An uncertain future

Now is the time when we need to see intercommunal CBMs, rather than a picking at old scars and wounds.

Editorial May 15, 2014
Past conflicts need to be put to rest, not exhumed, a truth the Mr Modi would be wise to contemplate. PHOTO: AFP

Relations between Muslims and Hindus  in India since Partition have been scarred by acts of violence, large and small. Often Muslims have been at the receiving end and targets of discrimination in every area of their lives from employment to property purchasing, with recent refusals to sell property to Muslim buyers being the most recent example. This particular act of discrimination was publicised after noted Indian actor Shabana Azmi spoke about it in 2012. There is a growing intolerance towards minorities in India and the outcome of the elections that are now drawing to a close indicates that the country is going to swing to the political right and hyper nationalism, with the likely election of Narendra Modi by what many predict will be a landslide.

Long-dead musicians in the form of respected Shehnai player Ustad Bismillah Khan have now been dragged into the fray. In life, he and his family were determinedly apolitical — but the family playing at a Congress party rally for Rahul Gandhi has been portrayed otherwise, much to their chagrin. No matter the clarification that their performance in no way should be taken as an endorsement, the allegation that it was will become another brick in the wall that divides Muslim and Hindu in India. With there shortly to be a re-swinging of the home-policy compass in India under Narendra Modi, the sense of unease is palpable — and not just in Muslim communities. Mr Modi has been conspicuously silent on a number of crucial incidents, most notably the 2002 Gujarat riots and his association with the Ayodhya campaign in the 1980s. Now is the time when we need to see confidence-building measures that are intercommunal, rather than a picking at old scars and wounds. Past conflicts need to be put to rest, not exhumed, a truth the Mr Modi would be wise to contemplate.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2014.

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Sandip | 8 years ago | Reply It looks like getting a decent accomodation for muslims is becoming an issue especially in the larger cities where migration is more. One way to look at it is religious discrimination towards muslims. Another way to look at it is religious but without discrimination. There are foods that the muslims eat that is not eaten by the hindus, namely beef. As such if I am a landlord, it is my choice that I would not want my home or apartment to be used for such cooking. This should be considered no different than if a non-smoker insists that he shall not let his apartment to a smoker or even if he does, the smoker cannot smoke within the apartment or house. It is no different than if I am a vegetarian and would not want to rent my apartment to anyone who eats meat or fish. It is no different than a lot of families in India not willing to rent their apartments or home to college students, bachelors etc etc depending on the logic/fear that grips each individual. There are always at least 2 ways to tell a story. Whichever way is used, depends to a large degree on the individual as to how he wants to tell his story. The solution to this would be to ensure that our muslim citizens develop economically just like anyone else so they have enough options as to not face this problem. Also with economic growth will arise more competition. That will ensure that such differences are overlooked by people who wouldn't ordinarily overlook it. For sure if I am an apartment owner with a mortgage to pay, I wouldn't care who pays me the rent so long as the mortgage doesn't have to go out of my own pocket.
Prakash Iyer | 8 years ago | Reply

Shabana Azmi and her husband are one of the several Muslims who have made a successful career in India. They are the self styled spokesperson on Muslim grievance and secularism. I have never heard of these successful Muslims contrasting the plight of Hindus in the Islamic republic of Pakistan with that of the opportunities which talented Muslims get in India. Leave alone Pakistan's record of the treatment of people practicing Indian religions they do not talk of the plight of the Hindus cleansed from the Kashmir valley occupied by Muslims.

It is this attitude of Muslims in India which is disapproved by the Hindus. Modi represents the will of the Hindus to put an end to the appeasement of the ungrateful Muslims.

Yes, Muslims have much to fear Modi because they now know that if there is another Godhra type massacre anywhere in India, the retribution will be a hundred times more intense than the Gujarat riot.

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