All parties betrayed Muslims, minorities, marginalised sections: Noorjehan Niaz

By QUAID NAJMI
Mumbai, Oct 27 : The Muslims and minorities in India have been “let down” by all political parties since Independence which has heightened the feelings of insecurity among them, according to prominent Muslim womens activist Noorjehan Safia Niaz.

“There were anti-Muslim sentiments since the past over 70 years, there was alienation, riots and other discrimination… In the past six years, it has increased due to organisations like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other fringe groups,” Niaz said.

That is because, now they have got “political space” that has made them bolder, brazen and so the intensity of the anti-Muslims or anti-minorities sentiments has drastically increased, said Dr. Niaz, a graduate of TISS Mumbai with a doctorate in Sociology, founder of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA).

“The Muslims and minorities leaders apparently failed their communities by reposing faith in certain political parties… Let’s admit… We were very naïve and stupid, permitted ourselves to be led up the garden path and then abandoned, at the mercy of the forces that are now gaining prominence,” she rued, in a free-wheeling chat with IANS.

The 50-year old Mumbai-born rights crusader questioned the role of “the secular movements” which didn’t do enough to counter the RSS-led agenda or right-wing narrative, where only Hindus would dominate and matter.

“Now, it’s time for serious introspection within the community, the secularists and liberals… A trickle in this direction has begun… The recent movements like anti-CAA-NRC when minorities and the majority community united all over India and joined hands for peaceful nationwide protests against the government… This was something unprecedented, and I am confident that it should achieve the desired results,” Niaz pointed out.

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To a question, Niaz feels that willy-nilly, under the current dispensation, certain sections of the Indian polity are already under the impression that they are living in an undeclared ‘Hindu State’ and this needs to be countered politically and intellectually, and bring Secularism to the fore again.

Justifying her contentions, she explained: “Look at the kind of brutal attacks on Muslims, minorities, Dalits or the other marginalized sections of society, how major laws affecting the entire populace and the nation’s future, are being hastily enacted/pushed through without debates in parliament or public discussions, etc.”

“Liberals and minorities are under pressure, all over the world… but here, we have to counter the so-called ‘Agenda’ politically… So, let’s Stand Up and Speak. We are not merely Muslims but Citizens under India’s secular Constitution… We can’t afford any more hypocrisy or complacency,” Dr. Niaz asserted.

Nevertheless, she said the situation has not degenerated to a level where Muslims are completely isolated or ‘ghettoized’… and cautioned that since “similar problems may affect” even the larger Hindu community which is heavily caste-ridden.

Echoing the sentiments of many other leading Muslim intellectuals and thinkers, Niaz said the worrisome aspect is how the feelings of “hatred and animosity” are being sowed in the young minds, the youth and even children”.

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“We never experienced such behavior in our childhood or youth… Now, Muslim, minority or Dalit kids are shunned… These forces are so much steeped in hatred that they will not spare even the innocent young minds. Secular values must be initiated from childhood – or there is no hope,” warns Niaz.

Engaged in working for Muslim women since nearly three decades, Niaz played a key role in ensuring the historic legislation banning ‘Triple Talaq’ which impacted the lives of 80 million in the community.

She also shot into limelight by compelling the famed Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai to reverse its ‘anti-women’ decision and enabling equal access to women in the sea-mausoleum, off Worli, and other sacred places, paved the way for women to be formally trained as ‘Qazis’, thereby demolishing a long-held male bastion, among other agitations.

“My ulitimate dream is to see a ‘gender-just world’ order, and in my country, work towards codifying the Muslim Family laws in India, universal modern education for all Muslims to ensure their integration into the social-economic mainstream and overall development,” Niaz said optimistically.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: q.najmi@ians.in)

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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