THE MUSLIM PREJUDICE : The war on terror & the collateral damage; & ; mosque-temple tinderbox
- From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 49, Dated 08 Dec 2012
THE MUSLIM PREJUDICE
The war on terror & the collateral damage. 33 innocent lives destroyed
Over 10 years in jail. For a crime they did not commit. Baba Umar on the Muslims whose lives became hell in false terror cases
ON 31 July 2001, Syed Wasif Haider’s life changed, going from the humdrum to the hunted in the course of one long night. The plainclothes policemen, who came knocking at his door that night, were not guests the 1972-born sales manager in American multinational Becton Dickson was expecting. Haider calls it a kidnap because “they didn’t have an arrest warrant”. In the FIR, the police claimed to have arrested Haider on 3 August 2001.
The next morning, a credulous media splattered the story across its pages. It made for ‘big’ news. Hindi newspaper Dainik Jagran’s headline screamed: “Chamangunj Mein ISI Key Teen Agent Giraftaar” (Three ISI agents arrested in Chamangunj). The story quoted “highly placed sources” on Haider’s links with the Kashmir-based outfit, Hizbul Mujahideen. The condemnation came before the trial, and much before the case even reached the courts.
So when, on 18 November 2012, General Secretary of the CPM Prakash Karat led a delegation to President Pranab Mukherjee to demand the rehabilitation of wrongly imprisoned youth, Haider, who had spent eight long years in prison, found a place in it.
The CPM had warned Parliament of the “dangerous consequences” of certain provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) Bill that are similar to the now-abolished TADA and POTA. Now, he told the president, these youth needed to be rehabilitated.
“What has happened with many of these youth justifies the apprehensions we had spelt out then,” he said. “The new provisions of UAPA, added in 2008, in fact, give sweeping powers to police; and make it extremely difficult for the accused to get bail. So our party wants those provisions to go.”
With Haider were Mohammed Aamir from Delhi and Syed Maqbool Shah from Kashmir. Both had stayed behind bars for 14 long years, only to be acquitted.
Aamir told the president that in the name of fighting the war on terror, Indian security agencies were inventing terrorists where none existed. Shah recounted several years of incarceration, of how young men are left to rot in jails for years together before being freed with a hollow redemption that leaves them jobless, stigmatised, and with the question: “Why us?”
Aamir, the most outspoken of the trio, handed over a list of 33 youth who had been “implicated” (in a total of 22 cases) and remained in jail for over a decade before being acquitted by the courts. Each of them is today, Aamir asserts, without work, considered unskilled, and faced with a future that looks uncertain at best.
'I’m jobless. I can’t start a business also because friends refuse me loans'
Syed Wasif Haider, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh
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'I couldn’t walk without falling. My family saw a disorder in me, but that had become my order'
Syed Maqbool Shah, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir
Read More >
ROLL-CALL OF THE INNOCENTPosted on 04 Dec 2012
Not another mosque-temple tinderbox
The Charminar-Bhagyalaxmi temple row in Hyderabad could escalate into an Ayodhya-like situation if the powers that be do not cease from their polarising antics
By Rosina Nasir
It seems in secular India, encroachment and squatting to build illegal religious structures in public spaces are still quite rampant. Religion may be a private affair, but vested interests know well how to manipulate it in public spaces. By the time the administration or the state machinery takes cognizance, the event has already snowballed into a political crisis, now with fears of polarisation thrown in. Such polarisation was precisely what happened in Ayodhya, resulting in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Faizabad district, Uttar Pradesh.
And now it seems we could be bracing for another such communal breakdown. Tension prevailed a few days before Diwali when the Bhagayalaxmi temple abutting the historic Charminar in Hyderabad, caused a flare-up in the old city due to some temporary structure that was erected around it.
Just like the Ayodhya case, here too, the temple authority is insisting that the temple is as old as the 16th century monument, a claim refuted by locals, historians and the Archeological Survey of India. The locals are divided on how the temple came into existence. Some believe during the Qutub Shahi dynasty, a stone was erected to mark the end of a plague, while some say the stone was installed to maintain distance between the Charminar and vehicles on the road. Both views, however, are in agreement that the stone gradually became an auspicious entity, was replaced by a picture of a goddess and eventually, an idol of Laxmi. The extensions got actualised over time wherein everything, from the decorative materials to the picture of Gowalkar (an RSS protégé) at the door became properties of the temple. Another aspect that is reminiscent of Ayodhya is that these renovations and extensions were happening surreptitiously in the night. Remember that in Ayodhya, a Hindu sect (Nirmohis), had come up with the temple-demolition and mosque–construction story and juxtaposed the “miraculous appearance of Ram” theory to get two things done: the installation of idols inside the mosque at night, and second, getting permission for opening the shrine’s lock and to worship on the basis of “comparative user” principle (namely, Muslims were praying less often than Hindus in the disputed structure before demolition).
The Archeological Survey of India (ASI), custodian of the Charminar monument, had denied any permission for construction around the temple. A show-cause notice was issued by the ASI to the temple management for some construction done in August 2012. When neither the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation nor the ASI had issued any permits, it’s hard to believe that the police, with a police station adjacent to the monument, was oblivious of this construction. Interestingly, prayers at any protected heritage monument are categorized as “illegal”. Earlier too, a request by a Muslim group to perform prayers at the historic mosque in the terrace of Charminar had been rejected by the ASI. Logically, the question now is why are prayers at the Bhagaylaxmi temple not being connoted as illegal? Why is the ASI using one yardstick for the Muslim minority and the other for the Hindu majority? It appears that if the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) had not reacted to this incident and filed a petition seeking a stay-order on further construction by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, a full-fledged temple would have been constructed. Or was all of this crafted to polarise communities before an election? The unpleasant incident at Ayodhya and the recent commotion at Charminar, both exhibit the assertion of the religious aspiration of the dominant majority, either by crafting a space within or next to the past-constructed structures. Will such temple-construction be limited to monuments erected by Muslim rulers only? Or will we see temples coming up next to the Parliament, India Gate, St Thomas Cathedral, Jama Masjid, Humayun Tomb, Red Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and so forth?
The area surrounding Charminar has a dense Muslim population comprising lower middle class population. The Bhagayalaxmi temple has been around for at least a few decades, without any strife between Hindu and Muslim communities, which is exemplary. So why has it suddenly become a hot-spot for potential rioting? Was the concrete structure of the temple turned from temporary to permanent overnight? Is the MIM’s withdrawal of support to the UPA-II and the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh by its president Mohd Owaisi mere political drama to ignite and nurture communal emotions? Why had he not noticed this development at the Charminar before? After the order of the High Court to maintain a status quo on 30 October, what prompted further violence? The withdrawal of support after a warning of communal tension by the MIM is being considered as blackmailing Chief Minister Kiran Kumar. Interestingly, Reddy had turned down Owaisi’s plea on two different occasions: first, in clearing a three-acre plot at the Mahavir Hospital in the AC Guards area of Hyderabad whose 30-year lease period ended in 2007, and second, to hand over possession of the prime property to the Deccan College of Medical Sciences, run by Owaisi’s family. Many feel Owaisi just wants to draw political mileage from the temple row. Alternately, the temple controversy could also be construed as a smart move for the MIM to snap ties with the Congress and join the YSR Congress for the upcoming elections.
The temple issue of Ayodhya, importantly, was the sole crucial aspect that catapulted a small fry BJP into a national party – from just two seats in 1984 to 85 seats in 1989. Going by that, the BJP has the potential to capitalise on the Charminar-temple controversy to establish itself in Andhra Pradesh electoral politics. The MIM seems to be following what the Congress was doing to Muslims – garnering votes by inculcating the fear psychosis of the Hindu extremist, by projecting itself as the lone savior of Muslims.
Power tussle aside, one cannot but help think all of this could be the Congress’ strategy to divert attention from the Telangana issue, and create a chance to appease Muslims. Or at the least, it could be a plot by YSR Congress in collusion with MIM to attract Muslim votes in the next election.
Major Parties Performance in the Lok Sabha Elections
Andhra Pradesh (42 seats) Uttar Pradesh (85 seats) AllIndia(543 seats) Year BJP INC TDP AIMIM BJP INC JD BSP SP BJP INC CPM Others 1984 1 6 30 -- 0 83 -- -- -- 2 404 22 1989 0 39 2 1 8 15 54 2 -- 85 197 33 143(JD) 1991 1 25 13 1 51 5 22 1 -- 120 232 35 59(JD) 1996 0 22 16 1 52 5 2 6 -- 161 140 32 46(JD) 1998 4 22 12 1 57 0 0 4 20 182 141 32 1999 7 5 29 1 29 10 0 14 26 182 114 33 2004 0 29 5 1 10 9 19 35 138 145 43 19 (BSP)
(The views expressed are the writer’s own)
Roseena Nasir is Assistant Professor, CSSEIP, UoHFrom Tehelka Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 49, Dated 08 Dec 2012