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Community bias no solution

Terrorists, whether they belong to any religion, are simply anti-national criminals. They need to be dealt without any sense of prejudice, and failing to do so can be counterproductive, writes Syed Hassan Kazim.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2008 19:50 IST
Syed Hassan Kazim

The Indian Express, India’s one of the best and responsible newspaper carried a picture on the front page of its city supplement ‘Newsline’ on September 25 of a boy being questioned by the Delhi police in the India Gate lawns. In the aftermath of 9/13 in Delhi interrogation of someone suspicious is not unusual. But the boy in the picture with a skull cap surrounded by the policemen evidently appears to be from the Muslim community.

This picture at its first appearance reveals the bias of the media and law enforcing agencies towards a particular community. Everyday so many people are being questioned on the streets of Delhi by the police but hardly anybody makes it into the pages of the National dailies. On the other hand many people would be visiting on the IndiaGate lawns but the questioning of a Muslim boy is again awful.

Being an witness to the operation Batla House on 19th September and a resident of Jamia Nagar the representation of facts by media and the conduct of the security agencies makes me to recount the incident. In the morning of 19th September at around 11 am I got a call from a colleague that there was an encounter going between and the suspected terrorists in the nearby L-18 flat of Batla House. I took my camera and rushed to the spot. And at that time the whole Batla House was cordoned off and while I was penning down this piece of article the building was still under high security cordon.

After the encounter there is a sense of fear and alienation among most of the residents of Jamia Nagar, which has become a “Police Chhawni” in common parlance, an area like Srinagar. The anger of the people rises whenever they talk to someone from the media.

“Why is it that the acts of terrorism and violence are regarded as an act of Islamic terrorism? Islam is a religion of peace, please do not defame it.”, asked Abdul Ghafoor , a software engineer working with a reputed multinational firm in Gurgaon. Sarfaraz Ahmad , a student of Jamia Millia Islamia says, “Since childhood we have been taught that violence begets violence and no one can justify any type of violence done by followers of any faith or religion, but when we see that there is no action after the Sri Krishna Commission report set up to probe the Mumbai riots , it pains a lot. Many police officers whom Sri Krishna commission found guilty were promoted.”

“When you can catch or execute a terrorist who happens to be Muslim then why is this government so much reluctant in acting against the accused of either the Gujarat or the Mumbai riots”, adds Sarfaraz.

No act of violence and terrorism can be justified but the carnage in Gujarat after the Godhra massacre in 2002, are perceived as having the implicit support of state administration, which saw more than a thousand people killed , mostly Muslims. It has clearly radicalized some of the elements of the minority community. Whether we accept it or not it is the main reason behind the home grown terror which has driven a minuscule section from the Muslim community towards the extreme forms of anti-social and destructive behavior. Obviously this cannot be justified at any cost.

Lalu Prasad Yadav says, “Modi is a communal virus centre and had he been punished on time for his crime no youth would have turned terrorist today”(Hindustan Times,dated 26th September).

In fact a terrorist is a terrorist either he is a Muslim or Hindu.

The authorities in power dealing with the acts of terrorism against the nation must understand that this battle cannot be won by identifying terrorism with any one single religions (or any other socially catagorised community). We lost our great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Rajeev Gandhi to the bullets of terrorists none of whom were associated with any Muslim group or outfit.

The communalism or terrorism either they are of minority or majority community only tend to feed off each other. According to the NGOs Anhad and Human Right’s Law Network , a large number of innocent young Muslims have been and are victimized by the police on the charge of being involved in various terrorist activities, particularly in Gujarat , Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. And this victimization and demonisation of a particular community is having a very serious psychological impact on the minds of not only the families of the victims but also other members of the community, which is leading to a sense of insecurity and alienation.

There is no evidence to suggest that these terror groups who happen to be Muslims are truly representative of the mindset of the Indian Muslims or they have any real support within the Muslim community as a whole. Just as the Sikh militants of 1980s did not represent their community, these bombers do not represent Indian Muslims.

Asghar Ali Engineer, one of the most secular writers and a renowned Islamic scholar in India says, “Every I go I see how upset the Muslim intelligentsia is with the way the community is being treated by the communalized polity and media.When a state discriminates against a section of it’s citizens , it prepares a fertile ground for retaliation.”

In 2006, two Bajrang dal members died in nanded while making crude bombs but nothing came out of that and a similar incident happened in Kanpur last month. Why is it that the government misses no chance to ban dreaded terrorist organizations like SIMI and Indian Mujahedeen , but at the same time it seems to be reluctant in banning Bajrang Dal, the cadres of which are on a rampaging spree , by burning Churches and rioting in various states.

In a nutshell, terrorists simply are anti-national criminals. They need to be dealt without any sense of prejudice. Failing to do so can be counterproductive and unfortunately the bias towards the minority community may promote many hardliners to take extreme steps.