Hamid Ansari’s Woes: Plight of Pluralism in India

Ram Puniyani
February 20, 2021

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India began as a plural democracy; respect for diversity was the core value. The provisions of safeguards for minorities were in built. These safeguards were formulated by the Constituent Assembly’s committee on Minorities headed by Sardar Patel. Seven decades down the lines where do we stand in matters of security and economic welfare of the religious minorities. Most of the inquiry commission reports related to communal violence, the scholarly works on communal violence by the likes of Paul Brass, Asghar Ali Engineer and recently from Yale University give a very painful picture of the communal violence, showing that the Muslims minorities in particular and lately Christian Minorities have suffered adversely. Sachar Committee Report (2006) showed the economic marginalization of Muslim minorities.

The events of last few decades and more so of last six years show the rising intimidation, marginalization and increasing fear among this community. The lynchings in the name of cow-beef and the harassment around love jihad have brought to fore the type of problems our country is facing on the scale of democratic freedoms. This was most clearly demonstrated when the large section of media with full support of the ruling dispensation coined the terms  like ‘Corona bomb’ and ‘Corona Jihad’ in the wake  of rise of Covid. To add salt to the wound, the present Government initiated NRC in Assam on the grounds that over 50 Lakh Bangladeshi’s have infiltrated into India particularly in Assam. When the final count came only 19 odd lakh people were found without proper citizenship papers out of which 12.5 Lakhs were Hindus!

Undeterred by this the ruling Government brought in Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in which the persecuted communities in neighboring countries are entitled for citizenship barring the Muslims. The trap was clear that those people who were without papers and were Hindus will get the citizenship through the back door while millions of Muslims without proper papers will be disenfranchised from citizenship to be shunted to detention centers.

It was in this background that our ex-Vice President Hamdi Ansari wrote his memoirs “By a Many Happy Accident: Recollections of a Life”. In discussions and interviews by different channels around the release of the book he voiced some of the concerns. He tried to emphasize that our citizenship is not based on religion. As most of the comments on his book and also on his life revolved around his being a Muslim, he underlined the fact that in his diplomatic and political life Muslim ness did not matter, what mattered was professional competence. As such this sums up his career which spanned over four decades and served the country in a very honorable way.

That apart the communal elements constantly targeted him for his being Muslim. In one of the republic day parade (2015), when army saluted as Jan Gan Man, national anthem was sung. A picture was circulated to create misconception that Ansari did not salute when the anthem was being sung. In this picture President is seen saluting along with him Prime Minster Narendra Modi and defense Minster are also saluting. Ansari stands still and picture highlights his not saluting. The criticism of his not saluting tricolor was propagated. At such an occasion only President, who is Commander-in-Chief of army salutes. No one is supposed to salute at that time. What Ansari did was as per the protocol, while those who saluted with President did not follow the guidelines laid down!

When Ansari retired in his farewell speech the Prime Minster took a dig. “. “A big part of your working life was in West Asia... in the same atmosphere and debate... after retirement, it was minority’s commission or AMU... that was your circumference,”

In the response to release of his book the communal forces again are uttering that India gave you so many top positions and your are disgruntled! You can very well leave the country and stay in the one where you feel at home. These types of comments show the mindset of the sectarian nationalists who see the citizens only in their religion’s identity. Ansari is not talking of his personal unhappiness. Being a thorough democrat and Indian nationalist, he is trying to draw our attention to declining ethos of our country. Since the identity issues, the emotive issues like Ram Temple, Cow-beef, Ghar Wapasi and Love jihad have taken the front stage our democratic foundations are being eroded to no end.

Similarly he points that with current Government the word secularism has gone into eclipse, it has disappeared from Governments dictionary. One can argue that even earlier the practice of secularism was on a weak wicket, e.g. the responses to Shah Bano Judgment did go contra to the values of secularism. Numerous reasons can be attributed to the weakness in practice of secularism. Still at most levels it had honorable place. What was missing was the astute sense of implementing it in the complex scenario where intense propaganda against protective clauses for minorities was projected as ‘minority appeasement’. Now there is not even an iota of consideration that as a secular state Prime Minster should not inaugurate a religious place of worship or issues like violence in the name Cow-Beef should not enjoy impunity. There is not even smallest consideration that in CAA how we can bar granting of citizenship to people of particular religion.

Ansari points out, “Overall, the very fact that Indian-ness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought,’ and “enhanced apprehensions of insecurity amongst segments of our citizen body, particularly Dalits, Muslims and Christians” and the “illiberal form of nationalism that promotes intolerance”.

The critics of pluralism and diversity assert that what is prevailing is the genuine secularism as it has balanced the earlier tilt towards minorities. They also try to equate few other killings as lynching’s, to show that there no insecurity for dalits and minorities as such. Ansari’s observations need to be taken seriously and course correction of our democracy needs to be undertaken.

Comments

Subhash Sirur
 - 
Sunday, 13 Jun 2021

Mr.Hamid Ansari was a supporter of Islamic organization P.F.I based in Kerala even when he was the Vice President of India.He attended their meetings.What is P.F.I ,one can easily find out on google.

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News Network
August 11,2022

Ayodhya, Aug 11: Two Dalit sisters were allegedly gang raped by three men after being held captive in a village in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya district.

The victims, one of whom is a minor, have been sent for a medical examination, the police said.

The incident took place when the sisters were reportedly returning from Sherpurpura market near their village under the Bikapur police station.

The three accused held them captive and allegedly outraged their modesty after taking them to a sugarcane field.

They threatened the victims of dire consequences and fled.

Pramod Kumar Yadav, circle officer, Bikapur, said that an extensive search has been launched to locate the accused.

The two girls informed their family members about the incident a day after their return, after which a written application was submitted to the police.

Initially, some local cops tried to hush up the matter, but later registered the FIR after intervention of some senior police officials, according to the victim's father.

The FIR has been lodged against one Bhai Lal Yadav, Tribhuvan Yadav and an unidentified person under Indian Penal Code sections 376-D (gang rape), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (insulting) and 506 (criminal intimidation).

The circle officer said charges under atrocities against Dalits and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences were also slapped against the accused persons.

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News Network
August 5,2022

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Bengaluru, Aug 5: A Bengaluru woman allegedly threw her four-year-old mentally challenged daughter from the fourth floor of a building as she was hampering her career, the police said on Friday. The accused is a dentist by profession. 

The incident took place in the Sampangiramanagar area of Bengaluru. The accused tried to die by suicide after throwing her daughter but was rescued by neighbours.

Her husband Kiran lodged a complaint against the accused identified as Dr Sushma. They were a resident of the Advaith Ashraya apartment in CKC Garden.

CCTV footage also showed the woman throwing her daughter down.

Sushma had once tried to abandon her daughter at a railway station. Upon learning about it, Kiran immediately rushed to the station and found their daughter, the police said.

Police said that the woman was depressed over the fact that her daughter was mentally challenged and so she threw the girl to death. Further investigation is on. 

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News Network
August 11,2022

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Mangaluru, Aug 11: On the lines of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka Police have started attaching the properties of the persons accused of killing BJP Yuva Morcha activist Praveen Kumar Nettare.

However, no such action has been taken against murders of two Muslim men in Dakshina Kannada – Muhammad Fazil and Muhammad Masood. All three were murdered in the span of 10 days – July 19 to July 28. 

ADGP Alok Kumar confirmed on Wednesday that the process of attaching properties of the accused in Praveen murder case is on. The police along with the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) will attach the properties of the accused persons, he added.

Kumar also said that the main accused in the case are yet to be arrested.

"We have complete information about the killers of Praveen. The accused persons' photos, information about their family members -- everything has been gathered. However, the main accused in the case are being given shelter. They have been shifted to different places," he said.

"We will hold meetings in different districts. Maintaining law and order in the Mangaluru region is our focus. Action will be taken against those who directly or indirectly helped the main accused persons, in coordination with the NIA. The process of issuing warrants via court is on," Kumar said.

When asked about the involvement of Popular Front of India (PFI) in the murder, Kumar stated that few accused persons do have links with the PFI.

"Investigation in this regard is progressing and information regarding the accused who have links with the PFI would be given soon," he stated.

Kumar added that all the seven arrested accused so far are local residents. Now, the focus is on who gave them the instruction to carry out the murder.

On July 26, bike-borne miscreants attacked BJP activist Praveen at Bellare town in Dakshina Kannada district outside his chicken shop and hacked him to death.

Following the murder, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had cancelled the celebrations of his one year in office. He visited Praveen's family and issued a cheque of Rs 25 lakh as compensation on behalf of the state government. The BJP had given Rs 25 lakh separately.

The incident had triggered a chain of protests by BJP workers all over Karnataka. The agitators had laid siege to Home Minister Araga Jnanendra's residence, causing severe embarrassment to the ruling party.

The probe had revealed that Praveen was targeted for launching a campaign against halal meat.

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