Right-wing rulers of UP have hit a new low in their diatribes against the minority community

Instead of paying heed to dying children in Firozabad and adjoining areas of Western Uttar Pradesh, the incumbent rulers are busy coming up with highly provocative communal jibes

Right-wing rulers of UP have hit a new low in their diatribes against the minority community

Humra Quraishi

As my Abba Jaan rests in his grave in a qabaristan in Uttar Pradesh, I sit back and thank our creator that my father is not here to witness the horrifying communal build-up in my home state Uttar Pradesh.

Instead of paying heed to dying children in Firozabad and adjoining areas of Western Uttar Pradesh, the incumbent rulers are busy coming up with highly provocative communal jibes. Why? Is it to further the divide among religious lines or to make the hapless sit all too distracted from the dark realities? Mind you, the ongoing dengue cum viral deaths of the children are taking place because of poor sanitation and inadequate medical infrastructure, but the communal vitriol continues to be unleashed.

It is shocking and shameful. But nobody really cares if many more amongst us perish, thanks to the deadly combination of viral fever, infections, poverty, malnutrition and a fast crumbling State infrastructure.

Not to overlook the fact that Kushinagar, where the ‘Abba Jaan’ jibes were thrown at the minority community, is the very place where in 2017 a dark reality had emerged: young girls from the minority community had been kidnapped and forcibly converted and even married into Hindu households.

In fact, in January 2017, journalist Shweta Desai wrote a detailed feature in the DNA titled ‘Reverse love jihad surfaces in U.P’, focusing on this alarming trend in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. Months before this, several other reports had also focused on kidnappings and forced conversions in that region.

A 2016 report of the fact-finding team of the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat that travelled to Kushinagar district in Eastern Uttar Pradesh said: “Reports of large-scale rapes and kidnappings of Muslim girls, sometimes as young as 12 years, are true. These criminal incidents started on a large-scale since 2013. Most of the kidnapped or lured girls remain untraced while some are known to be living as Hindus. According to girls who have managed to flee from the clutches of their kidnappers, it has emerged that they were lured under various pretexts or snatched away from their villages. They were taken to distant places and temples where they were raped, forced to undergo shuddhi (purification) and then married forcibly to Hindu boys.”

“Girls who have managed to return are threatened and attempts are made to kidnap them again. The few who had the courage to go public and lodge complaints with the police are harassed and threatened with the connivance of the local police and administration which threatens the victims and files counter cases against them under SC/ST and Goonda Acts as a pressure tactic to force the victims to withdraw their complaints and cases,” it said.

“In one such case, Muhammad Haneef of village Dharmauli, father of a victim girl, collapsed and died in the office of the CO due to dire threats and filthy abuses…” the report said.

Shocking! But then nothing really shocks one in the surcharged settings of the day. Consider the fact that there were serious criminal cases against several so-called top politicians in Uttar Pradesh but they continue to rule over bruised, dying forms.

In fact, threats unleashed by the right-wing rulers have reached such a low that a particular minister in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet, during one of his tours to the University town of Aligarh, had gone ahead to say he will “bury alive” all those protesting against the CAA! Nah, no Aligarh-manufactured taala (lock) could seal his mouth from uttering such obnoxious words.

We are living in dark times

It seems a rather hopeless scenario. Perhaps, the only possible solution to counter this ongoing communal poisoning is the one which was detailed to me by actor-turned-politician Sunil Dutt. Years back, during the course of an interview, when I had asked him what could possibly halt the communal tensions and strife, he had said: “Yes, there can be a solution. Only last night I was going through the latest Time magazine and the photographs of the war-ridden Somalia shocked me so much that I couldn’t eat. It was dinner time but I couldn’t touch a morsel. Just couldn’t …Those horrifying pictures of human beings dying, sitting injured and ill, rendered so frail and weak that many couldn’t even walk.”

“These human disasters because of the ongoing civil strife in Somalia… I am going to suggest that those pictures be displayed all over our towns and cities, at all public places. And displaced with this caption: See, what internal war or strife or unrest can do to you, to your country, to your fellow countrymen,” he had added.

It is significant to point out that years back, the situation wasn’t so very alarming as it is today. These are indeed dark times!

Islam gives a high position to women

If only one were to go by the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, the essence would more than hold out. All possible rights are given to women in Islam.

In fact, I just re- read ‘The Sayings of Muhammad'. Compiled by Sir Abdullah Suhrawardy, with the foreword written by Mahatma Gandhi, this book was first published in 1941 by John Murray Publishers (London) and then re-published in 2002 by Goodword Books (India).

And each one of the Prophet’s sayings stresses on compassion and human values. There is also focus on the dignity and respect that ought to be given to women. To quote Bertram Thomas from this book, "He (Prophet Muhammad) never ceased to champion the cause of woman against the ill- treatment of his contemporaries. He condemned the practice of inheriting the widow with the rest of an estate as though she were a chattel. She must not be a despised creature to be ashamed of and to be ill-treated anymore, but a person to love and cherish and respect : at her feet lay the gates of paradise.”

Here are some of Prophet Muhammad’s sayings, mentioned in this book:

"Women are the twin-halves of men."

"Whoever doeth good to girls, it will be a curtain to him from hell-fire."

"Whoever hath a daughter, and doth not bury her alive, or scold her, or prefer his male children to her, may God bring him into Paradise." (This refers to the then prevalent practice of female infanticide which Prophet Muhammad abolished).
"God enjoins you to treat women well, for they are your mothers, daughters and aunts."

"The rights of women are sacred. See that women are maintained in the rights assigned by them.”

“Shall I not point out to you the best of virtues? It is your doing good to your daughter when she is returned to you having been divorced by her husband.”

"Do not prevent your women from coming to the mosque."

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