By Vidya Bhushan Rawat, New Age Islam
10 Jan 2013
When democracy is imposed on people without any little effort to convert feudal society into social democracies the outcome would be ‘empowered leaders’ and ‘disempowered people’. This fits well with Indian Muslims too where the leaders have enjoyed the ignorance of the masses and used the religious sentiments to exploit their own political agenda. These political leaders when go to their respective parties are unable to raise the issue of the community as they themselves become the ‘problem’ as well as ‘representation’ of the community. So empowerment is reduced to symbolism of individuals the community remains at the loggerheads as those who ‘represent’ the community actually never bring their issues to the forefront and remember community only when their own survival is endangered.
Akbaruddin Owaisi is a young generation Muslim who along with his brother feel Hyderabad is their fiefdom. They are ‘well-educated’ and can ‘abuse’ you in ‘English’ language and can do the same with ease at the community level when they go to them. It is difficult for them to get into the mode of introspection as what ails our system and why Muslims are marginalized in India, a country where they ruled for over 400 years. Is it true that Muslims ruled in this country for four hundred years as we are being reminded and Owaisi are moaning for their gradual demise? Hyderabad was the jewel of Nizam, a state which was ‘truly’ secular though the people suffered and poverty remained at the highest in the erstwhile Nizam’s place. Yes, Nizam was one of the richest man of the world but what has that to do with poor Muslim who is suffering even today. Shahjahan build monument of love named as Taj Mahal and we all visit and appreciate it but when Mayawati build up the parks in the name of dalit bahujan icons, we all are up in arms condemning her. Why do we think that Shahjahan and other rulers did not waste the state funds? Why those who love Nizam for his ‘love’ for art never ever questions as why there are numerous superstitions and poverty prevailing in that region. Unfortunately, there are many takers for Owaisi’s ranting who just moan on the demise of ‘Mughal empire’ without ever questioning as what exactly poor Muslims got under these regimes accept their ‘identity’.
These kingdoms actually were status-quoists and spend lavishly on ‘art’, ‘music ‘and ‘culture’ resulting in marginalization of people at the cost of ‘development’ of ‘literature’ and ‘art’. They were kingdom being run by Muslims but could not work more for the people accept making them feel proud of their ‘Kings’.
Now, the Muslim leadership in India actually could not develop because, elite secular leadership had migrated to Pakistan and in India remained the poor Muslims. A few of them who had enough land and power only ensured that they were in power at the cost of their community but in the name of community to ensure that we are always applauded as a ‘secular’ state where Muslims have equal rights. Ofcourse, it never ever bothered to see whether Muslims are really able to enjoy this equality in this country which claims to give equal right to all. Akbaruddin Owaisi is son of his illustrious father Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi, who always spit fire whenever spoke. Like Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Salahuddin Owaisi had all the detailed record of the Muslim situation in India and would speak eloquently on the issue of condition of Muslims in India but he too suffered from the past baggage of being ‘ruler’ of India which never allowed him to mix up with people and speak on their ordinary issues of survival.
The Muslim and Islamic identity issue became their main subject. The brahmanical Indian state had given enough ammunition to him to fire because of the persistent violation of human rights of Muslims here. It would be easier for the Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists to take shelter under the farcical work of each other and blame others for their current condition. When Narendra Modi and Kalyan Singh can become chief ministers of states? When Modi can think of becoming prime minister of India and being projected cleverly by media then who can stop Owaisis from not doing the same for Muslims? When Raj Thackray goes unpunished and continue with his hate propaganda challenging the very Indian state then what is that stop Owaisis family as they too want to be the Muslim ‘edition’ of Bal Thackray.
I have the fortune or misfortune to attend and sit with many like Owaisis and Thackray and attend their rallies. At the height of Ayodhya movement we listened to hate speeches of Uma Bharati and their Muslim counterparts. They will be choked in ‘emotion’ so much that you will feel there is no other issue among them. Muslims have been marginalized in India for years and after independence they have paid price of ‘division’. They have been blamed for the division and with this ‘sin’ and ‘burden’ of history the Muslims were ghettoized much to the benefit of its leadership which emerged from the elite class which would not feel comfortable raising the issue of Muslim participation in our bureaucracy, our police, military and media. These are not the issues for the Muslim leadership as the most important issue became Madarasas. When the government failed to open up schools in the Muslim locality or promoting Urdu language, Muslims were left at the mercy of the Madarsa teachers and what would they teach students? It only teaches you to be religious and to be apolitical so that you are good for nothing. You can only recite Quran faithfully but beyond that it would be difficult. If the Owaisis are spitting fire today, it is because their father arranged them the best possible English education and not a Madarasa education but what have they done to promote education among their own community. Agreed that the Indian state has had a terrible record against Muslims and their empowerment but then what efforts have been made by such people like Owaisis to empower their own community.
A ‘multi-cultural’ society would definitely find it difficult to introspect as it gives rise to competitive fundamentalism help the dominant forces in the communities to gain legitimacy. ‘We’ verses ‘them’ is the favorite theme in such a society which is full of contradictions and the power elite everywhere enjoys these contradictions as it enable them to hold power and have their sway among the masses. Akbaruddin often speak about marginalization of Muslims. He wanted to kill Narsimharao for his inability to protect Babari Masjid in 1992. His goons attacked Taslima Nasrin when she came for a book release in Hyderabad and now he challenge that Muslims will eliminate the Hindus if there is no police protecting the Hindus. There is no doubt that Police in India is a Hindu police and states have done very little to protect them. The police behavior towards Muslim is not like a fellow citizen but as if Muslims are here as ‘refusees’ and the Hindutva mindset has penetrated the policing in India and no efforts have been made to develop a ‘secular’ policing in this country.
Hyderabad was a secular space for everyone to enjoy but today it is being converted into a testing lab for communalism. There is no doubt that the Sangh Parivar and other elements have penetrated into the Telangana region as it is easier for them to take an unambiguous political position unlike other political parties who have stakes at both the places. The usage of Hindu symbolism in Telangana has further marginalized the Muslims though a majority of them have supported the demand for Telananga state yet it is the parties like Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) which want to get the maximum benefit of this polarization as it suits them to oppose formation of Telangana. If you communalise the entire issue then the issue will have to be side tracked also which they are very keen along with those power brokers who have their business interest in Hyderabad and who are happy to keep the state in persistent turmoil at the cost of the people of both the regions.
The Hindu fundamentalists are trying to create an Ayodhya around Charminar. It is a dangerous signal but it is being promoted with active support of the state of Andhra Pradesh which has allowed the unscrupulous elements to use the occasion. It is a potential time bomb to destroy the age old social fabric and peace in the country. We have not learnt the lessons from the Ayodhya demolition and have now created new places which will only create Owaisis and Togadias. Fortunately, the other communities do not have such hate figures and if these gangsters remain unchallenged and unpunished then there is every chance that every community would like to have its own Owaisis and Togadias and Indian state would find it difficult to tackle with them.
The police might arrest Owaisis but as long as their counterparts among the high caste Hindus goes unpunished and gain power out of their hate speeches they will continue to grow and none would be able to stop them. Today, the politics of alliance have made them more powerful and unaccountable. Both the forces which make Toagadia and Owaisis will never raise the issue of their own communities who are suffering. Muslim elite leadership did not have time to even think of the suffering Muslim masses, the OBCs and Dalits among them. They do not want to speak on women’s condition in their society. Like Togadia, they too want those women who can justify Sharia and its punishments. It is this upper caste leadership which refuses to accept that there are poor people who have been kept by them on the sideline. The Brahmanical elite did not want to do and connived with upper caste Muslim leadership that is why even today secularism in India is an ‘upper caste’ playground of ‘Hindu-Muslim’ bhai bhai with no space for women and Dalits and other marginalized. The secularism of connivance among the upper elite of Hindus and Muslims have kept the issues of the poor and marginalized at the margins. The voices of Pasmanda Muslims are now gaining ground and need to be strengthened as it is only they who can stop the march of these fundamentalists like Owaisis to power. The power of dalits and OBCs political groups is here to stay and it is time for Muslim dalits and Muslim OBCs to rise up and challenge the orthodox leadership whose only quality is not working positively for the benefit of the community but unleashing ‘emotional blackmailing’ of the community. We all need to remember that Islam is not in danger; it is the Muslims who are endangered in the hands of such bankrupt leadership who want power, position and millions of ignorant people to clap for them. Empowered and awakened masses will only disempower the dictatorial power elite.