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New Delhi: Muslim image created by Bollywood films and media is such that either a Muslim would be Mafia Don or would be shown sacrificing his life for the majority’s Hindu Hero. But seldom a Muslim who is a professional and educated or a Muslim who does not want to live in slums is shown, said Sohail Hasmi, Javed Naqvi, Shesh Narayan and Mohammed Shoaib.


The trio was discussing the issue related to the Identity of the Muslims in India on the second day of the national meet in New Delhi on October 5.


The three-day National Conference on ‘What it means to be a Muslim in India’ has been organized by ANHAD – a Delhi based NGO working for harmony and democracy.


“There is this stereotypical image of the Muslim with beard, skull cap and shorter Pyjama who is a Jihadi or a terrorist. Such a situation has arisen where Muslims have to depend on secular Hindus to put forward their concerns. It’s like to survive on the mercy of the majority secular voices. At the same time, there is also a challenge of modernisation before the Muslims”, they observed.


Taking the debate even further, speakers also expressed concern to the fact that there is bias in the reporting of the incidents vis-à-vis Muslims and Hindus if the incidents happen to be similar. “While the Muslim accused and victims would be addressed with certain kind of derogatory connotation; the identity of Hindu the accused and victims would always be concealed”, they observed and added, “Media portrays the glamorised image of Jihad.”


Joining the discussion there were other speakers who put forth their experiences on various issues concerning the Muslims in India. The issues that were taken on the second day were related to the identity of Muslims, hate campaigns against Muslims, appropriation of the religious and cultural spaces of the Muslims, negative and stereotypical images of Muslims created by the media, discrimination against the Muslims by the law enforcement agencies like the police and the judiciary, systematic appropriation of Wakf property and Qabristans, failure of the state to contain the organisations playing the communal hate card, impunity and failures to implement enquiry reports and to punish those guilty of communal crimes.


Besides these, the other issues were rise and infiltration of communal crimes, attempt to ignore the large scale terror links of the Sangh, cow slaughter as an excuse to attack, discrimination during relief, rehabilitation, natural calamities, emergence and the role of new age gurus, systematic attack to break the economic backbone of the community.


“There are cases depicting that the lands of quabristan were either encroached or if the Muslim community demanded land for Quabristan then no concern was paid by the administration. At some places in Gujarat and Goa, people demanding land for quabristan were even forced to evict the place of their residence”, speakers observed during the conference.


“In the name of cow slaughter, many Muslims were put into the jail in various parts of India like in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh to name a few. Issue of cow slaughter has been used to fan the communal fire between the Hindus and Muslims”, they added.


The ghettoisation and economic marginalization of the Muslim population were also the issues that were vehemently raised during the conference. “Attempts have been made by the government agencies to shatter the economic ties of the Muslims, and also to keep the Muslims backward in education. The educational institutions from the Muslims majority areas are shifted to the other far away places. Due to that education of the Muslim Girls is significantly affected adversely”, speakers observed.


An activist from Bangalore put his concern about the hate campaign which is on rise in the state capital. “Moral policing is used to control democratic, public and cultural spaces. Girls and boys from the different communities are not allowed to interact. Orders of the State human rights Commission to contain such fundamentalist forces also has been overlooked by the law enforcing agencies in Karnataka. Along with that there are the attempts by Bajarang Dal and Rama Sene like organisations to replicate ‘the successful communal stories’ in Karnataka”, the activist observed.

On continuing communal violence in the country, noted lawyer Vrinda Grover said, “There is no provision of prosecution of the police officials if they are involved in perpetuating the communal violence. System provides a blanket to the errant officials.”


She emphasised that the definition of the communal violence has to be broadened to include persecution in the name of terrorism and encounters.







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