Saturday, September 13, 2008

I’m doubly scared: kaheen ke nahin rahe

Before I begin, I’d like to send up a prayer for those who have lost their lives & loved ones in the ghastly & condemnable acts of violence perpetrated in Delhi today.
May God grant their souls peace & strength to the ones they were snatched from. Amen.

Every time there is a bomb blast in India, it leaves me a little more scarred. My worry & fear grow each time this happens. By God’ grace, thankfully it hasn’t interfered with normal life yet & may it never, but the aftermath of the blasts for me is consternation, worry & a growing fear.
Fear that every Indian living in a city feels; but there is another fear that I face – one that snehal joshi in the shame on you bal-t thread encouraged – the fear of a backlash.

So I live with two fears. I am now the proverbial dhobi ka kutta, na ghar ka na ghat ka!

Isn’t that the intent of the terrorists?
Make Indians feel insecure.
Make them mistrust each other.
Make them fight each other.
Weaken our country.

My wife asks, “What do these terrorist get from exploding bombs & killing innocents of all religions? How does Muslims being mistrusted more & more by the less enlightened masses help their cause?”
I tell her that up the entire line, there is money being made. Someone is financing these terrorist activities. It’s absurd to imagine that the financing comes from within India. It has to be from someone who is India’s strategic, commercial or ideological enemy. And that there could be many.

So why is the needle of suspicion deliberately pointed in one direction?
Can’t there be others whose humanity & patriotism is up for sale?
There are examples where bomb factories were found in Nagpur under the auspices of the sangh parivar.
There was a blast engineered by them in Kerala & the people apprehended were workers from one of their affiliates.

The authorities have been saying for quite some time that they know that the Indian Mujahideen who is claiming to have engineered all these blasts is merely a front for some other organization. They don’t know for a fact which organization. Is it possible that anyone from Naxals to Maoists to Mujahideens to the Hindutvis sitting in the Opposition are behind all of this? After all, there has to be a vested interest here; and there is no guarantee of anyone’s patriotism. Traitors & terrorists can be from any community. Is it possible that this entire exercise is an elaborate plan to create disharmony & mistrust, and is beginning to succeed? I don’t know for sure.

What I do know is this: I don’t want the terrorists & their backers to succeed. I don’t want to be scared & I don’t want anyone to scare me.

Another personal story to share:
I had a friend over for dinner the other night. She is a Gujarati, one who was in Baroda, fresh out of college, during the 2002 riots. Her family sheltered their neighbours & close friends of many years, a Muslim family (for which they drew a lot of flak from their other neighbours) for which her father had to stand outside & single-handedly argue down the hindutvis who had come for the fugitive Muslim family. Thankfully he succeeded.
She talked of the changed nature of Baroda. She talked of how modi was seen as the unifier of Hindu forces in Gujarat. She talked about how her father voted for modi because of that, not because of the so-called development that he has been taking credit for.
She is a fairly disillusioned Indian today, one who takes pride in her apathy.
She went so far as to suggest that since my Muslim name will never allow me to prove my patriotism to most people in this country, I too should develop apathy towards what is happening in my country.

I’m trying but not succeeding…


  1. Is it possible that anyone from Naxals to Maoists to Mujahideens to the Hindutvis sitting in the Opposition are behind all of this? After all, there has to be a vested interest here; and there is no guarantee of anyone’s patriotism.

    Absolutely possible. I got this comment on my blog to add to that thought.

    No apathy is not going to help. We need to hear moderate Muslim voices louder than the sound of the blasts, sending message of peace, shunning each and every act of terrorism as anti Islam every single time it happens. The terrorists who claim to be killing people in name of Allah have to be shamed by their own alla or Allah's representatives, the Imams.

    Can we have that?

  2. Your Gujrati friend's advise simply means that if you fight for yourself, you are not taken as seriously as, if you fight for a cause. I met someone from Gujrat yesterday, he is also an ardent Modi fan and hates Muslims. My daughter stared at me in horror when I said "I understand how you feel, I felt the same way earlier but don't you think Modi and Advani have made us all aware of the differences, we never noticed before?"
    My daughter was horrified because she knows how much and how strongly I condemn Modi, VHP, Sangh Parivar, Advani and all. How could I discuss them so simply and even claim to understand their point of view? Well, simply because I wanted to make this Gujrati guy see sense. ARGUMENTS and passionate cursing will not change anybody's minds.
    I believe he is a sane guy, he has a family, he prays, he thinks ... then what makes him hate so unreasonably?
    People who hate Muslims really hate them. Why??? Some are completely prejudiced, can't do much about them. But there are many who just need to see Muslims as ordinary Indian citizens, facing similar problems, living similar lives, school admissions, tuition, watching TV, loking for better jobs, difficult teens - you can talk to THESE people.
    If you find this offensive I will refrain from saying any more. It is well intended.
    There's lots more I wish to say, because I also read Yaamyn's post, and it broke my heart.

  3. you know what, my bigger concern is that if Taufeeq guy is really behind all this then we should be really really worried on two counts-
    1) These are educated, literate people with thinking capacity not just some one who can be swayed with some images and storeis
    2) There are lot of people out there who support the cause because he seems to have a lot of safehouses and people to turn to.
    Which means there may be many more like him in the making and there's nothing that we could do to stop this

  4. Sanju,

    To answer your question, it's not that the secular Muslims aren't raising their voices. Someone doesn't seem to be covering them enough...

    Notice the semi-derogatory heading of the article?


    I never find anything you say offensive. :-)
    This time however I don't think I'm getting your point.


    Someone mentioned the movie "A Wednesday" & the helplessness that Naseer's character feels in it. I haven't seen it, but that could be the case.

    Im an educated, gainfully employed, broadminded half-Muslim. If people make me insecure, don't you think I will hit out at some point? Some people may not have my patience. Some people may get the idea that instead of slapping one modi/thakre in the face, it's a better idea to blow up 12 bombs in Bombay.

    The only thing we can do to stop this is to engage all communities & prevent them from feeling alienated. That will stop the harbouring of terrorists. After that it's just a question of stopping the main men behind it.
    And that is not going to be easy either. You see, for all you know the likes of advani or modi could be behind these blasts to further their agenda. It's possible, politics is a very dirty game in India. Our films are full of politicians like that.

  5. Sanju, Utopianthots..

    You SHOULD read this:

    And you MUST pass it around so that all of India can read it!!!

    So much damage this sangh parivar has caused...!

  6. 1. Your Gujrati friend's concern about your name made me think, that it helps to fight as a non-Muslim. When they don't trust you or hate a community, how will they have an open-minded discussion with anyone from that community?

    2. Many Modis and VHP etc are going out of their way to spread distrust and hatred, it MUST be countered with sane discussion. Take people who say they hate Muslims seriously, and answer them point by point, without loosing your cool.

    3.Why should you care to do this? We are all equal citizens of India, none of us owes anyone any such explanations or justifications - I KNOW. But what are the options?

    4.I think a MUCH larger number of Muslim moderate voices need to be heard. Public figures like Shabana Azmi, ShahrukhKhan, Naseeruddin Shah can help.

  7. IHM,

    1. I've always fought as a half-Muslim. I'm not sure I get your point. Are you suggesting that I will have to change my name? And in discussions I always try & remain objective & logical, not partisan, so I'm not sure what you're asking me to do.

    2. Not modi & other leaders since they're too far gone, but their followers yes. An attempt must be made to counter them with sane discussion. If we fail, we must use whatever means at our disposal. You can't convince most people to change their long-held views.

    4. SRK is an idiot. He doesn't use his voice. Naseer doesn't seem to care much either. But pressure MUST be put on the media to showcase the voices that are making an attempt & play down the voices of the hindutvis. If no one hears them on TV, who'll believe them. I think TV channels should stop covering them.

  8. 1con
    Don't agree, I think too much water has flown under the bridge for any of this to happen. Read this beautiful piece by Julio ribero where he says involve the community, thats what helped combat terrorism in Punjab-but the fact is too much damage has been done on both sides. As long as the polticians keep dishing out SOPS and reservation in the name of relegion, people on both sides will feel insecure. You have seen the extreme side of the Hindus too, you think anyone is feeling conciliatory. In trying to make one feel a part we may end up creating another extreme.
    Utopian thoughts of a rambling mind-only if humane people from both sides can see through this political game will peace ever come

  9. Utopianthots,

    Ribero is right. He's talking about a proven peace process. That is how the Moholla communities have achieved peace in Bombay too. It has to be done thru inclusion & dialogue.

    It's not about politicians & reservations & SOPS. It's about the politicians who use those SOPS as examples of appeasement. When in fact, they're nothing but SOPS. To me, something so minor cannot lead to something so major.

    You know me. I'm hardly the conciliatry kind. I'm just trying to get people to understand before I lose it!

    To me, this is what happened in India:
    The moderates & the liberals under Gandhiji managed to unite India during the freedom struggle & won us our freedom.
    These so called nationalists of today... their predecessors missed that bus. They realised that. They also wanted a very different India from the one that the liberals were creating. So they embarked on a grassroots indoctrination programme. They were willing to wait for 50 years for their evil to take root. Now it has.

    That's what has happened. These are the same people that opposed IC Vidyasagar, Raja Rammohun Roy & social reform. You can still see glimpses of that in their stance on Indian culture.

    I'm just amazed at how they were allowed to get this far. They got this far because they united under an umbrella. It's time the liberals like you & I united under a common umbrella.

    That's the only way we can defeat anyone.


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