'Only elite, not Muslim masses feel alienation in India'

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New Delhi, July 24: Claiming complete absence of any feeling of growing alienation among Muslim masses in India, former Union Minister Arif Mohammed Khan has asserted that the alienation, if any, exists only among elite of the country's largest minority community.

During the launch of a book written by veteran journalist Saeed Naqvi here recently, Khan sought to discount the Muslims' alleged perception of their growing alienation and seclusion in India, saying they are themselves to be blamed for it, if any, as they sought to maintain a distinct identity.


Khan, who had quit the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1986 in protest against the piloting of a bill to undo the Supreme Court ruling in the Shahbano case which had sought to provide alimony to the divorced Muslim women, sought to counter the perception voiced by veteran journalist Saeed Naqvi during the launch of his book "Being the Other: The Muslim in India."

Naqvi had voiced his perception and concern saying that an "othering" phenomena, entailing a growing chasm of Muslims from Hindus and their growing alienation in India, has set in since long.

While seeking to negate Naqvi's perception, Khan sought to squarely blame the community elites for the alleged onset of the "othering" phenomena, saying it's natural when the Muslims resorted to sloganeering like "ham apna milli tassakush barkarar rakhna chate hain (I want to maintain my separate identity)."

Khan said the Muslims had resorted this sloganeering in the wake of the apex court verdict that stipulated alimony for the divorced Muslim women, but the Muslim clerics, banking upon the Sharait laws sought to discount the apex court verdict saying it was against their religious edicts.

"What does it (this slogan) mean? It means I'm saying I am the other. The other person is not saying I am the other but I am telling them I am the other," he said.

"It means I'm telling everybody that I don't want to integrate with you. I'm telling everybody I don't want to identify with you as I'm the other," said Khan, explaining the meaning of 'milli tassakut...slogan", which sought to assert the Islam's aversion to the modern laws and stick to its archaic distinctiveness.

Khan asserted this problem of alienation of Muslims is only e perception among "ashrafia" (the elite among the Muslims) and not those of the Muslim masses, including the "Ajlafs (the lower community)."

"The Muslim masses have no problem in integration with the Indian communities and they have always been the part of this country’s civilisation, which is more than 6000 years old," pointed out Khan.

The former minister pointed out India has got its independence very recently - only in 1947, said Khan asserting that it's not a very long period and some such sporadic incidents of communal violence and aberrations cannot change its nature as India is essentially a pluralistic society.

Khan's assertion attracted vociferous cheers from the audience, which included among others, BJP stalwart and former Union HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, senior Congress leaders Mani hanker Iyer and Salman Khursheed, veteran columnist Prem Shankar Jha, renowned photographer Raghhu Rai, besides several other intellectuals.

Naqvi's book launch was compeered by veteran British journalist and former BBC's New Delhi bureau chief Mark Tully and former diplomat-cum-noted author Pavan K Varma, who too discounted Naqvi's fears and perception.

As per a statement by Naqvi's publisher Aleph Book Company, the veteran journalist's book is "a remarkable one, which is partly his memoir and partly an exploration of the various deliberate and inadvertent acts that has led to the 'othering' of the 100 million Muslims in India."

Naqvi looks at "how the division between Muslims and Hindus began in the modern era. The British were the first to exploit this division between the two communities in the in nineteenth and twentieth centuries."

"In the run up to the independence and its immediate aftermath, some of India's greatest leaders including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and others only served to drive the communities further apart," it said.



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