, it was not because they accepted Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s putrid Two Nation Theory as a desirable option, but plainly because they wanted to avoid a civil war of unprecedented proportions, having witnessed with their own eyes what happened in Calcutta after the Muslim League leader’s call for the observance of Deliverance Day and the streets of the city flowed with the blood of the innocents. Muslims in India clearly had an option. If they so deeply believed in the Quaed-e-Azam’s proposal that Muslims form a separate culture they were free to leave India and go to Pakistan. Nobody would have stopped them. Millions of Muslims decided to stay where they were and one presumed that in the years to come they would remain Indian.
In states like Uttar Pradesh their rich landlords had deserted them. So had a substantial portion of the intelligentsia. The Hindus did not take any vengeance on them; indeed the Congress then in power pampered them with shameless zeal not only to show that they were ‘secular’ but in order to capture Muslim votes. The majority of the Muslims had a sense of guilt even if many of them secretly looked to Pakistan as their home. Perhaps, at that point in time Indians would have been wiser to declare India as a ‘Hindu’ State, but that would only have justified the Muslim League’s theoretical assumptions.
Nehru certainly in his life and personality was ‘secular’ in every sense of the word. It was this sense of secularism that gave India the right to acquire— quite legally and constitutionally—the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Secularism embodied democracy which is very much part of the Hindu psyche. Indeed, even Jinnah, in his saner moments, did not want Pakistan to be a theocratic State. In his address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947 (which Pakistanis consciously want to forget) Jinnah said: “If we want to make this great state of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should… forgetting the past, burying the hatchet… work together in a spirit that everyone… no matter (of) what community… (or) colour, caste, creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State, with equal rights, privileges and obligations.” But he was fork-tongued. If that was his concept of a secular Pakistan, then he should have left Jammu & Kashmir alone, instead of attempting to annex it by hook or by crook. Why shouldn’t Muslims of Jammu & Kashmir live in India and work together with the rest of the people in the manner in which he wanted the people of Pakistan themselves to live?
The Pakistani leaders drove the Hindus out of Pakistan, while Indian leaders pampered Indian Muslims, nor, perhaps, out of love for them, but because their votes were precious. Now, they are telling the world, they have been taken for a ride in the last six decades. Their problem is inward. For a thousand years their co-religionists were rulers, who laid down the law. Now they know that no matter what, they can’t be rulers; at best they can be part of a secular society. Do they really think that by taking to mindless terrorism they will ever be the ruling class again? Or that they can force India to relinquish Jammu & Kashmir? The majority of them do not seem to want to become part of the mainstream. How can one join the mainstream if men think that they have to wear a skullcap and grow a beard and that women have to take to the burqa? Do Hindu children go to Ved Pathshalas for their education? If Muslims as a whole want to retain their distinct identity, how can the State be blamed if not enough of them are recruited into the army or the police force? And how will it help them if some among them—even if they form a minuscule minority—take to burning railway coaches occupied by Hindu women and children or placing incendiary bombs in railway carriages to blow them up along with their occupants? Or play other dangerous tricks on unsuspecting Indians at the behest of Pakistan’s ISI?
From the 1980s to the 1990s, as a columnist wrote in The Hindu, “anti-social elements and practices were allowed to go unnoticed and unpunished (in India), all in the name of some esoteric notion of secular correctness.” Secularism has now become a dirty word and if things go as they have in the past, the Muslim community in India will come to realise that it has no friends. Not even the secularists whose duplicity has been exposed by what happened in Mumbai on July 11, 2006. Secularists are cowards.
In India, Muslims must be Indians first and don’t think of themselves as a minority. Minorityism has been the bane of this country. The Parsis have never sought minorityism even if they are a minority among minorities and they have always been held in great respect. In Indonesia, they are not afraid to assert that if their religion is Islam, their nationality Indonesian, their culture is Hindu. Malaysia which has a majority Muslim population speak Bhasa Malayese. Its largest frigate is named Indrashakti, its biggest oil rig is called Parameswara, a leading automobile company goes by the name of Pradhana, the husband is swami, the wife, stree whereas putra stands for both a son and a prince. In Indonesia, the name of a former President’s daughter is Saraswati and how much more Sanskritic can names like Sukarno, Suharto and Meghavati be?
The Muslims are free to be what they want to be, Hindus (really they are to be called Sanatana dharmists) are by definition secular, but if Indian Muslims genuinely believe that they can destroy India, they will only be destroying themselves. And let no Hindu be blamed. The trouble with Indian Muslims is that they are a confused lot and are unwilling to accept that times have changed. A handful of them are playing the Pakistan game and in the process making all Muslims hated and untrustworthy. If they insist on living in the era of Mughal rule in India to call the shots they will only hurt themselves and isolate themselves still further and then they shouldn’t blame Hindus for their fate. Pakistan is a hoax and Indian Muslims who want to play its game and indulge in violence have only themselves to blame if they continue to be marginalised.
July 11 should be treated by all Indian Muslims as a sign of warning. If, in future, they do not keep the terrorists among them under control, and continue to segregate themselves from the rest of Indians, they will have only themselves to answer for their backwardness and failures.