NIC: A Mere Eye-Wash

By Prof Javed Mughal. Dated: 7/21/2012 12:20:07 AM

National Integration Council, the brain child of Nehru, was designed to defend this multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-community nation against the malaise of communal disharmony, religious bigotry and discrimination on the basis of caste, creed and colour. But is the NIC doing the needful in the country? Is it implementing its aims and objectives in letter and spirit? Has it ever been successful in maintaining peace and harmony on the soil of India since the day one of independence? And the most important question is: Has NIC ever succeeded in providing the minorities a respectable niche in the country? It is feared that the answer will not be satisfactory.
Whenever the meeting of NIC is held, least attention to the minorities has been rendered and if at all some provisions were ever envisaged in the proceedings of the meeting, they remained just confined to the documents and were never carried into effect. As usual in the very recent past, a meeting of National Integration Council was held to deliberate on the status of National Integration or communal harmony across the country. Such meetings, conferences and discussions are held most often in the country wherein the intellectuals participate; silver tongued speeches are delivered but no results come out for the fact that none touches the ground realities. Everything takes place in a customary fashion. The agenda of the meeting was so confusing that it did not speak about many vital issues which were the actual stumbling blocks on the way to the world of national solidarity or communal harmony.
NIC meetings have failed to mention about the discrimination being faced by the SC population at large in the agenda papers. Is that not true that even today there are numerous temples in the country which refuse entry to them in their sanctum? The violence in Mirchpur-Hissar, Kaithal, Bohana-Sonepat, Jhajjar-Dullina, Kherlanji-Maharashtra, reminds us about their suppression. For months, the SC population was forced to live outside the violence affected areas. Their just demand for reservation in private sector needs urgent attention of the nation for inclusive development of the population at large.
As for the religious minorities, much water has flown down the river during the last nine years but the blood stains of the innocents of Gujarat still remind the nation of the political patronage and involvement of the political figures in the genocide. The experiences of Nillei massacre of Muslims in Assam in 1983, the Sikh massacre of 1984 and the genocidal pogrom of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, are shocking examples of the failure of state machinery in protecting the numerically weak religious groups from the onslaught of the perpetrators of hate crimes. No doubt people from all communities are affected by the communal violence but studies point out that religious minorities suffer greater harm and loss and find less protection of law due to institutional bias in the performance of statutory duties.
What about those who, having roots in Sangh Parivar, have been pointed out to have committed bomb blasts in several Muslim concentrated cities including Hyderabad, Malegaon and Jaipur? If terrorism has no religion, what was the need to organise press conferences, lead delegations to the President of India, condemn the arrests, lend support to them and jump to early conclusion that these former active members of RSS and members of Sangh Parivar at large are being victimised? Was that not the game of vote bank politics? People talk about the sanctity of saffron colour in the cultural civilization of India. Has Sadhvi Pragya not stained the saffron with blood? Nobody from Sangh Parivar is ready and forthcoming to respond to this million dollar question.
I wonder where is our collective endeavour and commitment to fight militancy and terrorism when we rush to support or demonise because of our religious affiliations. The way the Muslims are targeted and others are ignored, would complicate our desire to fight terror. People talk about the presence of Indian terror modules. If it is true that there are Indian modules who have been attracted to terror activities from the Muslim community, it requires an urgent analysis about the reasons behind the same. At the same time, why have there been no serious actions and discussion on the terror activities on Abhinav Bharat and other Sangh inspired terror outfits. One can claim that Sangh is a nationalist cultural organization but why every Hindu terrorist arrested so far has roots in the Sangh affiliated organisations?
Sangh Parivar has successfully brainwashed large segment of Indian middle class in opposing entry of Muslim families and mosques in their neighbourhood. Recently the nation's capital had witnessed three unfortunate incidents. In the radius of four kilometers of Indian Parliament, the residents of Jorbagh opposed the repair of a mosque in the historical karbala complex and the extension of a Masjid on the Waqf land in Bhogal. In both the cases Sangh-oriented forces went to the court and got orders to restrict the repairs in karbala and demolish the mosque in Bhogal. In the third case, within the radius of around 12 kms from Indian Parliament, in Rohini, the state government was forced to cancel the allotment of land for mosque to the Muslims of the area under pressure of the local Sangh group. On the occasion of last Eid, the Naurangsar Panchayat in Churu District of Rajasthan had not allowed the small local Muslim population to perform Eid prayers on the unused government land and the strong police force had harassed the population of 300 Muslims throughout the Eid day.
We talk about integration of J&K but refuse to integrate its people in the Indian society. In the recent past the activists of ABVP in the state of Madhya Pradesh, had violently opposed the admission of Kashmiri students in state universities, in spite of the fact that these students got their admission only because of their academic excellence. I did not find any statement of any nationalist leader in support of these innocent Kashmiri students. What happened to the poor Muslims in Jammu and its surrounding areas during the same Amarnath Land Row is not in dark from anyone. Even my car was assaulted at Bantalab but I escaped somehow. This is all leaves a question mark on the democratic, plural and secular character of this country. These misguided youth from ABVP have followed the path of hate shown by Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Narnirman Sena in Maharashtra. The only difference was that in Maharashtra the victims were north Indians and in Madhya Pradesh the victims were from Kashmir and Muslims too. During Amarnath Yatra row, one of the Ministers of the BJP in the coalition government of Punjab had organised an economic blockade of J&K state which was lifted only after the intervention of Mr. Advani when it was highlighted and condemned by the civil society and covered by the media.
Unfortunately, some people talk about integration only when it suits them politically. We have different parameters for judging and reacting to the political developments. It's easy to condemn Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, for his comment on his hypothetical assumptions of a resolution by the J&K Assembly on Afzal Guru clemency but difficult to condemn the clemency's proposal for the killers of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, by the Tamil Nadu Assembly or that of the Khalistan's propagator by the Punjab Assembly from the same people who had rushed to condemn Omar Abdullah. Is the killing of Rajiv Gandhi not an assault on the nation? Amusingly the party who had condemned Omar for his wishful thinking is part of the coalition government in Punjab.
After the Sachar report, Muslim community had expected a fair and inclusive development plan for its empowerment. I know that UPA has expressed its strong desire to initiate schemes for the educational empowerment of the Muslim community but what all practically has been done needs an in-depth analysis. Nothing concrete would emerge unless there is a separate sub plan for Muslims in the ensuing Five Year Plan. The continuous decline of the Muslims in Parliament and State Legislatures needs an urgent attention. Sachar had pointed that there are 80 reserved Parliamentary constituencies where the population of the Muslims is larger than that of the Scheduled Castes. In the delimitation process, constituencies are crafted in such unconventional ways that the Muslims are finding it difficult to reach to the House of Legislatures. If the present version of Women Reservation Bill is passed, it is feared that the strength of the Muslims would come down to single digit within ten years of its implementation. If that happens, it would be the saddest day for the plural character of the nation state. There is a fine distinction between the concepts of integration and assimilation. A successful democracy is one which integrates all segments of its society and discourages all those who desire assimilation of its minorities. Can the NIC play a role in this regard?



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