Rejecting the idea of a theocratic state, the Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) on Monday condemned the Taliban capture of Afghanistan and the support shown to the group by a section of Indian Muslims.
In a statement, the IMSD, which describes itself as a forum of Indian Muslims committed to the values of democracy, secularism, equality and justice, questioned the legitimacy of the “Islamic Emirate” the Taliban seeks to impose on the war-torn Afghanistan.
“IMSD stands in solidarity with the beleaguered millions of Afghan women and men who for too long have been trapped between the corrupt-to-the-core puppet governments propped up by the occupying American and Nato forces and the regressive Taliban who during their earlier rule had trampled over the most basic rights and freedoms of the people of Afghanistan,” the Muslim forum said.
Among the 145 persons who signed the statement were actors Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, Javed Jaffry, and Shabana Azmi, poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar, historian and academic Mridula Mukherjee, filmmakers Zoya Akhtar and Anand Patwardhan, general secretary of IPTA Bihar Tanvir Akhtar, activist-journalist Teesta Setalvad, and PUCL president advocate Ravi Kiran Jain, and many other former civil servants, artists, intellectuals and academics.
They also underlined that they were “deeply disturbed” by the “euphoria” shown by a section of Indian Muslims over the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan. IMSD named some of such figures including the office bearers of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, religious leaders like Maulana Umrain Mahfuz Rahmani and Maulana Sajjad Nomani, and the Jamaat-e-Islami-Hind.
“It is nothing but sheer opportunism and hypocrisy to stand in support of a secular state in a country like India where Muslims are in a minority and applaud the imposition of Shariah rule wherever they are in a majority. Such rank double-standard gives legitimacy to the Sangh Parivar’s agenda for a Hindu Rashtra,” the IMSD said in its statement.
The signatories of the statement said that it was one thing to welcome the ouster of occupiers and the overthrow of their puppets, but an entirely different thing to celebrate “the return to power of those who with their barbaric version of Islam have contributed in no small measure to the demonization of Muslims and their faith across the globe.”
Dismissing Taliban’s claims of adhering to maintain press freedom, women’s rights etc. in accordance with “Sharia law” this time, the IMSD statement said that on ground persecution of journalists and dissenters along with images of panic-stricken men, women and children revealed the real story.
They called on the global community to launch a ‘24/7 Afghanistan Watch’ to mount pressure on the Taliban to both ensure and show the world that, unlike their earlier brutal rule, the group would respect the liberties and rights of women, men and children this time around.
The IMSD also called upon the democratic world and the United States to open its borders to Afghans who are now forced to flee their country.
Saying “India must open its doors to all Afghan refugees, irrespective of religion,” they also urged the Indian government to forthwith sign the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. India has so far declared to give refuge to the minority Hindus and Sikhs from Afghanistan.