Why ‘The Sarkari Musalman’?     

One wonders why General Zameeruddin Shah has named his book, “The Sarkari Muslaman”. He said, “I had this title in my mind since long. And the reason is, that my family was called a Sarkari Muslaman”

Photo courtesy: PTI
Photo courtesy: PTI

Rana Siddiqui Zaman

“My religion is my uniform. I am a Sarkari Musalman”

One wonders why General Zameruddin Shah has named his book, "The Sarkari Muslaman". On being asked, he said, in an interview to me, "I had this title in my mind since long. And the reason is, that my family was called a Sarkari Muslaman, meaning those who worked for the government, my ancestors for the British and later my grandfather, my father and I worked for the Government of India, hence our family is called Sarkari Musalmans.”

He adds, “It’s about how we took part in the first world war, how we sided with the British during the Mutiny, when we migrated from Afghanistan, having been thrown out.

The book cover has been chosen strategically, says Shah. “I, a Sarkari Musalman, am hoisting the national flag on Independence Day at Aligarh Muslim University as its Vice Chancellor, and several colours are shown in the title; the maroon is an Army colour, and the rest are from the tricolour.”

“The first chapter explains it all. “My great great great grandfather was the Governor of Pakhwan. Due to palace intrigue, he was thrown out. So, he came to the British, sold his sultanate and sided with the British. He was given jagirdaris, etc. I think he made the right choice for himself at the time.”

"Then, I faced this phrase again when I was a young Second Lieutenant in Dehradun. I saw a few excellent riders from Aligarh Muslim University playing Polo. I was immensely impressed by them. I went to them and asked, "Please join the Army. We need good riders. You will also get to play Polo.' As they were leaving, I asked them again, "Will you join the Army. This is the last bastion of secularism. You will never be discriminated for being a Muslim.". No answer came from them but one of them said, "You are a Sarkari Muslaman, so you will say that."

Was Narendra Modi responsible for not controlling the Gujarat genocide? The retired General is curt. "I will not make any political comment. In this regard, I will be a Sarkari Musalman." He, however, quips, "I have said clearly that the Gujarat incident was a total administrative failure.”

"I feel, the charred, blood-ridden bodies from the burnt bogies were aimed at provoking the riots. As I saw them, I asked the administration to immediately remove them, as they were igniting passion. But my request was not met. They remained in view of the killing public and worsened the situation." More Muslims recruited in police services would help, he believes.

On Kashmir, he quips, "I can only say that there is no military solution to a humanitarian problem. I know that if you infuriate the locals, you get reaction.”

The book cover has been chosen strategically, says Shah. “I, a Sarkari Musalman, am hoisting the national flag on Independence Day at Aligarh Muslim University as its Vice Chancellor, and several colours are shown in the title; the maroon is an Army colour, and the rest are from the tricolour.”

For all the latest India News, Follow India Section.