The environment of communal harmony in Maharashtra is vitiated today like never before by a few organisations that are very actively working to achieve this. Those in power in the state do not consider complex questions like unemployment, inflation, development, issues faced by farmers and workers, important to address. They are just interested in capturing votes through creating disharmony and hate in society. Ideals of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Shahu Maharaj, Jyotirao Phule, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar are constantly under attack.
Without acknowledging the seriousness of the current situation some people within the Muslim community are in fact almost handing over to these forces the means to attack.
Why are photographs of Aurangzeb being displayed today? Who is our king – someone like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who gave space and dignity to our ancestors or kings like Aurangzeb who did not give any space to the people of this land? Why then are people displaying his photo?
During Aurangzeb’s rule most of the generals and officers were Rajputs and Brahmins. Not only that, most of his advisors were also from amongst them.
The only Muslims that he (Aurangzeb) had were those Pathans and others who came with him. He never gave any space to the Muslims from this land.
Then why are we proudly using his images?
In Kolhapur where a ruler like Shahu Maharaj gave the Dalit and Muslim population not only equal space but also respect and dignity, it is unfortunate that such events happened in that same region.
We have to realise that those who mislead and instigate poor Muslims in the name of religion are their true enemies.
Most Hindus, not only in Maharashra, but in the whole country, are even today working hard to maintain Hindu-Muslim unity.
If a few Hindus from the allegedly privileged castes and classes are working to create an environment of hate in their bid to retain power, then this is not the way to counter them. We have to follow the path that Mahatma Gandhi showed us. Violence can never be fought with violence, violence has to be countered by love. Humility in the face of aggression is the only solution.
When some people from the Muslim community make problematic statements, foster enmity and hate, take a position against the entire Hindu community and faith, it puts at risk those among the Hindu communities and people that are standing alongside the Muslim community.
These actions of ours do not speak against the communal Hindu forces, they in fact put at risk the actions and work of those from the Hindu community that are working to fight the communalisation of our society. We have to realise this.
Keep faith in the Constitution
Today in Maharashtra there is an attempt at creating situations of disharmony in various places like Mumbai, Aurangabad, Akola, Buldhana, Tryambakeshwar, Shevgaon. In some places it seems like the actions of groups that are dividing society and are anti-national are almost backed by the police. The police allow morchas to happen and allow violence to happen even when they are present by not taking any action against those indulging in the violence. They do not take action against those that give hate speeches and calls to divisiveness and violence.
The Muslim community today needs to take note of the nature of those in power in the Centre and the state. The country split into two in 1947 even as we got Independence. Even though Pakistan was created, India did not become a Hindu nation, it became a secular nation. It became a republic maintaining its vast diversity of religion, caste, region, language, culture. The Constitution authored by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar created an inclusive nation that promised justice to all its citizens.
The RSS that got formed in 1925, however, only always wanted this nation to be a Hindu nation. Golwalkar Guruji of the RSS had critiqued the Indian Constitution by calling it a “quilt just made up (stitched together) by borrowing laws from different nations. Realising the incomplete dream of the RSS of making ours into a Hindu nation then, this is the agenda that is now being pursued actively since 2014. A large part of the systems of governance are today controlled by this brand of Hindutva politics.
The damage caused by the Shahbano incident
It seems that many people from among the Muslim community are simply not understanding the gravity of this hold of Hindutva on the systems and structures of governance. The earlier irresponsible acts of some Muslim leaders of playing a communal politics cannot be indulged in. By politically organising to oppose the Shahbano judgement (1986 and thereabouts) we have harmed the future of our community. We do not seem to realise the seriousness of these acts and their implications.
Today’s situation is not of discord between Hindus and Muslims. Simple.
It is of State power against the Muslim community and we must understand the difference. Those who have power today from Delhi to Maharashtra have a singular agenda. They want to consolidate power through creating divisiveness in the nation, among people. What was once done successfully by the British, the same tactics are today being used by the current dispensation in power. In such a situation the Muslim community must calmly find a path of least resistance. Today the Muslim community has fallen behind the Dalits and Adivasis in education. We must pay attention to this. We must ensure that not a single child around us is kept away from getting education.
We cannot travel backwards!
We never pay attention to what are the real issues of the Muslim community. Those constantly instigating Muslims in the name of religion are not our saviours, they are in fact our enemy. Mohammad Paigambar has not only said that we must forgive our enemy, but has also asked the followers to respect other religions. We must watch out and take care that our actions are not such that we are creating enmity with those who are our friends.
Taufik from Kolhapur, Hasib Nadaf from Sholapur, Muzzamil from Buldhana, Badruzzama, Jabbar Bhai, Sayed Shehzad from Akola, Shaukat Tamboli, Samir Kazi, Nasir Shaikh from Ahmednagar, these are the youth who should be our heroes. The community should stand with these youth from the Muslim community and follow the path of modernism.
Travelling backwards using the name of religion is not going to help the Muslim Community. If the present environment prevails, then even those who today stand with the Muslim community will be scared to do so.
I respectfully call upon the Maulvis from the Muslim community to make efforts to maintain harmony, a harmony with which Muslims have both lived, and contributed to this land.
(The article was translated by academic, acitivist and scientist Chayanika Shah from the original. The original was published in Loksatta that may be read here.)