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Indian Muslims on test over Kashmir - The Hindustan Times

A R Khan ()
2 September 1996

Title : Indian Muslims on test over Kashmir
Author : A R Khan
Publication : The Hindustan Times
Date : September 2, 1996

This article is from an earlier data. It is being sent to
indicate the thinking of the author at that time.

The Indian state is secular, both in theory and practice.
Although the specific word 'secular' was not mentioned as
such in the original document, its spirit pervaded the
whole body of the Constitution of India. This word was
incorporated later to make the intent absolutely clear,
though it was not necessary.

The decision to make India secular was deliberate. The
founding fathers had the wisdom, sagacity and broad
humanism to realise that given the multiplicity of reli-
gions, ethnic variety and the vast mosaic of Indian
culture, secularism alone could provide a viable and
stable base for a strong and vibrant nation. This ensured
that all sections of society have equal stakes in the
well-being of the country. Ironically enough, Jinnah,
having demanded and carved out, what he thought was a
homeland for Muslims in India, realise his mistake. He
was too egoistic to admit it, but if his speech at the
time of the inauguration of Pakistan is any indication of
the state of his mind, it is apparent that he then re-
alise that religion in the modern times, cannot form the
basis for the nation. But it was too late in the day. Had
Jinnah lived long enough, could he have, one wonders,
persuaded Pakistan's Constituent Assembly to adopt secu-
larism as the basis of polity?

As it turned out, Pakistan chose a theocratic state for
its nationhood, reducing its minorities to a status of
second class citizens. However, in sharp contradistinc-
tion to this raw deal, the minorities in India got abso-
lutely equal rights as citizens. In should not be forgot-
ten that when the Constitution was deliberated upon, the
atmosphere in the country was vitiated by bitterness
arising out of the holocaust of partition and the war
with Pakistan over Kashmir. Yet the Constitution does not
betray even an iota of bias or prejudice. Indubitably,
the Indian Constitution is one of the noblest documents
upholding the principle of human dignity.

Muslims in India have an abiding faith in the Constitu-
tion. They have reasons to be happy about it. But what
they do not realise is that minorities in Pakistan and
Bangladesh, where Muslims predominate, do not have equal
rights as citizens because of the theocratic nature of
those countries. This fundamentally unfair and inhuman
contradiction does not appear to weigh too heavily on
their collective conscience. Theocracy in those countries
draws adverse comment in this country, and rightly so.
But Muslims have so far never protested about it. secu-
larism is good for them in India, it should be good
universally, particularly, where Muslims predominate. To
say that what happens in Pakistan or Bangladesh is none
of their concern amounts to hypocrisy. What happens their
certainly has repercussion in this country, and vice
versa. Muslims cannot adopt an ostrich-like attitude on
secularism. They must demonstrate their faith in secular-
ism in practical and unambiguous terms. They must show
concern for the plight of minorities in those countries

and agitate for equal rights for them. Although this may
not cause tidal waves of secularism in those countries,
and in fact has all the chance of being snubbed, never-
theless the principle would have been stated emphatical-
ly. Such an act would be practical wisdom.

However, it is Kashmir that provides the acid test for
the Indian Muslim's secular credentials. Faith in secu-
larism implies repudiation of the two-nation theory in
toto. The militancy in Kashmir and the demands of the
millitants is a negation of secularism so dear to Indian
Muslims. The two-nation theory was mercifully given quite
an un-Islamic burial by Pakistan in the battle-fields of
Bangladesh, but the Kashmiri militants, with the active
connivance and full support of Pakistan, gave successful-
ly revived its ghost, which has been strangulating secu-
larism in the Valley for a long time.

Indian Muslims have shown just no concern over the hap-
pening in Kashmir. They have not pointed out to Kashmiri
Muslims about the dangers that lie in the course that
they are following. Their inaction is amazing and silence
deafening. The lessons of Bangladesh have been lost on
the Kashmiris. And they are obviously not even looking at
the atrocities committed on the Mohajirs. They miss the
point completely that sharing the religion has neither
made Muslims happy nor are they united in Pakistan. In
any case there are more Muslims in India than Pakistan.
If they are looking for happiness in Pakistan, surely
they are chasing a mirage. Kashmir have given a big jolt
to secularism. Any further aggravation of the situation
there will raise the ante for its banishment from the
Indian scene. Muslims in the rest of India should wake up
to this danger and stop the rot. This would be the most
effective way of serving the cause of secularism. This
indeed is a sacred duty which they must discharge.

Muslims jurists of the second and third centuries Hajri
had divided countries into three categories, viz 'Darul
Islam' (Islamic state). 'Darul Aman' (which literally
means 'a land of peace' where Muslims could practice
their religion freely), and lastly 'Darul Harab' (the
land where Muslims are persecuted because of their reli-
gion). India does not come under any of these defini-
tions. India is a country where Muslims enjoy full rights
of a citizen. There is complete, freedom of observance
and propagation of their religion. And, what is more, the
Constitution grants specific protection for minority
institutions. Democracy gives them a share of power. What
could be more fair? The Ulemas have not bothered to
define it? Shall we call it 'Darul Insaaniat' - the land
of humanism. Should my Kashmiri brethren have any reser-
vations in being part of such a glorious and humane land?

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