Dr. B.R.Ambedkar who is known as the father of the Indian constitution, had once said that Muslims are an indigestible meat for India. That was a sweeping generalisation and it was not a wholly correct proposition. We have seen many patriotic Indian Muslims who have contributed greatly to the development of our nation and had also fought for our independence. The people’s President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam, was born in a Muslim family of Tamil Nadu. No body can suspect his patriotism and nationalism. Even our right wing Hindu extremists laud President Kalam for his intense love of India and his thorough knowledge of Hindu scriptures. Who can doubt the glowing patriotism of the great revolutionary poet, Qazi Nazrul Islam, who had the unique distinction of getting old age pension from all the three countries, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. His poems are full of patriotism for Mother India. He lived and died as an Indian and didn’t accept Pakistani or Bangladeshi citizenship. He always wanted India to be a secular country. He addressed the Indian Muslims with these unforgettable lines, “O Prophet Muhammad, You never directed us to demolish temples of non Muslims but today we are unable to tolerate other religious views. Forgive us O Prophet” In original Bangla it reads as follows….Bhin dharmir puja mandir bhangite aadesh daoni hey veer—-aajke aamra sahan korite paari naa ko para mat…..kshama koro Hazrat.
However, nowadays it is difficult to find such liberal secular Muslims in India, especially in the Northern and western parts of India. Abdul Kalam and Nazrul Islam belonged to Tamil Nadu in the south and Bengal in the east. Communalism and narrow religious outlook among Muslims gained momentum when Hindus started becoming communal after the loss of Pakistan/Bangladesh. Muslims started showing reluctance in showing due respect to the National song, Vandemataram. Gradually it became apparent that Muslims have allegiance to another nation called ‘Muslim Umma’ or Muslim brotherhood. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains have no such extra territorial loyalties and they dislike this dual citizenship concept of Muslims. They expect the Muslims to be Indians first and Indians last. Muslims feel uncomfortable with this concept for two reasons, 1) because Islam is not only a religion but is a nationality also. It gives not only a complete code of prayers but also a complete social code for marriage, divorce, ethics, dress, food habits etc. and an Indian Muslim can easily identify himself with the aspirations of Muslims of other countries. On the contrary, many of the religious and social practices of other Indian citizens appear to be unacceptable or rather abhorrent for them. For example, most Indians are highly idolatrous and hagiolatrous which is unacceptable for Muslims. Cow worship, glorification of cow dung and cow urine is also totally unacceptable to the Muslims for whom beef is a part of their staple diet. They also do not relish the hostility of non Muslims to their social norms like ‘teen talaq’, polygamy, nikaah halalah, etc. and 2) India is not a darul islam. It is a darul harb country where islam is not the basic constitution of the land. In darul islam country muslims can be true patriots but not in a darul harb like India.
Inability of Muslims to identify themselves with the Indian nation is most distinctly visible in the Northernmost and westernmost corner of India, the Kashmir valley and the adjacent hilly areas of Jammu as well as in Western Uttar Pradesh. The Kashmiri Muslims had always been anti India in the past and even the most patriotic of them pleaded for a high degree of autonomy for Kashmir. Most Hindus consider even the demand of autonomy as anti national. In the past Congress led governments at the Centre as well as the Vajpayee led liberal government tried to gain the confidence of Kashmiri Muslims by holding dialogues with separatists and even with Hizbul Mujahideen but the soft gloves approach and blow hot blow cold approach did not yield much positive results. In 2014 came the NDA Government with a no nonsense inflexible attitude. Doors of dialogue with Pakistan and Hurriyat were closed and the Kashmiris were given no choice but to become good Indians.
The new no nonsense policy has made the Kashmiris out and out enemies of India. Today the Kashmiris are India’s most deadly enemies, perhaps even more than Pakistanis. They are like wounded tigers ready to defame India at the drop of a hat. They dream that whole of Jammu and Kashmir including Hindu majority Jammu province and Buddhist majority Ladakh province will become an independent Islamic state. The government of India must try to bring them back to the pre 2014 stage when the Kashmiris were somewhat unfriendly but not deadly enemies. The talk of abolition of Article 35A and 370 is rubbing salt into Kashmiri wounds and they are becoming more and more rabid. Now they are openly saying that they are Pakistanis. Earlier they were hesitant to say so although the Hilal flag of Pakistan always fluttered in their hearts.
The Government should definitely peep into the hearts of Muslims in general and Kashmiri Muslims in particular and if any course correction is required the government should go in for that.
(The author is former Financial Commissioner, J&K
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