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Muslims Must Refuse to Be Killed

Muslims must say that they are here to stay, that nobody has a right to tell them to leave the country, that they will live here with their Muslim-ness just as Hindus live with their Hindu-ness and think that it is the only Indian way.

Young men brandishing arms march past a mosque in Bengal during Ram Navami. Credit YouTube screengrab

File photo of young men brandishing arms march past a mosque in Bengal during Ram Navami. Credit YouTube screengrab

Muslims must refuse to be killed. I know what I am saying sounds bizarre but this is exactly what needs to be done. The police and the civil administration no longer seem interested in preventing their murder but, on the contrary, busy themselves in making such murders look like a two-way affair. While they cannot ignore the fact that there is a mutilated body before them and they are forced to register FIRs, they immediately balance it by filing a counter FIR which implicates the murdered in the act of his own killing.

In cases where the murder has yet not been accomplished, they act as a stand by. If the target has somehow escaped, they use their lawful coercive power to force the game to come back to the hunters. We have seen it just now in Jaipur, where a hotel worker was brought back to the hotel to be beaten up collectively.

Lower courts don’t look interested in their side of the story and if not dead then they could well end up in police or judicial custody for the crime of possessing a particular type of meat – even though no law may actually exist to that effect.

The doors of the Supreme Court have just been knocked but it is doubtful if the judges there would be able to appreciate the urgency of the life and death situation Muslims in India are facing.

That is why I believe Muslims will have to stand up and declare collectively that they are no longer going to give the right to decide their fate to others – that they refuse to die like Pahlu Khan and Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi in Rajasthan, Zahid Ahmed in Jammu, Majloom Ansari and Imtiyaz Khan in Jharkhand, Mohammed Akhlaq in Uttar Pradesh, Mustain Abbas in Haryana.

Muslims have no other option since the violence against them has not stirred the kind of collective social and political response that one would expect in a society that is meant to be governed by the rule of law. No political party in India, not eve those who swear by secularism, has the courage any longer to call the murders by their name, to say that Muslims are being killed because they are Muslims.

Various kinds of intellectual detours are being taken by politicians and, regrettably, by a section of the media in their nightly ‘debates’. It is said that mobs are ‘spontaneously’ attacking Muslims, or that the violence was a case of ‘mistaken identity’, that the violence was an expression of ‘legitimate historical anger’ that took an ‘unfortunate’ turn. But no political party has the guts and honesty to say that these killings and assaults are not spontaneous, that a long, well-planned, cynical hate campaign is behind the formation of these lynch mobs. Nobody asks how is it that cutting across the linguistic and cultural diversity of India, it is a Muslim who gets identified and attacked everywhere.

The harsh fact is that India’s legislators and parliamentarians seem to have deserted the country’s Muslims. The killing and brutalisation of Muslims fails to interrupt the routine business of our legislatures.

Muslims have invested heavily in Indian democracy. They are used to speaking like Indians and not as Muslims, for whenever they say that they are being denied resources or security or representation or justice because of their religion they are accused of speaking in communal and divisive language.

Muslims are the only community in India who have to bear the indignity of their newborn being seen as a potential threat to the culture and even security of this country.

After each census, even well meaning analysts and demographers rush to assure Hindus that they will not be overtaken by Muslims. What kind of a country is this in which a Muslim birth is not celebrated, is always seen with suspicion?

Since these days India’s Muslim citizens seem to have developed the habit of being regularly targeted by mobs, they would very soon lose the interest of the media because proprietors and editors will say it is very boring to keep reporting deaths which are of the same kind.

So, Muslims will need to say that we live here not by the mercy of anyone but because this land belongs to them as much as it does to India’s Hindus or Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and others.

They will have to declare that nobody – and no state – has a right to tell them what to eat and how to worship, nobody has the right to insult and humiliate them. They will have to say that it was a solemn promise made to them through the constitution that they would be accorded all rights which make a life human. To break this promise is criminal.

Muslims will have to tell the Hindus – the ordinary followers of the religion, and the politicians who say Hindus are benevolent ‘elder brothers’ to the minorities – that when attacked under one pretext or another, they expected them to extend their hands in support and solidarity and not to turn their face away.

Muslims must say that they are here to stay, that nobody has a right to tell them to leave the country, that they will live here with their Muslim-ness just as Hindus live with their Hindu-ness and think that it is the only Indian way, that they are not at all ashamed of their Holy place not being in this land. All this they’ll have to do. But to begin with, they will have to say that they refuse to be murdered and ask the parliament and the judiciary to take note of this resolve.

Apoorvanand teaches Hindi at Delhi University

  • K SHESHU BABU

    The sentence ‘ Muslims must refuse to be killed’ may be an isolated one as long as they are not provided ‘ arms’ to resist killing. Often, a single or a small group of Muslims are attacked by a large frenzy mob of vigilantes. The Muslims find themselves helpless. To protect them, an ‘ army’ of people, mainly ‘ secular hindus’ must form in every Muslim residing colony and protect them from attacks. Since, little can be expected from police or administration, the secular hindus’ should be ready with legal and moral support and resistance groups to quell mob attacks .

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    Good essay, Mr Apoorvanand, though I am sure you must be well aware that you are about to be viciously attacked in the Comments section by those same “intellectual detours” that you mentioned!
    You know that there’s something horribly wrong with a nation’s “collective conscience” when a man’s life is considered less precious than a cow’s, and acts that are obviously murder are sought to be explained or even justified by inhuman rationalizations (“spontaneous reaction” or “mistaken identity”, or – worst of all – “cow is the holiest beacon of Hindu culture”).
    The same “collective conscience” that demanded justice for Nirbhaya is cravenly silent when it comes to the murder of Muslims in the name of the cow.
    So, when you write “Muslims must say…”, will anyone even listen to them?
    No – because our “collective conscience” is conveniently discriminatory and chooses to stay asleep when Muslims are murdered.
    No – because speaking up against minority injustice is now known as “pseudo-secular minority appeasement”.
    No – because in the Hindutva majoritarian social hierarchy, minorities have been pushed below the holy cow.
    And no – because our new found Hindu machismo has drained us of humanity and empathy.
    All that Muslims can do now is wring their hands in despair and wish they had migrated to Pakistan 70 years ago.

  • Amitabha Basu

    We respect Apoorvanand’s exhortation to the Muslims, but we, the majority Hindus, must first ask ourselves : When the state, police, administration and to a large extent even the courts have deserted the Muslim community, must we not stand up for them and fight alongside them to stop the brutal genocide that the Sanghis are unleashing upon them ?

    • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

      YES. And one way to stand up for them is to voice our dissent, write it down – just as we are doing in this Comments section. Because too many are silently allowing this to happen.

  • AarisMohammed

    I differ with the heading on two fronts : 1. This is a selective denial of basic human rights to the Citizens and it eventually becomes the duty of elite / intellectual / Secular / law abiding citizens to raise voice against this “Selective” killing / Atrocities / Demonization / Terrorizing / silencing a community as the country we are living in is not on a monolithic culture / language / tradition / etc and the agenda of making it one on the premise of any one of the variables is a threat to the innumerable Communities that has their own culture, practices and living styles. This needs to be realized by each Community as they will the victims of tomorrow if not today either in the name of “Beef” or some other factor.
    2. The community which is already yielding not only due to Politics of hate in a Geographical area but also due to Geopolitical dynamics beyond many variables by default can’t refute but destined to subjugate.

  • wagatail

    While it may be a truism to say that muslims must fight back in some way, the tragedy is that most muslims of India are too poor and vulnerable to be able to do so. The goon squads have money power, as well as the support of the state. Any resistance by the muslims will be picked up by a hostile media and police to charge sheet innocent muslims and implicate them in endless court cases. It is this which makes it possible for violence against the poor, the dalits, tribals and muslims to be carried out with impunity. We are a brutal society and no amount of PR can whitewash the violence we inflict on our own brethren.

    • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

      Well said. I fully agree with your view here.

  • Rohini

    Who has written in eloquent terms about the brutal massacre of 40+ people in a coptic christian church in Egypt on Palm Sunday? Muslim extremists targeted a small, very small minority called Coptic Christians on Palm Sunday , one of the holiest days of the year for Xtians , in their own church. I saw a picture of the inside of the church – red blood all over the white floor, what looks like pieces of flesh..utter inhuman devastation unleashed by the followers of a particular religion upon people because they follow a different religion.
    I don’t know so much about Muslims refusing to be killed – it sounds to me like it’s everyone else in the world who must refuse to be killed, going by the mounting evidence.
    The utter silence around this barbaric act in media in India is shocking……I found out about this from a Middle eastern newspaper that carried a horrifying headline on the front page with a picture of the inside of the church that chilled my blood! No Indian newspaper has carried this as front page news and the headlines have been diluted to reduce the impact of the real horror of it- that of Muslim extremists bombing a Coptic Christian church on Palm Sunday, leaving more than 40 DEAD..it’s barbaric. It’s the very epitome of communal hatred.
    I am so sad this morning…so very very sad at the brutality of the hate. And now, I read this complete bollocky piece with people making supporting clicks of the tongue in the comments section! All about protecting cows! For heaven’s sake, get some perspective, Indians.
    There has been no piece dripping with outrage about this inhuman attack on Egyptian Christians! No black outs on the Eiffel tower or no blackened DPs on Fb/twitter, and neither has there been a change of FB pics to the Eyptian flag (sarcasm intended). Instead, I see tripe like this essay!
    I cannot describe the effect of seeing the Egypt attack headline first thing in the morning when out on a walk. I feel hollow inside. Cow politics cannot come close. Am saddened and angry and I am showing it.

    • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

      Cow POLITICS? No, no longer is it mere politics. It has become violent, taken lives and proudly graduated to cow TERRORISM. Forgive me for saying this, but I think YOU are the one who should get your “head out the sand”, madam.
      Do you seriously think that Islamic fundamentalism is the only fundamentalism there is and its rising Hindu counterpart a figment of liberal secular imagination?

      • Rohini

        sir,..indeed we need serious action against the people who are acting as vigilantes in the name of the cow. Modi and his cohorts or quasi factions of the Rss had betr reign in these characters or it will turn against them. It cannot be tolerated. No sane person can support the violence and thuggery in the name of the cow. Most people I know are very angry about what is happening and will think twice about the BJP if this clear deviation from the development agenda continues. The BJP is mistaken if it believes Hindus will band behind thugs and violence in the name of the religion.if they do not change course very obviously, they are likely to be mighty surprised in 2019.
        But your version of terrorism is quite different from the world’s version, I am afraid
        I dont say it..the UN does. look it up.

        • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

          Madam – peace. The two of us have dominated this comments section and it’s unfair on others who may also like to comment. Lets leave it at this and give others a chance.
          Always great to cross verbal swords with you – thanks!

          • Rohini

            hahaha 😉 THAT is a VERY funny comment but I do enjoy talking to you, always. You are always respectful and do a give and take. Though you have been very unfair to me by questioning whether i would condemn the violence in the name of the cow.
            It IS possible to be non-partisan, wouldn’t you agree sir?

          • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

            Madam, if I have been unfair, then I apologize. You have indeed condemned the violence and I know you care as much as any of us.
            And yes, it IS possible to be non-partisan. All of us MUST be non-partisan for the good of our nation, when it comes to condemnation of violence and loss of lives.
            Anyway – now lets get off this comments section, or we shall be disbarred forever by The Wire! Goodbye.

    • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

      Btw, an article on the Egypt church attack has just being published by The Wire. And the Egyptian president al-Sisi has certainly being more impressive in his verbal response to it than our own PM has been to Muslim deaths from cow violence – the normally eloquent Modi has been silent. In fact, going by the response of the central government, the violence and death in Rajasthan might not have happened at all. They too seem to have their heads in the sand!

      • Rohini

        no factual cause counters, as usual. The barbaric act I pointed out is a mere diversion to you…interesting.
        Instead, you are outraged that I refuse to fawn over this ridiculous article.
        and thank you for observing that I hold independent viewpoints based on facts on these boards. I can see why that would be a problem for the likes of you – data is so hard to deny, isn’t it.
        good luck in your echo chamber.

        • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

          No madam, I am outraged that you DONT condemn the innocent lives lost in Rajasthan, or UP or elsewhere, in the name of cow protection and right wing extremism in general. Lives that were as innocent as those lost in Egypt.

      • Rohini

        an article has ju let been published..yes? Where is the outrage? And iota of what drips out with handwringing on these boards?
        Mere condemnation for this bararous act?
        If you have a problem with the way the PMs office responds to various issues in the country, please write to them.i am sure that would be more useful than saying it here in response comment that you have no real response to or on the internet. Not much I can do about it.

        • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

          Madam, “hard hitting analysis and questioning” of Islamic fundamentalist ideology has already been done many times over the years in numerous books and articles. It has been questioned, condemned, and is now being fought on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria. So what’s new to be said here?
          Does every article denouncing Hindu majoritarian violence that is published in The Wire need to start with the tag line that “The author is not a hypocrite and denounces Islamist fundamentalism” for it to have credibility? Do you think everyone who denounces Hindu right wing extremism condones Islamic fundamentalism?
          Yes, I do have a problem with the way the PMO responds, and I will deal with it in my way.

    • delta1980

      The tragedy in Egypt on Palm Sunday is despicable and has been universally condemned. That however is not the scope of this article. Its a by now, familiar route of diversion that you take for every article on The Wire which criticises right wing extremism. You don’t discuss the concerns raised in the article rather you mention a completely unrelated event and ask why the author hasn’t mentioned that event instead. Its getting tiresome and is not fooling anyone.

      • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

        Indeed yes, you are absolutely correct. It is one of the “intellectual detours” that this article mentions and a very popular method these days of defending the indefensible, or not condemning what must be condemned. Proves the article right, ironically.

        • Rohini

          intellectual detours…? You mean facts that counter your narratives?

          • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

            My narrative, madam? That a person lost his life in Rajasthan due to violence perpetrated by cow vigilantes is not fact? That Muslims have got killed elsewhere in the country in the name of cow protection is not fact? You seem to be in the same denial mode as our government, which is not surprising since you have made it clear where your support lies, madam.

        • Rohini

          dear Gonsalves…by calling put the position of author as foolish, does it mean one does not condemn what must be condemned? Cheerleading is not a useful trait.

      • Rohini

        the scope of this article is how “muslims must refuse to be killed”.
        I am astounded at this exhortation.
        Using the most recent example of a bombing of Christians by Islamists in murderous hate ( without going into facts of the last 2-3 years for a short term perspective) I have raised the point that it is clear that it is others who need to refuse to be killed.
        That is a counter to the ridiculous position this article.
        btw, Nigerian girls were kidnapped again by Boko Haram.
        which is er…Islamic. To be imprisoned, raped, tortured and converted by forcible marriage..to ..er..Islam. Shall we ask them to ‘refuse to be raped tortured and converted” per this cheerleading squad here and Apporvannd? And covering your bases by popping in terms like ”
        intellectual detours” to nullify expected criticism of this article is not very clever…its the refugee of the intellectually weak and dishonest who cannot answer criticism which is based on fact.

  • subhasis ghosh

    “Gandhian Islam”? Is that phrase not an oxymoron?

  • Khemraj

    Author seems too much outraged by incident; but such articles becomes insignificant since author loses all credibility when they become selective in picking such incidents. Don’t know about Muslim birth being celebrated or not, but Muslim death is grieved not just in India but all over World. If similar fate happened to a Hindu, incident would have been lost in local newspapers. Being born in majority community definitely comes up with some cost. Forget about national concern, secular authors wouldn’t even think it worth writing. Seems like Hindu majority can afford such losses but minorities can’t. If you condemn religious persecution, do it everywhere.

  • Rohini

    Nice rhetoric. And useless, I might add.
    And yes, I AM being judged for being a Hindu – all the time.
    IF you are a HIndu, you would know. Since you are not (most likely, going by your name, and I apologise for taking this approach), you cannot know, can you?

  • Rohini

    Is this article about cow vigilantism? Ah, it isn’t. Great. Now, go find an article about cow vigilantism, and perhaps I might have commented on it..you can enlighten yourself. Since you seem SO worried about what I, specifically, think and seem to attach so much importance to my views, you must take the trouble to look up my comemnts on varous topics. I suggest you stop trolling me, delta. Not one of your comments adds value to the discussion.

  • Rohini

    I have found the Wire better than most when it comes to such censorship. They tend to allow the freedom to comment.

  • Rohini

    why stop, delta? Since your comments add so much value with their original thinking, and since they carry the conversation forward in different directions. Please, don’t stop. Carry on. Trolling must offer you some solace, which is no doubt why you do it.

  • Rohini

    “Touched a nerve did I. You troll many authors of articles on this website but in the finest traditions of the right wing, you can dish it out but cant allow anyone to question your views in return.”

    I request the Wire to check if this sort of argument that is wanted on this website. Is it ok for a Delta to get personal, call me names and impute positions and motives to me given that both he and I are unknown to each other. Or is it the intention of the website to promote fruitful comments and thread? How did his past few comments get past the moderator?
    Is there a way in which offensive and trolling comments that are extremely personal in nature – as the ones above by Delta – which contribute nothing to the discussion except to degenerate into a dirty argument – can be reported?
    Please, can the wire have a report button for comments? for e.g., the Guardian has one..its very useful.

  • Rohini

    I fond no value in engaging with you, so I am blocking you. Please take bullying elsewhere. I don’t engage with giga-trolls.

  • kujur bachchan

    An honest acknowledgement of prevailing reality.