Muslims of India constitute one of the largest Muslim communities in the world, being second or third largest Muslim community after that of Indonesia and Bangladesh. Population wise, the Muslims are one fifth of India’s total population.
As the prime rulers of the Indian sub-continent for more than 500 years, before the coming of the British, the Muslims made a big contribution to India’s social, economic and cultural life. Yet today in independent India, despite their large number and prominent role in the past, the Muslims are a harassed and persecuted people. They are the target of frequent riots and pogroms engineered by the majority Hindu community, they are discriminated against in social, economic and educational fields, and they are denied their due share in the services. In short, notwithstanding India’s claim to be a secular country, the Muslims are not treated as equal citizens by the majority Hindu community.
The extremists among the Hindu majority community, the so called, Hindutva, are so much against the Muslims that they engineer frequent anti Muslim riots in which hundreds and sometimes thousands of Muslims have been killed. There have been more than 5,000 anti-Muslim riots in India since its independence. During the past 10 to 15 years there have been some very big riots which remind one of the 1947 post-partition carnage, in which hundreds of Muslims have been killed at the hands of Hindu extremists. One may cite here the Gujarat carnage of 2002 in which the present prime minister of India Narendra Modi himself was involved. Before that there was Hashimpura-Maliana massacre of Muslims in Meerut in 1987.Other such incidents namely of Azamgarh, Malegaon, Bhatkal, Darbhanga can also be cited here.
The most recent anti-Muslim riot took place in Muzaffarnagar, not far from the Indian capital in which hundreds of Muslim families were evicted from their homes in addition to the killings that took place. Other incidents took place in the past few months in the towns of Barabanki, Aligarh, and Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh and in Gaya and Madhubani in Bihar province of India. The worst part of these riots is that the police and other law enforcement agencies like the armed constabulary take the side of the majority community and behave as spectator s; instead of coming to the aid of the victims, they favour the victimizers. But they are never prosecuted.
The Muslims’ places of worship are also not safe from the extremist Hindus. Destruction of the historical Babri Masjid in Ajodhya in 90s is not the only case. There is a long list of mosques which the Hindus claim, were built on the sites of their temples and should therefore be demolished.
After the 9/11 incident in the US, another kind of harassment of the Indian Muslims has been started. Muslim men and young boys disliked by the Hindutva are frequently dubbed as terrorists and sent to jail. It has become such a big threat to the community that the All India Muslim Majlis Mushawrat (AIMMM) has decided to bring out a white paper to expose the conspiracy against the Muslim community. To put it in AIMMM’s own words:” The issue of fake terrorism charges and the unjust arrests and defamation of our community, especially since 2001, is the biggest challenge facing the community ever since. A grand conspiracy hatched by the powers that be, IB, Police and media, has sullied and defamed our community. This campaign has affected our lives, peace of mind and has thwarted our efforts to progress and educate our children to join the national mainstream. Our efforts so far to present our case, to bring out our innocence and force the national and state governments to listen to our grievances have mostly failed. All we have received are a few words of solace which have no real meaning and have not changed the situation on the ground. Our children by their thousands are still languishing in jails on the basis of fake confessions obtained through torture and blackmail.”
The Indian Muslims deserve the sympathies and support of the world Muslim community in their hour of distress.