CRITICS SLAM OVERTURES TO PM AND BJP IGNORING CONTINUING ATTACKS ON MUSLIMS
Special Correspondent | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — A controversial ‘open letter’, written by a group of prominent Muslims ‘appreciating and endorsing’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent remarks on minorities at the BJP parliamentary party meeting has come under attack from across the community.
The letter has been condemned by some community leaders for its ‘defeatist tendencies’ and a clear ‘lack of understanding of politics’ and for providing the much-needed fillip to the Prime Minister who has been struggling with a severe image problem at the international level on account of the BJP’s hate-filled electoral campaign and continuing attacks on the Indian Muslims. The overtures to Modi at a time like this are nothing but sheer ‘opportunism’ and smack of ‘politics of expediency,’ they pointed out.
The letter, which came out of the blue, has been immediately lapped up by the pro-Modi media and dutifully been played up to refurbish the image of the Indian leader who has been roundly condemned in the international media for his what many see as dog whistle politics and remaining silent in the face of continuing hate attacks on the Muslims by his followers and BJP-Hindutva supporters.
Prime Minister Modi’s recent reference to minorities at the BJP’s parliamentary party meeting was clearly directed at the international audience, not to the religious minorities, particularly Muslims, who have been at the receiving end since this government came to power in 2014, said a leading activist.
Notwithstanding the Prime Minister’s speech at the Central Hall of Parliament that the new government must take it upon itself to win the faith of all minorities, that is, “Sabka Vishwas” in his words, there seems to be no let-up in continuing attacks and terrorising of the Muslims and Dalits from the attacks, they said.
The letter, supposed to open a channel of communication with the Modi government, did not address the burning issues facing the community, especially the security and safety of Muslims from the hooligans of the saffron outfits, they pointed out.
Slamming the overtures to the Modi government, Navaid Hamid, President of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), the umbrella body of 16 Muslim organisations, said the move does not address the security concerns of Muslims as they have been living under constant fear.
Speaking to Caravan Daily, Hamid said: “The letter does not address issues such as continuing lynching of innocent Muslims and their security and political representation among many others issues.”
Even if the letter was intended to welcome the prime minister’s speech in parliament, why have these leaders not pointed out to the issue of attack on the minority character of the Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia, which has emerged as a serious issue over the past few years under this government, he pointed out.
“Under PM Modi, the government has taken the stand in the highest court of the land to snatch away the minority character of these prestigious universities.”
“The biggest problem of the Muslim community is such “non-political people” who have no understanding of politics and yet they wish to comment on political issues”, Hamid added.
Without taking the name of Kamal Faruqui, former chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission and leading member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Hamid came down heavily on him saying he has a habit of courting powers that be and government of the day.
“A letter is sent by a group of people whose names have been used by a gentleman who is member of the Muslim Personal Law Board and habitually courts government of the day from time to time for reasons best known to him,” said the Mushawarat president.
Faruqui is said to have initiated the move to send the “letter of appreciation” to PM Modi.
Hamid also criticised his predecessor Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, Chairman of the Minorities Commission, Delhi alleging that just before relinquishing office; he had written a letter to PM Modi hailing him as a ‘statesman’.
“The gentleman, chairman of Mushawarat for so many years, did not write a single letter to Modi during his tenure pointing about the concerns of the Muslim community and the atrocities being perpetrated by the different state governments of BJP. Yet he penned a letter hailing him (Modi) as a “statesman” five days before his term as President of the Mushawarat ended,” alleged Hamid.
One can still see this letter on the Mushawarat website in the bulletin section, he claimed.
Slamming the letter, Hamid questioned its intention and alleged that those behind it have a political agenda.
Echoing his views, noted activist and co-Convener of Anhad Shabnam Hashmi also questioned the spirit behind the open letter who immediately issued a counter-statement.
Hashmi told Caravan Daily that she did not agree with the letter as it is silent on the post May 23 lynchings under the Modi government.
“The letter doesn’t ask him about the proposed criminalisation of triple talaq; how a veteran who fought in Kargil has been sent to a detention camp and declared a foreigner and over 100 people have been killed in the name of cow, the NRC, and the RSS firman to finish the minorities economically,” she said.
Hashmi said if the letter has been written out of fear then she won’t call the signatories names and sympathised with them.
It was not the first letter after Modi’s BJP won the elections. Jamiat Ulema Hind led by Maulana Mahmood Madani, Darul Uloom (Waqf) and All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board have also sent congratulatory messages to Modi.
Describing this as a reflection of a defeatist tendency in the community, advocate Sharfuddin Ahmad, who is also the vice president of Social Democratic Party of India, said some Muslim figures want to cultivate relationship with the ruling party. “How can minorities, Dalits and other religious groups trust a political party, which follows an ideology of hate, and wants to merge and assimilate all others into the Hindu fold,” he told Caravan Daily.
He pointed out to the several international publications strongly censuring the Modi government. He quoted the UK’s Guardian, one of the most respected newspapers in the world: “The world does not need another national populist leader who pursues a pro-business agenda while trading in fake news and treating minorities as second-class citizens”.
The Guardian (London) editorial even described the BJP and its fountain head’s nationalism as “anti-Muslim nationalism”. “This suits the BJP, with its pro-business and anti-Muslim nationalism.” He also recalled the Time magazine cover calling Modi as “India’s Divider-in-Chief”.
Ahmad pointed out the letter did not touch upon various issues facing the community such as lynching of Muslims. Through this letter, they wittingly or unwittingly helped the PM to improve his image as Modi-bhakts will use it to the hilt, he added.
Sensing the adverse reactions in the Muslim circles, a leading journalist and signatory to the letter on the condition of anonymity agreed that content of the letter was not ‘candid and truthful.’ He also said it was the initiative of Kamal Faruqui and he had only endorsed the letter after being persuaded by another signatory.