By Vidya Bhushan Rawat, New Age Islam
Muslims in Uttar-Pradesh are rightly feeling betrayed by the state government. They continue to protest in different parts of the state as the government of the state is trying to subvert the process of law and getting rid of the entire issue under the pretext that the inquiry has been given to CBI. There are serious issues in this case but before that it is important to understand why the Muslims of the state are restive and agitating and whether their demand has some communal undertones as media is charging.
Zia ul Haq was an honest officer who died for the cause for which he took oath of office. It is strange that he was allowed to be killed by the mob in the village as his coward colleagues had ran away from the village leaving him to be lynched. There is a need to inquire into it whether these policemen posted in the Thana had any relation/friendship with the power gangs of Kunda? The UP police officials have suspended the five policemen who went along with Zia but the question is why not dismissal? Why not prosecute them for failing in their duty?
Definitely the murder at the first sight does look a crime but it has communal undertones. It was well planned and politicians are expert in creating new situations for their own benefits. The fact is that most of these protests are painful symbols of Muslims disgust with the administration. Day in and out, they face the brunt of administration in the name of fight against terror. They are being targeted and youths have been arrested by the police. None of them get a house to live beyond the Muslim locations and most of their cases of human rights are being raised by a few individuals and organisations, who face boycott and condemnation all over. Samajwadi Party government in Uttar-Pradesh had come to power on the promises of empowering the Muslims too. The youths had seen the games of Congress and BJP and hence they felt that Mulayam Singh Yadav and his Samajwadi Party would go beyond symbols but the state saw over 15 communal riots and systematic attempt to isolate Muslims. Azamgarh has become the point of reference for the so-called terrorism and its linkages with Muslims. Efforts have not been made by political parties to ensure that this tag of terrorism is not linked to Muslims but they exploited it. Media was used to create the crisis of identity among Muslims so that they remain defensive.
It is not that Muslim youths are making it communal but the fact is that Zia’s colleagues ran and there is a close link with communal flare up in a village in Kunda about a month back. There is also a reality that a Muslim district magistrate was send to Pratapgarh but was transferred. There is also a reality that Raja Bhaiya and his family has been close associate of RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal. There is also a reality that so far BJP and the Sangh Parivar have not talked about the arrest of Raja Bhaiya. There is a reality that Mulayam Singh Yadav made Raja Bhaiya a minister knowing fully well his track record and various cases against him. There is a reality that Raja Bhaiya is not even a member of Samajwadi Party at the moment. And there is a bigger reality that Raja Bhaiya is now being praised by the upper caste Sangh Parivar lobby and has a huge fan following now. Also news is coming that many members of state assembly met Raja Bhaiya after he was charge-sheeted and this unity goes beyond party lines. BJP which has been active in asking for the head of Mukhtar Ansari and Shahabuddin elsewhere keep quiet on the issue of Raja Bhaiya.
Some years back when Raja Bhaiya was released from Jail, his followers were more than happy and he was given a rousing welcome in Kunda. ‘Jail ke taale toot gaye, Raja Bhaiya chhoot gaye’, was the slogan. And the huge crowd would jostle to come close to him, have a look at him and virtually prostrate in front of him. The oppression is high and unquestionable as the state machinery has failed. That is why it is important whether the policemen trapped him to go to village or they ran away fearing the crowd. This issue must be investigated. The issue is communal because they knew it well that killing of a Muslim officer will polarize the electorate and not influence the equations locally. Moreover, it is sure that police people would go to attend the ‘Darbar’ which Zia ul Haq has always ignored. So, how come a Muslim and that too from a backward community ignore the Darbar of Raja Bhaiya and that is the bone of contention.
Uttar-Pradesh’s PAC is known for being Muslim basher during the communal disturbances. There are reports of how PAC has been used to systematically target Muslims and control them. Samajwadi Party has failed to fulfil any of its promise which Muslim youths were expecting from it. In the administration and police services the numbers of Muslims are nominal. In fact, an officer of CO rank would be very few in Uttar-Pradesh. It is always felt that Muslim population in Uttar-Pradesh must have representation according to its ratio in the governance, administration and police. But that has rarely been an issue for political parties who were ‘appeasing’ a few mullahs to get the votes. Why the political issues of Muslims are allowed to be handled by the religious leadership and not by the political leadership? So far Mulayam Singh has promoted feudal like Azam Khans and Maulanas like Ahmed Bukhari in the name of Muslim representation and it is time political parties must stop in such juggleries. Muslim youths are look for great jobs, social security and not isolation from rest of the society. They do not want leaders in their name but leaders from the ground who work for the rights of the community. It is tragedy that political parties are still playing games. So the pain of Muslim youths is that one there are very few numbers of their officers and secondly those who are honest too are finding it difficult to work in this corrupt castiest atmosphere. So the fight is not just for Zia ul Haq but for an honest officer who happened to be a Muslims and might have become victims of the communal agenda of these communal mafias who used the identity for their own political purposes.
More shameful are the things when the media and paid media are being used by political parties to defame them. It is disgusting to see how media is reporting as if the wife of slain officer is bargaining with the government. There is no doubt that our families are artificial and once the male head is gone, there is a war between the family of the boy and the girl. The government tried to hide their inefficiency by donating cash and offering jobs. Now, given the nature of political parties these days, they try to calm down the protest by actually ‘winning’ over the individual who is affected and hence these offers of job to family members of Zia ul Haq but then the same government and its officials are playing politics by leaking such thing to media and making it as if the family of the girl is just bargaining. Can anyone really understand the pains of a girl whose husband is killed brutally with in some years of their marriage? No government and cash can return her the loss of her near dear one. It is shameful how embedded media is expert in such stories which really depicts an honest officer’s family as cheap money minded.
The political parties can undermine the protest by such tactics but if the government fails to take action against the culprits and ensure free and fair investigation, Muslims will always feel betrayed. Their disgust and disappointment with the system might grow if their representation remains below minimum and their youths are hounded by the police and investigating agencies. The Muslim unrest in India’s largest state is a wakeup call for political parties to treat them equally and address to their real issues. If they continue to treat Muslims as vote bank and use religious leaders to ‘control’ and ‘appease’ the community, there will a big backlash as various communities of Muslims are now raising their voice against discrimination and want their share in power. Those who killed Zia ul Haq physically might have wanted to eliminate him but in his death Zia will become a rallying point for Muslim youths who will raise their voice against injustice and for their fair share in India’s development and power structure which nobody would be able to ignore.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a well-known Delhi-based social activist. He contributes articles to New Age Islam occasionally.