Hindus and Muslims are in same boat | By Justice Markandey Katju, New Delhi

137

Hindus and Muslims are in same boat

AN impression is sought to be created in India by some elements that only Muslims are suffering in India, the insinuation being that Hindus are having a jolly good time.

The truth is that Hindus and Muslims are in the same boat, and both are suffering. There is massive poverty, hunger (according to Global Hunger Index India has slipped from position number 101 to 107 out of 121 countries surveyed, worse than neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh ), huge and rising unemployment, skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, almost total lack of proper healthcare and good education for the Indian masses, etc.

Does that affect Muslims alone? There are estimated to be 20-21 crore (200-210 million ) Muslims in India, about 15% of India’s total population.

No doubt there has been increase in polarisation after 2014, but how many Muslims have suffered because of that?

It is true that some Muslims in India were lynched, e.g. Ikhlaque, Pehlu Khjan, Tabrez, etc. These incidents, no doubt, are condemnable, but they can be counted on one’s fingertips and are only a drop in the ocean considering there are over 20 crore Muslims in India.

There have been incidents where some Muslims were beaten for not saying Jai Shri Ram, but again such incidents, though condemnable, are miniscule considering the total Muslim population of India.

It is not that every Muslim in India is being forced to say Jai Shri Ram. Some houses of Muslims have been bulldozed, which was outrageous, but how many?

An impression was sought to be created that no Muslim’s house was safe. No doubt there is discrimination against Muslims, which is condemnable, but this has been going on for decades.

The Sachar Committee Report detailing the backwardness and poverty among Muslims was submitted in 2006, long before the BJP came to power in 2014.

I am not a supporter of the BJP, and have often criticised its attempts at polarising Indian society for getting votes.

But the matter must be put in the proper perspective. People like Owaisi raise a huge hue and cry whenever an incident occurs of persecution of Muslims.

Such incidents of course need to be condemned. But Owaisi is a politician. He will never say that Hindus are facing the same problems as Muslims e g poverty, unemployment, price rise, etc.

At most he will speak for the dalits, with an eye on their votes. It is time that this is pointed out, particularly to Muslims, and they be told that Hindus are suffering also.

Hindus and Muslims must join hands and start a mighty united people’s struggle led by modern minded secular leaders for creating a new political and social order in which all people get a high standard of living and decent lives.

Weeping over the plight of Muslims alone only serves the interests of those who want to divide and rule.

—The writer is former judge, Supreme Court of India.