Minority Card
By Maxwell Pereira
mfjpkamath@gmail.com

The Supreme Court has rejected the PIL filed by petitioner Vijay Kumar Tiwari seeking prosecution of Uttar Pradesh’s Haj Minister Mohammed Yakub Qureshi. In the petition, the minister was accused of inciting communal passions by announcing a reward of Rs 51 crore at a public rally on the head of the Danish cartoonist for his depiction of Prophet Mohammed. Does this absolve though, the reprehensible act of the minister? NO!

The court has only observed that every statement or counter-statement on a controversial issue does not become an issue for approaching the courts with a public interest litigation, and advised the petitioner that he could file a criminal complaint in the matter before an appropriate forum – if he so desired. The controversy had arisen after Qureshi announced the reward at a protest rally in Meerut recently. Whether the appropriate forum of a police station and criminal court under total control of the local ruling government of which the minister is a part can render due justice is totally another matter.

A couple of days ago, the Kerala Assembly has called for the release of cleric Abdul Nasser Madani – a person accused of terrorism in the February 1998 Coimbatore blasts, ‘on humanitarian grounds’. This, even when the charges against the individual were so serious as to warrant the Supreme Court to reject his bail plea last year. Nearly 60 people were killed in these blasts, in which Madani is one of the main accused. Even before this case he was known for his inflammatory speeches and leanings towards extremism. In the face of this background, the act of the state assembly and the elected people’s representatives that constitute it is considered no less reprehensible. Does it not deserve to be termed as perverse too?

What is it with our elected representatives? Are they really representatives of the people and their pulse? And if so, are we ourselves as the people who elected these representatives equally as perverse and reprehensible? Have we as a people lost sight of all rationale and reason? Or are we so complacent and apathetic as to be not bothered with the wiles and machinations of those we have elected, as we totally ignore the reprehensible acts they indulge in just to remain in power by promoting their own struggle for survival in the political arena? So what is this electoral ploy to play the minority card?

The BJP played the religious card, and played it deftly, to achieve a meteoric rise to grow in Parliament in no time from a mere two MPs to a party with the largest strength. But even that backfired, thanks to the basic secular fabric and tolerant ethos of the Indian people whose insides revolted when the religious card turned fundamentalist. Lalu Prasad ran riot in Bihar for 15 years playing the caste card, and even he was made to bite dust. The caste politics continue to dominate in UP, at one stage catapulting the Bahujan Samajwadi Party and its Mayavati to heights, only to help amass her ill-gotten assets that television channels are now busy showing us. Sadly for her, even the caste card could not fully hold.
And then the minority card – the bastion that the Congress party always held on to complacently as their birth-right. But comes a Mulayam to wrest this one too literally to wipe out the Congress from the face of UP. And so in matters Muslim, it is the Samajwadi party that’s gripped firmly the Muslim vote not wanting to let go at any cost, even if it means condoning the criminal utterances of its Muslim minister that can incite and inflame the ever surcharged communal atmosphere in the state. And in the hope of still getting back the Muslim vote banks, it is no surprise even the Congress government at the centre is seen treading carefully over the fatwa issue of Qureshi in UP, fearing alienation of Muslim sentiment.

That Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi party government is a hotbed seat of comfort for kidnappers and extortionists – a haven for the likes of Ansaris and Raja Bhaiyyas, is and has been, a fore gone conclusion since long. Even though one also sees a good beating suffered recently by Amar Singh type rhetoric regime of provocateurs and rabble-rousers, minority politics in the state has not seen the end of day. The result is nothing but continued exploitation, lack of development of and in the minority community, thereby widening the rift, driving in wedges of discontent and acrimony. The sad thing is that the exploited community fails to see this.

By common perception, the minority members view themselves today as victims in every field of activity, slowly but steadily migrating towards a hate filled limbo of alienation. And the majority community increasingly and sweepingly tends to brand all in the minority group as anti socials, even as terrorists. In the bargain, the police get seen as partisan in their dealings – when two groups confront each other on the frontlines of the law, it appears invariably the Muslim suspect versus the police. Which perhaps led former DGP Prakash Singh tell a TV news channel recently, “while all Muslims are not terrorists, 98% of those arrested for terrorism are Muslims!” Obviously, he did not account for the other arenas of terrorism that existed or are existing in the country – be it in the north-east, or the spreading naxalite red menace raging across many districts of as many as seventeen states of our country where there may not be a single Muslim terrorist.

Be it for our politicians, be it for the executive, or the courts, the need of the hour is to treat all equally before the law. Just as our Constitution guarantees, but is sadly unable to ensure.

Mar 21, 2006: 950 words: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// www.maxwellperira.com and maxpk@vsnl.com

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