Nagpur: Lynching of Muslim community members by the mob, cow vigilantes, have sparked nation-wide outrage over the past few years and now with Elections ahead, the community is uncertain to whom to choose as their leader.
It was Pehlu Khan’s lynching on false cow smuggling allegations in Alwar that has sent frenzy among the Muslim community and now they expect none of the parties will protect them in Rajasthan state.
Everything seems normal between Hindus and Muslims in Rajasthan but little does anybody know is that the state police investigation has cleared names of six men Khan had named as his assailants in his dying declaration. None of the accused assailants were brought to justice in Khan’s case.
In Mohalla Chopdaran a tiny town of Jhunjhunu, a group of young Muslim men have conva ersation on discrimination in the state between the two communities.
Speaking of the current scenario in the state and between the two communities, a resident and also a Muslim salesman, Mohammad Ali, says: “Earlier, when we got together with our Hindu friends, we would talk about business and other things. Now the online hate campaigns hang over our interactions with each other.”
Hatred that has been spread through social media platforms have got hold of the communities now.
And just about six months ago a spat between two childhood friends turned into communal fight followed by the processions, protests sloganeering: “Hindustan mein rehna hai toh (If you want to live in Hindustan)….” recalls
Mohammad Aslam who used to take his calves from Jhunjhunu to Delhi for selling them in Ghazipur.
Carrying on his family business, he said: “I stopped because it became difficult. There was the threat of the mob, there could be violence, and we saw that police would not come to our rescue. My brother was beaten up. Since two years, I have been forced to look for work as a daily wage labourer.”
Muslims in the region say, even more than the BJP, the radical outfits (RSS) and other outfits like Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena, are to blame apart from Congress.
Though RSS was not so visible before it can now be seen wielding lathis (sticks) with cow protection groups, vigilantes everywhere.
“Muslims are caught between soft Hindutva and hard Hindutva. It is as if the high command has directed the Congress not to speak of, or for, Muslims”, says Mohammad Ali.
“My question is to the Congress: You don’t talk about the so-called sensitive issues, that’s fine, but why is it that you don’t speak up for us on bijli-sadak-paani issues either?” After all, the Muslim mohalla is more deprived than the Hindu neighbourhood. “Here, even the corporator’s wife draws water with a hand pump,” he says.
Talking about Congress, Mohammed Ali says: “Susti har jagah hai (The Congress shows laziness in everything), but unfortunately, in Rajasthan, we don’t have a third option.”
Another resident also a businessman, Asif Ali says: “The Congress is not just scared to speak up for Muslims. It is scared to speak, period.”
This growing polarization in Nagpur town’s Loahrpura where most of the community members are famous for making hand tools, an elderly group discussing the issue says: “Nafrat, khai, itni badha di hai (The hate and divide have been etched so much deeper). They look at our beards, treat us as gair (strangers),” says Shakeel Ahmed one of the members.
Revealing more about the communal tensions in the region where a mazaar near Mirdha College was vandalised some months ago, the Ahmed said: “There was tension in the area. But we went to court, not to the site of the incident, to avoid violence. We want peace, we don’t want to confront.”
Sheher Kazi Mohammad Meraj also recalls a recent “hungama (furore)” over a “cow-related matter” in a village 10 km away.
“The local administration stepped in, or things could have gotten out of hand.” The saffron party only talks of Temple issue to dodge questions about Muslims plight in the region.
The party simply remains silent when any hate crime is reported, adds Ikramuddin.
“This silence tantamounts to support for the culprits. When there is turbulence in the country, Modiji heads out abroad. No family elder does that — you can’t go to someone else’s wedding when your own home is in turmoil.”
Speaking about Congress’s regime the Muslim community people in the region say “At least under the Congress, itni tangi nahin dekhi (we did not feel so cornered in Congress rule).”
While the people believe: “If the Congress wants to come to power, it will have to remain silent,” according to maths teacher Tanvir Ahmed who teaches at Sophia Basic School in Nagaur town.
Tanvir Ahmed says that during Congress’s rule in Rajasthan there were “scams and lack of development”.
But, now, “Poison is being spread in Sabarimala, and by Amit Shah’s statements on it. How can they flout the court?” And, “Modiji makes false claims, tries to divert the issue.”
And during hard times as such were none of the parties have helped the community in progress or protection, Tanvir says it has become more of a “Ya to phansi pe chad jaaiye, ya zehar kha leejiye (you can either hang yourself, or swallow poison),” situation in the state.
The choice is between “kuan” and the “khai”, the devil and the deep blue sea, Shakeel Ahmed says.