The second partition of India
GROSS human rights violations in India have been elaborately documented by the UN Human Rights Office, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW).
HRW has observed that ‘Muslims are arbitrarily detained, interrogated and tortured on suspicion of terrorism.
Based on this and other evidence, mentioned in Part 1 of this rendition, Indian Muslims, the world over, need to vehemently protest and go to Indian courts against their ill-treatment inside India and abroad. They must also frequently invoke the UNHRC Resolution (July 2020) that “prohibits advocacy of — religious hatred (and) — incitement to discrimination”.
Muslim leaders and individuals must set off broader reckoning against racism, hate speech and holding politicians accountable for odious rhetoric against them.
Islamophobic attitudes and discriminatory projects must be collectively and individually contextualized via NGOs, media and academic discourse.
Legal measures must be pursued and generously funded to counter institutionalized Islamophobia; besides condemning these through distribution of literature, writing letters to newspaper and magazine editors. Frequent marches and vigils must be organized, led and attended by Muslim communities.
Vigorous drives on social media must be launched against anti-Islamic and xenophobic state policies or treating sporadic violence by individual Muslims as a monolithic Islamic phenomenon.
Rulers must be warned that their policies could permanently estrange their Muslim population, endangering their societal cohesion and national security.
Concomitantly, peaceful congregations like the one against the CAA, mild non-cooperation, passive defiance, non-violent resistance, marches, placard-waving and other pacific methods must be used.
Non-violent obstruction of access to airports or blocking main highways intermittently (to avoid turning public opinion or help legitimize legal actions or use of force against protesters), must also be considered.
If the government uses violence against peaceful protesters, they must protect themselves through all means, as modern democratic thought has long held that individuals have a right to counter-violence in self-defence, against tyrannical government and political injustices.
This will certainly develop a momentum of its own, which might go beyond this customary option.
The emphasis in the second option is on a durable and collective political struggle, combined with peaceful measures, stated above.
As part of this course, Indian Muslims must devise a political survival strategy based on cooperating with other oppressed minorities to vote for the party best placed to defeat the BJP, notwithstanding the dispersal of Muslims all over India.
Such an alliance could lead to unity among all oppressed subgroups to acquire more political space and regain some of their constitutional rights.
By 2060, Pew estimates that there will be more Muslims in India than anywhere else in the world and they will constitute 19% of Indians. However, their representation in Parliament is unlikely to rise without formation of coalitions.
The same is true for other factions, as individually the minorities lack both sufficient electoral numbers and strong, charismatic leadership to steer them out of their predicament.
Unless they realize and address these vulnerabilities, they will continue to be marginalized, Hinduised, victimized and dehumanized. Together, the Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Dalits comprise nearly half the population of India. Unity among them can be their real strength. Besides, they must reject politicians among them, who are self-serving or sympathetic to RSS.
Only through political harmony, backed by sustained struggle, can they hope to get, what is rightfully theirs.
In places where minorities are dispersed or mingled with the high class Hindus, internal displacement to other safer places, where they have bigger population clusters, will be inevitable for political empowerment and minimizing vulnerability.
But I fall these options miscarry, the minorities could be constrained to resort to the last choice of demanding self-rule, followed by separation from India.
Obviously, this course of action will be met with stiff resistance and it will surely be countered by the state and the Hindutwa brigades, with ruthless force, seen after the siege of the Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1984 and the present Indian reactions in Kashmir and elsewhere.
This will entail sacrifices in blood and treasure but they will be worth making and necessary to lay the foundations of a second partition of India and freedom from yoke of RSS fundamentalists.
The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights also permits recourse ‘to rebellion against tyranny and oppression’ when human rights are unprotected.
Indian cities are already segregated on the basis of religion and caste and the perpetuation of the BJP rule could eventually facilitate the split-up of India, but with a difference.
Unlike 1947, this time, it will materialize to fulfil the wishes, beliefs, and caste system of Hindus who despise other faiths.
This will also resolve the problem of the size of India which is too unwieldy to manage economically or to rule effectively. Is this scenario far-fetched? Not really, considering the Indian minorities’ plight. It is also less capricious than the break-up of USSR and comparable with the break-up of Yugoslavia, out of which, eventually many stable states emerged.
Besides, independent states for minorities will usher in peace, better cohesion, effective management and prosperity for the people, resembling what India was, prior to the British rule.
The historical context of the subcontinent also reveals that India was never a single country in the past, as it comprised a loose union of many states that were ruled successfully by numerous dynasties.
But the strongest argument for India’s division resides in India’s caste system, of strict exclusion of Hindus from all ‘impure’ and lowly people.
Finally, it may be less chaotic than a civil war, which could ensue, if previous options are denied or minorities face genocide, causing mass internal displacement, cross border refugee movement and migration abroad by millions of Indians.
This will indeed be the doomsday scenario for India and others. For its own sake, the world must intervene now to avert it. —Concluded.
—The writer is the former President of NDU.