The Indian Muslim has to walk the edge of the sword in his role as a citizen of India. Of course, the heat felt by him or her is now being felt by a lot of other sections – consider Ashish Nandy and Kamal Hassan – but the brunt of extremely close scrutiny is borne by this community. The reasons, of course, are historical, with the Muslim League having succeeded in dividing India on the basis of a pernicious doctrine. Decades later, however, the burden is being carried by generations born after India became an independent republic. This is because the ill-begotten child of the two-nation doctrine, Pakistan, never fails to try and drive a wedge between the community and its fellow citizens in Indian. Terrorism is only one of its weapons.
The latest to take the hit has been none other than the iconic and outspoken Shah Rukh Khan. A statement made by him about some politicians targeting him because he was a high profile Indian Muslim, has provided the Pakistanis another opportunity to needle India. Unfortunately, the Indian establishment and some others have readily taken the bait.
Hafiz whatever has invited Khan to immigrate to Pakistan in a show of sympathy. The question to be asked is: would Pakistan be able to digest SRK? It is too small a country to have the likes of King Khan living there. Indeed, even an ordinary Indian Muslim would find it hard to adjust to the Pakistani milieu, as the number of communal and other killings there is far greater than whatever may take place in India. Plus, the habit of political freedom is hard to shed, no matter what other advantages may accrue. One may well ask the Jamaat leader what care Pakistan takes of the Mohajirs that sacrificed their homes for the concept of Pakistan. Why does he not provide a ‘safe haven’ for MQM leader Altaf Hussain?
As for the obstreperous Pak Interior Minister Rehman Malik, perhaps he should look to the safety of his own people. Would he care to explain how and why the percentage of minorities in his country has fallen to an almost negligible figure? The man has single-handedly done more to expose the true designs of the Pakistan establishment before the people of India than any other mainstream politician. It is extraordinary that the government of Dr Manmohan Singh continues to pretend there is genuine bonhomie between the two countries.
The incident, however, has brought focus on the need to delink Pakistan from Indian Muslims in the minds of all kinds of people, in particular the politicians, as Shah Rukh has rightly pointed out. There are some politicians – and these are not just those of the communal right, but also of the appeasement variety – who consider Muslims basically Pakistanis resident in India. This becomes more than apparent from the statements they make, the policies they follow and the compromises they make. It is not thought necessary for the Muslim to undertake the responsibilities as a citizen. The community is for them a section of society to be deceived with an illusion of a privileged status only for the sake of the votebank it constitutes. The real interests of Muslims are overlooked merely to keep them herded under the care of bearded ‘shepherds’ whose demands are met as long as they deliver the votes. This stereotyping of Muslims serves only the interests of these politicians, and certainly not that of the community.
How long will this game continue?