Mumbai: Stating that the Muslims in India are today facing the same situation which they had faced in 1857 and 1947, renowned historian A G Noorani said something should be done urgently because the situation is going from bad to worse under the BJP rule.
"The Muslims of India face in 2018 a depressing situation not dissimilar to the ones they faced in 1857 and 1947.
"The old order was gone and they did not know how to meet the challenges of the new and unfriendly one", Noorani said in an article published in the latest issue of The Frontline.
"Far from improving, 70 years after Independence, the situation has gone worse with a Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) regime headed by its pracharak Narendra Modi as Prime Minister. They face discrimination everywhere", he added.
Expressing concern over the alienation of Muslims, especially their declining representation in the parliament and state assemblies, Noorani accused the secualr and other parties of turning a blind eye towards the issues concerning the largest minority group in India.
"No political party, secular or ”communal”, has made a sincere effort to address them or simultaneously draw Muslims into the political mainstream and enlist the support of non-Muslims", he said.
"Their standing in national politics is accurately reflected in the results of all the general elections to the Lok Sabha since 1952.
"The figures of Muslims elected to the Lok Sabha over the years are: 1952–25; 1957–23; 1962–26; 1967–28; 1971–28; 1977–32; 1980–49; 1984–45; 1989–33; 1991–29; 1996–27; 1998–38; 1999–32; 2004–35; 2009–28; and 2014–22, which is an all-time low", he said.
"Muslims constitute 10.5 per cent of the population. In the 2014 Lok Sabha, their representation is 4.2 per cent of the total membership, which has varied from 489 in 1952 to 543 in 2014.
"In the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled States—Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh—the RSS’ political front, the BJP, has not a single Muslim Member of Legislative Assembly", Noorani added.
Against this backdrop Muslims should not be blamed if they are approaching Muslim leaders and political parties to raise their issues.
"Can you name a single political party which voices the Muslims’ grievances? Then, why blame Muslim political parties that do? Why blame men like Asaduddin Owaisi, MP, for their courageous stand?" Noorani asked.
"There must be a two-track approach—enlist the minorities to the secular cause while convincingly securing redress of their grievances", he added.
"Muslim recruitment to the police services is as poor as police behaviour towards them in some parts of India", Noorani said, adding that the number of Muslim officers in the Army too is abysmally low.
"These grievances cover a whole range of matters - employment in the public and private sectors; representation in the legislature and the government; educational opportunities; glaring communal bias in textbooks; Wakf properties; police partiality and the state’s utter and persistent failure to protect Muslim lives and properties. The situation shows no sign of improvement. Under the BJP-RSS regime, it has become worse", he added.
Advocating Muslim participation for a just society, Noorani said, "In 2018, this might seem a distant political goal. But the first steps towards it will have to be taken urgently and with determination. The responsibility is not theirs alone.
"The so-called secular parties also bear a heavy responsibility to ensure Muslim participation in the struggle for a just society. The leaders of secular political parties must assist them in the participation by responding to the genuine felt needs of Muslims while enlisting them in the struggle, and by giving them a place of importance and by listening to them", he said.
"Muslim political parties and others who share their woes must get together and devise a concrete strategy. Dalits and the Left should be welcomed, as also individuals like Harsh Mander. Muslim Congressmen and the BJP’s touts should be excluded. A small group should prepare a draft manifesto for public debate on what course the Muslims of India should adopt in the days ahead", he said.
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