Muslims: Still a marginalized community in India

Aarif Rashdid Malik

Before writing my article on marginalization of Muslims in India, it is important for me to define what the term marginalization means fundamentally. It can be defined as a process of pushing a particular group or group of people to the edge of society by not allowing them an active voice, identity or place in it. Marginalization is always based on exploitation and oppression. It promotes the concept of “assimilation” instead of accommodation. The concept of marginalization is based on unequal treatment but this unequal treatment is related to a particular group or group of people in the society. It is fundamentally discriminatory in nature but the only thing is that discrimination can be based on various grounds such as caste, religion, race, etc. It varies from country to country in the world because marginalization is of various forms. It is based on “Inclusion and exclusion concept”. It is due to marginalization that the crisis of identity takes place or we can say that in marginalization process a particular section of the society is facing a severe identity crisis because of the oppression committed by majority community. It also happens due to a particular discourse created by one community about other community. It is because of this marginalization that negative feelings, attitudes, jealousy is being developed by one community about other community. Binaries are created because of the marginalization process in the society. Majority and minority syndrome is taking place in the world because of the marginalization process. Without marginalization the concept of majority and minority syndrome is not based on exploitation. Nor we can fix the meaning of these two terms in social science. It is because of this thing that sometimes a particular community can be in majority at particular place because of the demographic point of view. At the same time, they can be in minority in the whole country such as Muslims of Kashmir who are in majority in Jammu and Kashmir but at the same time they are in minority in the entire country. Now I will come to the second portion of my article that is how Muslims in India are still marginalised community. When the partition of India had taken place at that time majority of Muslims had gone to Pakistan and those who stayed in India they have opposed the two “Nation Theory” by tooth and nail because they wanted to maintain the secular fabric of Indian society. It was also the members of the constituent assembly who accepted the principle of diversity in India and the provision in the constitution of India was added accordingly to sustain and nourish the diversity of India. Nationalist leaders had envisioned India as a country where everyone could enjoy rights and liberty in the country. After independence Muslims have freely participated in the political process of the country. They have used their right to vote as leverage for political bargaining, seeking accommodation from the majority community. But the institutional failure at the ground level have provided them limited success. Being a largest minority in the country, they have remained one the most depressed section of the Indian society. They have been deprived from the beginning. The only difference is that some have exploited them more and some have exploited them little. Omar Khalidi In his article titled as “Hinduising India: Secularism in practice”, argues how the secular party like Indian National Congress in Nehru’s time in 1952 general election used the pair of sacred cows as an election symbol of the party, so that people can vote for it. He further says that on December 22 and 23rd 1949, Hindu idols mysteriously appeared in a 16th century mosque actively used for worship as the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, Faizabad. The Uttar Pradesh Congress administration had locked up the mosque sensibly through the court order and effectively turned the mosque into temple. He further argues that generally in India, the Army is free from bigotry, prejudice and discrimination. But there are number of incidents in army that tell us it is also discriminatory such as Muslims are not allowed to grow beard in contrast to Sikhs, who are allowed to grow beard. He further argues that how the religious signs and symbols are to be attached with the uniform of army on their duty. India’s modern military arsenal are christened with names that resonate with Hindu religious overtones. The short-range surface-to-air missile is named Trishul (Trident) a weapon also wielded by the Hindu god of destruction Shiva. The anti-tank missile is named Nag serpent missile. He further says that in the military cantonment the construction of the temples are done on the behalf of central government. In contrast to the temple-building situation, permission to build mosques were not allowed in Kanpur and Poona cantonment. Every political party weather it is Congress or BJP have used religion for their own political interest in order to keep the majority community happy and have marginalised minorities from time to time. It is mainly Muslim community which has become victim of this brutal oppression and state has failed most of times to provide security to the Muslim community. Yasmeen Jahan another scholar of India in her article titled as “Intersectionlity of marginalization and inequality: A case study of Muslims in India” says that how the history of Indian Muslims depict how they have been made invisible in the process of democratization and prone to significant decline in term of socio-economic, political development and being the lost children of Indian Partition bear the stigma of the past throughout the history and are perceived as the main culprits behind the divided India. She also argues how the Muslim community in India is the most backward community in contrast to the other minority communities by giving the reference of Sachar committee report. According to the Sachar committee report, the status of Indian Muslims is below the condition of schedule castes and schedule tribes. According to the Sachar committee report the literacy rate among Muslims in India in 2001 was 59.1% that was far below the national average (65%). This committee further suggest that 25% of children of Muslim parents in the 6-14 year group have either never attended school or have dropped out. Even it tell the presence of Muslim has been found to be only 3% in the I.A.S and 1.8% in the I.F.S. and 4.0% in the I.P.S. and their representation in Indian railways was only 4.5%, while majority of them are at lower post. She also argues that the Muslims who stayed in India during the time of partition, their loyalty is always being questioned by different sections such as media, state and political elite who dubbed them as “agents of Pakistan “. Now they have been main target of this present govt. in India and the process of exploitation against Muslims in India is intensifying very strongly by the BJP. This govt. considers Muslims as the real enemies of India. Even the founder of the RSS and BJP has presented aggressive and hateful narrative against Muslims in India in their books. Savarkar in his book “Who is Hindu” says it is Muslims who are the real enemies not the British. He further justified his argument by saying that Muslims have invaded our country and looted lot of wealth from it and destroyed the temples and he also says they have killed large number of innocent Hindu and by force they had been converted to Islam. He says that these things happened in India because Hindus were considered as “God-fearing people”, weak and incompetent. According to him, it is right time now to revive the glories of Indian culture by making India as a country of Hindus through the masculine and aggressive strategies. These strategies have been followed by the Hindu Nationalists constantly. After the 1980, the saffron wave emerged very strongly in India because they decided to capture political power through the religious signs and symbols and now Hindu serials like Ramayana and Mahabharata began to be shown on television in order to develop aggressive and masculine strategies among the Hindu people and also to create new style of national imagination in the minds of people.
Right now, muslims of India are facing too much exploitation at the hands of the BJP and principle of intolerance is also increasing against the Muslims under this govt., which is evident from this fact that more than two hundred incidents of mob lynching took place in India in which more than fifty percent are Muslims.
It helped them to widen their Ramjanmaboomi campaign and it was finally in 1992, when the large number of karsevas destroyed the Babri Mosque and Kalyan singh who was chief minister of Utter Pradesh at that time was declared “as the hero of Ayodhya”. He came to power in Uttar Pradesh at that time through a “referendum on Mandir “. The worst communal violence happened in India in 2002 when more than two thousand Muslims were killed in Gujarat by Right wing forces. They have also raised slogans like “pseudo-secularism” “pampering of minorities “and “minority appeasement”, this discursive modality emerged as an important anti-Congress and antiestablishment idiom within the BJP. Right now, muslims of India are facing too much exploitation at the hands of the BJP and principle of intolerance is also increasing against the Muslims under this govt., which is evident from this fact that more than two hundred incidents of mob lynching took place in India in which more than fifty percent are Muslims. It is said 80% of mob lynching has taken place in India during the rule of Modi govt. Those who were involved in such heinous crimes were fully supported by the govt. as well as by the police. Hardly any F.I.R.s have been registered against these culprits. We have example of Mohammad Akhlaq who was dragged from his house and killed by a strong-200 mob on suspicion of eating beef triggering communal tensions in the Uttar Pradesh, Bisada village. He died before he could be taken to hospital. The announcement that the family was consuming beef was made from the local temple. The chargesheet mentioned Vishal Singh as one of the prime accused who had made the announcement. Sanjay Rana, local BJP leader said he was being falsely implicated in the case. Inspite of the fact that the government knows it clearly mob lynching is a heinous crime against humanity, but still they are insouciant about this thing to pass a law to stop mob lynching in India. The violence has not been stopped here under this govt. They have passed number of laws that are basically regarding the marginalization of Muslim in India such as legislation on triple talaq which BJP claim that it has increased the respect of Muslim women. The question can be asked to them why they have not abolished such unjust and similar repressive practices on women in other religions including Hinduism. The way abrogation of article 35-A and 370 had taken place in Jammu and Kashmir and the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir was taken away from it to reduce it to a Union Territory only points to the clear violation of Indian constitution. The introduction of New Domicile law in Jammu and Kashmir at the same time is clear indication of this thing that they want to change the Demography of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir. There was huge criticism and violent protest across India over C.A.A. The main aim of this act is to provide citizenship to all those non-Muslim citizens who were missing in N.R.C. Assam’s home minster also says that it will provide citizenship to more than five lakh Bengali Hindu, who were missing in N.R.C. C.A.A provides Indian citizenship to six prosecuted immigrants religious communities, such as Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs ,Christians , Jains and Parsis having emigrated from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan from 1972 to 2014. Muslims were completely excluded here too, which is clear violation of right to equality under article 14 and 15 of Indian constitution. This all is for vote bank politics and to create false perception regarding Muslims in India. Even how the covid-19 in India was completely linked with the Muslims community not only by the govt. but also by the media with too much exaggeration is also an example of marginalization. At last I can say that these things that are being done by govt. right now in India is only to divert attention of the public from the main issue and they want to hide their failure of the govt. and how the govt. is misusing everything in India is always a big concern in India especially media which are leaving no stone unturned to promote hate politics regarding Muslims in India for their own selfish interests and want to get fame in the public. It is also necessary for the people of India to think over these issues seriously in order to maintain the spirit of cultural diversity and to save Indian democracy from further decimation.
(The author is a student at the P G Department of Political Science at Kashmir University. Views are his own) [email protected]

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