Communalism

As India Bolsters Its Anti-Muslim Credo, Where Is Hindu Society's Outrage?

The forcible abortion of a woman who has married a Muslim man should be treated like murder by the state. Yet, not much is being said about it, even by the victims themselves.

As 2020 passes by, two things can be said with certainty about India.

One, the state and nearly all its institutions have made it clear that the Muslims would be treated as subjects and not citizens with rights equal to Hindus.

Second, there is a growing realisation among the Muslims that the task of affirming their rights and rejecting the subjecthood imposed on them is something they cannot abdicate and leave for the future. 

As the state, through various legal instruments, wages a war against Muslim men, there is, unfortunately, no outrage in the wider Hindu society.

The agency of Muslims is being taken away from them and they are being robbed of their autonomy as citizens in multiple ways and they are seen as perpetually unlawful. The very existence of Muslims is now under serious threat in India but no political party thinks that it is as serious an issue as the anti-tiller farm laws. The most recent instance being the so called anti-conversion law of the Uttar Pradesh .  

The travesty of the law was laid bare in the case of Pinki or Muskan and her husband Rashid Ali. 

The miscarriage that a pregnant Pinki suffered  while in the custody of the state should be seen as a definite and decisive change in the relationship between Muslims and the Indian state and its institutions. It is also changing the relationship between Muslims and Hindus. But most of us are not recognising the seriousness of the message from this incident.  

We know that Pinki or Muskan  was forcibly moved to the Nari Niketan after the police arrested her Muslim husband and his brother under the newly enforced Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020. She had married Rashid Ali In July this year, six months prior to the promulgation of the said ordinance.

The union of the couple was their choice. She converted to Islam. 

Also read: An Interfaith Couple Faced Violence, a Miscarriage and Arrest. We Can’t Say ‘No Harm Done’.

The court came to their rescue but only after the police submitted that there was no evidence to prove the allegation of forcible conversion. The young woman was allowed to rejoin her husband after she declared that her marriage had her consent. Rashid and his brother spent 15 days in prison. 

The media reported that Rashid was happy that he was free, “We got married with mutual consent. I have already spent 15 days in jail. But today I am happy as I have been released,” said Rashid after stepping out of the prison. When asked if he felt the police had misused the new law, he chose to keep mum.

That he chose to ‘keep mum’ must worry us. A Muslim’s inability to even express anguish when subjected to injustice has now become routine.   

One must not forget that at least 11 Muslims have been arrested after the ordinance was announced. Hours after the new ordinance came into force, a most absurd arrest was made. Ahmed, a 22-year-old man was arrested as the father of a married woman alleged that he was threatening to kidnap his daughter and convert her. The woman is married and is living with her husband and here is the father alleging that Ahmed wants to convert her after abducting her! The police promptly swings into action, forms several search teams and “nabs”Ahmed.

The latest is the arrest of a Muslim man in Shahjahanpur. A 42-year-old married Hindu woman, a mother of two children, accompanied by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad members went to the police alleging that the man had established a physical relationship with her using a Hindu name and was forcing her to convert with the intention of taking her property. 

The man was promptly arrested and different IPC sections were slapped on him. How do we see this complaint? Are relationships – pre-marital or extra marital – between Hindu women and Muslim men now being tracked by community spies and the vulnerable women blackmailed to charge Muslim men with forcible conversion and abduction?

Muslim men are being placed in an impossible situation. How would he prove that the woman was  lying?      

Also read: There Can Be No Interference If an Adult Woman Marries, Converts With Consent: Calcutta HC

These arrested Muslims are not as fortunate as Rashid and Muskan. Himachal Pradesh has also enacted a similar law. The BJP leaders are demanding it in other states as well. 

Let us return to Muskan.

She has alleged that the doctors and authorities should be held responsible for the miscarriage. First, they denied it, but now that it is confirmed there is no response to the charge made by Muskan. 

The crime is serious. A forcible abortion should be treated like murder. Would the people responsible be held accountable and made to face law? Again, an absurd question. It sounds distasteful but one cannot but remember that one of the main features of the propaganda of marriage between a Muslim man and Hindu woman, which allegedly makes this alliance more sinister, is that the wombs of Hindu women are used to produce Muslims. The reverse is not only allowed but desirable. So, the destruction of a yet-to-be-born Muslim becomes a duty.

These laws have a provision that if one of the couple returns to the ‘parent religion’ or mool dharm, it would not be treated as a crime. One need not guess which religion would get this exalted status of being the original or parent religion of this country. If a Hindu man marries a Muslim woman and she converts to his religion, it would not be a crime under these laws. Instead as we saw in case in Uttar Pradesh, they would get protection from the law.

These laws against marriage for the purpose of conversion are the most potent tool after the anti-cow slaughter laws to criminalise Muslims, primarily Muslim men. The Triple Talaq Act was a precursor in this respect.

It has been pointed out that these laws are against the right to choice, against love, against the agency of Hindu and Dalit women. All this is of course true.

The law will definitely impact them but we also need to remember that it would be only Muslim men who would face criminal charges. It is they who would be jailed. They will have to fight a long battle, ruin themselves and their families to prove their innocence.

The women in question would need to be extraordinarily courageous like Muskan to save their Muslim partners from the Indian state.  Would all Hindu women be able to resist organised groups like the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad? Would they not be forced to criminalise their ‘lovers’ to save their honour or lives?

The anti-conversion law is based on a lie. It says that marriages between Muslim men and Hindu women are done for the purpose of conversion.

We are aware that what happens usually is that such couples are discouraged when they want to use the route of the Special Marriage Act.

Their names are publicised and they become vulnerable as the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal people keep an eye on the marriage registrar offices and track Hindu man-Muslim woman couple applying for marriage. Moreover, such couples have also to save themselves from their own families. The fastest route is therefore conversion.

Marriage in an Arya Samaj mandir or nikah are the easiest way of getting a formal validation of their relationship. To claim that Muslim men marry Hindu women with the aim to convert them is perverted logic. But the courts also accept it.

Also read: In New India, a Muslim Rose Smells Different From a Hindu Rose

The lie in the case of the Triple Talaq Act was visible on its surface. But even progressives went to this government pleading for this law. Muslim men leaving their wives without due process, i.e. using instant triple talaq, would be jailed. What about non-Muslim husbands deserting their wives without any due process? Why do they not fear going to jail?

Muslims have been thus placed in an unequal situation in India with all agencies and laws arranged against them. Their rights as individuals and their rights as members of a religious community are being curtailed consistently.

Lies and deception are being used to do this. But most of us call them anti-constitutional, anti-human, and anti-Indian but cannot muster courage to say that they are anti-Muslim and the fact that the anti-Muslimness of these moves should be sufficient to fight against them.