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Religious discrimination of another shade

By Jasim Mohammad,

Maharashtra state Minorities Commission heard the case of Emraan Hashmi on 13th August, 2009 and made certain observations. In its decision, the commission noted that; (i) Prima facie, one cannot deny the possibility that Mr. Emraan Hashmi had been discriminated on religious grounds in the sale of flat, (ii) considering the facts mentioned in the above paragraph as well as taking into consideration the positive assurances given by the Nibana Co. Hsg. Society, the application is disposed off. etc. in its recommendations, the commission said, “state government should constitute a special cell under the House department for monitoring the cases of discrimination like this and government should amend all the concerned legislation related with sale or lease of flats so as to check discriminations in such matters.

Though the controversy over denial of NOC to Emraan Hashmi has died down but Maharashtra state Minorities Commission decision and recommendations have thrown some important questions. No doubt that Muslims are facing discrimination on account of their religious identity in several sectors. Some cases come to light others may not. For example even in the Capital of India, Delhi, Muslims are unable to find a room or house on rent and if they find, the police harasses them by heaping upon inconvenient questions. By all practical means, it seems that India is going out of democracy. For the health of the nation such questions should be addressed as early as possible otherwise they may damage peaceful co-existence.

Delivering a lecture [19.08.2009] in Aligarh Muslim University Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Shashee Tharoor said that, “Muslims face such discrimination everyday”. Though he was commenting on Shah Rukh Khan episode but the comment is also right within India. It is for the government itself to see that the discrimination is not heaping upon Muslims only in foreign countries but also in their own country. It is the total failure of secular governance. Internal bickering of the political parties and fixed minds have contributed in this latest phenomenon.

On the eve of independence, large number of Muslims decided to stay back in India. They were not responsible for the creation of Pakistan. They had nothing to do with the politics of the sub-continent of those days. Present generation of Muslims is above guilt of partition. Moreover with the passage of time, it has been closely established that many other groups and people played role in partition other than Muslims. Recent book of Jaswant Singh is the prove. But there is a section which is bent upon to spread rumors and does not recognize facts. Such forces are not in interest of the nation.

India is a land of contradictions and contrasts. People belonging to every religion may be found here. Thousands of rituals and customs exist. In this scenario it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that no section of society is discriminated. We have to analyze why over governance failed despite our tall claims about surviving democracy. It failed because we did not took actions on right moments. Gandhi was not killed by one man only. He was killed by one ideology. We allowed that ideology to develop and flourish. That result in Gujarat Genocide 2002 and post Babri Mosque demolition riots in Mumbai. Sri Krishna Commission was appointed by government itself and it shied away from acting on its recommendations. What stopped the government? Soft corner for Hindutva or hard Hindutva? We have to deal with secular ideals which are core base of the constitution of India. Mind it; if the administration or government is not following constitution in letters and spirit, they are violating it. Is it right?
I must point out the attitude of civil administration in such cases. When Emraan Hashmi faces the awkward situation, he alongwith noted film Director and Humanist Mahesh Bhatt addressed a press conference which was their legitimate right. Instead of addressing the issues raised by then, Maharashtra police heaped upon them cases. The police cannot act on its own. There most be some one behind and, mind, Maharashtra is ruled by the Congress which is supposed to be a secular party. I am strongly concerned on this negative attitude which must be discontinued.

The government has established National Commission for Minorities. Every state has State Minorities Commission but they are toothless. They have no power to prosecute. They can only make recommendations which are often not implemented by the government. Indian National Congress had promised in its manifesto to arm Minorities Commission with prosecution powers before the Lok Sabha Election 2009. it is time that they are equipped with powers to prosecute. I am sure that it will change much more.
The issue is not the case of Emraan Hashmi. This issue is discrimination not only with Muslims but all section of the Indian society. If discrimination exists, so that injustice and if injustice will continue, the progress and development of the nation will be hollow because no meaningful peace may exist. It is in the larger interest of the country that our policy makers immediately arrest trend of discrimination of all shades.

(The writer is Research Scholar of Aligarh Muslim University. Email: [email protected])

[Photo: BBC]