Terror is Terror

By Sadia Dehlvi,

I am both amused and terrified as the “Hindu Terror” and “Muslim Terror” debate rages on. Emotions sway between laughter and tears when some leaders talk of ” Hindu persecution in India” and make a distinction between terror crimes allegedly committed by members of the majority community and those by Muslims. Nothing can be more dangerous and threatening to a society than religious based intolerance and injustice.

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In hushed whispers, Muslims have been expressing doubts of “jihadi” elements in some cases, especially in the Mecca Masjid, Samjhauta Express, Ajmer and Malegaon blasts. They cannot understand why Muslims would want to blow up Muslims during Ramzan at iftaar time at the dargah in Ajmer or during a venerated Islamic night in Malegaon. They wonder why these culprits don’t realise that such despicable acts further damage perception of Islam and its followers, besides creating more trouble for the Indian Muslims.

Ajmer blast

However, every terror blast has seen Muslims cutting across party lines and religious divides, taking public positions of condemnation. In a commendable move, Muslim religious bodies have unanimously joined hands in declaring terrorists as apostates; appealing to Muslims that to achieve perfect of faith, they must live by the Quran, Hadith (Prophetic Sayings) and the Indian constitution. They are spreading the message of abandoning the idea of “jihad” as a militant struggle and emphasising its meaning as an inner struggle that requires adhering to the highest ethical standards.

In a reversal of roles, would it be justified for Muslims to publicly question the role of alleged Muslim terrorists as “political conspiracies? ” The same Bharitya Janta Party that lauded the role of Anti Terror Squad in nailing Muslim terrorists now accuses them of inefficiency and lack of evidence in the case of Hindus accused of hatching terror plots. What of the lack in evidence in news leaks where even the anchors of some reputed channels draw their own immediate conclusions from the scene of crime, suggesting possibilities of the Indian Mujahideen or Simi being the culprits.

The,” Where is the moderate Muslim” media debate has fatigued the Indian Muslims. Why should the onus of proving one’s loyalty to the motherland fall on Muslims alone? Why must Muslims be put through a trial of fire in order to prove good citizenship? How come we do not see protests marches and vocal condemnation of what is now being called “Saffron Terror”. Scores of intellectuals chose not to comment after Muslims were massacred in the Gujarat riots, despite emergence of substantial evidence highlighting the role of the state in sponsoring terrorism. Muslims hurt just as much when militant attitudes of some Muslims are labelled “Islamic Terror”. Can we conclude that the majority community appears to be in a “denial mode”, a term often used to define the mood of Indian Muslims with regard to terrorism.

When Mushir ul Hasan, the Vice Chancellor of Jamia University extended legal support to the boys accused of terror crimes, ugly remarks of “supporting terror” were hurled at him from senior lawyers, political commentators and many politicians. This occurred despite Hasan’s ongoing unequivocal condemnation of terrorists coupled with a reputation of contributing to the promotion of secular ideals. Funnily, the same people are now publicly collecting funds and providing legal aid funds to accused Hindu detainees.

Jaipur blasts

The rampant discrimination, unwarranted arrests, harassment, biases and stereotypes continues to make everyday life an ongoing struggle for Indian Muslims. I often shudder with fear when passing khaki knicker wearing cadre groups from the RSS doing their daily routine exercises in public parks. Frankly, just thinking of the possibility of them toning muscles and readying to attack Muslims and Christians scares me. I cannot help wondering of the public outrage that would probably emerge if groups of bearded skullcap wearing young Muslims conducted similar exercises.

I have no truck with any political party for none of them have remotely attempted to heal Muslim wounds or ensure they swim along with the tide of development in India. Contrary to the false propagated “appeasement” theories, the story of Indian Muslims is a tragic script, one that we are quite accustomed to living. However, should a government that views terror, violence and victims through the prism of religion come into power, it will become difficult for those among us committed to secular values and engaged with issues of communal harmony to even breathe in India. I am already making back up plans for five years of self exile.

Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi based writer and columnist. A version of this article appeared in Hindustan Times.