By Syed Ali Mujtaba
Chennai: Indian Muslims constitute about 12 % of the total population of the country. However, since independence, they have never faced such a hostile situation as they are facing now, under the shadow of COVID -19. It seems the Covid-19 has ripped open India’s communal underbelly from where radical Hindus are swamping across the country with anti-Muslim – anti-Islam rants.
Tablighi Jamat controversy
In just recent memory we all know how Muslims were vilified for the Tablighi Jamat activity. Then emerges the case of Dr. Aarti Lalchandani, principal of government hospital in Kanpur, who was caught on camera saying Coronavirus positive Muslims are terrorists and should be killed. The latest addition to it is the lie from Maneka Gandhi, ex BJP MP who vilified the Muslims of Mallapuram for the killing of an elephant in Kerala.
The conclusion is the spread of the communal virus is something that has come to stay with us and the community has to address the growing hate crime against Muslims in India. In this context, there is an urgent need for a nongovernmental organization to deal with all such issues affecting the Muslims. This NGO should serve as a platform to find effective solutions for the increasing persecution of the Muslims in India.
Muslim persecution has become more pronounced after the BJP government has come to power in 2014. It appears that all and sundry got a license to persecute the Muslims in a well thought out the political project in India. As part of such a project, many organizations have sprouted up in many states, spewing venom against the Muslims in India.
Hate crimes are mostly executed with the support of local politicians, police and local administration. They all work in tandem with right-wing Hindu organizations to execute the task to persecute the Muslims. Most of these organizations are run by some radical youth having strong political support. Most of these crimes go unpunished and that gives strength to such groups to attack Muslims with impunity.
Lynching of Muslims has become a normal crime today that was never thought off before in India. Hate Speeches against Muslims again has become a common feature in the country. Those engaged in targeting the Muslims are mostly politicians, people in power and position and even religious heads. All these crimes are committed in the name of Hindu nationalism but none ever get prosecuted.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, the persecutions of Muslims have increased many folds. After the Tabigi Jamat incident, many Muslims were beaten up and their homes are vandalized. Some were socially boycotted in many places and even excommunicated.
The motive of the Hindutva forces is to attack the Muslims to cultivate a fear among them about the superiority of the Hindu community. Such anti minority campaign is to build majority vote bank to win elections.
The fact is Hindu religious fanaticism is growing beyond any one’s imagination in India. The executive, the bureaucracy, the judiciary, even the press are hands in gloves with the conspirators against the Muslim community.
In such a situation how do does the Muslim community can handle this campaign going on against them in India? Obviously Muslims have to organize themselves. This could be in the form of a body that may look into the cases of persecution and provide legal and financial help to the needy. The effort of such an organization should be to provide the necessary relief to the victims of religious persecution.
Such an NGO should be a monitoring group with the task list out the cases of Muslim persecution taking place in India. It should document the source of persecution, categorizing them into political, government, individuals etc. There should be a proper documentation of the nature of Muslim persecution on all India level.
The task of such an NGO should be to highlight the cases of Muslim persecution through the media. It should be done to generate support of the wider secular audience and act as an advocacy body for the victims of religious persecution.
The composition of such NGOs should be individuals and organizations from the Muslim community and also like-minded people drawn from other communities. However, below such superstructure, there should be a solid base of thousands of volunteers that needs to be established from all over India to support such cause. The mission of this organization should be to provide comprehensive support to the persecuted Muslims of India. Cases involving widows, women and children and families should get top priority. Among those who are beaten up and need medical emergencies must get immediate support. Those whose homes are vandalized should may also get due attention.
The mandate of such an organization should be the constitutional rights of the Muslims are not being flaunted and they are not being discriminated on religious grounds. This organization should liaison with the government officials and courts and those Muslims taken into custody on false accusations should be given legal aid.
Organization with all India structure
Any such organization should have an all India structure and have to be coordinated from a central toll free phone number. There should be a dedicated phone number where such cases are reported by the community members. The volunteers should be immediately rushed to the troubled spot contacted on the WhatsApp. In such effort there should be partnerships with like minded organization working on the ground to come to help the Muslim community.
Such an NGO should take up the numerous cases that could be filed in courts against the hate mongers. And for this, the most important thing is to organize the Muslim lawyers on All India basis. Such legal forum can alone stop such communal virus spreading in the country.
Independent media platform
In this context Muslims also have to find an independent media platform to air their views. The social media platform can be used to reach out to the millions. This could be done through starting websites both in English and regional languages. Many Muslim youth are waiting to do such activity provided if someone gives them a head start. There is also need to nurture some websites that are dedicated to Muslim cause. There is also a need to start media schools to train Muslim youth enter the media industry. They should be made job ready to find employment in this growing media industry. One such media school is already running in Chennai called QIAMS (www.qiams.in). Such idea needs to be replicated elsewhere in India. As a starting point, some students can be mobilized from different location of India and sent to Chennai for media training.
In sum, the foremost thing in all such effort is to build trust and confidence of the community towards such an organization. It is high time for the Muslims to get organized on these lines as such effort can alone give them any hope to live with dignity in India.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at email@example.com