Hamid Ansari Warns of Consequences of ‘Othering’ Indian Muslims

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Former Vice President of India Hamid Ansari speaking at Constitution Club in New Delhio n 26 Oct 2018. (Photo – Caravan Daily)

As per Census of India 2011, religious minorities constitute 20% among them 14% are Muslims. It means every 5th citizen is a religious minority and every 7th citizen is a Muslim. Can you make such a huge population as The Other? And if you make them The Other, what will be the consequences,” asked Ansari while releasing Urdu, Hindi and Malayalam version of veteran journalist Saeed Naqvi’s book “Being The Other — The Muslim In India”.

Ghazanfar Abbas | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — Former Vice President of India Hamid Ansari has expressed concern on the way Muslims, country’s 14% population, are being segregated. He asked what will be the consequences of making every 7th citizen of the country ‘other’.

As per Census of India 2011, religious minorities constitute 20% among them 14% are Muslims. It means every 5th citizen is a religious minority and every 7th citizen is a Muslim. Can you make such a huge population as The Other? And if you make them The Other, what will be the consequences,” asked Ansari while releasing Urdu, Hindi and Malayalam version of veteran journalist Saeed Naqvi’s book “Being The Other — The Muslim In India”.

He said that only those moved to Pakistan and the Britishers are held responsible for the partition, which is not fair.

“We would need to recall 1947 if we want to know the starting point of the basis of this book (“Being The Other — The Muslim In India”). At that time, the question was raised: who divided the country. We as Indians say those who went there (Pakistan) did this, some say Britishers did this but we don’t accept that we were equally responsible for that action (partition),” said Ansari who was Vice President of the country from 2007-2017.

To bring home the point, he quoted Congress leaders Sardar Patel and Ajit Prasad Jain – both were members of the Constituent Assembly that was preparing the Constitution of the country.

“11th August 1947, just four days before independence, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel delivered a speech in Delhi, said Ansari and quoted Patel: ‘We took these extreme steps after great deliberation in spite of my previous strong opposition of partition I agreed to it because I was convinced that to keep India united it must be divided.’”

“But as the politics turned its way someone had to be made responsible, so consequently Muslims were held responsible. Everybody accepted this too,” he added.

“On 28th August 1947, the Constituent Assembly had put a report on minority rights where it was decided that Scheduled Caste (SC) would be the part of Hindu community. On 22nd November 1949, the principles of Constitution were being discussed. Senior leader from Congress, Ajit Prasad Jain said: ‘The birth of Pakistan has smoothened our work of constitution making as the question of minorities which had been a headache and tortured all our efforts for the solution of national problems is resolved’”.

(L-R) Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, Saeed Naqvi, Hamid Ansari, Om Thanvi and Amrith Lal at Constitution Club of India in New Delhi on 26 Oct 2018. (Photo – Caravan Daily)

Other speakers on the occasion of book release were: Om Thanvi, Consulting Editor, Rajasthan Patrika; Suhail Anjum, Correspondent, Voice of America Urdu (He translated Naqvi’s book in Urdu); Amrith Lal, Associate Editor, Indian Express (he translated the book in Malayalam); veteran journalist and author Saeed Naqvi; and Delhi Minorities Commission chairman Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan.

The book has captured the incidents Saeed Naqvi observed in his personal and professional life as well as the political changes since the partition till today where a common Muslim has been labeled as ‘The Other’.

Speaking on the occasion, Naqvi said: “In 1960s when I started to work with The Statesman, me and my wife had faced problems to get a rented house in Delhi. Then my non-Muslim friends helped me. But after 80s and Babri demolition, picture changed more and today’s situation is worst. So to say only Modi has done (this) would be wrong, it has been happening since last 70 years.”

He further said: “The basis of this book is focused on two interlocking triangle of complex issues connected to each other. First is 1947 India-Pakistan partition, Delhi-Srinagar; and Hindu and Muslims. While second is caste triangle where upper caste wants to keep the system remains and lower wants to topple it down.”

Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan said: “In the current political scenario and Hindu-Muslim divide, we all must together need to lessen this divide in the interest of the country.”

Om Thanvi said: “The book is insightful with the multicultural background of our country and critically reflecting the changing positions of the society.”

The Urdu, Hindi and Malayalam version of the book “Being The Other— The Muslim In India” has been published by Delhi-based publishing house Pharos Media and Publishing Pvt Limited.

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