Four ways to atone for Malegaon

Abdul Khaliq
Abdul Khaliq Secretary General, Lok Janshakti Party

Allegations against Dar ul-Uloom rector Ghulam Vastanvi are a ploy to stop reforms

IN THE aftermath of the Malegaon (2006), Samjhauta Express (2007), Hyderabad Mecca Masjid (2007) and Ajmer Sharif (2007) bomb blasts, our intelligence agencies claimed that Islamist terror groups were behind these gruesome attacks. Large-scale arrests of suspects, all of them Muslim, followed. As tangible evidence, Muslim men and even boys with beards and skullcaps were paraded as the perpetrators of terrorism before an unquestioning media. During this period, a vicious text message proclaiming “all Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims” was circulated to reinforce prejudices and further the divide between Hindus and Muslims in the country.

These mindless acts compounded the woes of the ordinary law-abiding Muslim. Living as he is on the margins of society, discriminated against in the job market, in education, when seeking loans and even when looking for accommodation, he is now burdened with the stigma of being in tacit collusion with the terrorists. His commitment to the nation is being questioned because of the widespread belief, fuelled by the intelligence agencies and the media, that all terrorists were Muslims.

So insecure is the Muslim mindset that following every terror attack, we have the spectacle of Muslim celebrities of every hue condemning the attacks. The Muslim celebrity feels that unless he publicly condemns the terrorist acts, the general impression would be that he approves of these acts or is indifferent to them. But now the truth is out. Swami Asimananda’s confession has indubitably confirmed what Hemant Karkare had first exposed—the Hindutva nexus with terror.

For some reason there has barely been discernible public disquiet at revelations that Hindutva extremists have executed a series of terrorist acts. It is disturbing that many Indians believe these murderers are giving Muslims a dose of their own medicine and therefore deserve commendation. Violence is a zero-sum game and every murderous act will inevitably be followed by retaliatory horror. There are no winners in this awful expression of hate.

The fight against terrorism in this country is coloured with religious overtones. It is therefore essential that the government acts firmly and without prejudice in stamping out this cancer. The first job of the government should be to unconditionally release all those Muslims detained in connection with the blasts admittedly masterminded by Asimananda and his group. By doing so, the government would be sending a message that a grievous wrong is being corrected.

It is imperative that the government adequately compensate the victims and their families, though no amount of compensation can make up for the torture and harassment. Apart from monetary compensation, jobs should be given to each victim or members of his family.

The prime minister should apologise to the Muslims for the suffering they had to undergo

The law enforcement authorities have been merciless in dealing with Muslim organisations, such as the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the Indian Mujahideen (IM), that are suspected of nurturing terrorists. It is intriguing that there is no move to ban equally dangerous organisations like the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and Abhinav Bharat. Softpedalling this issue would not only encourage these anti-national groups to continue their criminal activities aimed at the minority community, but also heighten the sense of insecurity among Muslims. If the fundamentalist outfits are not challenged and defeated, this country will continue to live in the shadow of terrorism.

In the past two decades, innocent Muslims have suffered grievously at the hands of religious fundamentalist groups. The Mumbai pogrom of 1993 and the Gujarat genocide of 2002 were not random killings but mass murder of a particular community, and both these ghastly happenings were at least as heinous as the dastardly Sikh killings of 1984. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rightly felt the nation owed an apology to the Sikhs for that terrible act and it was honourable of him to tender such an apology.

In the past four years, scores of innocent Muslims have been rounded up, confined and tortured for bomb blasts engineered by fundamentalist Hindutva groups. Would it not be in the fitness of things for the prime minister to apologise to the Muslims for the suffering they have had to undergo for no fault of theirs?


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