Ignoring national and international furor, Indian House of People (Lok Sabha) and Council of States (Rajya Sabha) passed a controversial amendment to its 1955 citizenship law. It naturalizes non-Muslim refugees as Indian citizens but excludes Muslims. The opposition, spearheaded by Congress, pilloried the iffy bill as a violation of the Constitution (Articles 25 to 28: Freedom of Religion). These articles provide `all religions are equal before the State and no religion shall be given preference over the other.
Citizens are free to preach, practice and propagate any religion of their choice’. A five-bench Supreme Court judgment observed `It is clear from the constitutional scheme that it guarantees equality in the matter of religion to all individuals and groups irrespective of their faith emphasizing that there is no religion of the State itself’.
The Preamble to India’s Constitution read with Articles 25 to 28 emphasizes that `it is in this manner the concept of secularism embodied in the constitutional scheme as a creed adopted by the Indian people has to be understood while examining the constitutional validity of any legislation on the touchstone of the Constitution’.
Hindutva influence on judges: Though India is a `secular ‘state, its courts, under Hindutva influence continue to pass judgments on controversial religious matters (triple talaq [divorce], Babri masjid demolition, etc.). In a judgment, a three-judge bench partitioned the disputed site among Hindus, Muslims and the Nirmohi Akhara [arena] in September 2010. This judgment was influenced by 1994 judgment of the Supreme Court that observed “praying in a mosque is not an essential part of Islam and namaz by Muslims can be offered even in the open” (M. Ismail Faruqui (Dr) v. Union of India, (1994) 6 SCC 360).
USA’s ennui: Even the independent bipartisan United States Commission on International Religious Freedom expressed ennui on the citizenship amendment bill, then on the anvil. According to a press note released by it, the bill amounted to a “dangerous turn in the wrong direction” and ran “contrary to the secular values enshrined in India’s Constitution”. The agency expressed “deep concern over the use of religious identity as a legal criterion for citizenship” (Livemint, December 11, 2019). The agency even warned of recommending US sanctions against India’s home minister Amit Shah, if the bill was enacted.
The ruling Bharatya Janata Party rushed the bill through both houses notwithstanding opposition within India and without. In over-ebullience to enact the bill, the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) did not even agree to the proposal for referring the bill to a Select Committee for examination. The aim was to ensure that it did not uncannily violate any provision of the secular constitution of India.
Ignoring national and international furor, Indian House of People (lok sabha) and Council of States (rajya sabha) passed a controversial amendment to its 1955 citizenship law.
Fascism unmasked: Obviously, Modi followed Hitler and Mussolini’s fascist playbook dot for a dot? Fear, terror, and intimidation are their favorite fascist tools. Modi wants to create fear so that his incompetence and dismal economic performance remains out of focus. Fascist ideology envisions a regimented nation in the grip of a totalitarian ruler. It extirpates everything inimical to monolithism.
Fascists abhor a freethinking civil society, political opponents, brave journalists, fearless academics and an independent judiciary. A page from German and Italian history: Five yearly censuses took place, 1871 onwards, in the newly founded united Germany under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. The 1930 census was postponed due to the Great Depression.
Adolf Hitler began the census shortly after seizing power on April 12, 1933. It was a huge enterprise without computers. By the end of 1939, all orthodox Jews had been identified, pinpointed to their abodes, twice over. The purpose of the Census was to first locate the Jews (67 million, or one percent of the populace) and then “cleanse” them. The Citizenship and Denaturalization Law of July 1933 empowered Nazi Reich to divest the undesirable” of citizenship.
The Jews, even in professional services were outlawed, and pauperized by seizing their belongings. The object of both the 1933 and 1939 censuses was to isolate Jews both in the German heartland and the occupied territories before they were ghettoized, deported and eventually liquidated. Hitler’s Fascist comrade Benito Mussolini too introduced a racial census for both the Jews and the Roma people of Italy.
The headcount enabled Mussolini to initiate xenophobic laws in 1938. The plight of Muslims: Muslims in India are already ghettoized, not `termites’ on the economy as Amit Shah thinks. Islam did away with caste superiority. Yet, the Muslims are already divided into three caste layers, ajlaf, ashraf, and arzal.
Would Amit Shah detain them in internment/concentration camps akin to those in Germany? For how long? Could Bangladesh, already under Rohingyas burden, or India retain the stateless people under international covenants?
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Unconstitutional: The religion-based amendment may be in keeping with Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto, but it violates the Constitution. Citizenship confers rights upon an individual. India granted citizenship to its immigrants in 1950 on the basis of domicile in its territory. In fact, under Article 6 of the Constitution, migrants from Pakistani territory to Indian territory were also given citizenship rights.
Indian parliament enacted the Citizenship in 1955. It did not lay down religion as a criterion. But, the newly-enacted Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 does. It amended certain provisions of the 1955 Act.
A bird’s-eye view of constitutional provisions: Articles 25 to 28 of India’s Constitution ideal with FREEDOM OF RELIGION. Articles up to Article 30 guarantee cultural and religious freedoms to both majority and minority groups. The ideal of a democratic society, which has adapted the right to equality as its fundamental creed, should be the elimination of majority and minority and so-called forward and backward classes. A few articles are expounded heretofore.
4.1 Right to freedom of religion, covered in Articles 25, 26, 27 and 28, extends religious freedom to all citizens of India. The objective of this right is to uphold the principle of secularism in India. According to the Constitution, all religions are equal before the State and no religion shall be given preference over the other.
Citizens are free to preach, practice and propagate any religion of their choice. Article 4.2 has repeatedly upheld in judicial judgments. It states that the constitutional scheme guarantees equality in the matter of religion. The majority of a 5-Judge Bench in the case of M. Ismail Faruqui (Dr) v. Union of India, (1994) 6 SCC 360 held that:
“37. It is clear from the constitutional scheme that it guarantees equality in the matter of religion to all individuals and groups irrespective of their faith emphasizing that there is no religion of the State itself. The Preamble of the Constitution, read in particular with Articles 25 to 28 emphasizes this aspect and indicates that it is in this manner the concept of secularism embodied in the constitutional scheme as a creed adopted by the Indian people has to be understood while examining the constitutional validity of any legislation on the touchstone of the Constitution. The concept of secularism is one facet of the right to equality woven as the central golden thread in the fabric depicting the pattern of the scheme in our Constitution.”
Hitler’s Fascist comrade Benito Mussolini too introduced a racial census for both the Jews and the Roma people of Italy
4.3 India’s Supreme Court, in Commissioner of Police v. Acharya Jagadishwarananda Avadhuta, (2004) 12 SCC 770, has extensively examined thescope and ambit of Articles 25 and 26.
4.4 In Acharya’s case, the Court also touched upon the freedom of religion with respect to Article 14, and held that:
“49. …If one religious denomination is allowed to carry on its religious practice but another religious denomination is restrained from carrying on religious practice and almost similar religious practices, the same makes out a clear case of discrimination in violation of the principles of Article 14 of the Constitution.”
4.5 A very interesting question of law arose in Sri Venkataramana Devaru v. State of Mysore, AIR 1958 SC 255 as to whether the right of a religious denomination to manage its own affairs in matters of religion guaranteed under Article 26(b) is subject to, and can be controlled by, a law protected by Article 25(2) (b), by throwing open a Hindu public temple to all classes and sections of Hindus.4.5 The Court observed that the two provisions were of equal authority.
Following the rule of harmonious construction, it was held that Article 26(b) must be read subject to Article 25(2) (b). The relevant portion of the judgment reads as under: “29. The result then is that there are two provisions of equal authority, neither of them being subject to the other. The question is how the apparent conflict between them is to be resolved. The rule of construction is well settled that when there are in an enactment two provisions that cannot be reconciled with each other, they should be so interpreted that; if possible, the effect could be given to both.
This is what is known as the rule of harmonious construction. Applying this rule, if the contention of the appellants is to be accepted, then Article 25(2) (b) will become wholly nugatory in its application to denominational temples, though, as stated above, the language of that Article includes them.
On the other hand, if the contention of the respondents is accepted, then full effect can be given to Article 26(b) in all matters of religion, subject only to this that as regards one aspect of them, entry into a temple for worship, the rights declared under Article 25(2)(b) will prevail.
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While, in the former case, Article 25(2) (b) will be put wholly out of operation, in the latter, effect can be given to both that provision and Article 26(b). We must accordingly hold that Article 26(b) must be read subject to Article 25 (2) (b).”4.6 The reason behind the enactment of Articles 25 to 30 of the Constitution was discussed at length in the case of Bal Patil v. Union of India, (2005) 6 SCC 690. Dharmadhikari, J. speaking for the Court, observed:
24. It is against this background of partition that at the time of giving final shape to the Constitution of India, it was felt necessary to allay the apprehensions and fears in the minds of Muslims and other religious communities by providing to them a special guarantee and protection of their religious, cultural and educational rights. Such protection was found necessary to maintain the unity and integrity of free India because even after partition of India communities like Muslims and Christians in greater numbers living in different parts of India opted to continue to live in India as children of its soil.
25. It is with the above aim in view that the framers of the Constitution engrafted group of Articles 25 to 30 in the Constitution of India. The minorities initially recognized were based on religion and on a national level e.g. Muslims, Christians, Anglo-Indians and Parsis.
Muslims constituted the largest religious minority because the Mughal period of rule in India was the longest followed by the British Rule during which many Indians had adopted Muslim and Christian religions. 33. … India is a world in miniature. The group of Articles 25 to 30 of the Constitution, as the historical background of partition of India shows, was only to give a guarantee of security to the identified minorities and thus to maintain the integrity of the country.
It was not in the contemplation of the framers of the Constitution to add to the list of religious minorities. The Constitution through all its organs is committed to protect religious, cultural and educational rights of all. Country classification: Secularism has been declared to be a basic feature of the Constitution in a multitude of judgments. Yet the basis of CAB is religion.
It is questionable why Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh have been clubbed together, excluding other (neighboring) countries. Neither a common history nor contiguity of border with British India matters. Afghanistan does not share an actual land border with India. But Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar share a land border with India. Why have they been excluded?
The reason stated in the ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ of the Bill is unconvincing. It states that these three countries constitutionally provide for a “state religion”. As such, the Bill is to protect “religious minorities” in these theocratic states. This reason is untenable. Why then is Bhutan excluded? It is a neighbouring country, constitutionally a religious state. The official religion is Vajrayana Buddhism. Christians in Bhutan can only pray privately inside their homes.
The rule of construction is well settled that when there are in an enactment two provisions which cannot be reconciled with each other, they should be so interpreted that; if possible, effect could be given to both
Many Bhutanese Christians in the border areas travel to India merely to pray in a church. Yet, Bhutanese are not beneficiaries of the CAB. If persecution is the basis, then why Sri Lanka is not benefited? Sri Lanka has Buddhist majority where Tamil Hindus have been persecuted. Why has it been excluded? Why Myanmar also, accused of genocide against Muslim Rohingyas not included in the CAB? The CAB includes only three countries. That sounds arbitrary.
Focus on certain groups: Restricting the benefits of “religious minority” to six religious groups (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parses and Christians) is questionable. Persecution manifests itself in myriad forms, not exclusively in religious affiliation. But, the CAB focuses only on form of religious persecution. Besides, persecution may be done by an extremist group within a community against liberal elements within that community.
Article 14 of the Constitution of India, prevents the State from denying any “person” (as opposed to citizen) “equality before the law” or “equal protection of the laws” within the territory of India. Yet, CAB is aimed at denying equal protection of laws to similarly placed persons who come to India as “illegal migrants”. The CAB seems to grant citizenship to the less deserving at the cost of the more deserving. Why a Rohingya fleeing from Myanmar crossing into India is not entitled to be considered for citizenship, while a Hindu from Bangladesh, primarily an economic migrant is entitled? Why a Tamil from Jaffna who took a boat to escape the atrocities in Sri Lanka is an “illegal migrant”?
A Hindu Rashtra (nation): The CAB seeks to make India a Hindu homeland. Is India to be a country for Indian Hindus and not for Hindu Afghans, Hindu Pakistanis, and Hindu Bangladeshis and also for Hindu Russians, Hindu Americans?
Hindutva Savarkar legalized: The CAB aims at restructuring India according to Hindutva ideologue Savarkar’s framework. A hundred years back, Savarkar scribbled these words on the walls of a prison, later published in 1923 in his book on Hindutva.
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“With India for their basis of operation, for their Fatherland and for their Holy land… bound together by ties of a common blood and common culture (Hindus) can dictate their terms to the whole world.” He envisioned inevitable civil war with Muslims. So, he exhorted Hindus to join the British Army, not to fight fascism, but to prepare for the eventuality. He declared Muslims and Christians could never be loyal citizens. Not all those who are residents are a part of the nation, and not all outside the territory are outside the nation’.
India’s founding fathers rejected Savarrkar’s notions. While the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 (CAB) envisages India as the home for all Hindus anywhere, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) seeks to weed out those who are already in the territory. Savarkar is echoed in numerous resolutions of BJP and its forebear, the Jan Sangh. For a non-Muslim excluded from the NRC, there could be an alternative avenue to citizenship. This distinction between “infiltrators” and “refugees” that India’s Home Minister Amit Shah made during the debate on CAB in the Lok Sabha was made by Mr. Modi during the 2014 campaign. As Mr. Shah told Parliament, nobody can complain of being blindsided by the government on CAB — it was part of the BJP’s agenda on which it sought a mandate in 2014 and 2019.
Where should the excluded go?
Should they demand another Pakistan within India? BJP appears to rely on Savarkar’s solution. He was averse to Idea of Pakistan as demanded by Quaid-e-Azam. Savarkar had a hostile relationship with Golwalkar of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. But, Golwalker dominates BJP’s thinking about status of Muslims within Indian Union. Golwalker declared Muslims in India “… may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment, not even citizen’s rights.”
Plight of Muslims under quasi-Hindu caste system: h In post-election India, the Muslim is being `lynched, shot at and told to “go back to Pakistan” simply for having a Muslim name, carrying or eating beef’ or `wearing a prayer cap and made to shout slogans in praise of Hindu gods’ (Aljazeera, and Organisation for World Peace dated June 4, 2019). Hindus even demanded that eid prayer-goers should not spill over on adjoining roads. BJP MLA Narendra Mehta, affiliated with dangerous bajrang dal, has started live weapons training at his Seven Eleven Academy.
A Facebook user Prakash Gupta shared pictures of live-weapons training on Facebook from May 25 to June 1. NGO, Democratic Youth Federation of India, has filed a complaint with Navghar police station (Thane Rural police station). BJP President Amit Shah referred to undocumented Muslim immigrants as termites”. Nathu Ram Godse killed `Mahatma’ Gandhi `for supposedly cowing to Muslim demands’. He is being glorified as a patriot. Modi himself as then chief minister of Gujarat in 2002, `presided a pogrom that killed over 1,000 people; in 2011, a senior police officer testifying in the Indian Supreme Court stated that Modi defended this violence at the time as a legitimate route through which Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger’. He described refugee camps housing Muslims displaced by riots as “baby-making factories”.
Modi’s first five years in office were marred by a rise in violent attacks on minority groups, particularly the Muslim. According to the Sachar Committee Report, conditions of the Muslim in India are worse than that of dalits (downtrodden/untouchable). But, the Muslim itself is to blame for its current plight.
The Muslim literacy rate ranks well below the national average and the Muslim poverty rate is only slightly higher than the low-caste Hindu. The Muslim makes up only four per cent of the undergraduate student body in India’s elite universities. He falls behind other groups in terms of access to credit. So is the case despite the fact that the self-employed Muslim population exceeds other groups.
According to Islam, the Muslim society is homogeneous. There is no hierarchical caste-system in Islam, like the Hindu varna system of social stratification. In Sanskrit, varna means type, order, colour or class. The term refers to social classes in dharma-shastra (religious text) books like the Manusmriti. Hindu literature classifies society into four varnas: (a) Brahmins: priests, scholars and teachers. (b) Kshatriyas: rulers, warriors and administrators. (c) Vaishyas: agriculturalists and traders.
(d) Shudras: laborers and service providers. Communities which belong to one of the four varnas or classes are called savarna. The dalits and scheduled tribes who do not belong to any varna, are called avarna. This four-fold division is a form of social stratification distinguished from jati or the European term “caste”. The varna system is discussed in Hindu texts, and understood as idealised human callings. The concept is generally traced to the Purusha Sukta verse of the Rig Veda. Contrary to these textual classifications, many Hindu texts and doctrines question and disagree with the Varna system of social classification.
A hundred years back, Savarkar scribbled these words on the walls of a prison, later published in 1923 in his book on Hindutva
Unlike the Hindu caste system, where it is easy to discern the stratification, caste identities among Muslims are not defined rigidly. As such, the reservation quota and other benefits, available to scheduled castes, do not trickle down to the needy Muslim. It is bitter reality that the Muslim in India could not remain immune from Hindu caste-system. The Muslim is divided into ashraf (Muslims of foreign lineage) and ajlaf (local converts).
The ashraf are regarded as the superior group and are mainly endogamous, while the ajlaf are considered to be inferior. Some scholars use another category, arzal, to denote the Muslim who converted from the lowest strata of society (bhangi, doom, choora or sweeper). To ameliorate the lot of the downtrodden Muslim (arzal or ajlaf), there should be a caste-based census to identify those deserving `reservation’ in scheduled caste. Is such a census in accordance with definitive text of Holy Quran Allah
“O you, who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.” (Al-Baqarah: 208). Some Indian scholars justify Indian caste system according to Islam.
At the top of the hierarchy are the ashrafs (nobles), of Arab, Persian, Turkish or Afghan origin. They lay claim to a prestigious lineage that they trace back to the Prophet (in the case of Sayyids) or his tribe (in the case of qureshis). The shaikh (descendants of the Prophet’s companions), the pathan (descendants of migrants from Afghanistan), and even the Mughal (originating in Central Asia and Iran) can also be included in this group.
Many ashraf are either ulama in the case of the sayyid, or else landowners, merchants or business people. One’s birth group constitutes a major criterion for defining social status. At the middle level, the ajlaf (low-born) represent the masses. His status is defined by both his profession (pesha) unlike the ashraf. Many castes of intermediate status fall into this category, such as farmers, traders and weavers (ansari and julaha). Social elite of many ashraf in rural areas believe that this category is not part of the Indian Muslim community (millat).
At the bottom of the social scale is the arzal (vile, vulgar). It is a group comprising non-untouchables and converted “untouchables” who, as in Hinduism, practise supposedly impure trades. This was the case of slaughterers, laundrymen (dhobi), barbers (nai, hajjam), tanners (chammar), and so on.
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Like the Hindu caste-ridden society, relations between Muslim social groups are governed by a social taboos _ sharing a table, marriage, sociability) and spatial restrictions (access to domestic areas and places of prayer, segregation in cemeteries and neighbour-hoods.
The ashraf opposes caste based count of Muslim community. But the ajlaf and arzal support it. The ashraf, being a “creamy layer”, obstruct any step that may improve lot of the downtrodden. The Indian Supreme Court decision to exclude the “creamy layer” from the quotas in 2008. But, it was never implemented. Questions about Islam mostly relating to ibadaat like hajj are asked in Indian parliament by the non-Muslim. No question about economic justice for all and sundry is asked.
Though Islam preached homogeneity, social stratification among the Muslim in India is a fact.The Muslim caste system has hampered their progress in various realm of life. The Indian Muslim is impervious to whatever happens in Kashmir, or in the world.
Kashmir under Hindutva citizenship: The laws in the state grant hereditary pushtini) certificates to its citizens. As such, only the heridetary rsidents are entitled to express their voice in a plebiscite to be held to determine future stats of the disputed state. To scuttle UN mandate and to dilute the demography, Modi government has decided to grant domicile certificates to even non-Kashmiris in the disputed state. There is no state goverment to oppose the sinister move. The international community is listless to the nuance.
The BJP’s idea of Hindutva citizenship is reflected well in the Modi government’s move to end the special constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir. The disputed state stands demoted, and divided into two Union Territories, under a puppet governor stringed to Central government.
The shallowness and duplicity of the government’s claim that the scrapping of the special status of J&K was about uncompromising uniformity of laws across the country stands exposed in CAB. Atal Behari Vajpayee used to sloganeer `insaniat [humanity], kashmiriat [kashmir culture], jamhooriyat [democracy]’ in the Valley. Now, his slogan stands denude and trampled. Kashmiris have been deprived of their special status, culture and human rights. They are reduced to a subordinate culture trampled under Indian jackboots.
This four-fold division is a form of social stratification distinguished from jati or the European term “caste”. The varna system is discussed in Hindu texts, and understood as idealised human callings
BJP’s ministers are making gung-ho calls for buying Kashmiri brides (state’s laws divest Kashmiri women of proprietary rights if they marry non-Kashmiris). The USA’s apathy: The USA harbours muffled resentment to India’s legislation to subordinate minorities to dominant Hindu majority. That’s understandable. The US president Trump himself was the pioneer trumpet of xenophobia. In January 2017, soon after taking over, Mr. Trump ordered a religious test for admission to the U.S. Through an executive order he banned travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entry.
The order also had a provision, akin to Modi government’s CAB, which was then pending in Parliament. The President ordered to “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality”. This would have excluded Muslims from Muslim-majority countries — the exact intent of the CAB.
The American judiciary was not as resilient as India’s. It stalled the implementation of the order, and a third version of the travel ban that was finally upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2018. It expunged the aforementioned provision. Two non-Muslim countries were included in the amended list of countries from where travellers are banned. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the principle that there cannot be a bar on entry based on religious categories, though it allowed the third iteration of the Presidential order to stand.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, speaking for the minority in the 5-4 judgment said the Presidential order, even it diluted revised version, was discriminatory and unconstitutional. She held that a “reasonable observer” would view the executive action “as motivated by animus against Muslims”.
She termed the majority decision as a repetition of the past mistake of upholding the Japanese American internment camps in 1944. During the Second World War, when Savarkar was recruiting future soldiers to deal with the internal enemies, Franklin D. Roosevelt, hailed as a progressive President, had the same psyche as Savarkar. In India Savarkar exhorted Hindus to marshal themselves against a civil war against Muslims. Likewise, in 1944, Roosevelt was ordering the internment of thousands of American citizens of Japanese origin.
What makes Hindu majoritarianism more dangerous than executive orders of American presidents is reliance on doctrinaire legacy, supported by texts and enforced by a quasi-military cadre. Anti-Christian animosity predates Muslims’: The Christians in India have hailed the new piece of legislation. They are oblivious of Hindu fanatics’ hatred of their own community. When Narendra Modi was chief minister of Indian state of Gujarat, he made several attempts to collect personal data of Christians living in the state.
In February 1999, survey of the Christians living in northern and central Gujarat was started. It was withdrawn after protests. The same was the fate of the survey, conducted in March 2003 and May 2003 in Christian-inhabited areas (Ahmedabad, Sanaskantha, Jabarkantha, Kutch, Rajkot, Patan, Vadodara, Anand and Banaskantha).Indian Express dated June 13, 2003 (dateline Ahmedabad, June 13, 2003), reported Gujarat police had again started a survey of Christian localities.
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The Christian community in Indian state of Gujarat came to know of the survey when policemen in plain clothes visited a few institutions in Kheda district of central Gujarat and made enquiries about their source of funds, origin and items of expenditure. The Christian community was rueful at the recommencement of the survey. To them, it negated the state’s then chief minister Narendra Modi’s assurance to visiting team of the National Commission for Minorities, “No survey or census of Christians or other minorities would be carried out in the state”.
The policemen allegedly had a list of 42 Christian institutes, including Don Bosco School and Pushpanjali Society, in Kheda district. The Don Bosco is a secondary school run for poor students from nearby villages, with 150 boys staying in the boarding. Puspanjali is a medical centre with boarding capacity for 60 girls studying in the school.
The Christian trustees refused to give information for fear of harm at the hands of the fanatic Hindus. The survey of institutions or homes to note down addresses of people on a communal basis are usually a prelude to focused violence against minority communities. believed that Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat state, harboured a xenophobic phobia not only towards the Muslims but also against the Christians.
He was imperious to recognition to Christians’ rights. The Christians constitute about 2.5 per cent of India’s billion population. Surveys were conducted some year ago also when Sangh Parivar stalwarts targeted Christian tribes in the Dangs area. Such surveys are akin to door-to-door survey of Jewish localites in pre-World-War-II Germany.
RSS’s ouburst on Pope’s remarks about anti-conversion laws in India: Let the Christians not forget anti-conversion laws, enacted in several states to bar Hindus from converting to Christianity. The down-trodden (dalit) find Christiantiy a whiff of fresh air out of Hindu caste-based sytem (varna).Indian Express (dateline New Delhi, June 6) reported that the Hindu extremist party, Rashtriya Swayem Sevak Sangh, bitterly criticised the Pope for his alleged remarks against anti-conversion laws in India.
The RSS claimed, “the Pope’s utterances were tantamount to a direct challenge to India and its pluralist tradition” It urged the government ‘‘to register their protest to the head of Vatican for his intemperate remarks on Indian laws’’. At a press conference, RSS spokesman Ram Madhav quoted the Pope as having said to some Indian bishops: ‘‘Unfortunately in some regions, state authorities have yielded to the pressures of extremists and have passed unjust conversion laws’’.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, hailed as a progressive President, had the same psyche as Savarkar. In India Savarkar exhorted Hindus to marshal themselves against a civil war against Muslims
Mr Madhav defended anti-conversion laws promulgated in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. He stressed such laws were needed in other states too ‘‘because the activities of missionaries for converting people to their faith are leading to tensions and posing serious threat to peace and harmony”.
The RSS spokesman justified forced-conversion activities of the VHP and other Hindu bodies. He termed such conversions as ‘‘homecoming’’, bringing back people to the Hindu-fold. The Indian bishops had told the Pope that the anti conversion bills contravene the UNO’s charter of human rights, signed by India also, and protection of religious freedoms as under India’s `secular’ constitution.
Conclusion: Muslims in India are highly stratified. The upper ffluent layer is sold out to ruling party. They never expressed sympathy with Kashmiris under Indian yoke. Similarly, Christians are pathetic to Hindutva onslaught on Indian Muslims. The minorities need to coalesce to avert extinction. The Muslim should learn from the Christian. To ruling Bharatya Janata party’s chagrin, Christians are the second most educated religious group in India after the jain.
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Today, the Christians live all across India, particularly in the South and the southern shore, the Konkan Coast, and Northeastern India. Through sheer hard work, Indian Christians developed niches in all walks of Indian national life. They include former and current chief ministers, governors and chief election commissioners. Christian women outnumber men among the various religious communities in India.
The paradox of belonging to Islam, a religion that is premised on the notion of equality, and at the same time imbibing local traits which affirm inequality has to be admitted. Muslims are segmented into different status categories on the basis of income, occupation, education and lineage.
It is the Muslim himself who can change his lot by following Islam in full. They should resist stratification and demand equality from their community. The Muslim world at large should help them with funds. Unless they are united, they can’t survive Hindutva aggression, manifested in legislation or in social life.
Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been contributing free-lance for over five decades. He is the author of seven e-books. Mr. Jaaved has served Pakistan government for 39 years.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.