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Communalism here, fascism there

Published Jan 24, 2013 12:05am


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AKBARUDDIN Owaisi has a habit of spewing venom against Hindus to win Muslim votes in Hyderabad, like his father did or elder brother does. The media has regarded his recent speech with alarm but it has not looked at his sectarian evolution to explain the context of the young orator’s vitriol.

Owaisi is perhaps the youngest scion of the erstwhile fascist organisation of Indian Muslims known as the razakars that sought to create an independent Islamic state from the nizam’s sprawling territories in the heart of India.

Being the foot soldiers of a fascist pipe dream, they leaned on the Muslim-ruled princely state’s immense resources to harass and subjugate the majority Hindus. (The obverse was the case in Jammu and Kashmir, where a Hindu tyrant had abused and exploited the overwhelming Muslim majority.)

Nehru’s home minister Sardar Patel is credited with the successful annexation of the Hyderabad state the nizam had ruled and sought to keep it independent of Delhi’s sway. The swift army operation defeated and scuttled the razakars but it also paved the way for the less-discussed vendetta killing and raping of Muslims across the nizam’s territories.

Eminent Indian writers including A.G. Noorani and Swaminathan Aiyar have sought to put the focus on the large-scale anti-Muslim violence that occurred under Nehru’s watch in the former princely state of Hyderabad. Historians Perry Anderson and Cantwell Smith have referred to this sordid chapter in India’s secular evolution.

The Pandit Sundarlal report sought by Nehru on the massacres has not been made public. The death toll of Muslim civilians is speculated to be anywhere between 20,000 and 200,000, which could make their mass murder in Gujarat in 2002 and that of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984 seem like a minor aberration.

Owaisi’s recent diatribes in riveting Urdu reflected two diverse situations that accompanied the rise and defeat of his forebears, the razakars. There was an unmistakable tone in it of his party’s fascist past and its lingering unabated communalism, but it also stemmed from a politics of victimhood rooted in the raping and killing that followed the defeat of his forebears.

The saga of revenge hasn’t abated. Hindus have planted a makeshift temple in Hyderabad’s historic Charminar monument. The inability of the media to even consider it as a factor in Hyderabad’s warped evolution is appalling and unhelpful.

It’s an important point to bear in mind for, in essential ways, facts airbrushed from history could define the difference between the menace of majority communalism and its minority, ghettoised variant. Communalism accompanied by state power is generally believed to acquire the demeanour of fascism, which the razakars certainly did and flaunted too. They carried the imminent threat of mutating Hyderabad into a full-blown religio-fascist state.

Bereft of state power, however, the erstwhile militants of Majlis-i-Ittehadul Muslimeen have become a fine example of a vanquished minority that continues to be glued to its incipient communalism.

(By comparison, the Sikh communal evolution has been palpably more strident, and in some ways a variant of the Hyderabad-style military operation could be seen in the hunt for Sant Bhindranwale, which culminated in the ill-advised military assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Bhindranwale’s Hyderabadi equal was Qasim Rizvi. They both remain heroes of their respective domains.)

What did Owaisi say that warranted his arrest on charges of spreading communal hatred? As a worried Indian journalist noted, he outrageously declaimed that if Muslims were forced to leave India for any reason, they would take along the Taj Mahal, the Qutub Minar and the Red Fort with them.

The journalist didn’t question Owaisi’s infantile wisdom or ask where the Muslims would go, and why or how anyone would drive out 150 million people. That was left to the applauding mob to imagine and internalise. Exiled Muslims would leave behind a broken temple in Ayodhya, Owaisi chortled in mock imitation of Marlon Brando playing Mark Antony.

This kind of hotheaded abuse and silly slander of the majority community was also a feature among the Jews who were always a minority in Europe.

From Shakespeare to Martin Luther to the Nazis, everyone abused them. They hit back with their own usually private and sometimes public critique of Christendom. Should we blame the response of a minority community to harassment by the majority Christians as a justification or even an explanation for the rise of Hitler?

There are so many instances of what some might label Jewish provocation of the Nazis. Emil Ludwig Cohen wrote in his book The New Holy Alliance: “Even if Hitler at the last moment would want to avoid war which would destroy him he will, in spite of his wishes, be compelled to wage war.”

Bernard Lechache wrote in The Right to Live: “It is our task to organise the moral and cultural blockade of Germany and disperse this nation. It is up to us to start a merciless war.”

Should all this be allowed to justify the Holocaust? It’s criminal to even think of it. Owaisi’s forebears posed a fascist threat, true. But today he is just another Muslim leader like so many of his ilk who are nurtured by the state, as Bhindranwale was used to polarise the Sikhs.

What does Owaisi do for the state? He helps mask the more genuine threat from the Hindu right to India’s liberal constitution. If Indian journalists are interested in checking Muslim fascism, they should look for the not-so-faint signals elsewhere, perhaps in Afghanistan or in Pakistan. In India they should worry about Hindu fascism.

The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (33) Closed

jo Jan 24, 2013 07:53am
Owaisi said much more and things much worse than what the writer would have Dawn readers believe. We have all watched the speech on Youtube, so no point in hiding the truth.
Guru Jan 24, 2013 11:48am
Jawed Naqvi, my mother lived as a small girl in the villages bordering the Nizam area. She remembers the lootings, beatings & burnings in her village, vividly till today. When the Razakars did that, they should also expect to be repaid in the same coin. Match even, everyone went home in a new independent India. India is moving on majority communalism. Else how do you explain Colonel Purohit being behind bars? Now pls tell me what has Pakistan done with Hafeez Sayed?He walks around care free, offers gratutious advice to all & sundry. Let your learned words, sometimes shine light on the other side. There is darkness there as well.
Rashid Jan 25, 2013 09:52pm
Dr. Saab If you read the comments before you came in, you will get an idea of what is the issue involved.
suren sukhtankar Jan 25, 2013 07:07pm
Why don't they move to Pakistan? The planes are waiting for them at the airports in India. Go .
Md Imran Jan 25, 2013 09:42pm
You have to remember that Owaisi's ire is only reactionary. His sentiments are similar to the sentiments of majority of muslims in India who have been subjugated and neglected.
Alan Jan 24, 2013 03:51am
could never understand why this author is full of so much hate for India
Md Imran Jan 25, 2013 09:39pm
Thank you Mr.Naqwi for stating the bitter truth. I have heard from my Indian friends that along with Kashmir, the majority of muslims in Hyderabad, West Bengal and UP would like to gain autonomy . Remember, this was also the wishes of the Nizam. If India really wanted to gain trust of muslims, they would have long given them autonomy or allowed them to decide their own fate. An overwhelming majority would like to join Pakistan .
rajiv Jan 24, 2013 12:15pm
Cause his bank account runs only of foreign remittance...
Jagdish Jan 24, 2013 12:12pm
This article is factually incorrect, Owaisi said "if the police is kept away for 30 minutes, muslims will wipe out the Hindu majority" Now can anyone of you honestly tell me what the reaction in Pakistan will be if this comment was made by a Hindu? On Babri Masjid, it was built by demolishing the birth place of Ram to spite the Hindus, can anyone image what popular reaction in muslim world be if similar thing was to happen in Mecca? Gujrat killings are a blot on India's secularism, no doubt, but can you imagine what could happen in a Muslim country if a gang of Hindus burnt muslim pilgrims? Hindus and Muslims have equal rights and opportunities in India.. the constitution provides it, errors in implementation have happened at times, but a strong will to make amends manifests itself through the democratic institutions of India, that is why Jawed is still an Indian and not imigrated elsewhere.
Rajeev Nidumolu Jan 24, 2013 04:49am
There is no difference between Hindu or Muslim communalism. They feed on each other. You have not quoted the offending statement of Owaisi in its entirety which is in public domain on You Tube. It is open secret that Owaisi brothers are multimillionaires because of questionable real estate deals in Hyderabad .
Dr Khan Jan 24, 2013 12:47pm
He is speaking and writing the truth like Irfan Hussain, NFP, Ayaz Amir etc. are doing in Pakistan. Of-course truth is bitter. It is time we Pakistanis & Indians have the courage to face and accept the truth.
MKB Jan 24, 2013 07:49am
In which world Mr. Naqvi is living? If Hindu fascism was quite enough in India or if Hindus in general are fascist did Akbaruddin Owaisi or alike could able to spew venom? It is equally regrettable and thankfully admirable that Hindus in general are not fascist or paranoids on religion. If such speech was delivered by any non Muslims in any where, targeting Islam or it
Feroz Jan 24, 2013 07:21am
The Author has been very selective in his reporting of facts. I have not read anything about Owaisi wanting to take monuments with him wherever he goes. He said that if Police are removed from their positions the Muslims would annihilate the Hindus and take over. What is upsetting to many is that the political party Owaisi represents is in alliance with the Congress, a political party that claims it is secular. He could have bitten off more than he can chew because his Congress allies may not be able to help him.
Anshu Jan 24, 2013 11:58am
"What did Owaisi say that warranted his arrest on charges of spreading communal hatred? As a worried Indian journalist noted, he outrageously declaimed that if Muslims were forced to leave India for any reason, they would take along the Taj Mahal, the Qutub Minar and the Red Fort with them." Dear Mr. Naqvi, The quote above shows selection bias which your very cleverly attributed to a "worried Indian journalist". Mr. Owasi spouts so much of venom at Hindus and you choose to pick only that. How about his ignorant rant of "I have heard of Laxmi but now there is a new Bhagya Laxmi?". Or how if the Police gave 15 minutes of amnesty - all Hindus would be wiped out from India? Or how about if all the muslims spit on the temple - it will just flow away"/ You purposely choose a very inconsequential part of his speech to give it a color of harmlessness when it was far from it. Now you are also being intellectually dishonest. Anshu
sb Jan 24, 2013 01:58pm
In India, Hindu fascist took the muslim blasphemer to court did not pump bullets into his body. Compare it to a blasphemy committed by a muslim in a muslim country. Forget followers of other faiths (like Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity, etc) they can't imagine committing blasphemy in a muslim country.
Capri Jan 24, 2013 02:13pm
Sorry my comment should've been addressed to Mr Owaisi, regret my inadvertent mistake, telling Mr Naqvi instead! Still the latter is also very bided and always anti Indian in his comments. He doesn't have the objectivity of M J Akber for instance.
WiseIlliterate Jan 24, 2013 02:31pm
"What does Owaisi do for the state? He helps mask the more genuine threat from the Hindu right to India
Mandeep Jan 24, 2013 02:40pm
If Hindus had attributes of fascism within them, then, India today, even for namesake, would never have been secular democracy. Only a small section of Hindus, outraged by an constant organized offensive, get into confrontation with the perpetrators and likes of this author paint it as communalism. They were oppressed both by the Muslims and the British because they dont gang-up in the name of religion. Mr Naqvi, Had Hindus little bit of fascism in them, then Muslims in post 1947 India would have met the same fate as Hindus and other minorities in Pakistan. Muslims are just taking advantage everywhere. They are wiping out non-muslims from their own countries while their own population is increasing in non-Muslim countries where they live complaining. It is very unfortunate.
Foreign Leg Jan 24, 2013 03:24pm
And the irony is that he is an Indian.
R.Kannan Jan 24, 2013 04:41pm
Naqwi should be a fiction writer and not a journalist or a correspondent. What Naqwi claims that Owasi said has been said many times in India with out any reaction. However, many muslims have apologised for Owasi's comments and the courts ordered his arrest after viewing his entire speech. Naqwi, by his own admission, has not even seen or heard the speech and yet he comments about it. The crux of Naqwi's arguements appears to be that the Razarkars having fought the army and being vanquished should be given several priviledges and the freedom to exhort hate because they were treated inhumanly after their defeat. Naqwi has again proven his credentials of being a hater of the concept of India.
R.Kannan Jan 24, 2013 04:44pm
The fact is Congress definition of secularism is to support hate mongers like Owaisi. India would have been a much better place if the Congress and many of its allies accepted that secularism implies a religious neutrality rather than support to muslim hoodlums.
Anujeet Jan 24, 2013 04:50pm
Naqvis reading of the speech is very immature coming from a writer of his stature.owaisi also hurled abuses on Hindu gods in one of his speeches.would mr naqvi invite such criticism of Islam or the prophet for whatever reason.also no comments by the writer on the poor state of hindus in pak.
Chanakya Jan 24, 2013 06:08pm
Sugar coated articles that really suppress the intense hatred of his community are hall mark of Naqvi's articles. This pseudo secularism is paraded in front of folks on the other side of the border who never know the real meaning of the word given the constitution of their country as a purely Islamic nation.
gautam Jan 24, 2013 06:17pm
Muslims are never happy in non-muslim countries.
gautam Jan 24, 2013 06:19pm
What about Zakir Naik who glorifies Islam and always blarbes about how Islamis better than other religions. Does Naqvi think any muslim country would allow that nonsense?
Mayank Jan 24, 2013 08:01pm
I read the whole article and then looked up at the author's name..Had I done the opposite, I would not have wasted precious time..sigh!!
Kausik Jan 24, 2013 08:03pm
it is tragic that we live in a world of intolerance whether it is India Pakistan and it is disquieting to see politicians use us like pawns.
Xeroxus Jan 24, 2013 09:52pm
He did say tajmahal etc were built by 'us' and not by 'them' (without realising these were built by Indian revenue and by Indians . Shahjehan only gave orders to start the project) and that this was in memory of his wife .Will akbaruddin move takchhshila to India then
Iyaz Ali Jan 24, 2013 10:00pm
This author hates India so much he distorts facts and i am shocked dawn has actually published it. Owaisi has said much more worse in his speech and the author has tried to cover that. Dawn should try to maintain its professionalism. one of the 1st articles I came across in Dawn wherein I could see 95% direct lies. very dissapointing from dawn
Mukesh Jan 24, 2013 10:01pm
A useless write up that tries to cover up a a lot of basic facts and is totally intended to please Pakistani readership.
NASAH (USA) Jan 25, 2013 03:39pm
Dawn attracts Indians like honey attracts the bees.
anonymous indian Jan 25, 2013 03:14am
Absolutely true. If a "Muslim" had said something on those lines in Pakistan even he would have been lynched for blasphemy leave alone a "Hindu" or a person of any other religion. Muslims should consider themselves fortunate that there were no mass riots after what Owaisi said.
anonymous indian Jan 25, 2013 03:16am
Not for India but for Hindus in particular. He never bothers to question how Congress can be in alliance with a communal party like MIM.