First Person | Appeasement? Really?

When on the defensive, the BJP and its cohorts raise the bogey

Ghazala WahabGhazala Wahab

The ghost of Godhra and the Gujarat riots have risen again. And so have the suspicion that the ghost has been resurrected because another election is round the corner. Sure enough, apart from few expressions of shock and horror expressed in some nondescript quarters, the major reaction to the confessions by some BJP/VHP/RSS functionaries (to a newsmagazine) who claimed to have killed, raped and burnt scores of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 has been political. While the so-called secular parties are calling for the sacking of Narendra Modi, his own party has no choice but to support him as he is the mascot who will deliver Gujarat to them. Since it may not be impossible, but certainly difficult to defend Modi, even for his own partymen, the Bhartiya Janata Party has decided to deflect from the main issue and instead has gone on an offensive against the Muslims and Muslim appeasement.

Both on the television shows and in the print media, nobody is defending Modi, instead, the TV boys of the BJP have been screaming against the pseudo-secular English press and the vote-bank politics of pseudo-secular political parties. On one channel, when the BJP’s B.P.

Singhal was asked to comment on Modi’s role in the genocide in Gujarat, he asserted that what happened in Gujarat was not genocide but a communal riot. Ok, so communal riot, but what does he have to say about BJP and Modi’s role in the communal riots of Gujarat in the light of new revelations. So what, he thundered. About 250 Hindus died in those riots, but has the press ever reported that, does the English press care about the Hindus, and so he went on and on about how Hindus are discriminated against in their own country, while Muslims are always appeased. Before he was cut short by the moderator, he had managed to edge in the screams about how the policy of appeasement followed by other political parties is to be blamed for this state of affairs. Considering that Singhal retired as director general of police in Uttar Pradesh, it is only natural to presume that he is not only an educated but erudite person as well. So his comments on any subject must be well thought out backed by material evidence.

Perhaps, because of my lack of matching educational qualifications, I have not been able to see any merit in his or his Hindutva family’s assertion that Muslims have been appeased in this country (how does it justify murder and rape?). How exactly have Muslims been appeased in the last 60 years? RSS’ publication Organiser, August 2007, lists some of these issues. It says: ‘Genocide and eviction of Hindus from Kashmir to be made refugees in their own country; frequent Pak-Bangla sponsored terrorist attacks on security forces, civilians and temples; continuation of Article 370 conferring a special status on Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir; infiltration of crores of Pak-Bangla nationals into India to create one more Islamic country on Indian soil…; Congress government under Jawaharlal Nehru started ‘Haj subsidy’ for Muslims in 1959; a large majority of Indian Muslims who demanded Pakistan for Muslims and exchange of population on creation of Pakistan stayed back in India, and did not go to Pakistan.’ The other contentious issue is the Muslim Personal Law.

Even an illiterate person can see that of these the only grievances that can possibly apply to the Muslims of India are the Haj subsidy and the personal law. How can government appeasement of Muslims of India possibly lead to ‘genocide’ of Hindus in Kashmir, prompt Pakistan to sponsor terrorism in Kashmir, attack security forces and temples in India or tempt Bangladeshi labour to migrate to India? Moreover, how can Indian Muslims be held accountable for these and how has all this benefited their social, educational and economic lot? While everybody acknowledges that the Haj subsidy is a bit of a sham (it subsidises travel to Saudi Arabia; the government has given the monopoly of ferrying Haj pilgrims to the national carrier Air India. So in essence, not only the subsidy goes into the coffers of the airlines, even the portion that the pilgrims are required to spend goes to Air India), the issue of Muslim Personal Law baffles me completely. Why is the Hindutva family so vociferously against it? The Personal Law does not give any advantage to the Muslims; it is not a reservation in schools or jobs. On the contrary, it puts the Muslim women at a disadvantage and despite that Muslims are foolish enough to insist upon it, probably out of male chauvinism in the garb of religion. So why should the Hindutva family object to it when in any case it says that all Muslims should have gone to Pakistan to begin with? Are we to believe that even as the BJP/VHP functionaries lead a mob to rape Muslim women, their hearts bleed for them because their former husbands do not pay them maintenance?

Yet, these slogans are raised from time to time and the gullible (among them many qualified people that I have known over the years) believe them. What could be more unfortunate than that?


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