CAA extraordinary solution as problems created by partition were extraordinary: Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan
Khan said CAA is an extraordinary solution and exuded confidence that the present unrest will die on its own.Updated: Dec 23, 2019 16:29 IST
Amid widespread criticism of the recently-amended citizenship amendment act (CAA) from many quarters, including the Bharatiya Janata Party’s allies, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has turned a strong defender of the Union government and the new legislation.
In an interview with Ramesh Babu, Khan said CAA is an extraordinary solution and exuded confidence that the present unrest will die on its own.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
HT: Talking about the Citizenship Amendment Act, you recently said the Union government was only implementing the promises made by Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress. How did you arrive at the conclusion?
Khan: I am giving below what Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and others said about the non-Muslims in Pakistan (which then included Bangladesh as well) and I leave it to you to come to your conclusion whether it was a promise or not.
Mahatma Gandhi said on July 7, 1947: the Hindus and Sikhs who are in Pakistan, if they do not want to live there, then without doubt they have right to come to India. In this matter the government of India will be bound to provide them employment, citizenship and all facilities to live a comfortable life.
Pandit Nehru’s speech on August 15, 1947:
We feel concerned about our brothers and sisters who have become alienated from us due to new political boundaries and are not able to participate in freedom celebrations. I would like to make it clear that they belong to us and shall always belong to us. Their welfare and difficulties shall always be uppermost in our minds. I would like to assure them that they are free to come here and whenever they choose to come to India, we shall accept them.
Dr Rajendra Prasad, speech after taking oath as the First President of India:
We are keen to rehabilitate the refugees and those who are going through extreme difficulties. They are free to come to India any time, we shall welcome them with open arms.
AICC Resolution November 25, 1947:
Congress is duty bound to provide complete security to all non-Muslims of Pakistan who have crossed the boundary or are likely to come here for protecting their lives and honor.
Assam Pradesh Congress Committee Resolution June 1, 2015:
We will take up the unresolved issue of citizenship for the Bengali Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and people of other minority communities who came to Assam after being subjected to inhuman torture post the partition of India.
Manmohan Singh, December 18, 2003:
The minorities in countries like Bangladesh have to face persecution. If the situation forces them to flee then it is our moral duty to provide them citizenship of India.
Ashok Gehlot, CM Rajasthan, in a letter to P Chidambaram, the home minister of India, in July 2009:
I am writing this letter to draw your attention to Hindu and Sikh refugees who have come from Pakistan. Most of these displaced persons belong to Scheduled castes and other Hindu backward communities. They are living in camps in utter poverty. They are demanding Indian citizenship. I urge you to prepare a scheme to give them citizenship at the earliest.
Other than above mentioned promises, there are many other statements on record like that of Shri Pranab Mukherjee the then foreign minister, who assured the non-Muslims of Pakistan and Bangladesh that they will be welcome as and when they choose to come to India.
HT: You also said CAA is an extra ordinary solution. How?
Khan: I said extraordinary solution because the problems created by the partition of the country were extraordinary. You are well aware that notwithstanding the hatred and violence that happened on account of demand for partition, Jinnah (Mohhamad Ali) declared on August 11, 1947, that now that Pakistan has come into existence, the Muslims shall cease to be Muslims and Hindus shall cease to be Hindus and all citizens will have equal rights.
But the Pakistani establishment ignored this speech and adopted an Objectives Resolution that declared Pakistan to be an Islamic State, which by definition does not give equal rights to all citizens. I hold that these so-called religious laws are in direct conflict with the provisions of the Quran and were written more than 200 years after the death of holy Prophet but this body of laws written by men is described as Laws of Religion and denial of equality is justified.
The non-Muslim people of undivided India who lived in parts which became Pakistan had not demanded partition but after independence their status as Zimmis became even worse than their status in British India.
It is interesting to note that Maulana Azad had the foresight to predict before partition became a reality that people in western Pakistan have a militant mindset and it would become impossible for the Hindus to stay there. He had said: Either they will flee from there on their own or they will be forced to flee. In fact, Maulana had said that this partition will create a crisis for Islam in Pakistan and for Muslims in India. When I use the term extraordinary I use it in the sense that Maulana Azad had used it.
HT: Trouble is brewing the country like never before. Is it orchestrated?
Khan: An incident becomes newsworthy only when the phrase ‘like never before’ is used. It is not correct. In 1990 when the Mandal Commission happened there was much more violence but when later the same parties who had reservations about the Mandal Commission themselves came to power they extended the scope of Mandal to promotions as well. In 1985, after the Shah Bano judgment there was an uproar and the large rallies organised by the [All India Muslim] Personal Law Board forced the government to reverse the judgment. But in 2017, when the same issue came up before the Supreme Court, the Personal Law Board accepted all those things which they had rejected in 1986.
HT: Do you feel minority communities are misled by some elements?
Khan: I will not like to comment on this but I can tell you there is no dearth of people among Muslims today who say that the community was misled in 1947 when the Muslim League demanded partition on the basis that in free democratic India, Islam and Muslims will face existential threat. Likewise, there are many people now who blame the Personal Law Board for having misled them in 1986 by demanding reversal of SC (Supreme Court) judgment in the name of preserving the community identity that came with the removal of locks in Ayodhya as a balancing act by the then central government. The country and the people of India have paid a heavy price for these misadventures.
HT: Many in the Muslim community say they feel insecure now? How do we expel their fear?
Khan: I don’t agree with what you say. Maulana Azad, who was not only a statesman but an erudite commentator of the Quran, has said that the basic requirement of monotheism is that a believer should be oblivious to both fear and provocation.
HT: Shahbano, triple talak to CAA. What is your advice to community leaders?
Khan: I am nobody to advice them. But what I can share is my own belief with people who are ready to listen. If you wish to speak on behalf of Muslims then take your mores and morals from the Quran. The book tells us repeatedly to fear none but God (2.40). Further the book says: O you who believe, guard your own souls, if you follow right path, no hurt can come to you from those who stray (5.105). The book also says that all our afflictions are result of our own deed. It means that if we go by the teachings of Quran then instead of blaming others, we shall do self-introspection and try to find where we have gone wrong and resort to course correction.
HT: Your ongoing stint as the Governor of Kerala?
Khan: I love my job and that is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law and devote myself to the service and well being of the people of Kerala. I am a human being and I am aware of my limitations but I can tell you that as the Governor, I am trying to discharge my functions to the best of my ability and with utmost sincerity.