It was the Indian National Congress (INC) which rather than share power with the All India Muslim League (AIML) in the post-independent India had actually forced partitionof the sub-continent in August 1947. Almost 25 years hence India militarily broke up Pakistan but acquiesced to the emergence of a Muslim majority independent Bangladesh which was at that time a low hanging fruit to be easily plucked by New Delhi. But it did not, fearing a sudden increase by the millions in the population of a minority that could, in due course of time, come up once again with a power sharing demand like it did before the partition of India.
And about 40 years after the emergence of Bangladesh, India seemingly fearing that even the residual minority which was now touching 200 million within its four walls having a total population of 1.3 billion was too many for the continuing good of the majority,brought in Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the head of Bharatyia Janata Party (BJP)in 2014 with the sole aim of eliminating completely the residual minority from its soil. Since it is still a work-in-progress the Indians have given Modi a second term to complete the job.
But perhaps the Indian majority community is missing the forest because of the trees. If they continue to persecute a community as sizeable as 200 million, they could end up not long before giving rise to another Pakistan-like demand. It would then have to contend with three Muslim majority countries surrounding it!
One recalls that Muhammad Ali Jinnah was an active member of the Indian National Congress (INC) until about 1934. In fact, in those early days he was known as an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity. But by 1934 he was a disillusioned Congressite because of the overwhelming influence of Hindu Mahasabah on the INC. He, therefore, parted ways with the INC and became active in the All India Muslim League (AIML). It also appears in retrospect that it was the majority community of India that had left Jinnah with no alternative but to propound the theory of two-nation to plead the case for Pakistan. In fact, if one goes through the Quaid’s August 11, 1947 speech one becomes increasingly aware that that he was forced by circumstances beyond his control to usethis theory as a foundational platform of Pakistan. In the speech he speaks of one Pakistani nation irrespective of what religion, race, sect, caste or community one subscribed to in the country about- to- achieve its hard-earned independence.
BJP has been and remains to date an anti-Muslim Party that questions the loyalty of Indian Muslims to India, demands their Hinduization.The images of demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the Muslim carnage in Gujarat in 2002, lynching of poor Muslims on the suspicion of being involved in cow slaughter, and large scale massacre of Kashmirisduring the last five years dominate the broader hostile interaction between the BJP and the Indian Muslims.
Muhammad Mujeeb Afzal, Assistant Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad in his book Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian Muslims maintains that the call to Hindutva by the BJP is what is actually driving the party to the anti-Muslim platform.
According to Afzal a number of high- caste Hindus, mostly Brahmans like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda, Aurobindo Ghosh, and Swami Dayanand Saraswati, had set about strengthening pride in the Hindu cultural traditions and created the myth about the Golden Age of Vedic era of Hinduism to provide historical continuity, justification, and legitimacy to the idea of Hindutva. It was claimed that in the Vedic era, the true faith was practiced in its purity. The Hindu faith in its pristine form was not only equal but rather superior to other religions like Islam and Christianity and that it possessed all kinds of modern values and knowledge of social and natural sciences. Since it was practiced in real terms in that era, the Hindus were then a military and political power and their influence extended beyond the limits of India to other regions of the world. Therefore, the memories of the past were reinterpreted-invented to achieve the true potential of the people and restore their collective dignity after the degradation they had suffered under foreign rule. The blame for prevailing failures was put on the corruption of the true faith and popular religious practices. If the Hindus were to regain their honor and respect, it was argued, they must follow the norms that would lead them to the pristine Hinduism and only that would carry them to the revealed destiny.
This constructed myth attempted to respond to the challenges of foreign occupation. This myth asserted that like any other nation Hindus as a people had all the religio-cultural and political attributes of a nation. There was also an attempt to popularize some Hindu religious books as sacred texts, identified sacred places for the focus of national loyalty and worship, and discovered common socio-cultural symbols, which cut across the diversity of caste and region, and heroes that had resisted the invaders and given sacrifices for the Hindu nation. The revealed books of the Hindu religion were sought to demarcate the community on the basis of religio-cultural belief-system. Hinduism was considered a religious ideology that needed revealed infallible books to compete with religions like Christianity and Islam. Three books played a vital role in this regard. Raja Ram Mohan Roy used the Upanishads to justify the reforms that he initiated; Swami Vivekananda gave preference to the Vedas and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the social and political activist, emphasized the Bhagwat Gita. Later on, the Hindu nationalist organization, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council-VHP)suggested that the Bhagwat Gita should be declared as the sacred book of Hindufaith like the Quran and Bible. The icons of Bharatmata, the cult of Kali, and the protection ofgau mata, were used as the religio-cultural primordial construct that cut across the caste and regional fault-line of the projected Hindu nation.These constructs were used to arouse feelings of sacrifices for the motherland. Individuals were motivated through the cult of Kali, the goddess of shakti, to acquire power for the holy purpose of defence of the motherland.
Moreover, the worship and the protection of the gau mata provided link of the modern constructs with Vedic era when cow was seen a representation of fertility and nurturing. It was a construct of all India value, the Brahman and other sections of Hindu community considered cow as a sacred animal since the ancient times. A number of cow protection societies were established throughout India that united various sections and groups holding different points of view in the Hindu community.
— The writer is veteran journalist and a former editor based in Islamabad.