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This country won't allow another Jinnah

This country won't allow another Jinnah

Author: Easwaran Nambudiri
Publication: Organiser
Date: November 12, 2006
URL: http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=156&page=2

Introduction: The Sachar Committee's findings are a clear intervention in the criminal jurisprudence system. Those batting for retaining the personal law for Muslims and are opposing tooth and nail a uniform civil code must answer why Muslims should not be governed by the Islamic criminal jurisprudence as well.

Muslims across India are severely under-represented in government employment, including PSUs, compared to the percentage of their population in a state.

Be it education, health, transport, or home, in virtually all departments of state governments, the share of Muslims employed is way below their share in the population.

If Muslims are worse off than Scheduled Castes when it comes to education, they significantly trail behind Other Backward Classes virtually across the board: education, employment, poverty levels and land holdings.

In sharp contrast to education and employment, where their share is way, way below their share of the population, Muslims have a disproportionately high representation when it comes to being in prison.

Some secessionist document this. Or is it the manifesto of pre-partition Muslim League or propaganda material of Pakistan Television? Nay, these are said to be the 'findings' of the Prime Minister's high-level committee headed by Justice (Retd) Rajinder Sachar, which is working on a national survey of the social, educational and economic status of the Muslims in India. The Committee was scheduled to submit its report by October end but has sought an extension till mid-November. But strangely, its contents have been selectively leaked out to the media through reporters close to the cause in an apparent attempt to test the waters before making the report public.

Having burnt its fingers with its outrageous suggestion for a numerical survey of Muslims in the armed forces, which was outrightly rejected by the three service Chiefs and forced even the Prime Minister's Office to distance itself from the move following a national uproar, the Committee knows too well that its so-called findings are bound to boomerang given its seditious and anti-national contents, which seeks to project the Muslims as second-class citizens and provoke them to demand further concessions including communal reservations and subsequently communal electorate.

"In fact, in many states, Muslims even make up a higher percentage of the population in jail than they do outside".

This data, a key finding of the Prime Minister-appointed Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee, has major social and political implications. Such a high figure of incarceration, experts say, means further marginalisation of the community, deepening prejudice and distrust.

After the hue and cry over the death sentence handed out to Mohd Afzal, the key accused in the Parliament attack case, this write-up seeks to suggest that even arresting Muslims in criminal cases would amount to their alienation and therefore, they should be above law.

If capital punishment for Santosh Kumar Singh in the Priyadarshini Mattoo murder case is justice, then how can the death sentence for Afzal, charged with masterminding the dastardly Parliament attack, be dubbed injustice? Why those seeking to defend Afzal under the garb of human dignity and opposing capital punishment per se, are silent on Santosh Kumar Singh? We hold absolutely no brief for Singh and he has got what he deserved, but pray, why this double standard? Is it because Singh does not represent any vote-bank? The nation seeks answers.

The Sachar Committee's findings are a clear intervention in the criminal jurisprudence system. Those batting for retaining the personal law for Muslims and are opposing tooth and nail a uniform civil code must answer why Muslims should not be governed by the Islamic criminal jurisprudence as well wherein most of the aforesaid prisoners would have either been stoned to death, their hands chopped off and their eyes gouged out.

Now, protection of the religious identity should not be confined to personal laws alone but penal procedures as well. If you have the right and privilege to divorce by pronouncing talaq thrice, you should also have the courage to face death by stoning for committing adultery. You cannot have the cake and eat it too.

It is indeed sad that an exercise claimed to be aimed at finding the reasons for the 'plight' of Muslims has ended up blowing the symptoms out of proportion while ignoring and blacking out the root causes. While the Committee should certainly suggest remedial measures, it should have been bold enough to point out to the Muslims their shortcomings which have hindered their joining the mainstream.

For example, how can you expect a community to excel in the health sector when its members are refusing to administer the much-needed polio drops to their children fearing that it could lead to impotency and infertility?

While other deprived and backward sections are taking advantage of schemes such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to improve their educational capabilities, the majority of Muslims continue to send their wards to obscurantist madrasas where modern education is the first casualty. And logically enough, there cannot be adequate representation without proportional educational qualification.

Though the objectives of the panel were skewed and short-sighted, it could have used the opportunity to analyse the reasons for the backwardness of the community and suggested remedies both to the government and to the community leadership.

Unfortunately, the objectives of the ruling Congress party, which sought to implement job reservation for Muslims in Andhra Pradesh and Assam, are very clear. They want to divide and rule in their blind pursuit of power.

A memorandum, submitted to the Sachar Committee by the Kerala-based Forum for Faith and Fraternity, has demanded among other things creation of a Ministry of Muslim Affairs at the Centre, reservation for Muslims in public sector through legislation, mandatory appointment of Muslims in the Board of all public sector banks, financial institutions, selection/recruitment/departmental promotional committees, free emigration to Muslim countries and an end to campus recruitment by both public and private sector institutions.

It would not be surprising if the Committee recommends these suggestions. The agenda is crystal clear. The objectives are alienation and separation, not amalgamation and mainstreaming. The experimental balloon is out. The nation should rise as one man to vehemently oppose fresh partition moves in the 60th anniversary of its independence.

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