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The Communalisation of Kargil
By: Seema Mustafa
Research by Eng. Iqbal Ahmed Khan Al-Khobar

The campaign has begun: Islam, Pakistan, Mussalman. The last being a
reference to the Indian Muslim of course. The RSS has unleashed its communal
jargon into the streets with the able help of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the
Bajrang Dal and all the other organisations it has floated along the years
to give teeth to its divisive policies. The BJP will issue statements to say
that it believes in the unity of India even as its cadres happily join their
ilk in communalising Kargil.

The campaign will gain ground in the coming weeks because there is no way
that this lot can let Kargil go by without extracting full political mileage
from it. In the process, Muslims will become the obvious targets by the goon
brigades who know only the language of hate and seek to use every issue to
distort truth and create suspicion. The history of independent India is
replete with innumerable instances of their handiwork, whether it be the
Hindu Mahasabha, the Jana Sangh or the RSS and the BJP. The Jammat-e-Islami,
fortunately a force that has been unable to survive secular India, had aided
and abetted these fanatics but its dwindling influence in the cities and
villages of the country has made it a fairly redundant body.

My first experience with this mentality came when I was studying in a
convent school in Delhi. A fellow student came up to me during the 1965
skirmish and asked innocently: why are you here, why don't you go to
Pakistan where you belong. Having been born and brought up in a family where
my father was in the Indian Army and my mother from the Kidwai clan of Rafi
Ahmed Kidwai fame, I had no idea that Pakistan was regarded by some here as
the natural homeland of Muslims. I went home disturbed and perplexed to
confront my parents and was told by my mother very quietly but firmly: if
someone asks this of you again, tell them that they are welcome to leave
India but this is our country and we never will.

Many children repeated that first question and I spent my early schooling
years refuting them, entering into fights, losing friends through angry
arguments as I continued to insist that India was my country. I went to
Lucknow for my graduation and almost the first question a giggling group of
girls asked me was: are you a Muslim? But you don't look like a Muslim. And
they stared at me as if I was an alien from outer space as I did not fit in
with the popular and deliberately created perception of a Muslim girl in
either a burkha or in clothes that fitted in with the stereotype.

It is this stereotype that has been created and used very skilfully to feed
suspicion and hostility. The Muslim has big families because he wants to
increase his number. Statistics show otherwise. The Muslim is dirty. No one
stops to even examine if this is true, it is accepted as the truth. The
Muslim supports Pakistan during an India-Pakistan cricket match. If a
non-Muslim praises icon Imran Khan it is taken as a sign of liberal and
independent thinking. If a Muslim says the same he becomes communal and

After Partition there was a generation which had emotional links with
Pakistan. The Hindu refugees who came to India were nostalgic about the land
and houses and friends they had left behind. The Muslims who were left here
had relatives who had either decided to go to Pakistan after Partition or
had stayed behind. I remember during the Bangladesh war, a cousin I had
never seen was taken prisoner of war by India and a newly-married cousin
lost her husband when our Navy destroyed the Pakistan submarine Ghazi. We
cried for them even as we exulted over India's victory. We cried even more
when we realised that our uncle in Islamabad refused to believe that his
son-in-law had been killed even as our hearts burst with pride and joy over
the Indian victory. So, were we being unpatriotic or just human?

That generation which looked upon Pakistan as an extension of India, which
had links with the people across the border, which hurt when those who had
gone away hurt, which had its destiny inextricably linked with those who
were now in another land has either died or is dying. Those who were born
post 1947 have spent a lifetime without even meeting their relatives in
Pakistan who are just names. The emotional bondage between the two nations,
as people and not just intellectuals believing in peace as an ideology, has
weakened as a result and there is a certain acceptability on both sides of
the Line of Control that India and Pakistan are separate nations.

The communal propaganda that sought to distort natural human emotion over
the years has, however, shown no signs of abating. The mindset that gloated
over the nuclear bomb and which organised the attacks on Christians during
the past one year is also the mindset that feeds off hatred and violence.
Barely is the Kargil conflict over that the RSS/BJP journals - the
Panchjanya and the Organiser - are coming out with ugly articles seeking to
involve the Indian Muslim in their communal campaign. The attack by the goon
brigades on Islamic scholar Ali Mian at Nadwa near Lucknow is a case in
point. His effigies were burnt, not for anything he had done, but for being
a practising Muslim who believes in Islam. And this is now being extended to
cover Pakistan in the hate campaign being systematically orchestrated by the
party in power and its front organisations.

The tragic irony is that Muslims and Christians came out on the streets to
assert their patriotism and nationalism. They did so as religious groups,
holding placards and shouting slogans against Pakistan. Surely every citizen
of India should stop short and ask him or herself: is this what we gained
Independence for? To create an environment where insecure minorities have to
come on the roads to prove their nationalism? If the answer is "yes" then
undoubtedly India is on the way to becoming a Hindu nation where enforced
unity of the Golwalkar kind will result in disintegration. But if the answer
is "no" then it is about time that those sitting on the fence join in the
fight to revive secularism and prevent a handful of fanatics from
communalising the environment where we have to assert what should be the one
accepted fact of our existence in a political world.

As a journalist one has questioned successive governments and there are many
still in this profession who believe that we should not serve the
establishment as faithful stenographers but should do our duty as watchdogs
and keep the reader informed. But for the first time in almost 20 years in
the profession, one is being confronted with virulent hate and threat mail
which repeats the same questions that school children had asked. The
innocence, of course, is missing as the BJP and its supporters react badly
to a Muslim by-line and view it with the suspicion born out of debilitating
hate. A Christian colleague in the Indian Express pointed out that he too
was receiving piles of hate mail for the past one year. And now it seems as
if everyone with a minority by-line is on the hate mail list as is every
secular Hindu journalist who is accused of being a Pakistani at heart.

Pakistan hates the Indian Muslim because by his very existence he challenges
the reason for the existence of Pakistan. The emotional ties have weakened
and will fade away with time. Unfortunately, the BJP and its Parivar depends
on the politics of hate and does not have the leadership or the will to move
away from its divisive agenda. The Kargil conflict is now being used to
consolidate the vote bank in the only manner that this particular brand of
politician knows: turn it against the minorities, create hate and suspicion,
and then cash in on the consolidated constituency. The common man still
believes what he is fed and the BJP/RSS has acquired a formidable propaganda
machinery based entirely on distorted stereotyped and blatant lies.

India is not divided into Hindus and Muslims. India is divided into the rich
and the poor and it is the poor who pay with his life for the politics of
communal hatred.

(By Courtsey the Asian Age 24, July 1999).

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