‘Partition’ of the psyche taking place now, police brutality on students adds to the fear

A strange fear has gripped the minority segments of the society. It’s a misconception that Muslims did not suffer during Partition. Now the partition of psyche is taking place

Representative Image (courtesy: social media)
Representative Image (courtesy: social media)

Humra Quraishi

There’s strange sort of partitioning going on. Call it partitioning of the psyche. Of course, internal displacements have been on for the last few years but in recent months, they have been accelerating, particularly in the northern states like Uttar Pradesh. Several Muslim families have been shifting out from Hindu dominated localities and locales. To say that a strange sense of fear has gripped minority segments would be an understatement. They are completely rattled and more than apprehensive. In their very own country, they are being treated so very savagely as though they are enemies.

What’s going on? Ask the apprehensive Muslim citizens of this country. They fail to understand why the State is making sure to unsettle them for times to come; reduce them to second or third class status. In fact, the community isn’t naïve not to grasp the political strategies of the Hindutva rulers of the day. And though most Muslims have already accepted their dismal fate under the Hindutva regime, they couldn’t have ever imagined that they and their children would see this day where they get brutally attacked, if not detained and imprisoned by the police force. This, when they and their fathers and forefathers had opted to stay back in their very own country, Hindoostan.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no stopping to these obnoxious communal threats. Compounding the mess is the government’s call for the implementation of the CAA- NRC- NPR.

Amid this poison dripping communal climate, the Right- Wing lobbies are also throwing about wild allegations, that Muslims did not suffer during that big round of the Partition.

Let me try and clear this myth cum misconception that Indian Muslims did not suffer during the Partition. The stark truth is that they suffered severe setbacks. Let me detail at least some of them - I’d met and interviewed poet Nida Fazli and he told me how the Partition had changed the course of his life, “just before the Partition I had got engaged to a woman I was in love with, but my family and also that of my fiancé’s, decided to migrate to Pakistan. I was determined not to move from here and stayed back, though I went through a very turbulent lonely phase. Neither my fiancé and nor did my family get back and I was all alone here. After several years of loneliness, I found a companion in Mumbai.”

And as the late Qamar Azad Hashmi, writer and mother of activist Safdar Hashmi, detailed, “In common with thousands of people, my family was affected by the Partition; we had to even shift out of our home in Delhi and live in refugee camps set up in Humayun’s Tomb …And though initially I went with my family to Pakistan, but I returned the very next year and got married here… While my husband’s family had moved to Pakistan, he too was determined to stay put, though his business suffered tremendously after the Partition. We brought up our children in extremely tough financial conditions.”

And the legendary singer Talat Mahmood was also one of those Indians who did not want to shift to the newly carved country, Pakistan. His father, Manzoor Mahmood, owned an electric fittings cum a gramophone shop in Lucknow, and he was better known as the one who sang Iqbal’s popular taranaa at the Muslim league functions. At the time of the Partition, Talat was in Calcutta with his elder sister, and though his entire family migrated to Pakistan, he and his sister opted to stay back in India.

This decision to be forever cut off from his immediate family had a huge impact on him. As his niece, Rafia Hussain, had on an earlier occasion told me, “Temperamentally he could not adjust to the ways of the film world .Also, that initial shock that his entire family had migrated to a new country and would be settling down there forever, had affected him to a certain extent …he was far too sensitive, he had internalized that pain. But till the very end he was sure that he would never leave his home country …after all , he had opted to stay back at any cost.”

In fact, several academics and historians have focused on the fact that hundreds and thousands of Muslims did not want to cross over to the new country, and stayed back. They opted to stay put in India. In his book, ‘Muslims Against Partition’,(Pharos Media), academic Shamsul Islam, has focused on the fact that a large number of Muslims were not supportive of the creation of Pakistan. To quote him, “It is true that India was partitioned in 1947 due to the Muslim League’s demand for a separate homeland for Muslims. And there is no denying the fact that the Muslim League was able to mobilize a huge mass of Muslims in favour of its demand. But it is also true that a large section of Muslims and their organizations stood against the demand for Pakistan. These Muslims against the Partition challenged the Muslim League theoretically and confronted the latter on the streets.”

He has also dwelt on a crucial offshoot– The Partition of India created a serious identity crisis for Indian Muslims. As historian Muhammad Mujeeb commented that after the Partition, Muslims “became a smaller minority in India, physically not less, but more vulnerable, by the creation of the separate state of Pakistan, with their loyalties obviously open to suspicion and doubt, and their future nothing but the darkness of uncertainty.”

Historian Mushirul Hasan has also talked about it in detail, “Partition was a nightmare. The so-called Islamic community in India which had no place in Jinnah’s Pakistan was ‘fragmented’, ‘weakened’ and left vulnerable to right-wing Hindu onslaughts. Despite the creation of a separate homeland for Muslims, India remained home to a large number of Muslims. Those who remained in India have consistently had their loyalty to India questioned by the Hindu Right or Hindutva camp. The Bible for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh cadres, Bunch of Thoughts, the compilation of the writings of RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar, contains a long chapter, titled ‘Internal Threats’ in which the Indian Muslims are described as threat number one.”

Diplomat-author, Pran Nevile has narrated a moving incident in his memoir ‘Carefree Days: Many Roles, Many Lives’( Harper Collins), about how Muslims living in Delhi were attacked around the Partition phase-: “By the beginning of September 1947, Delhi was flooded with refugees from Punjab. There was an acute shortage of housing in Delhi. The exodus of about 2000 officers and clerks more than balanced the influx of over 3000 from Pakistan comprising the staff of the railways, Posts and Telegraph department and other central government officers who had decided to opt for India...I was then living as a sub-tenant of a Punjabi family in the Western Extension Area, a new residential complex off Pusa Road which had come up during World War II…By the first week of September, with the influx of over a lakh of refugees in Delhi, the communal situation became tense…I vividly remember how a bulk of Muslim families were driven out of their homes on Ajmal Khan Road and some other areas of Karol Bagh. Here I would like to cite the case of a Muslim family, our immediate neighbours whom we managed to protect. A family of three, Mr Khan, an executive engineer, his wife and grown-up daughter were occupying the government-requisitioned house. Some anti-social elements and groups of refugees were actively involved in attacking Muslim houses identified by local goons. It was on the night of 7 September that we came to know their house could be attacked in the morning. We gave them shelter for the night and early in the morning, our neighbour, a Sikh gentleman, drove Mr Khan’s car and took his family safely to the Imperial Hotel on Queensway. An hour later, the house was ransacked by the goons, who rebuked us for aiding in their escape.”

Now we turn the focus to police brutality on students of Jamia Millia Islamia.

The recently released videos of police brutality on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia, inside the university library, are enough to relay how very violent the very system gets which is supposedly there to protect and prevent!

And for God’s sake let’s not get taken in by all those bogus Sarkari theories that these students were equipped with bricks or stones. In fact, in all the video footages, the students are looking very tense and rattled.

As I wrote in my last week’s column, what left me horrified is the fact that on February 10, several students (both young men and women ) of this same university were hit on their private parts, by the police force.

This is not the first time that I have heard of this barbaric policing tactic. To hit, where it hurts the utmost!

Right from the protesters at the Babri mosque destruction site at Ayodhya, to the reactionary riots that followed in Delhi’s Seelampuri area, to the pogrom in Ahmedabad in 2002, to the several riotous situations in Western Uttar Pradesh, to the arrested in the Kashmir Valley, several survivors have told me that the police hit on their private parts. In fact, in the Seelampuri area during the reactionary riots that followed the Babri mosque destruction, at least a dozen teenaged Muslim boys had told me the details of how the police segregated the Muslims before hitting them on their private parts.

This compels one to write that its about time we broaden and expand the very definition of rape. After all, rape can be of the psyche and of the soul too! And it is all the more serious and traumatic when the so-called protectors – the police force – hit on the private parts of our children. Imagine, your vital organs targeted and assaulted and wounded by the cops! And then, you can do very little to counter these barbaric assaults except cry out in piercing pain. It’s difficult if not impossible for the victims to even name their tormentors. Fear of the aftermath and threats by the political mafia comes in the way with the tormentors continuing to unleash their violent tactics constantly.

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