28-Sep-2006

In A Spot - 240906

Again. Tavleen Singh weaves together a column filled with inaccuracies and flawed reasoning.

Commenting on the SC issuing notices to the J&K High Court Bar Association, she writes:
The Chief Justice of India made an important comment last week that went unnoticed except by one newspaper...

Justice Y K Sabharwal reprimanded the J & K Bar Association for its decision to deny legal aid to the defendants and for saying that the sex scandal showed the “entire world the real face of India in Kashmir”. Justice Sabharwal said, “It is only in India that despite these comments you are being heard. In no other democracy will it be heard”.

With this comment the Chief Justice becomes the first high official in India to acknowledge that our homegrown Islamists are taking advantage of Indian democracy to propagate unacceptably retrograde views on a wide range of subjects.

First off, I searched for the one newspaper which seems to have "noticed the comment" as she puts it. I expected that there would be an exact quote of the SC acknowledging that homegrown Islamists are taking advantage of Indian democracy etc. My search threw up reports on the SC order in Indian Express, The Hindu, MSN, Zee News, The Telegraph. None of the reports mentioned this comment at all. All they mentioned was the SC chastising the J&K Bar Assocation - the "it is only in India..." quote was missing from all of them. Possibly the SC order did contain the sentence. But still no report implied that the SC was talking in general about Indian Muslims. Ms Singh seems to strangely believe that the J&K Bar Association and Indian muslims are synonymous.

Next she writes:
The atmosphere of Islamist orthodoxy ... results in ordinary Indian Muslims identifying with pan-Islamism to such an extent that thousands took to the streets of Mumbai to protest against George Bush’s visit to India but it was hard to get even a hundred into the streets to condemn the bombings that killed nearly 200 people on Mumbai’s commuter trains in July.
Mr George Bush is perhaps the most hated head of government across the world currently. He was possibly only a shade less hated when he visited India. Is it surprising that "a few thousands" turned up to protest a visit of this guy? And whatever muslims turned up had enough reason to do so without needing to be brainwashed into pan-Islamism. George Bush invaded and basically screwed up Iraq in which are some of the most holy Muslim places like Najaf and Karbala. Why wouldn't they turn up to protest? It is very surprising that the numbers weren't larger. A few thousands out of 150 million muslims? That's like 0.1%! That's a miserable failure on the part of the "priests" - if what she says about the "priests" is true. And it is surprising that more non-Muslims didn't join in. But we Indians seem to have a soft spot for the cowboy. The way I remember it, when he visits a country - which he does very rarely - a security bubble needs to be created around him to shield him from the people who he has come to visit. And the protesters are a varied bunch. UK and Australia which he also visited then had much more massive protests. And they were not fanatic Islamists smothered in Islamist orthodoxy. Not by a long shot.

As for protesting the Mumbai blasts - I don't remember seeing too many of those. There were prayer meetings, sure. And what is the point in protesting such a thing? One could hope that protests would make a Bush reconsider his actions by showing him that people are angry or displeased. But a terrorist - that's what they want to do isn't it - make people angry, miserable? I don't think there were too many protests when the twin towers fell. Or when the Gujarat riots happened. But then, maybe my memory fails me.

Then she talks about a 'sense of persecution' being felt by muslims in India and how it is "beginning to dangerously influence the way Indian Muslims see themselves". Why shouldn't they feel persecuted? Gujarat, Malegaon, Iraq, Palestine, and people like Ms Singh who are ever ready to spout venom, and the politics of the recent past which seemed to revel in alienating them. But is the sense of persecution really there ? Some muslims I know are busy making ends meet and others are sending their kids to school where they learn and top in Sanskrit. Do the acts of a few terrorists represent a whole community?

She then writes,
The Prime Minister did just this last week when he told chief ministers that the terrorist threat was so serious that our nuclear installations could be targeted but quickly added that Muslims must not be targeted as a community. Think of the message that goes to the police? Does it not indicate that the Prime Minister wants them to continue fighting only a defensive war? This is all they have done so far and yet there is a deep sense of grievance in the community that is being fed constantly by sympathy from high officials in Delhi.
No it doesn't indicate that, it only indicates that do they job correctly by going after the real cultprits and their accomplices whoever they are, and not target people because they happen to belong to the same religion as the suspects. The exact quote is here. She goes on,
We need to ask ourselves if we are not carrying things too far. We know that the bombers on Mumbai’s trains were all Muslim. We know that they would have taken shelter in one of this city’s Muslim areas, possibly even in mosques, but when the Mumbai police started detaining Muslims for questioning we in the media spoke in one voice against the “targeting of a particular community”.

The cry was taken up by Muslim MPs in Parliament and last week Mumbai’s Police Commissioner, A N Roy, wrote a letter virtually apologising for his law enforcement measures to such patently Islamist organisations as the Raza Academy and the Dar ul Uloom Mohammadiya.
Let's read how the affected people see it,
Most Muslims leaders whom DNA spoke to felt that the letter was mere rhetoric, and that the police would be better served finding the actual culprits. There is undoubtedly fear in the city’s Muslim community that innocent people were being targeted, often on the basis of their appearance.

Said Abu Asim Azim, MP and president of Quami Majlis Shoora, “Roy is trying to be a politician. On the one hand, he assures us that the community would not be hounded. On the other, innocent Muslims continue to be at the receiving end of a prejudiced probe. We don’t want assurances on paper. We want the real culprits to be brought to justice.”

This is a view shared by many. Those responsible should be caught. However, some also see that the current climate in the world also plays a role in perpetuating prejudices. Rizvan Haider, president, Youth Citizen’s Forum said, “Those involved in terrorist activities have no religion. They are contract killers. Look at Pakistan and other Muslim countries which are also reeling under terrorism. Islam does not preach violence. A true Muslim will never get involved in such activities. This is rhetoric by superpowers (read the United States) to keep us alienated from the world.”

Many leaders repeat the point that religion has nothing to do with terrorism, ironically, the point with which Roy opened his letter. According to Adul Latif, executive member, human rights protection under UN Charter, India, “No real Muslim will be a votary of violence. I have faith in the judicial system of this country. Indian Muslims are basically religious and it’s only the misguided ones from other countries who get into terrorism.”

One viewpoint that agrees with the commissioner comes from Safdar H Karmali, president, Khoja Siya Jammath who said, “So far, I have not received any complaint about police harassment from Muslims in my area. We wish the real culprits are caught and the innocents not harassed. I trust the police to be just in their role.”

That feeling is extended and reiterated by Abraham Mathai, vice president of the Minorities Commission who said, “The Mumbai police commissioner’s letter is an important confidence-building initiative. These are times when a healing touch needs to be extended to one and all to foil the evil designs of those that seek to divide and destroy.”

But the healingtouch is not going to come from Ms Tavleen Singh. Nor from Mr Sudheendra Kulkarni who writes this:
We must remember that many Muslims too suffered in the terror attack. Many Muslims too came forward to help wounded and stranded passengers. I know a little bit about the Muslim community in my city, and I have no doubt that this attack will further cement Hindu-Muslim relations.
But perhaps remembering his Advice to L K Advani on a certain matter involving Jinnah and the after effects, hastens to add a point very similar to the one raised by Ms Singh:
Why did certain Muslim (along with leftist) organizations in Bombay showcase the largest ever Muslim mobilization in the city to protest US President Bush’s visit to India and, why, in contrast, they have never mobilized even a few thousands to condemn those who commit acts of terror in the name of Islam?
PS: I was meaning to post about it since Sep 9 when it appeared but was unable to for the usual reasons - laziness, not-in-the-moodness, and so on.

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