Never before have Muslims felt so marginalised and insecure

Under the Modi raj, by spreading fear, Muslims are being forced to feel like second class citizens. They feel humiliated, alone and insecure. This is not good for India

Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Zafar Agha

Indian Muslims have never felt so marginalised as they have been feeling during the three years of the Modi raj. Communal riots have been haunting them since Partition. Discrimination, too, is also an integral part of the Muslim narrative for long, and, ghettoisation of Muslims is quite an old story too.

But, what has changed under the Modi Raj is that there’s a very organised and systematic move to force Muslims feel second class citizens and make it so normal that they not just succumb to it but feel helpless and accept it as their fate.

The Sangh Parivar’s agenda under the Modi dispensation is very simple: keep the minorities, especially Muslims, under constant threat so that a fear psychosis permanently grips them. Mob lynching is a very conscious and systematic method to push the entire community into a state of fear psychosis.

In an event like Akhlaq and Pehlu Khan, the number of killings is much lesser than, say, the Gujarat riots of 2002 when over 2,000 persons died. But, an Akhlaq or a Pehlu Khan killing has a greater impact pushing the entire community feel insecure inside their own homes as well as on the streets.

You never know when a mob may march into your own home and beat you to death as it happened with Akhlaq or you may be overtaken by a gau goons who may lynch you to death in the presence of your own kin as the sons of Phelu Khan experienced recently.

Imagine, the number of deaths in the mentioned cases is only two but the impact is much more than a riot. The entire community feels not just helpless but is pushed to a permanent state of fear, which is the primary step for generating the feeling of being a second class citizen. You are permanently so scared and busy in the battle for survival that you just have no time to think of any other rights. If you live for another day, you are grateful to your god or may be to your own enemies. Where is the time for a minority community member like a Muslim to think about anything else other than just survival.

Mob lynching is, in fact, a very organised fascist method of pushing an entire social group like Muslims into a sort of servitude. Fear is the key element of this strategy. To further amplify the fear, other small pinpricks are used to keep the community under constant fear. A Sonu Nigam, for instance, makes a ‘harmless’ tweet regarding azaan and then bluntly excuses himself with a statement like ‘what is wrong with it; isn’t it noise pollution’! Apparently, it is the issue of noise pollution. However, the Muslims are conveyed a subtle message that even their holy faith in not beyond ridicule under the Modi raj.

Then, all kinds of media are being systematically used to amplify the effect of an Akhlak or a Sonu Nigam ‘event’. Once a Sonu Nigam type of tweet comes, a debate is generated on social media, as well as in the electronic medium of TV, which is always rigged in favour of Nigam—further imposing the message that there are no defenders of the community. The purpose is make them feel humiliated, alone and insecure—a classical step to make someone feel second class citizen.

There are certain other subtle ways to continuously convey the message that a minority community is “worthless”. For instance, no Muslim candidate is put up in an election like Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls where Muslims constitute nearly 20% of the population. When results come in, the BJP wins with a thumping majority and TV debates repeatedly point out the ‘Muslim vote bank is marginalised’ conveying you don’t matter politically too—another significant message of being worthless or being second class.

The Sangh’s game plan has had the desired impact too. There is a deafening silence on the part of the Muslims even when an Akhlaq or a Pehlu Khan is killed. Is it the same Muslim community which led the First War of Independence in 1857 or the one that fought the freedom struggle shoulder to shoulder along with others? The community is giving in because it is living under constant fear and seems to have accepted as its fate.

It is a dangerous sign. It is the first step towards accepting a kind of social slavery—something that the RSS has been looking for long at vis-à-vis Muslims. So, the community needs to be reminded that India in not a Hindu rashtra. The Indian Constitution accords all citizens, including minorities, equal rights. Rather, Indian minorities, constitutionally speaking, enjoy certain privileges that others do not enjoy.

The long and short of the Muslim story under three years of Modi raj is not just dismal but highly alarming. We may describe Indian Muslims as a minority community. But lest we forget, we must realise that it is the second largest community. If it is being pushed to the levels of second class citizenry, India will suffer, too.

Zafar Agha is the Editor-in-chief of Qaumi Awaaz, a sister publication of National Herald

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines