Plight of Indian Muslims: What we can learn from APJ Kalam and not Hamid Ansari

Balbir Punj
Balbir PunjAug 25, 2017 | 10:32

Plight of Indian Muslims: What we can learn from APJ Kalam and not Hamid Ansari

I had the privilege of serving as a member of the Rajya Sabha (2008-14) while Hamid Ansari was the presiding officer. He conducted himself with finesse, tact, and grace during his decade-long tenure. His parting remarks, therefore, came as a shock, if not surprise.

In his interview to the Rajya Sabha TV and also while addressing the convocation of the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru, Ansari made two points — that cultural nationalism is an “illiberal form of nationalism”, and fear and unease were growing among “Dalits, Muslims and Christians” in India.


For now one can ignore his remarks about how Dalits and Christians feel. But whatsoever Ansari said about Muslims feeling “insecure” in India is indeed true. Sadly it’s not the complete truth but only a half-truth — more dangerous than a total lie.


Obviously, he cannot be speaking for all the 200 million odd Muslims of the country. Of course, there is a large section of Muslims feeling insecure in India. But is there any part of the globe where one or the other section of Muslims does not feel insecure or alienated from the country of their origin or residence?

Do Muslims feel safe in the US or China? In spite of growing bonhomie between socialist China and Islamic Pakistan, Muslims are at war with the state in the Xinjiang province of China. Why? Muslims have serious problems with all the countries of Europe and they express their resentment through periodic incidents of violence. Thursday night there was yet another terror strike in the picturesque town of Barcelona in Spain which claimed over a dozen innocent lives and left over a hundred injured.

From 1970 to 2016, in Europe, 5,215 people have died from bombings 2,463 from assassinations, 2,270 from assaults, 957 from hostage situations, 183 from hijacking, and 88 from building attacks. They were all victims of the “frustration and anger” of enraged Muslims who suffer from a sense of “insecurity”. Well, that is the usual explanation.


The situation is worse in our neighbourhood (Pakistan and Afghanistan) where Muslims are over 95 per cent of the total population. The minorities (Hindus and Sikhs), living long before the arrival of Islam there, have virtually been liquidated. In both these countries, sections of Muslims continue to feel “insecure” and resort to violence either against the state or each other. The killers and their victims, both, swear by Islam!

Look at the figures from Iraq. Last year, 16,393 civilians lost their lives and 11,263 have been killed till July end this year (2017). And above all, this is the havoc caused by the Islamic State (ISIS). Why is the community always at war — with itself in an entirely Islamic society, and with the state or non-Muslims where it is in minority?

It’s unfortunate, but true that a large section of Muslims have never felt safe in India either. We all know the story behind the creation of Pakistan. A large section of Muslims did not feel “secure” living as equals with Hindus. While the communists provided the intellectual framework to support the Muslim League’s demand, the departing British happily joined the conspiracy to vivisect India.




A tired and pusillanimous Congress leadership acceded and the evil deed was done. One needs to rewind to the 1930s and the 1940s, and surprisingly the language Muslim League and Communists used to berate the Congress during those crucial decades preceding Partition is identical to what Modi critics are saying about the present dispensation. Even a saintly persona like Mahatma Gandhi failed to provide a sense of security to agitating Muslims. Can Modi succeed where Gandhi or rest of the world has failed?

Meanwhile, during the last 70 years, an “insecure” Pakistan (born out of insecurity of Indian Muslims) has continued with an overt and covert war, in the spirit of “holy jihad”, against “kafir” India. So “insecurity” continues to haunt a section of Muslims in India where they are a minority and in Pakistan as well, a declared Islamic state.

The unfortunate lynching of Akhlaq at Dadri in 2015 and the recent killing of Junaid in an altercation in an overcrowded train near Delhi may have triggered such an overreaction on Ansari’s part. But he forgot that these hapless men were part of a country which recorded 33,981 murders, 36,735 rapes, 66,042 riots and over one lakh suicides in 2014.


Can someone be immune from such crimes on the basis of religion? Does not such an expectation smack of a sense of entitlement? All crimes, irrespective of the religion of the culprit or of the victim, deserve to be put down with a heavy hand. But should they be politicised and communalised?

Recently, Mukesh Pandey, DM of Buxur, committed suicide. Imagine instead of being a Brahmin, he was a Dalit or a Muslim. The unfortunate incident would have surely been exploited a la Rohith Vemula, to paint Modi and India black.

Vemula was not a Dalit and did not commit suicide because of any persecution at the hands of the authorities. But a false narrative was built and publicised. The mischief continues, sadly with help from persons of Ansari’s stature. While some Indian Muslims have always felt insecure, there also have been likes of late President APJ Abdul Kalam who felt proud of India’s Catholic and plural traditions. Why this difference?

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Last updated: August 25, 2017 | 16:24
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