By Ghani Siddique:-
These are interesting times for Muslims all around the world; as Muslims after centuries of decadently suspended discourse are finally trying to think about what to think? A genuine question given the acute state of affairs of Muslim world with their overt drumming but covert alienation with Islam.
Zooming in, such a pursuit of thinking about what to think has been applied to Muslims in sub-continent especially Pakistanis. Where critical sages, regardless of availability of huge cache of unsolved ideas that need sagacious evaluation, keep reverting to the very genesis of our Independence; the Two Nation Theory.
The young generation is often marred with the preposition of being unjustly tagged with inherently flawed Two Nation Theory by the wits of an alien in sub-continent who did not understand politics or religion. The alien (Muhammad Ali Jinnah) disturbing exploited religious diversity of a peaceful, coherent, integrated sub-continent with sparkling religious co-existence and unnecessarily paved the way for creation of Pakistan. Two Nation Theory is further contested by creation of Bangladesh, providing evidential fodder to sages who nullify divisions on basis of religion.
This criticism of Two Nation Theory is further highlighted and justified with Indian Muslims’ claim of living in dignified co-existence in India. Of course, Indian Muslims while claiming this, silently skip Muslims of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, as their behavior pattern being paranoid is not in consonance with the ‘good Muslims’ in India. This ponderous intellectual theme of Jinnah’s mistake is especially interesting if viewed from the prism of ongoing agitation and protests in India against of Citizen Amendment Act (CAA), passed by Indian parliament in December. The protests with students taking lead have taken grasp of the whole country.
As per RSS and BJP, a ‘Hindustan’ is essentially for those whose ‘Fatherland’ and ‘Holyland’ is Hindustan. Although there is a little technical issue of country’s English name ‘India’. After avowing of Modi as PM of India in 2014, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) pracharak and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Rajeshwar Singh claimed that Muslims and Christians would be wiped out of India by December 31, 2021. The confident seculars of India promptly dismissed this as fringe elements; however, five years later, Indian Parliament passed CAA, exclusively shutting door on Muslim immigrants.
CAA in short, selectively offers citizenship rights to non-Muslims refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan for six minorities including Hindus, Parsis, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Sikhs. The bill differentiates between victims on basis of religion. All Amendments proposed by Indian opposition to include all refugees and persecuted persons from neighboring counties including Sri-Lanka and Myanmar; were voted down. India’s holy venture is defying logic, as Sri Lankan Tamils that includes Indian Tamils, who were forcibly located to Sri Lanka by British and Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in India; are living in desperate condition, being stuck in no man’s land.
CAA creating a divide on religious grounds in secular India is spreading panic not only among refugees who have settled in the state for decades but also in Muslim population (27% – 2011 census). After CAA, Muslim immigrants will be reduced to pathetic conditions in detention camps and onward for deportation while their other compatriots would get relief. Clearly the identity of Muslims in India; regardless of claims is considered as ‘One’ with a differential ‘Other’; interpreting as ‘the other one’, so says Two-nation theory, but with a little more pride.
The opposition of CAA is felt all around; however, it is the loudest in Assam. The aversion in Assam is because CAA would pave the way for giving citizenship to mostly illegal Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh, who came to Assam after 1971 in violation of the agreement of the Assam Accord (1985), which has no religion-based classification or distinction. It does not permit Indian citizens to buy lands, do business, enter government service or have voting rights in Assam.
The CAA cannot be seen in isolation as without NRC (National Register of Citizens). One can never forget that BJP leaders have called Bengali Muslims in Assam “termites”. Now West Bengal BJP Chief Dilip Ghosh publicly stated that, “two crore Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators have entered India, one crore is in West Bengal and one crore have spread across the country. We will not allow any Bangladeshi Muslims to stay here even If their names are in voters’ list, it will be removed”. Now two crore termites can seriously cause major health problems in India.
Assamese sees CAA as a design to take away their freedom and it will encourage fresh influx of Bangla-speaking Hindu Bangladeshis to Assam and overwhelm Assamese and other ethnic languages. Anti-CAA protests have turn into a mass resistance, reviving anti-foreigner agitation in Assam. Government imposed indefinite curfew, suspension of Internet, promulgation of Section 144, thus resorting to firing rubber bullets. Nevertheless, over 30,000 Assamese have defied the curfew during protests. On detailed inspection, the situation draws certain similarities to Jammu & Kashmir; the patient in this case is clearly preempting that another abrogation in order; so called ‘Modi’s medieval management methods’.
The public outcry against passing of CAA is much louder than relatively muted celebration among certain Hindu refugees’ communities. Human right organizations and student bodies from different institutions have taken their protests to the streets. The response was not anticipated by anyone especially BJP. According to Indian media figure, more than 30 people have died with hundreds injured. Of course, it is not easy being the world biggest democracy; it needs blood and sweat.
After speedy passage of CAA from Indian Parliament in December. It seems the only way out is, Indian judicial system. Ironically, it has showed its vulnerability and willingness to bow to an assertive executive as in cases of the Babri Mosque; which was solved as an issue of simple land dispute with fast-tracked 40 day daily hearing. The verdict on petitions challenging communication lockdown in Kashmir, kept awaiting implementation. Now Indian Supreme Court, after refusing to stay law, has sought government response within four weeks to a batch of 143 pleas challenging constitutional validity of CAA. Lawyer Gautam Bhatis describes this as the doctrine of “Judicial Evasion”, as Modi government has never lost a case and perhaps never will.
Some analyst fear that CAA and NRC will harm India’s relationships with its South Asian neighbors, particularly with Bangladesh and Nepal. When the NRC was carried out in Assam, Bangladesh was center of the entire debate. Bangladesh has its own concerns as it has rejected Indian narration of persecution of minorities in neighboring states including Bangladesh. It fears that CAA may trigger exodus of Bengali speaking Assamese creating another Rohingya like crisis in Bangladesh. It will also harm remaining relations with Pakistan; as outwardly rejecting its Muslims, India is covertly giving citizenship to rogue nationalistic elements. Why bother hiding a good deed?
The BJP led government is selling CAA, as an innocent relief to persecuted minorities, a campaign for selective humanity seeking asylum in India. After verdict on Babri Mosque case, abrogation of article 370, controversial triple talaq ruling; BJP government continuing with its hubris came up with CAA. Clearly failing to anticipate the extent of protests that engulfed not only universities campuses but also spread to other sections of society. Secular Indians are also opposing CAA in a bid to hold and prevent speeding ‘coming out’ of Indian ‘Hindutva’ ideology.
Some analysts within India see CAA as a political ploy to deflect attention from key economic issues government has failed to address. Nevertheless, democracy is measured by strong electoral and executive institutes. The prompt passage of CAA from Indian parliament versus street protests depicts wide gap between government and masses. No doubt, all governments take unpopular decisions, however, there is agreement within, at least on basic human rights and identity interpretation.
Clearly, the biggest democracy is lacking on the very essence of democracy. BJP led government misread the silence of Indian Muslims on Abrogation of Article 370 and Supreme Court controversial verdict on Babri Mosque and the resentment on Triple-Talaq. It seems that CAA was the exhaustion point, which is venting out subdued anger of Muslims over a series of events.
Indians scholars have accused M.A. Jinnah for creating divisions on basis of religion. However, CAA marks a historic departure from India’s long standing opposition of the Two Nation Theory. The critics of two-nation theory interprets division of Pakistan and further creation of Bangladesh as denial of two-nation theory. Firstly, this theory does not necessarily confine to explicitly create two countries for two religious entities; it enforces the undeniable truth that Muslims in sub-continent will not be able get basic rights under Hindu domination and need separate identity under separate homeland.
India is trying to readjust focus from its exemplary behavior in Jammu and Kashmir, and presents itself as cradle for peace and prosperity for innocent victims in the region. In reality, the division based on sacred land was made little before M.A. Jinnah demanded for a separate state of Pakistan. An Indian historian Aditya Mukherjee has noted; if holylands outside India could not be part of the Hindu nation, then were they a separate nation? Were there then two nations in India?
After reading, the newfound realization in comments of confined politicians of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and following the protest agitation on CAA. It seems what Jinnah perceived is unfolding in patches since creation of Pakistan. Furthermore, at least Pakistan has the honesty to rightly claim itself as an ideological state. What good is an empty proclamation of blotched secular identity, which is unacceptable to masses and cannot be executed on ground?
It seems that Jinnah during his time in Congress gauged that Hindu ruling elite will never cater for Muslim needs. What others fail to understand is that Islam creates its own way of life, which is invariably different in interpretation and action. This cannot be achieved or catered to by few laws accommodating the complete doctrine. Had Bangladesh resorted to rejoin with India that would have negated the two-nation theory. Creation of Bangladesh only exemplify overall political and military stigmas within Muslim world. Therefore, the Two-nation theory still stand tall, it is an inevitable reality, which is more palpable with each passing year.