Mohan Bhagwat’s interview came in the same week when the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights cautioned India against targeting religious minorities in the country, particularly Muslims
Shaheen Nazar | Clarion India
NEW DELHI – All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat President Navaid Hamid has rejected RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s claim that Muslims are the happiest in India despite following a religion that is ‘not from here’.
In an interview with pro-RSS Hindi weekly Vivek, Bhagwat said, “Which country’s Muslims are happiest? India’s Muslims. Is there any other country where a religion not originating there has remained in power and is still there? There is no other country than India.”
Hamid told Clarion India that this claim was nothing but a public relations exercise directed at the international community. “The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), wants to tell the world that everything is all right in India and Muslims enjoy equal rights,” said Hamid who heads a federation of various Muslim organisations in India.
The RSS chief’s claim came in the same week when the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights cautioned India against targeting religious minorities in the country, particularly Muslims. It urged the Narendra Modi government to fulfil its pledge to promote and protect human rights.
The European body head Maria Arena issued a statement on October 5 complaining to India that “Marginalised communities, religious minorities, particularly Muslims, a vocal and vibrant civil society, and critics of government policies have been under increasing pressure for a long time.”
The European panel is not the only international body to have a critical view about the Modi regime vis-a-vis its treatment of religious minorities and Dalits as well as others. Of late, such statements by international agencies have become common. It’s no coincidence that the RSS chief chose to defend a government being run by BJP, its political front.
Bhagwat expressed his opinion on wide-ranging issues, including the likely claim to disputed sites at Kashi and Mathura. Asked about a possible agitation on the question, he said, “We don’t know because we are not the ones to agitate. We didn’t start the Ramjanmabhoomi agitation. It was going on for a long time in society. We got attached to it in some specific situation. Agitation is not on our agenda. We are people who bring about a change of heart by peacefully imbibing values. I don’t have any idea what the Hindu society will do. All I can say is that we will not start the agitation.”
After laying the foundation stone for a Ram temple on the ruins of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya by Prime Minister Modi on August 5, various priests and individuals attached to RSS or its various outfits have now demanded that Kashi and Mathura sites also should be handed over to Hindus. There has been no attempt on the part of the Modi administration or RSS to counter such demands.
The Mushawarat chief said that although India was the world’s largest democracy, over the last 70 years it had been converted into a majoritarian democracy where space for minorities was shrinking by the day. “Indian Muslims do not need any certificate of patriotism or happiness from anyone. They draw all their happiness and satisfaction from the Indian constitution which is under severe attack by the present regime led by an RSS man (Modi).”
The RSS chief also drew flak from other corners as well. AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi and CPI(M) leader Mohammad Salim, too, criticised Bhagwat for his claims on Muslims. Owaisi, Lok Sabha MP and leader of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, lashed out at the RSS chief and asked through a series of tweets Bhagwat’s measure of Muslim’s happiness.
“What is the measure of our happiness? That a man named Bhagwat can constantly tell us how grateful we should be to the majority? The measure of our happiness is whether our dignity under the Constitution is respected. Don’t tell us how ‘happy’ we’re while your ideology wants to make Muslims second-class citizens. I don’t want to hear you say that we’ve to be grateful to the majority for living in our own homeland. We’re not seeking the majority’s goodwill; we’re not in a competition with the world’s Muslims to be the happiest. We just want our fundamental rights,” Owaisi said in the Tweet.
What is measure of our happiness? That a man named Bhagwat can constantly tell us how grateful we should be to the majority? The measure of our happiness is whether our dignity under Constitution is respected. Don't tell us how 'happy' we're while your ideology wants… pic.twitter.com/DjRe5lhSBx
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) October 10, 2020
Communist Party of India (Marxists) leader and former MP, Mohammad Salim, reacted to Bhagwat’s comment saying, “RSS tries hard to disassociate itself from Hitler and Mussolini but Hindutva ideologues often show their true colours.”