By Shirish Koyal
10 January 2013
I should thank the fracture I have suffered. My foot set in plaster of Paris, I lay immobilised when I decided to find out what exactly Akbaruddin Owaisi, the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) leader, had said. This was after reading the reassuring news that he had at last been arrested for making inflammatory speeches in Andhra Pradesh. It was all on YouTube. With all the time (otherwise, a scarce commodity) at my disposal, I logged on.
Shock is not the word to describe my reaction to the speech; it’s much more. The speeches were not just inflammatory; they were a naked aggression on the unity of India, made through derogatory references to Hindus, their religious practices and their deities. A diatribe like Owaisi’s can offend the feelings of anybody in his senses. The MIM leader’s communalism was unabashed — just like that of his party — mocking Hindus and their religion more than pandering to the base instincts of the morons who applauded every venomous word dropping out of his mouth.
Owaisi did make perfunctory references to poverty among Muslims, their insecurity and lack of opportunities. The fact is that the MIM has, in its 86 years of existence, only helped to keep these issues alive, knowing well how to keep the communal pot boiling. It has controlled Hyderabad’s Old City, where Muslims are concentrated, through the power of muscle and money. Even those who vote for the MIM know how phoney the outfit is.
Videos of Owaisi’s incendiary speeches led me to a clip that showed a verbal clash between him and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Reddy in the legislative assembly. Even there, the tone and tenor of Akbaruddin’s speech were the same. There was no doubt he was striving to drive a wedge between people. Even his elder brother, Asaduddin, who heads the MIM, speaks as if Muslims are the only people who exist and matter.
Akbaruddin’s rants brought back memories of speeches made by Narendra Modi, Pravin Togadia, Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Rithambara and the Thackerays. L.K. Advani didn’t sound much different in the Sangh Parivar’s “mandir-wahin-banayenge” days. Their derogatory references to Muslims have never brought any glory to the Hindu religion. These people are on the opposite side of the communal divide they have created together with the likes of the Owaisis. But the reality is that there can’t be people more similar. Their thought and language are alike; their ideologies are communally motivated; their world view equally constricted; their opposition to liberal, modern thought is strikingly similar. One can call them two sides of the same coin.
It’s just right that Akbaruddin Owaisi has been charged with sedition and waging war against the state, besides other serious offences. It’s time all Owaisis, Muslim or Hindu, are given similar treatment and punished. Never mind if they are potential Prime Ministers. Hope Akbaruddin’s case will make peddlers of hate think twice.
Poet Sahir Ludhianvi's description of communal politicians fits the Owaisis accurately:
ये दीन के ताजर, ये वतन बेचने वाले
इंसानों की लाशों के कफन बेचने वाले
ये महलों में बैठे हुए कातिल, ये लुटेरे
काँटों के एवज रूह-ए-चमन बेचने वाले
(These traders of religion, these sellers of the nation
Sellers of shrouds on human corpses
These killers sitting in palaces, these looters
Barterers of the garden's soul for thorns)