In his speech in Ahmedabad, US President Donald Trump trotted out the term “radical Islamic terrorism”. It is not for the first time that he has given terrorism a religious slant. Surely he is aware that no scripture on earth permits terrorism, and therefore it is downright insulting to the Muslim community the world over, quite apart from incorrect, to link the two.
If Trump is keen to talk of the various dimensions of terror, then he ought to have highlighted state terror, as part of which politicians use the official and unofficial machinery they control to terrorise the hapless. Ironically his latest speech was delivered while on an official visit to Gujarat’s Ahmedabad, the very city that had witnessed the 2002 pogrom, which began on 28 February 2002. Eighteen years have gone by and there is still no closure to that ‘riot’. More than 2,000 Muslims were killed by mobs and right-wing ideologies spurred the violence, while those who manned the political machinery did little to stop it.
Trump also went to Agra in Uttar Pradesh, and it was quite obvious that he had not cared to update himself with the latest news reports from the state. Else, he would have known of the terror that has been unleashed in the state since last December. There is report after another of the police force hounding and pounding the civilian population.
And yes, when Trump landed in New Delhi, he could not have realised that the capital city of India, in its colonies to the North-east, were facing civil strife, rioting and anarchy.
After more than two months of peaceful protest, after a right-wing politician Kapil Mishra threatened that if the anti–CAA protestors are not removed from the protest sites then things would go his way, exactly that has happened. Mishra had only implied it, but the events have confirmed that the goon brigades have been deliberately allowed to roam Delhi’s peaceful streets. And there is no check on him by the police. Why? Is it not because he is from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and that has helped him get away?
Even during last month’s electioneering in New Delhi, the speeches of politicians, including Mishra, Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Members of Parliament Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma were provocative and downright communal. Yet the police have taken no action against them. Why? Perhaps it is naïve to have even expected action, as they are the ones who control the police force.
If an impartial probe is conducted of the latest round of targeted attacks on the minority community in North-east Delhi, then the role of politicians will definitely be a big part of it. No independent agency or watchdog group can ignore their incitement to violence.
In fact, even last summer Parvesh Verma had spoken of “unauthorised” mosques coming up on government land in Delhi. Within days, the chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission, Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, set up a committee to settle those allegations and issued a statement that countered this claim. “Illegal constructions on government lands is an old problem in Delhi, but making it an issue of a certain religious community is wrong. DMC does not support illegal occupation of government lands, but the way this issue has been raised seeks to use it issue to build an atmosphere against a certain community which is not acceptable... DMC has set up a fact-finding committee to probe the claim of the BJP MP from West Delhi, Shri Parvesh Verma, about ‘mushrooming of mosques on government land’ in NCT of Delhi, especially in his constituency. Another BJP MP from Delhi Shri Manoj Tiwari has made similar allegation about other areas of Delhi...”
After the horrifying events in North-east Delhi, the living are left wondering if this level of anarchy can take place in the Capital, that too while the President of America is visiting, then what must be taking place in smaller cities and towns? To say that there is a sense of fear amongst them would be an understatement. Baffled they sit, with little hope from any quarter.
Yes, there is disappointment with the newly-formed AAP government too. As the survivors point out, they had voted for AAP candidates so that the “wolves” are kept at bay, but the situation has turned so very communally charged that the “wolves” are obviously at the door. They are asking what difference it has really made that the BJP has lost the election. ‘If the sangh parivar were ruling Delhi, they would have killed us just as brutally as they are doing now’, is what people are telling themselves and each other.
Where are the AAP men who had promised to make Delhi a better place? People are getting killed because of their Muslim identity and yet no one is out there to protect them. The AAP cadres are missing. People are also wondering why they did not come forward to take on the goon brigades. Their shops are being looted, homes destroyed, children and women targeted, men attacked and there is no one to protect them. These are the thoughts that are foremost on the minds of the Muslims today.
Here is more food for thought: if the very announcement of the CAA-NRC-NPR can be this lethal, with thousands jailed, attacked and ruined, then what would be the end result of its implementation? What would be left of this democratic republic if its largest minority community is devastated and destroyed? There is little they can hope for if they are left at the mercy of the police-politician nexus. This compels me to focus on another aspect of the country’s law and order machinery. As we know, the percentage of incarcerated Muslims is higher that their proportion in the population. With the ongoing arrests over the last several weeks, of those who have participated in the anti-CAA protests, the graph of jailed Muslims is sure to go north.
Does the government want this country to be sans its minority population? Every single day there is an assault on the community.
The surviving Muslims will perhaps recite these lines by Ahmed Rahi, tucked in the pages of Anthems of Resistance by Ali Husain Mir and Raza Mir, published in 2006 by Roli Books.
“Our lives were spent in despair; hope had begun to stir in our hearts
We thought our destiny would change, but alas, we were deceived.”
The author is a freelance journalist. The views are personal.