The current upsurge in the wave of anti-minorityism (read anti-Muslims) has partially to do with growing terror attacks in India as its reaction, and partially to the BJP’s political compulsion to expand and retain its core constituency.
The current article deals with minorities’ psyche and ghettoization of their habitats….
India is an ancient land of sages, seers and snakes, mosques and mazars (mausoleums), temples and monasteries, gurduwara and churches. A sea of devotees always found cramming around temples and dargahs. We’re highly religious still we consider bribe as dakshina (offerings). We are mostly vegetarian and avoid trampling even the smallest of creatures – ants, spider and many other arthropods, under our feet. Still without any remorse we kill our fellow brethren – in the name of caste, creed, sect, race, region and language.
My granny used to say, ‘Jiskee laathi uski jeet, yehi hai duniya ki reet.’ (The principle of might is right still prevails). The world around us believes in the dictum, ‘mighty enjoys the right to survive and rule.’ This pushes us in highly painful predicament. Power tussle leads to intense tremor with a prowess to uproot social foundations. And terrorism is an inseparable offshoot of aggressive power play. Kashmir is an ideal example of this unfortunate ongoing. The peace and tranquility has lost into the labyrinth of Indo-Pak peace deliberations. Kashmir separatism has sprouted from the delay in its solution. And adding woes to our miseries, the highhandedness of our security forces have inflated it beyond imagination.
Blasts in our cities have ripped up India’s soul. Ironically, our police wake up from deep slumber of inaction post tragedy. It has become a routine phenomenon. With a little cosmetic frenzy it tries to sieve out culprits – mopping/combing operation (a common administrative jargon that has almost become a cliché) carried out at select ghettos. Few arrests made – that later turn out to be big fiasco, at least high percentage of these, once reaching inside the court’s precinct. A telephone operator in a minority-dominated locality once innocuously asked me, ‘Why do they arrest only us?’ ‘If they knew the perpetrators were hiding in a particular locality why didn’t they incarcerate them prior to the tragedy?’ He asked impatiently.
Our experience of life is determined by the framework around our society. The minorities, particularly the Muslims are pigeonholed as pan chewing, bearded persons donning kurta-pajama and cap. On the contrary, there are many who work in ‘modern’ workstations like their Hindu or Christian brothers in branded attires frequenting malls and mc Donalds. However the above stereotype of ‘Paan-Pajama’ is the outcome of the prejudiced thinking of the people.
The ‘demonization’ of Muslims as trigger-happy ultras has found its resonance in several terror attacks that bled India white. The sin of a few hotheads may invite Islamophobic backlash, if the proponents of Hindutva are not reined in timely. Muslims’ condition in India suffers battering due to lack of proper articulation of their problems by their leaders as they seem to be more interested in getting their votes. They hardly care for their education as well as their socio-economic upliftment.
Remember the history of Nazi Germany of 30s. Like Jews, Muslims in India too started living in the same ghettoized habitats – as insecurity in the ‘alien’ locality compels them to cram the overpopulated Muslims dominated area – nibbling at the scarce amenities, space, water, electricity and drainage. Even if an affluent Muslim visits a cosmopolitan locale in order to hire a flat, he is politely suggested to try in ‘Muslim-areas’. Moreover, living in such claustrophobic milieu normally leads to ‘parochial’ mindset as habitats have their bearing on social behavior. Lack of regular employment, inadequate education as well as a piercing sense of socio-financial insecurity push them in a vortex of perversion – the outcome mostly witnessed as crime. The entire ghetto resembles moth-eaten part of a tree – becomes breeding ground for crime, gambling, matka operation, prostitution and extortionists. The civilized lots – those who are mostly immigrants (Biharis, Bhaiyyas from UP, few from the interiors of Maharashtra, south Indians and Bengalis) are either the handicraft businessmen or bag manufacturers – remain the silent lot. They never dare to come out openly against this unfortunate development. Occasionally, we find policemen dragging out criminals who fail to acquiesce with their demand of hafta, beating mercilessly while taking them to police stations. The men, women, old and young remain mute spectators – gawking at the incident with terror and trepidation. The area also gets smitten with prostitution bug.
The local politician exploit the situation in their favor – the curious mix of different regional and linguistic groups suffering from paranoia finds in the local heavyweight their ‘messiah’ as ‘he’ enjoys good ‘contacts’ with the local police as well as the ‘higher-ups’. He is basically the ‘trouble-shooter’ or ‘nodal man’ of someone who is a big shot in politics. He breathes under his secure warmth. And the biggie, in turn, provides help in time of ‘crises’. This symbiotic relationship pays rich dividend – the slum dwellers feels safe while the slumlord/politician carves out secure vote bank. This impromptu ‘gerrymandering’ of constituency has changed political trajectories of many politicos. Shiv Sena makes it issue in every successive elections. The rise of Abu Asim Azmi and Owaisis iare also linked to this.