Thought Box



by HUMRA QURAISHI February 1 2024, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins, 7 secs

Humra Quraishi explains what it means to be a member of the minority community in these times and reproduces a part of what Suranya Aiyar said in her statement before going on a three-day fast.

The communal atmosphere has spread across the country. Visuals of Hindutva mobs attacking Muslim property, chanting provocative slogans outside mosques, raising saffron flags atop mosques and churches dominate. To compound this situation, blatantly communal comments of the Right-Wing politicians can be heard coming from all corners. Obviously there’s no action taken - after all, they are part of the ruling brigade appointed specially to instil fear among everyone, especially in the minority community.

The situation is alarming because Hindutva mobs were reported to be causing havoc in several parts of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana and Bihar, but not a word of condemnation was heard from any of the members of the ruling government.

As these mobs keep growing in size and the provocations are more frequent than ever before, one does want to know who is funding them. Which are these Hindutva outfits recruiting the youngsters, training them to attack and to even kill? Who are these young men? Why are these violent men roaming the streets on motorcycles and shouting slogans? Why are they not being punished for terrorizing the minority community? 

There were so many Muslim families that did not step out of their homes as the inauguration of the Ayodhya Ram Mandir started to come closer. One needs to ask what lies ahead for them when scores of Muslims of North India are living in constant fear because violence gets whipped up in minutes.

Most Muslims have already accepted their second class status, you have to live their reality to know what it means to be taunted and abused verbally every other day, and what it feels like when their children are threatened and told that they are unwelcome in their own country. Many have resigned themselves to the fact that to be safe they should refrain from complaining and accept things as they are, be silent when they are provoked, be restrained when they are abused and called outsiders. They feel dejected, they worry for themselves and their families as destruction mounts around them.

There’s a definite pattern, if not a well-planned design to weaken the minority community to such an extent that they don’t ever dare to raise their voice against the perpetrators of hatred.

The turning point in the recent history of the country was 1992, when LK  Advani’s  Rath  Yatra  sowed the seeds of  divisions and spread anarchy across the Northern States of the country…when the Babri Masjid was demolished.

On the weekend of the consecration of Lord Ram, diplomat-politician Mani Shankar Aiyar’s eldest daughter Suranya went on a three day fast, with a very detailed statement that she released. I’m reproducing a part of her statement here:

With the forthcoming event in Ayodhya on January 22, the atmosphere here in Delhi, already famous for being polluted in a material sense, has thickened to a spiritually poisonous and unbreathable concentrate of Hindu chauvinism, malice and bullying.

I am deeply anguished by all this as an Indian and as a Hindu. And, after thinking hard about what I can do, I have decided to go on a fast starting Saturday the 20th and ending on Tuesday the 23rd a day after the January 22nd production at Ayodhya…I am doing this first and foremost as an expression of my love and sorrow to my Muslim fellow citizens of India. I cannot let this moment pass without saying as loud as I can to my Muslim brothers and sisters that I love you and that I condemn and repudiate what is being done in the name of Hinduism and nationalism in Ayodhya…

I am also doing this as an expression of my love for my Mughal heritage. This is not only about feeling protective towards someone else. It is about my culture and my ethos. I love dhrupad and khayal music. I love kathak. I love the Mughal and Sultanate buildings in my city of Delhi – I cannot imagine Delhi without the Qutub Minar or Humayun’s Tomb, or the Sabz Burj. Not to mention the Taj Mahal next door in Agra…

And let me tell you that I do not consider my only heritage to be Mughal. I come from a mixed background of Tamil Brahmin and Punjabi Sikh – and I love and cherish all those parts of my heritage too. My husband has mixed Rajasthani Jat and Jat Sikh heritage with a family history in the military and I have been delighted to adopt his legacy, with all his tales of valour and chivalry as my own…

I was about fifteen years old when the Ram Janm Bhoomi agitation started with LK Advani’s Rath Yatra. My entire school was for it. There is no ugly statement about Muslims that is made today, that I did not hear from my fellow students in school. I will never forget the malice in their eyes; the spite dripping from their lips. I will never forget the glee with which they would waive the tapes of Sadhvi Ritambhara’s speeches, which they would play in their cars on the way to school…

I’ll end this week’s column, again with Suranya  Aiyar’s  verse:  

We shall cajole the sullen earth/We shall win back the lost rain clouds/Showers of love will return/Pouring down on our Beloved Nation/As of yore//The garden of friendship will flower afresh/From the winter of our despair/Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Issai/Will one day/One Sweet Day/Emerge into that lost, blooming spring/Where the gentle Sun shines equally on each once again//In this place/Which will always be/Our very own.

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