Archive for October, 2008

“You’re either with us or against us” : A police officer’s plea

This article http://www.indianexpress.com/news/You-re-either-with-us-or-against-us/368483 – an article by an IPS officer defining how the police has a “thankless job” and has to work with either conspiracy theories or flak.

The title of the article – “You’re either with us or against us” – rather sadly, defines the more highlighted muslim mindset, which is mostly a result of third-grade leadership by people like the Imam Bukhari who end up lowering the debate on such national issues, as well as, the intellect of a large sections of the muslim community.

Through our earlier post by Arif Mohammed Khan, we’re hoping to raise the level of this debate, and invite the moderate and sane muslim voice, which is not coming up, or not allowed to come up. A simple reference to the comments posted by muslims on this article at Indian Express’s site, is proof that the moderate and majority of educated muslim voice differs with what the media is highlighting, and what is heard and believed in most of India by Hindus.

We believe there is hope, and all of us, need to work hard in making this sane voice of the general educated muslim heard – a lot more, and a lot louder.

——— The article as appear in Indian Express ————–

Inspector M.C. Sharma of the Delhi Police succumbed to injuries on September 19, after an encounter that also resulted in the deaths of two terrorist suspects.An officer with multiple awards for gallantry, Inspector Sharma died a martyr for the nation.

As a police officer, what is especially distressing to see were media reports about locals protesting the episode as another fake encounter. They were joined by social organisations and NGOs, then vice-chancellors and Union ministers, and now the mainstream media is carrying stories of how it doesn’t all add up. This episode covers all the professional dilemmas that face our police forces as we attempt to take on one of the most significant and well-organised threats to internal security. There is no denying that the modern Indian state faces a very peculiar problem with militant Islamism, especially the home-grown variety. The strategy conventionally used to fight terrorism have to deftly negotiate the minefield that is the politics of religious identity in India. When every act of commission and omission by the police is analysed through the lens of communal politics then the already difficult task of fighting terrorism becomes well nigh impossible.

Listen to the questions being raised one despairs for the fate of a civil society that is unable to distinguish between its violators and defenders. Why were two terrorists killed? Why was one arrested? Why and how did two of them escape? Why did Inspector Sharma die? Why wasn’t he wearing a bulletproof jacket? Let us add up the worst of the conspiracy theories and we get the following scenario. Delhi Police was under pressure from the media and the Government to do something. So they made elaborate plans. A house was rented in a Muslim locality close to a mosque. Three innocent youths were picked up from different places and brought there at some unspecified time which would be corroborated by a ‘local eye witness’. Then two of them were shot dead and the third was arrested so he could testify as an eyewitness against the cops in the murder case that ought to be registered against Sharma and his team. To make the story more believable Sharma was shot dead by his own colleagues. How paranoid does one have to be to believe this theory?We will believe the worst about our men in khaki based on conjecture and propaganda because it is our democratic right and duty not to trust them. And the terrorists whose murderous deeds have been splattered across our TV screens deserve all the benefit of the doubt.It seems to me that the life or death of a policeman is the cheapest commodity in our public life. Unfortunately due to a shameful post-Independence history where the police were not firm with dealing with communal violence and often became a direct party to them, and because of endemic corruption and incompetence and resource constraints, our credibility as upholder of the law stands badly dented. There can be no denying that the real and perceived bias of the police apparatus in India has directly contributed to creating a generation of radicalised Muslim youth. But what is equally obvious is that they are now linked to a transnational militant ideology that aims to weave together the narrative of global revenge for local injustices. Getting rid of this institutional bias is important to win the trust of all minorities though it will not wean back those already radicalised.

There is no denying that the national response to jihadist Terror would entail making difficult and decisive choices, not least between the need for public safety and civil liberties. But one hopes that before it is too late, our civil society can find it within itself to trust the professional police leadership with a key role. Police forces all over the country would need to be backed by a cross party political consensus and a nationwide mandate for action. Perhaps even the constitutional contours of our federal structure would also need to change. Can a national threat be met by a piecemeal response? Our capabilities for targeted surveillance and general monitoring will need to improve, minorities need to be recruited, language skills improved, hitherto absent analytical and profiling capabilities developed and inter agency co-operation regardless of the political differences, would have to become second nature.

Like any other proud police officer I salute the sacrifice of Inspector Sharma. I am sure that he knew, like all of us do, that his khaki uniform may one day ask him to lay down his life in the line of duty. But I am equally, and sadly, sure that the significance of his sacrifice lies immersed with his ashes.

 

“Who Hijacked Jamia” : A different muslim perspective on the issue

This is a wonderful article by Arif Mohammed Khan, citing the poor leadership offered to the Muslim community from self-proclaimed muslim bodies such as the Personal Law Board, Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat and Jamaat-e-Islami. These organisations he says hijack the core muslim agenda, often backed by shameless political patronage, just as had happened in the Shah Bano case.

Khan talks about the boycott of sane voices in the muslim community such as Mushirul Hasan, who was boycotted for expressing his opinion that banning Satanic Verses would only increase its sales. Ofcourse this same fundamentalism has entered the hindu mindset as well now.

Khan goes on to seal the case with:

The most important Muslim organisation operating from the Jamia neighborhood is the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and its affiliates. During their agitation against the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Shah Bano case, the members of AIMPLB made public exhortations to break the legs of Muslims who differed with their stand. Their supporters went to the extent of suggesting that Supreme Court judges are not competent to interpret Muslim personal law….
Such activities of these Muslim outfits are as much a source of consternation to common Muslims as they are to other Indians. Occasionally some Muslims raise their voice but they lose nerve when they see the political promiscuity and influence enjoyed by these extremist elements.

We would invite the muslim readers of this article (or the artile at Indian Express http://www.indianexpress.com/news/look-who-hijacked-jamia/367985/), who agree broadly with the case Mr. Khan presents , to comment and have your opinion heard. This would help raise the level of discourse on what the muslim community feels about the current Jamia Nagar case, and in general on the agenda of the conspiracy theorists who are abound, and mostly whose voices are heard.

——— The article as appear in Indian Express ————–

“And fear tumult or oppression, which affects not in particular only those of you who do wrong. And know that God is strict in punishment.” (Quran, 8.25)Ibn Katheer commenting on this verse has quoted a Prophetic tradition saying that “if a people, despite being strong and numerous, do nothing to stop those men among them who do wrong, then they will be surrounded with punishment”.

History is full of instances showing how a small group of people or individuals by their odious acts have inconvenienced the communities they belong to.

Today the Muslims as a community are passing through a difficult period on account of the activities of terrorists who shamelessly use religion to justify their crimes.

A common Muslim, like his compatriots, is busy earning his daily bread and raising the family. With increased awakening about modern education, good numbers of Muslim families from rural areas have moved to urban centres to ensure education for their wards. A casual survey of the families living in Jamia Nagar will show that the majority of them hail from villages and depend for their income on rural sources. In many cases it is only the mothers and children who are living here, while the men spend most of their time in native places to arrange the necessary means for the family to carry on in Delhi. Their only concern is a safe and peaceful environment congenial for academic pursuit.On the other hand, attracted by this large population, more than two dozen Muslim outfits have established themselves in this neighbourhood taking upon them the responsibility to lead and organise the religious and social life of the community. They include organisations like the Personal Law Board, Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat and Jamaat-e-Islami. None of these organisations is known for promoting social reform or education. Most of the time they are competing with each other in crying wolf and pressing the need to fight against imagined threats to the Muslim religion and identity. Occasionally they also succeed in securing positions of power for their nominees and this political patronage helps them to widen their network in the community.

If we look at some important events of the past then an idea can be formed about the activities and mindset that is promoted by these organisations.

After the official ban on The Satanic Verses, Mushirul Hasan, the present vice chancellor and then teacher in the history department of Jamia, said in an interview to a weekly that a ban on the book would only boost its sales and increase the circulation of the objectionable writing. His remarks were not in support of the book, its contents or the writer, yet they provoked an angry and violent protest inside the campus. The Muslim outfits worked overtime to instigate and excite the feelings resulting in a situation where despite continuing on the rolls of the university Mushirul Hasan could not enter the campus for more than three long years.During the war in Afghanistan, public expressions of solidarity with Osama bin Laden were made and posters in his support were pasted in the area by some self-appointed champions of Muslim interests. This was done despite the knowledge that Osama and Al-Qaeda were directly involved in Terror activities in Kashmir. I remember having met many Muslims from Jamia Nagar who expressed their utter indignation over the episode and felt sorry for not being able to oppose these undesirable activities.

In 1990, Prof Mushirul Haq, the vice chancellor of Kashmir University, was killed by terrorists in Srinagar. Since he was an old teacher of Jamia, his burial took place inside the campus. As an academician I had held him in great esteem and during the Shah Bano controversy had sought his opinion on several occasions. I went to attend his last rites and walked almost a kilometre with the funeral procession. After reaching the burial ground suddenly the lights went out and in that darkness I was attacked with an iron rod, causing head injury. Later, inquiries revealed that the students who had organised the blackout and attack belonged to the Jamaat-e-Islami. It is important to recall that the banned organisation, SIMI, was mostly manned by young activists inspired by philosophies like that of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

The other organisation with headquarters in this area is Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat. On the slightest provocation they would call for a boycott of celebrations of Independence Day or Republic Day giving rise to communal tension. It is true that on every occasion they had withdrawn the calls, but that did not help in lessening the tension.

The most important Muslim organisation operating from the Jamia neighborhood is the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and its affiliates. During their agitation against the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Shah Bano case, the members of AIMPLB made public exhortations to break the legs of Muslims who differed with their stand. Their supporters went to the extent of suggesting that Supreme Court judges are not competent to interpret Muslim personal law.It is important to recall that during parliamentary discussion of the bill that was brought in to negate the impact of the Supreme Court judgment, almost every minister who rose to defend the measure referred to the apprehensions of threats to law and order arising on account of an aggressive and violent agitation.

Such activities of these Muslim outfits are as much a source of consternation to common Muslims as they are to other Indians. Occasionally some Muslims raise their voice but they lose nerve when they see the political promiscuity and influence enjoyed by these extremist elements.

The establishment must realise that the police can fight terrorists, not terrorism. Terrorism can be contained only by a strong political will that identifies and isolates individuals and organisations promoting a violent mindset and does not favour them with political patronage.