Communalists, Indian Constitution and Muslim Minorities — Prof Ram Puniyani

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To call that Indian Muslims are the happiest in the World due to Hindus or they are the most content in the world, must be a joke.

The plight of Muslims has been deteriorating at a rapid pace during the last few decades

PROF RAM PUNIYANI | Clarion India

A YEAR ago, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat had stated (October 10, 2019) that Indian Muslims were the happiest in the world due to Hindus. Now he goes on to say that the most content Muslims are only in India. Not content with that, he went on to state that “if there is any example in the world wherein a foreign religion that ruled over the people of a country still exists there”, it is here in India.

And further, “Our Constitution did not say that only Hindus can stay here; hereafter only Hindus will be heard here; if you want to stay here, then you have to accept the superiority of Hindus. We created a space for them. This is the nature of our nation, and that inherent nature is called Hindu”.

Wearing the hat of a historian, he stated that many a Muslim fought for Rana Pratap against Akbar, exemplifying that people of all faiths stood together whenever there was an attack on India’s culture.  He labelled Ram Temple as a symbol of national values and character.

Most of these formulations are a ploy to deflect the criticism which RSS, as the patriarch of Hindu communalism, is facing currently at home and also internationally. The plight of Muslims has been deteriorating at a rapid pace during the last few decades.

As if the violence against Muslims in the wake of Rath Yatras for a Ram Temple was not enough, the mob lynchings in the name of cow beef, the social intimidations in the name of love jihad, ghar wapasi, etc. have peaked during the last few years.

The cumulative intimidation of the Muslim community did find its expression in the most democratic Shaheen Bagh movement. The violence that took place in the aftermath saw a heavy loss of Muslim lives and irreparable damage to their properties and holy places.

The image of communalism as the tormentor of weaker sections of society is going up; so, probably, Bhagwat is quoting the Indian Constitution, which most leaders from his Parivar decry, criticise and call it as being unsuitable for India based as it is on foreign values. On the contrary, the Shaheen Bagh movement showed the peak respect for the same when ‘Preamble of Indian Constitution’ formed its core slogan and ideology.

Undoubtedly, the Indian Constitution wants a plural democratic India while the RSS Parivar wants a Hindu nation. For the Indian Constitution, religions are not foreign or native; they are universal and we have a full freedom to practise, preach and propagate our religion; we also have a freedom not to adhere to any religion.

The RSS Sarsanghchalak probably does not know that nationalism and religion were separate in the scheme of the freedom movement of India where people from different religions and even atheists participated with equal zest in fighting against the British rule. He may be unaware that in South-East Asian countries, the major religion is Buddhism, which originated in this land but is now the major religion in those countries.

The communal view of history has been the mainstay of his organisation, or, rather, his Parivar’s politics. When he says that even Muslims participated in the battle against Akbar to save the Indian culture, he is taking the distortion of history to a further level. In what way did Rana Pratap represent the Indian culture? He was the King of Mewar. In what way the battle between Akbar and Rana Pratap was for the Indian culture? Akbar, for that matter, most of the Muslim kings who ruled here, became the part of this land.

Akbar, in particular, was for a multi-faith society; that’s why he conceptualised Sulh-E-Kul (Harmony among religions). And as Muslim Hakim Khan Sur was part of Rana Pratap’s army (saving Indian culture!), so was Raja Mansingh leading the forces of Akbar! Quiet a garbled-up exercise to project Rana Pratap as symbolising the Indian culture, forgetting that Raja Mansingh was leading the forces from the opposite side.

So far, the RSS history has been presenting Rana Pratap and Shivaji as heroes of Hindu nationalism. Now probably they have learnt that both these warriors had Muslims in their army and similarly their rival Muslim Kings had Hindus also on their side.

These battles have nothing to do as being for and against the Indian culture. As such, the Indian culture flourished during this period leading Jawaharlal Nehru to call this as ‘Ganga Jamani Tehjeeb’ (Syncretism, pluralism at peak). The peak of this was Bhakti and Sufi traditions, which focused on humane aspects of life.

As far as a Ram Temple being the symbol of national values and culture, we should recall Bhimrao Ambedkar’s ‘Riddles of Rama and Krishna’, where Ambedkar and later Periyar criticise Lord Rama for killing a Shudra Shambuk, when he was doing penance; he killed Bali from behind and banished his pregnant wife Sita on mere suspicion. The symbols of Indian nationalism are the freedom movement and the Indian Constitution.

The Indian Constitution gives equal citizenship rights to people of all religions, ethnicities, regions and languages. The problem is that communalism regards this as a Hindu nation and so Muslims and Christians are regarded as foreigners.  Accordingly, earlier, Sarsanghchalak M.S. Golwalkar in his book, ‘Bunch of thoughts’; calls them an internal threat to the nation.

To call that Indian Muslims are the happiest in the World due to Hindus or they are the most content in the world, must be a joke. In the light of the rising violence against Muslims, the rising ghettoisation of the community and their declining political representation tells another tale.

To cap it all, now a section of media, which is part of the communal project, is coining words like Corona Jihad, Corona Bomb and the last in the series is from Sudarshan Channel, which sees the handful of successful Muslim candidates as Jamia Jihadis and others with them as a part of a planned jihad to take over civil services!

Such statements like Indian Muslims are most content or the happiest is like rubbing salt on the wounds of a besieged community, which is trying its best to live the values of the Indian Constitution as witnessed during the Shaheen Bagh movement.

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Ram Puniyani is an eminent author, activist and former professor of IIT Mumbai. The views are personal and Clarion India does not necessarily share or subscribe to them.

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