Communalism legitimised ~ kuldip nayar
One way to give secularism a chance is to punish those who in any way undermine it. The destroyers of Babari Masjid are yet to be punished. In the same way, Mr Narendra Modi has been let off despite 3,000 Muslims having been massacred on his watch
No doubt, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is less rhetorical than before in its references to Muslims. There can be two reasons for this. One, the party has its eyes fixed on the scenario after the general election in early 2014. It would need the support of secular parties to have a majority in the Lok Sabha ~ the Lower House of Parliament. Any adverse remark about Muslims may cost the party and endanger its chances of constituting a viable coalition.
Two, the BJP feels that it can afford to give the impression of being liberal at a time when soft Hindutva has gripped even Leftist parties. The Congress has been steadily losing its secular credentials over the past few years. If any proof was needed, the Gujarat Assembly election provided ample because the party never touched on the ethnic cleansing that state chief minister Narendra Modi had attempted in 2002 with the help of BJP cadres and the police force during its poll campaigns. The Congress thought that it might alienate Hindus by talking about the killing of Muslims during a crucial election campaign.
This must have come as a shock to Muslims throughout the country because they vote, by and large, in favour of the Congress. Yet, it must be the biggest dilemma for the Muslim community to find out which party is liberal. The radicalisation of the community is not the answer, as it is happening. This would be used as evidence to stigmatise the community. Muslim terrorism has no chance against Hindu terrorism simply because of the numbers.
I realise that some Muslims, out of desperation, have taken to violence. But this is also the path Hindu militant organisations such as the Bajrang Dal, the Ram Sene and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad want the community to take. The bomb blasts at Malegaon, Ajmer and Hyderabad have proved the guilt of these organisations. Initially, the suspicion was on Muslims ~ as is police practice ~ and young Muslim men were picked up at will. At Hyderabad, they were even beaten by police. But a detailed investigation revealed a Hindu hand.
In fact, the random arrests of Muslim youth are the biggest worry of the community. A delegation, including Hindus, recently met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek a remedy. His promise to take action has resulted in fewer Muslim youth being detained, but the community is far from satisfied. Many young Muslim men are still rotting in jail, awaiting posting of cases for hearing. Worse is the loss of time which could have been utilised for pursuing higher studies or in some useful work.