Undercurrent of 2019 - Uprising against Bullying by Muslims
Results of General Elections (2019) to Indian Parliament have surprised many observers (including yours truly). There was widespread resentment against government on account of demonetization and various economic issues. But all economic issues seem to have been pushed away by something that large numbers of voters think is even more worrisome. Surely, the unimpressive ragtag opposition contributed to building up the TINA (there is no alternative) but the key factor that led to massive victory for Modi-Shah combine is something that is an almost unspeakable subject.
A few years back I listened to a YouTube video of Tarak Fatah, the founder of Muslim Canadian Congress. Tarak said that bullying by Muslims in India is widespread. He said that in no other country where Muslims are a minority, Muslims engage in such widespread and often institutionalized bullying of the majority community. He said that in no European or American country call to prayers is allowed to be conveyed on loudspeakers five times a day. In India even if just five per cent of population in a locality consists of Muslims, the Muslims will build a mosque and early morning before dawn everyone in the locality will be woken up by the loudspeakers calling people to pray at the mosque. Will Muslims consider giving such a right to Hindus or Christians or Jains or Buddhists in a locality where Muslims are more than seventy per cent of the population? No, never! Can one imagine a Hindu temple in Srinagar or Lahore putting on a loudspeaker in a similar fashion?
Bullying by Muslims in various localities across India is a harsh reality that all non-Muslims face almost every day. Throwing garbage on a 'kafir', spitting on spotless clean clothes of a non-Muslim, encroachment on lands, eve-teasing of Hindu girls are some of the more common forms of bullying that all non-Muslims experience as and when the Muslim population in the locality increases to a significant level. Pandits were forced to move out of Kashmir by such acts of Kashmiri Muslims.
Unfortunately, post-independence Indian political class coddled the Muslims with an eye on their votes ignoring much of their bullying. Law and order machinery has been seen as helpless in countering the bullying by Muslims. In some cases, the state has bent backwards to grant them special privileges (like in case of call to prayers by loudspeakers) in the name of secularism. Bending backwards extends to ridiculous levels. For example, every tax official of the country knows that a businessman living in a Muslim majority locality cannot be raided or searched.
In West Bengal and other states on India-Bangladesh border, the demographic profile of many villages changed with illegal migration of Muslims from Bangladesh. Bangaldeshi Muslims have joined the Indian Muslims in rampant harassment of all non-Muslims. In any village where Muslims become a significant percentage (not majority) of the population, they make it impossible to hold Hindu community festivals like Durga pooja. Kidnapping of Hindu girls becomes a common occurrence in such villages. Businesses of Hindus in such villages are burnt down or conditions are created making it impossible for them to operate. Sadly, all political parties except BJP either turned a blind eye to this informal persecution of non-Muslims by Muslims or went out of their way to protect the perpetrators. Police not registering complaints by Hindus against Muslims is normal and well-accepted fact of life.
Most political parties of India compete with each other to shower goodies on Muslims. There are special scholarship schemes for Muslim students. There are special finance schemes for Muslim entrepreneurs. It was not too long ago that the Prime Minister of India declared that Muslims have the first claim on resources of India. Hindu and Christian politicians routinely organize fast-breaking parties in the month of Ramadan while Muslims refuse to participate in anything that appears remotely Hindu for example, saying Vande Matram. No family planning or condom advertisement in India can show a Muslim couple. If a Muslim does a terrorist act, it is not Islamic terrorism – it is terrorism without religion. But if a Hindu does terrorism, it is Hindu or saffron terrorism. A political assassination by a Hindu is terrorism while killing of large numbers of Brahmins of Maharashtra is an expression of people's anger. You see the long lengths to which Indian political class has gone to care for the sentiments of the Muslims who are a minority that must be cared for because that is what democracy is all about. And of course, one is not allowed to argue that Muslims themselves never give such rights to minorities in countries or regions where Muslims are in majority. So talking of Hindu or Buddhist or even Shia rights in Sunni dominated Jammu and Kashmir is sacrilege of democracy.
All this has been building resentment in the mind and hearts of Hindus, Christians, Jains and Buddhists (probably, even among Shias, Bohras and other sects of Muslims for Sunni Muslims who are the dominant sect among Indian Muslims) across the country. It is important to understand that the resentment to bullying by Muslims is not hatred for Muslims. Every non-Muslim in India has Muslim friends and there is no tension in the relationship.
Bullying is a collective phenomenon which is carried out actively by a small percentage of the Muslims but is tacitly supported by the vast majority of Muslims. Essentially, harassment by Muslims tends to be a collective phenomenon which is rarely seen at the level of one-to-one interaction of Muslims with non-Muslims, who know each other. It may also be mentioned here that the bullying is harming the community extensively. The community is being pushed into ghettos. Their integration with other communities at the level of normal interactions has reduced and the Muslims are getting impoverished as a result. Unfortunately, the Muslim community has no non-religious social leaders. The imams and such religious leaders of Muslims are not interested in promoting a healthy integration of Muslims with other communities. Their vision of Islam in India is neither secular nor inclusive of any other communities.
It is important to understand that the resentment to bullying by Muslims is not the same as Hindutva or Hindu renaissance or Hindu political revival. Congress made the mistake of thinking that they could get votes by becoming a soft-Hindu party. Their President, Rahul Gandhi, declared himself to be a holy-thread-wearing-Brahmin. Their leader, Digvijay Singh, visited more temples than his opponent, Sadhwi Pragya Singh during his election campaign at Bhopal. All this failed to produce any results for Congress since the masses are not inclined to become any more devout Hindus than they already are. The people of India are not really bothered whether their leader goes to temple once every day or every month or not at all.
The key factor for the massive victory of Modi-Shah combine is not Hindutva or allegiance to some shade of saffron movement. Indian masses remain secular in their political outlook but are not willing to put up with the rampant on-your-face bullying by Muslims. In one of its forms, Islam is a political movement which emphasizes dominance of Muslims over non-Muslims. This version or face of Islam is not acceptable to Indians (including many Muslims) across the country. Indians have no problems with the softer versions and faces of Islam. Sufi music is popular among youth of all religions. Hindus and Christians do not mind visiting holy shrines of Muslim saints. However, blatant aggressive attempts by Muslims to declare their dominance or to put down everyone else are pain-points that Indians are not willing to tolerate any further.
Hindus, Christians, Jains and Buddhists across India want the political parties of India to put an end to bullying or harassment or persecution by Muslims and also to stop coddling or appeasement of Muslims. Police protection to Muslims violating laws must end at all costs. Police must come down with a strong hand on all cases of inter-religious bullying or harassment. Muslim ghettos must no longer be no-go zones for police, tax and other government officials. Indians do not wish to persecute Muslims, but in the same measure Indians do not want to become second class citizens in their own country. Secularism that allows all non-Muslims to be treated like dirt must be modified.
This mindset of Indians finds no expression in media, whether mainstream or social. In fact, bullying by Muslims across India is not even spoken of. A Google search on "Muslim bullying in India" throws up only some articles about difficulties faced by Muslim teenagers growing up in an increasingly intolerant India. Liberals and intellectuals of India have failed to articulate the fears and emotions of majority of the people of India and have thus lost contact with the big undercurrent that shaped the election results of year 2019. They have instead created a narrative which is entirely based either on their own biases against saffronization of India or their utopian notions of non-violent co-existence.
The mismatch between the narrative and real situation on ground has further fueled resentment and anger among vast majority of the Indian masses. Modi-Shah combine and BJP seem to be the only group willing to stand up and cage the tiger of Muslim Bullying. This seems to me the key factor for immense support that they have received across the country. High time that other political formations understand this and rework their political messages and ideologies!