Muslim life in Hindu Pradesh

Unheard & Unspoken: Terror stories from Madhya Pradesh: Part 12 (concludes)

By Ismail Khan,

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Madhya Pradesh has more than 4 million Muslims. This 6% of the total Madhya Pradesh population live in a peculiar situation with hardly any economic or educational prosperity in addition to lack of political representation.

Earlier before BJP rose to power in MP there was 13 Muslims out of 230 MLAs, however in 2008 assembly election only one Arif Aqueel from Congress was elected from old city of Bhopal, now he is the sole Muslim member in 230 members in assembly.

Crumbling history

The capital of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal was earlier a Muslim kingdom, it still have its relics left in the form of 25% of population in Bhopal district is Muslim, highest in the state. But the situation of the Muslims in the capital is grim, majority of them are semi-literate and unemployed. And according to some the biggest threat Muslims are facing not only in Bhopal but in whole MP is an attack on their religious freedom.

According to Masood Ahmed Khan, Secretary of the Coordination Committee of Indian Muslims (CCIM), Muslim students in MP schools are facing identity crunch, “Surya Namaskar, Bhojan Mantar, Gita Saar, Singing of Vande Matram are being made mandatory in MP schools by the government, when Catholic Church of MP approached Jabalpur high court those mandatory rules were struck down for non-Hindus but Muslim students are still being harassed by fellow classmates and teachers if they decline to follow the Hindu culture.”

Speaking on economic condition of Muslims, he said Muslims are financially sound in some districts like Indore, Ratlam, Jabalpur and Burhanpur but generally they are economically weak in other parts of MP. The reason he gave is non-implementation of prime ministers 15 point program for minorities and Sachar Committee recommendations. “Muslims are facing huge difficulties in getting loans for their business or education from banks, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has declared openly that he is not going to implement Sachar Committee recommendations.”

“Chief Minister of MP didn’t allot land for the construction of Aligarh Muslim university branch in Bhopal, Muslims of MP are trying their best to setup AMU campus in Bhopal but government is opposing it. Even the Muslims students are not getting scholarships properly from the MP govt.” said Masood Khan discussing the MP government’s approach towards education empowerment of Muslims.

Union Minister of Minorities Affairs Salman Khurshid seen on dais at State Waqf Boards’ Conf. along with MP Minorities Welfare Minister A. Vishnoi, Bihar Minorities Welfare Minister Shahid & MPWB Chairman Ghufran Azam in Bhopal on June 20, 2012.

Ajay Vishnohi a stern RSS worker and Animal husbandry minister is seen as mind behind Gau-Vansh Vadh Pratishedh (Sanshodhan) Vidheyak, or the Madhya Pradesh Prohibition of Slaughter of Cow-Progeny (Amendment) Bill 2011. This bill is being termed as draconian by many in the state, by implementing this bill MP became the first state in India which has banned eating of beef, and 7 years rigorous imprisonment is provided for slaughtering a cow and arrest can be made by head constable on mere suspicion. A state which holds the top rank in the country for malnutrition of children and which failed to guarantee educational rights to minorities, will now protect cows by forming ‘Gaushalas’ ‘Gau Raksha Samitis’ on the expenditure of tax payers’ money in the whole state, thus Hinduizing the state.

Interestingly Ajay Vishnohi Animal husbandry minster a well-known hardcore RSS worker is also minority affairs and wakf minister of MP.

MP State Wakf Board has over 14,980 properties under its supervision, according to its own website 1,696 properties is being encroached or cases are pending on them, 296 of them are in Bhopal alone, this is according to the government data. Even agricultural land of MP wakf board runs into thousands of acres covering nearly every district. All-India State Waqf Boards’ Conference was organized in Bhopal on 20th of this month, to discuss the challenges wakf boards is facing to protect wakf properties, Ajay Vishnohi the chief guest and the main speaker, the man in the center of the allegations of encroaching wakf properties will give tips to 25 state wakf board on how to save them.

“There were 105 grave yards in Bhopal district alone now after continuous encroachments only 25 are left”, said Dr. Mubarak Khan a medical practitioner from Bhopal and member of CCIM. He even alleged that half of the encroached wakf properties are now the government properties or the properties of ministers. He said Muslim rulers of that time were secular and more honest than the present governments, “Whenever any Muslim ruler built something for the welfare of Muslims, on the same tune they will construct for non-Muslims, like for example our begum rulers built Darul Shafaqat for Muslim orphan kids, in the same way they built orphanage homes for Hindu children.”

Dr. Mubarak is also of the opinion that if even the remaining wakf properties are being utilized in proper way then MP Muslims will not need any help from the government for education and economic upliftment.

Apart from this Madhya Pradesh has always been in the news as a breeding ground for extremist groups, Muslim radical outfits were targeted heavily by the administration, but when it comes to radical outfits among Hindus it is alleged and observed by many that they enjoy patronage of MP government. In the recent years scores Muslim youths were arrested from different parts of MP especially from Malwa region on charges of terrorism, MP stand on first position in the list of states with highest number of terror accused, unfortunately all of them are Muslim youths.

Advocate Shahid Siddiqui, President of the Social and Democratic Party of India (SDPI) Madhya Pradesh alleged that government is breeding hindutva radicalism in the state on ideological basis and for the benefits in the long run. He even said police administration is not independent in MP to operate impartially. “Police today in MP work under direct supervision of right wing forces from the government, they had to work according to government’s diktats, and they had to investigate what government asks them to do, and had to turn a blind eye on government orders. There is an undeclared policy of MP government that police should not keep a tab on Hindu fundamentalist group and free hand should be given to them. That is why we had seen how major bomb attacks by Hindu fundamentalist groups are planned in MP, all the perpetrators of Hindutva terror strikes were from MP.” He said.

Talking on the inability of MP police to control Hindutva extremist he said, “Police had let go a Hindutva activist who planted a bomb in World Tablighi Ijtema in Bhopal by terming him insane. Majority of Muslims youths who were arrested by MP police and ATS are from Malwa region but the fact is the companions of Sunil Joshi, a RSS worker went on record to state that he organized a 10 day terror training camps in Malwa region, but police have not investigated this fact.”

He also added, “MP Police knew about everything, they knew the bomb planters, the organizers of terror training camps, but they turned a blind eye following obediently the policy of the government.”

One important reason which is giving independence to BJP government to implement anti-Muslim policies and to slowly infiltrate Hindutva in the state administration is weak opposition both in the assembly and on the ground level. Self-proclaimed secular Congress is the major opposition party in MP, but often congress is accused of being mum on the actions of BJP government concerning Muslims and Hinduization of administration. It seems for MP congress 6% votes of Muslims is not worth taking ire of the right wing forces, and been seen as anti-Hindus.

Mohammad Ibrahim Qureshi is the former chairman of MP State Minorities Commission and a Congress leader close to former CM Digvijay Singh. He said MP government is complicit with Hindutva right-wing forces, but he refuse to accept any leader from his party is encouraging this trend. He even said Muslim leaders from his party are trying their bit to raise the issues concerning their community.

Maulana Mohammad Haji Haroon is the President of the Congress Minorities Cell, he agrees with Ibrahim Qureshi that BJP government is propagating communalism here in MP, patronizing extremist Hindutva elements and targeting Muslim youths. When we asked him what congress and its Muslim leaders are doing in raising this issue, he stated that Congress is raising this issue and trying to solve this problem, but seeing the track record of MP congress in the last decade it’s hard to believe him.

Maulana is also president of Jamaitul Ulema MP unit, he said while Congress might not be doing enough but JIU is doing their bit. “As part of our all India campaign against the harassment of Muslim youths, we here in MP are collecting data on the arresting of Muslim youths in terror cases from every district. We are trying hard to establish our volunteers in every district and town to empower Muslims. We will provide the data to the Delhi head office so they can raise this issue more effectively. There are many problems concerning Muslims here not just terror arrests and we are trying our best to take the plights of MP Muslims to Delhi.”

In the last decade MP had seen a drastic increase in the ghettoization of Muslims, with no leadership, education and economic backwardness, isolation the condition of Muslims in MP is not expected to improve any time soon.