NEWS & VIEWS
ON Wednesday, The Readers Club held launching ceremony of the book titled ‘India: an apartheid state’ authored by Dr. Junaid Ahmad. He is an accomplished academician who took upon himself the task to expose the true face of India in his well-researched book, and came to the conclusion that India had emerged as an apartheid state totally dominated by the Hindu fundamentalists. The author has collected a wide-range trove of facts, mostly from Indian, British and American sources that expose the hollow secularism based on chicanery and deception through which present-day India constantly tries to befool the world. India presents itself as a secular country but in reality it is a Hindu state with a caste system, which basically promotes inequality and apartheid in its true sense. The lower caste Hindus are considered untouchables, and the Hindu State also treats followers of other religions as untouchables having limited rights.
Talking about his book, Dr. Junaid said there had been thousands of riots in India since its establishment in 1947. Hindus committed atrocities against Dalits, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs in the bloody riots spread over decades. He was of the view that the ongoing insurgencies in numerous states of India will eventually implode the country from within. Former ambassador Riaz Hussain Khokhar said India’s secularism was a fraud and its democracy was limping. India was a very, communalised, classified and stratified society, adding that India had calculated approach of subversion towards its neighbours. He said India devised a plan to dismember Pakistan in 1970 and also interfered in internal matters of its neighbours. In the video, BR Ambedkar, author of India’s constitution was quoted as saying: “If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt be the greatest calamity for this country. No matter what the Hindus say, Hinduism is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity”.
There have been thousands of riots in India since its establishment in 1947 vis-à-vis Upper Caste Hindus vs Dalit riots; Hindu-Muslim riots, Hindu-Christian riots, Hindu-Sikh riots, atrocities committed in Indian-held Kashmir, Nagaland, Mizoram, and other places. It is too well known that caste discrimination against Dalits is rampant in India. In an overt form, it is both a political reality and social fact. Dalits are subjected to violence, especially in rural areas, their women raped, and their land usurped. Dalits perform the most dangerous and odious forms of labour in Indian society including that of manual scavenging (removing human or animal waste) or performing low-end ‘dirty’ wage labour in tanneries. Residential areas tend to be segregated along caste lines, especially in rural areas where most people still live. Caste discrimination against Dalits is deep-rooted in society. Maltreatment of women and infanticide of girls also reflect the Hindutva approach to women.
In 2006, then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh was the first leader of his country to admit the condition of low-caste Hindus and compared with that of black South Africans under apartheid. Mr. Singh drew the parallel at a conference in New Delhi on social and caste injustices saying it was modern India’s failure that millions of Dalits (meaning “oppressed”) were still fighting prejudice. “Even after 60 years of constitutional and legal protection and support, there is still social discrimination against Dalits in many parts of our country,” he said. By raising the spectre of apartheid, he had publicly repudiated the stand taken by the previous BJP-led government. At a UN human rights conference in 2001 Dalit activists had pushed for a resolution linking the treatment of low-caste Hindu “untouchables” to race-based oppression. The resolution proved abortive due to concerted opposition from official Indian delegates.
The Hindu practice of untouchability is illegal in India, yet the country’s 250 million Dalits – the community still remains abysmally impoverished and oppressed. In the western Maharashtra state, four members of a land-owning Dalit family were lynched by a mob of upper-caste Hindus after they were paraded naked in their village and two women were raped. Anger over the killings of Dalits in the Maharashtra village and their social boycott were causes of many a riot, when trains, buses and cars in India’s financial capital were attacked and burned. The major riot proved a reminder that despite all the oppression, sections of Dalits have organised themselves politically to face the upper caste challenge. One of India’s most mercurial regional leaders, Mayawati, had even been chief minister of the northern Uttar Pradesh state, where her party was a frontrunner in state assembly elections a few years ago.
The book under reference breaks new grounds in revealing the real facts behind the loss of East Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh. It sheds chronological light on the actors, their conspiracies, their misadventures and their failings, whose actions culminated into the calamity of the demise of East Pakistan. It is Pakistan’s misfortune that untrue, baseless propaganda of the friendly and antagonistic stakeholders in the creation of Bangladesh tarnishes Pakistan’s international image and stains its history with untrue allegations of fomenting genocide. This book is a unique endeavour to lift the veil of misunderstandings and cover-ups that mislead history into the unjustified labelling of Pakistan as the perpetrator of the horrifying atrocities committed against the Bengalis during the course of events that led to the creation of Bangladesh. Armed with facts and accounts of the victims and eyewitnesses, it dispels the notion that non-Bengalis were unscathed by the bloodbath.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.