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Treatment of Indian Muslims.

Byline: Shahid M Amin

TWO mutually-contradictory historical narratives are at present being put forward in Pakistan and India in the public domain, as also taught in schools and colleges. A rewriting of history is taking place in both countries. This is not merely an academic issue but also one that affects national policies, both internal and external. Of course, rewriting of history to suit one's prejudices is nothing but a case of intellectual dishonesty. It is also a vain exercise since historical facts cannot be changed any more than physical facts eg distance between two cities or weight of a given object. One such historical fact is that Ghori defeated Prithviraj in 1192, establishing Muslim rule over India, and no rewriting of history can prove otherwise.

A recent example of tinkering with history is the controversy in India about a film on Alauddin Khilji, who ruled from 1296 to 1316. Hindu nationalists in India want to rewrite history to suggest that Alauddin was an evil figure. In particular, they cannot digest the legend that there was something between him and a Hindu Rajput princess. The historical reality is that Alauddin was a ruler with solid achievements to his credit. At a time when Mongol hordes unleashed by Chengiz Khan had run havoc in Central Asia and elsewhere, Alaudin's army successfully defended India. Alauddin was a great conqueror. He introduced reforms in the military that were as important as his market reforms when he fixed prices to prevent profiteering. His taxation system survived till the 19th century. Alaudin's performance as a ruler was recorded by contemporary historians including Amir Khusrau and Ziauddin Barani. He banned alcohol, gambling and drugs. To supply water to Delhi residents, he built water tank Hauz-e-Khas that still exists. Indian Hindu nationalists might rewrite history as much as they like, but the facts speak for themselves.

Alauddin is merely one example of such historical misrepresentation. For a thousand years, India was ruled by Muslims, even though they were small in numbers. Their religious tolerance is proved by the fact that even after centuries of Muslim rule, the majority of population remained Hindus. In contrast, in Spain after the Christian re-conquest in 1492, Islam was obliterated within a few years. Clearly, this never happened in India. Since the rise of Hindu nationalism in the 19th century, determined efforts have been made to rewrite history. Nearly all Muslim rulers -notably Mahmud Ghaznavi and Aurangzeb are depicted as evil, cruel figures. An exception is made only for Mughal Emperor Akbar who promoted a pro-Hindu secular culture. On the other hand, Hindu figures like Shivaji and his Maratha dynasty are glorified. Hindu Rajputs are romanticized as valiant fighters, ignoring the historical fact that they were loyal supporters of Mughal rulers for nearly a century.

Under Prime Minister Nehru, its founding father, India had adopted secularism as its official philosophy, though it was always more pretension than reality. Indian secularism has now been 'safronised' by the BJP of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, making use of all kinds of visible Hindu symbols, including saffron colour. Heavily Sanskritized Hindi is spoken in public discourse, which hardly anyone understands. This is linguistic Hindu nationalism. A determined effort has been made for long to crush the commonly understood language, Urdu, simply because it has a close association with Muslim culture. This language genocide has succeeded to the point that even those who speak Urdu as a mother tongue can no longer read the Urdu script. In the process, the Indian people are deprived of the great treasure of Urdu poetry.

The anti-Muslim policies of BJP clearly have popular appeal with the Hindu majority, as it keeps winning election after election. Muslims are more than 15 percent of Indian population but their representation in parliament at 4% is at the lowest level ever. Under Modi, the BJP has not fielded a single Muslim candidate in Lok Sabha (parliament) elections. In Assam, where the Muslims number 34%, the BJP has just one Muslim MLA out of 61. In Maharashtra, with 11.5% Muslim population, there is not a single Muslim among the 122 MLAs of BJP.

Treatment of Indian Muslims has reached an all-time low under Prime Minister Modi and his BJP, driven by the fundamentalist Hindutva philosophy. Muslims are poorly represented in the armed forces, the police and bureaucracy. On the mere suspicion of eating cow meat, Muslims are being lynched. Muslims are denied housing because they are not accepted as neighbours. A systematic discrimination is being practiced against Indian Muslims, which is now admitted by Indian media and by periodic investigative bodies e.g. Sachar Committee Report of 2005 which concluded that condition facing Indian Muslims was below that of the lowest Hindu castes. Similarly, a hostile anti-Pakistan posture is Modi's foreign policy.

This state of affairs in India furnishes the precise justification for the Pakistan demand that was made in 1940, after Muslims had lost all hope for a constitutional compromise assuring their minimal national rights within a united India. The tyrannical Congress Ministries' rule from July 1937 to November 1939 had jolted Muslims who realized that their future could not be safe in a Hindu-dominated, independent India. The Hindu leadership and some Indian 'Muslim nationalists' had decried these fears as unfounded and claimed that India would be secular and that all Indians would be treated equally. The current BJP rule has proved that fears of Muslims were fully justified. Indian Hindu nationalism has now dropped all pretences and is behaving precisely as was predicted by Sir Syed in the 19th century and by proponents of the Pakistan Movement in the 1940s.
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Publication:Pakistan Observer (Islamabad, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Mar 6, 2018
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