Justice Markandey Katju, former Judge-
Many Muslim youth are being attracted to the AIMIM ( All India Majlis e Ittehadul Muslimeen ) as they feel that since Muslims are oppressed and have been deprived of any political space in India, the only way out for them is to have their own political party. The AIMIM began as a party of Hyderabad with its leader Asaduddin Owaisi, MP, but it has spread elsewhere, winning 2 MLA seats in 2014 and one Lok Sabha seat in 2019 from Maharashtra. It has also won the Kishanganj MLA seat in Bihar.
In my opinion this is a dangerous trend, and in fact it benefits the BJP, the two parties being 2 sides of the same coin.
I can understand the feelings of Indian Muslims. Ever since the BJP came to power in 2014, Muslims have been totally marginalized and sidelined in the public discourse in India, and reduced to non entities, or as second rate ( if not third rate ) citizens. Many have been lynched, or physically attacked for not saying ‘ Jai Shri Ram ‘, and cow vigilantes who allegedly lynched some Muslims have been publicly garlanded by a Central Govt Minister. They have had to hear hate speeches day and night ( e.g. being called ‘haraamzadas’ by a central Minister ), and Hindutva and building Ram Mandir has become the order of the day. One can therefore understand the frustration and anger among several Muslims, particularly the youth.
Nevertheless, in my opinion it will be disastrous for Muslims to form a separate political party, and cut themselves off from the Hindu majority in politics. In fact this was the path adopted by the Muslim League and its leader Jinnah before Independence, which resulted in Partition, the greatest tragedy of India in its 5000 year old known history, causing incalculable suffering to millions.
So what should Indian Muslims do ? I have pointed out in several articles e.g. ‘India’s National Aim’ published in indicanews.com, and ‘India needs a modern minded revolution to become a first world nation’ published in theweek.in, that only a mighty united people’s revolution can solve India’s huge problems of poverty, unemployment, hunger, farmers distress, lack of proper healthcare and good education etc. It is not just Muslims who face these problems, Hindus and others too face the same ( though it is true, as the Justice Sachar Committee reported, Muslims suffer more ). So Muslims must join hands with the enlightened patriotic sections in other communities, including Hindus, in the united people’s struggles, and not fight alone nor remain in isolation, with a ghetto type mindset.
Also, the enlightened section among Indian Muslims should patiently educate their community members that they must get rid of their backwardness and feudal mindsets, and take to the path of modernization shown by the great Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. They must follow the dictum of the Prophet ‘ For getting knowledge, go even to China ‘, and develop modern mindsets.
That alone is the correct path for their emancipation.
[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.]