Double standards… all the way!by HUMRA QURAISHI December 3 2021, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 6 mins, 35 secs
Humra Quraishi goes over the many events of recent past in which it is getting clearer by the day that the discrimination against minorities in India has been internalised to the system and it is systemic now.
The latest, of course, is this: We have made stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui sit in a corner but the Right-Wing Hindutva brigade roams free and fearless, mouthing the unthinkable and obnoxious with impunity! No, they have not been made to turn their face to the wall and be quiet because they are conveniently and indirectly connected to the dispensation ruling at the center.
We have harassed and hounded the artist - he had no political backing to come to his rescue, except, of course, when an ancillary arm of the Indian National Congress (INC) known as the Professional Congress and led by Shashi Tharoor reached out to him. It’s Mathew Antony, the leader of the Maharashtra wing of the Professional Congress, who has given support of the organisation to this young talent and is finding ways to see that Faruqui continues to work.
The ruling party at the center knows only how to crush genuine talent, and so severely that the several talented and creative people have been left with no option but to bid goodbye to their craft! How I had wished that someone sane among us sees to it that this young artist survives and lo, there was an angel following him. I hope he will be ‘allowed’ to perform in Maharashtra, Kerala, West Bengal, Punjab - any region that is yet relatively untouched by fascist forces.
I have been witnessing these double standards for years now, but they were not as in-your-face as they are today. Way back in the early 1990s, I realized how the discrimination had been internalised to the system when visiting Delhi's Seelampur area to report on the reactionary rioting that had erupted after the destruction of the Babri Masjid. Muslim men recounted how the cops made them strip to show their marks of circumcision. They were also forced to stand apart from the Hindu men that were rounded up during the rioting. They were forced to become aware of their minority status.
And when the protests by the Karni Sena had started against the film Padmaavat, for what was labelled as poor projection of the Rajputs in that film, Muslims said that they were provoked to protest against the distorted portrayal of Allauddin Khilji, but were compelled to restrain themselves: “The fact is Khilji’s portrayal is completely distorted in that film. Khilji, shown as a meat-tearing, unkempt looking Muslim conqueror stands in contrast to his actual personality. Yet we couldn’t dare raise our voice, against that negative portrayal of Khilji. We would have been hounded by the cops, in an atmosphere where double standards prevail at the very governance level.”
And one late evening as news splashed on the small screen of the removal of the then governor of Meghalaya, V Shanmuganathan, in the backdrop of news reports of sexual misconduct, there were no dissections, debates or discussions about his well-known links with the RSS. Several viewers were provoked to comment: “If by any chance this governor was a Muslim then the ‘godi media’ would be busy holding unending discussions on his sexual encounters, along the expected religious biases and slants. They would be lynching him on the small screen! Our blood boils at these double standards!”
Fact is, that the Muslims in the country are more aware of the prevailing realities today than they were before. But they are not in combative mode. They cannot afford to be aggressive: “No question of dissent… any charge can be thrown at us! The community leaders should tell the community that we Muslims are second-class citizens and with that we sit all quiet... not a murmur from us! It’ll be better that way because then there’ll be nil expectations from this sarkar.”
They also pointed out, in detail, the situation prevailing: “Hindutva leaders have the freedom to raise private brigades/senas. If Muslims would have done what they do, they would be thrown in prisons. Have you ever heard of a Musalmaan sena! And although there is no ban on any of the Hindutva outfits, there is ban on the Muslim outfits. Why such blatant bias in today’s governance? Double standards also come to the fore when encounter specialists are set free, but doubts hover around those gunned down in encounters. Many of those killed in the so-called encounters could be innocent civilians.”
There seems no end to this. During the BJP’s 2018 election campaign in North Eastern India, Right-Wing politicians made announcements of sending senior citizens of Nagaland on religious trips, all the way to Jerusalem! The Right-Wing is wooing the majority Christian population of Nagaland by setting up a senior citizen board, which would annually select 50 members through lucky draw for a free pilgrimage trip to Jerusalem. What also cannot be overlooked the fact that at the beginning of the year 2018, the Central government had scrapped the Haj subsidy for the Muslim community of the country.
And whilst we are on the double standards, here’s yet another factor: Central and State level ministers from the North East can openly talk of their beef-eating traditions and get away with it, but Muslim cattle grazers and traders in other parts of India get killed and lynched.
Several Right-Wing politicians publicly threatened and abused the Muslim community but not one has been arrested. In January 2020, in New Delhi, Muslims were openly abused and threatened, and it’s on record, yet there were no arrest warrants issued against the Anurag Thakurs, Kapil Mishras and Parvesh Vermas.
There have been detailed news reports about the VHP and Bajrang Dal holding arms training camps, where the young are being trained to attack ‘the enemy in skull caps’, but no arrests of the organizers and promoters of those camps has taken place until now. One cannot forget that the three, L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti, who were gleefully hugging each other when the Babri Masjid was demolished by the kar sevaks, were rewarded with prime slots in the governance of this county.
In contrast to that is the fury of the State against activists and academics for their incorrectly-called controversial speeches. Even students are not spared when sedition charges are slapped upon dissenters. One such glaring reality is the case of the Shaheen Public School in Karnataka’s Bidar, where the school staff, students and also some parents were subjected to harassment. Sedition cases were slapped upon them because the prime minister Narendra Modi was criticized in a play staged by the children.
If the establishment genuinely wants to remove controversial teachings, it ought to look into the textbooks of the schools run by the Hindutva lobbies. Also, it ought to keep track of the communal utterances of the Hindutva politicians! The latest abuse is that of Raghuraj Singh, Minister of state for Labour in the Yogi Sarkar of Uttar Pradesh. According to news reports, he dared to make this statement: “The madrasas are dens of terrorists... they churn out terrorists... those passing out of the madrasas become terrorists."
Shouldn’t the various commissions, ministries and forums question this minister on his irresponsible statement? There are serious cases pending against several politicians but they continue to rule; unquestioned and un- challenged, whereas a poor labourer is lynched by Hindutva goons on any given pretext - love jihad, selling home grown vegetables or venturing out beyond the set parameters.
The list of double standards in governance is long. I can go on and on…