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Delhi High Court directs Delhi Police to handover keys of Markaz Nizamuddin to Maulana Saad

Delhi High Court grills Delhi Police for continuing with its restrictions at Markaz Nizamuddin premises since March 2020, says the case was registered under Epidemic Diseases Act.

28 Nov 2022

Markaz

Rejecting the Delhi Police's stand for continuing with the restrictions on public entry at the Tablighi Jamaat headquarter in Nizamuddin, the Delhi High Court on Monday ordered the Police to handover the keys of Markaz Nizamuddin to Maulana Saad. 

In March 2022, the court had permitted holding of prayers on five floors of the mosque during the month of Ramzan this year. In May, the high court permitted the mosque management to allow public entry beyond the month of Ramzan, for the first time since March 2020. The relief was limited only to offering of prayers. However, the public entry continued to remain barred at the attached madrasa and hostel. 

Delivering the judgement today, Justice Jasmeet Singh observed that the keys would have to be handed over to the person from whom they were taken. "You have taken the possession from some person. You either return the possession to that person. I am not adjudicating an FIR for title of property, that is not issue before me," said the court. 

The police argued that the original possessor has not come forward to take control of the property. It submitted that under Delhi Waqf Act, the mutawali has to come forward and not Delhi Waqf Board, which is the petitioner. 

However, the court said it is not going to look into the issue of title. Grilling the police, the court said: "Are you in possession? In what capacity have you taken possession? The FIR was registered under Epidemic Diseases Act... that is over now.""If you take a property under Epidemic Diseases Act and register an FIR, then whosoever was in possession at that point of time, would have to file suit for possession?" asked the court. 

When the police submitted that the possessor of the property will have to come forward, the court asked the Markaz management to go to police. "You will hand over the keys and impose whatever conditions," the court told the police. In response to a question, the police submitted that the "possession was taken" from Maulana Saad. However, it claimed he was absconding. However, the markaz management said he is in Nizamuddin only and not absconding and will appear before the police as directed.

After the high court questioned the police, the counsel representing Delhi Police submitted it would not have any objection to handover the property to him on furnishing indemnity bond. The court also said no documents would be required to be submitted for the purpose. 

The order was passed in the petition filed by Delhi Waqf Board in 2021 challenging the restrictions imposed on public entry at Masjid Bangley Wali, Madrasa Kashif-ul-Uloom and the attached hostel, in connection with a case registered in 2020 for alleged violation of COVID-19 guidelines by the markaz management. 

The police recently had filed an application in the case urging the high court to direct the Waqf Board and Banglewali Masjid's management to produce details regarding the ownership of land and building plan approved for construction of the mosque situated at Basti Nizamuddin. In a case of obvious overreach, deputy Commissioner of Police Rohit Meena in the application had also asked the court to direct the Delhi Waqf Board and mosque management to produce the copy of sanction plan in relation to Banglewali Masjid.

The police had argued that neither the Waqf Board nor the mosque management, which is an applicant in the case, have produced any document to prove the that the property in Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin is a waqf property registered under the provisions of Waqf Act and that it has been vested with the management, which is registered as a mutawalli or under any other capacity. 

Contending that the Waqf Board cannot maintain a "petition to claim possession" of an "alleged waqf property" which has been legally given to any mutawali for admission and possession, the police had said that only upon termination of mutawali as per provisions of the law, the board can regain any right of direct management. 

"It has also not produced the register as contemplated under Section 37 of the Waqf Act, inter-alia, giving the name of the mutawalli or his successor to the said property," the application stated. 

The court today disposed of the petition after the police said it would not have any objection to handover the keys to Maulana Saad. Senior Advocate Sanjoy Ghose and Delhi Waqf Board Standing Counsel Wajeeh Shafiq represented the petitioner. Advocate Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi represented the applicant, mosque management. Advocate Rajat Nair represented the Delhi Police.

Background

In April 2020, as the country was reeling under the impact of a hastily called ‘national lockdown’, large sections of the electronic media, especially television channels and social media handles were busy spewing hatred against India’s Muslims. The target was a previously sanctioned (authorities being the Delhi police under the Indian Home Ministry) permission to hold a two day international religious gathering in mid-March 2020 by the Tableeghi Jamaat. While several outfits and bodies, including political figures and majority religious gatherings continued unabated after the declaration of Covid-19 as a pandemic, it was this event that was singled out for a mass campaign.

Through this, only Muslims were being ostracized, beaten and even killed amid the pandemic. They’re being accused of spreading ‘Corona Jihad’ and being called ‘Super Spreaders’. Why are the scales tilted in the favour of the majority when they were equally at fault for flouting norms laid down by the government? Why was a medical issue turned into a religious one? And why did the media not show the other side of the story?

Sabrangindia has reported extensively on this rabid bias apparent in largescale hate-letting by the media. We had asked then, Covid-19: Was Tablighi Jamaat event the only mass gathering leading up to the lockdown? -Are Indian Muslims being selectively targeted despite the fact that gatherings and events were organised by people of different faiths?

High Courts Quash FIRs

By August 2020, several High Courts had quashed politically motivated FIRs against many of those who attended these gatherings.  In August 2020, the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court has fallen in line with the high courts of Karnataka, Allahabad and Madras in letting off members of Tablighi Jamaat either on bail or by quashing FIRs against them. However, it was the Bombay High Court (Aurangabad bench) which was the first high court to have called out the blatant communalism and the way the entire incident was handled by the government, the police and the media.

In its 58-page judgment, dated August 21, the bench comprising Justices MG Sewlikar and TV Nalawade, was related to three FIRs filed at Ahmednagar police stations against a total of 29 foreign nationals and 6 Indians. The FIRs were similar in the circumstances under which the accused were charged. They were all found in mosques, stranded and hence given shelter by the mosque trustees/management.

The petitioners, mainly foreign nationals, had contended that they came to India on valid visas issued by the Government of India and they have come to experience Indian culture, tradition, hospitality and Indian food. They had even informed the District Superintendent of Police, Ahmednagar about their arrival. They were just given shelter in the mosques as they were unable to go and live anywhere else due to lockdown restrictions.

Were visa conditions violated?

The contention of the police was that the petitioners were preaching Islam and despite orders dated March 23, to close religious places, they continued to stay in mosques and “indulged in Tablighi activity”. The police further contended that the petitioners were in violation of the Visa conditions and breached orders issued by the authorities created under Disaster Management Act, 2005.

The court observed that a foreigner may be punished under section 14 of the Foreigners Act if he acts in violation of the conditions of the valid visa. The court said that “the so-called conditions are not in the form of provisions of Act or rules framed under any Act. They are in the form of so called guidelines or at the most executive instructions.”

The court further pointed out that though restrictions are put on the foreigners who come to India on tourist visas to prevent them from engaging in Tablighi activity, there is no restriction on them to visit religious places to attend the normal religious activities like attending religious discourse.

2020: Sabrangindia Listicle of Various events not similarly highlighted by the Media

The coronavirus pandemic in India has infected over 12,000 people in the country and the death toll has crossed 450. In light of this, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba has asked state governments to at once strengthen the surveillance of international air travellers who entered India between January 18 to March 23 as there appeared to be a “gap” between those being monitored for Covid-19 and 15 lakh arrivals during that time, the Economic Times had reported on March 27.

In a letter to all the chief secretaries of States and UTs, Gauba had said that the gap in monitoring of international passengers “may seriously jeopardize the efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19”, given the fact that many of those who have tested positive for the virus have a history of international travel.

"As you are aware, we initiated screening of international incoming passengers at the airports with effect from January 18, 2020. I have been informed that up to March 23, 2020, cumulatively, Bureau Of Immigration has shared details of more than 15 lakh incoming international passengers with the States/UTs for monitoring for COVID-19.

"However, there appears to be a gap between the number of international passengers who need to be monitored by the States/UTs and the actual number of passengers being monitored,” Gauba’s letter read.

If there are so many who can potentially be responsible for the spread of the coronavirus, why is the only the minority community, especially Muslims, who are being targeted for the spread of the virus? It has turned into a vicious cycle of Islamophobia feeding hate, and often targeted and malicious reportage against the community, that in turn further isolates and demonises the community.  

Apart from the Tablighi Jamaat event, which is solely being held responsible for the spike in cases, there were a multitude of gatherings in the country, which went unreported or completely ignored by the mainstream media. And if not unnoticed or unpunished, the people involved were not treated with as much vile discrimination as those who attended the Tablighi Jamaat.

1.  Namaste Trump event – Nearly 100,000 people attended the visit of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Gujarat which took place on February 24. One must remember that the first coronavirus case in the country was detected on January 30. Though the first case in Gujarat was detected almost toward the end of March, the presence of NRIs at the event could be potentially deadly for the population.

2.  Ob Feb 25, thousands of people attended the Maha Shivratri event held by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Founder, Isha Foundation at Coimbatore. All those people must be tested too.

3.  Out of the 800 people who attended a shraddh ceremony in Madhya Pradesh’s Morena district on March 20. Later, at least 12 people who attended the gathering were tested positive for coronavirus, reported IB Times. Out of these 33 people were put under quarantine, but the number of infected people could have been much higher an administrative officer told the publication.

4.  Singer Kanika Kapoor who returned from her stay in the United Kingdom and was tested positive for the coronavirus, faced massive criticism for allegedly hiding her travel history. After returning from London, she hosted a lavish party which saw the attendance of many people, including political leaders. The singer triggered a massive coronavirus scare among parliamentarians and other prominent figures who had interacted with the singer during these parties before she tested positive. All of them have tested negative for the coronavirus now, NDTV reported. According to a report by Aaj Tak, she met scores of people, putting all of their lives in danger, after her arrival on March 9 till March 20, when she was tested positive.

5.  While the coronavirus pandemic was rising in India, Business Insider reported that a total of 61,652 pilgrims visited the Tirumala temple. Though coronavirus prevention camps were put up at all checkpoints, the number of people tested by the government is unknown.

6.  Despite Covid-19, nearly 1.5 lakh from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu attended the temple festival ‘rathavotsam’ in Kadiri town of Andhra Pradesh in March, reported The News Minute. It is not clear how many have been tested for the coronavirus.

7.  The Indian Express on April 1 reported that around 400 pilgrims who had gone to visit the Mata Vaishno Devi temple, were stranded in Jammu due to the cancellation of train services amid the coronavirus scare. However, the shrine board and Press Information Bureau denied the information saying it had closed the temple to visitors on March 18.

8.  The Uttar Pradesh CM, Yogi Adityanath himself violated the lockdown and social distancing rules after he was seen participating in a pre-dawn religious ceremony in Ayodhya. State officials, however, said proper precautions were taken before the ceremony, which was held to shift the idol of Ram Lalla to a temporary structure inside the Ram Janmabhoomi premises. They said thorough sanitisation of both the premises and the people involved had been ensured before the ceremony, Economic Times reported.

9.  In Telangana, which is one of the worst hit states, Allola Indrakaran Reddy (Minister of Endowments, Law and Environment, Forest) and Puvvada Ajay Kumar (Transport Minister), attended a Ram Navami event, reported ANI.

10.  BJP MLA Masala Jayaram violted lockdown norms and celebrated his birthday with children and over 200 members of the village at Turuvekera in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district.

11.  Not far behind was BJP MLA Dadarao Keche from Wardha who celebrated his birthday amid the lockdown. He claims to be innocent saying he invited only 21 labourers to the party, but alleges his political adversaries took advantage of the situation and spread information about the party resulting in 200 people attending it, reported The Indian Express.

12.  Telangana BJP MLA T Raja Singh was found flouting lockdown rules as he gathered with over 70 people in April on the PM’s 9 PM 9 minutes call to light candles, etc, reported The Hindu.

13.  IAS officer Pallavi Jain Govil was accused of dodging the Covid-19 test and conducting meetings despite testing positive. However, the government denied the same saying she and her family had followed all quarantine norms, reported She The People TV.

14.  Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Sunday attended a marriage ceremony in Belagavi where hundreds had gathered, showing scant regard for the government’s own directive which had banned public events, including marriages, with more than hundred people, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

15.  A village in Chittapur of Kalburgi ,deemed hotspot for #COVID19, violated lockdown restrictions to host Siddhalingeswara chariot festival where hundreds of people gathered. Kalburgi reported the first #COVID19 death in the country. Death toll in district now at 3 with 18 active cases. No media outrage over this was reported.

16.  On Monday, April 13, the Uttar Pradesh government arranged over 20 buses to allegedly ferry 900 pilgrims from South India – Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, back who were stuck in Varanasi, back to their hometowns, reported Dainik Jagran. Varanasi District Magistrate Raj Sharma said that there were 700-800 pilgrims who approached their respective member of parliaments who then approached the Centre which arranged for transport to get them home. According to Free Press Journal, they were tested before they were allowed to board the buses. The departure was reportedly supervised by police officers. 


Related:

Covid-19: Was Tablighi Jamaat event the only mass gathering leading up to the lockdown?

FIR against 4 for attending Tablighi Jamaat

Delhi High Court directs Delhi Police to handover keys of Markaz Nizamuddin to Maulana Saad

Delhi High Court grills Delhi Police for continuing with its restrictions at Markaz Nizamuddin premises since March 2020, says the case was registered under Epidemic Diseases Act.

Markaz

Rejecting the Delhi Police's stand for continuing with the restrictions on public entry at the Tablighi Jamaat headquarter in Nizamuddin, the Delhi High Court on Monday ordered the Police to handover the keys of Markaz Nizamuddin to Maulana Saad. 

In March 2022, the court had permitted holding of prayers on five floors of the mosque during the month of Ramzan this year. In May, the high court permitted the mosque management to allow public entry beyond the month of Ramzan, for the first time since March 2020. The relief was limited only to offering of prayers. However, the public entry continued to remain barred at the attached madrasa and hostel. 

Delivering the judgement today, Justice Jasmeet Singh observed that the keys would have to be handed over to the person from whom they were taken. "You have taken the possession from some person. You either return the possession to that person. I am not adjudicating an FIR for title of property, that is not issue before me," said the court. 

The police argued that the original possessor has not come forward to take control of the property. It submitted that under Delhi Waqf Act, the mutawali has to come forward and not Delhi Waqf Board, which is the petitioner. 

However, the court said it is not going to look into the issue of title. Grilling the police, the court said: "Are you in possession? In what capacity have you taken possession? The FIR was registered under Epidemic Diseases Act... that is over now.""If you take a property under Epidemic Diseases Act and register an FIR, then whosoever was in possession at that point of time, would have to file suit for possession?" asked the court. 

When the police submitted that the possessor of the property will have to come forward, the court asked the Markaz management to go to police. "You will hand over the keys and impose whatever conditions," the court told the police. In response to a question, the police submitted that the "possession was taken" from Maulana Saad. However, it claimed he was absconding. However, the markaz management said he is in Nizamuddin only and not absconding and will appear before the police as directed.

After the high court questioned the police, the counsel representing Delhi Police submitted it would not have any objection to handover the property to him on furnishing indemnity bond. The court also said no documents would be required to be submitted for the purpose. 

The order was passed in the petition filed by Delhi Waqf Board in 2021 challenging the restrictions imposed on public entry at Masjid Bangley Wali, Madrasa Kashif-ul-Uloom and the attached hostel, in connection with a case registered in 2020 for alleged violation of COVID-19 guidelines by the markaz management. 

The police recently had filed an application in the case urging the high court to direct the Waqf Board and Banglewali Masjid's management to produce details regarding the ownership of land and building plan approved for construction of the mosque situated at Basti Nizamuddin. In a case of obvious overreach, deputy Commissioner of Police Rohit Meena in the application had also asked the court to direct the Delhi Waqf Board and mosque management to produce the copy of sanction plan in relation to Banglewali Masjid.

The police had argued that neither the Waqf Board nor the mosque management, which is an applicant in the case, have produced any document to prove the that the property in Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin is a waqf property registered under the provisions of Waqf Act and that it has been vested with the management, which is registered as a mutawalli or under any other capacity. 

Contending that the Waqf Board cannot maintain a "petition to claim possession" of an "alleged waqf property" which has been legally given to any mutawali for admission and possession, the police had said that only upon termination of mutawali as per provisions of the law, the board can regain any right of direct management. 

"It has also not produced the register as contemplated under Section 37 of the Waqf Act, inter-alia, giving the name of the mutawalli or his successor to the said property," the application stated. 

The court today disposed of the petition after the police said it would not have any objection to handover the keys to Maulana Saad. Senior Advocate Sanjoy Ghose and Delhi Waqf Board Standing Counsel Wajeeh Shafiq represented the petitioner. Advocate Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi represented the applicant, mosque management. Advocate Rajat Nair represented the Delhi Police.

Background

In April 2020, as the country was reeling under the impact of a hastily called ‘national lockdown’, large sections of the electronic media, especially television channels and social media handles were busy spewing hatred against India’s Muslims. The target was a previously sanctioned (authorities being the Delhi police under the Indian Home Ministry) permission to hold a two day international religious gathering in mid-March 2020 by the Tableeghi Jamaat. While several outfits and bodies, including political figures and majority religious gatherings continued unabated after the declaration of Covid-19 as a pandemic, it was this event that was singled out for a mass campaign.

Through this, only Muslims were being ostracized, beaten and even killed amid the pandemic. They’re being accused of spreading ‘Corona Jihad’ and being called ‘Super Spreaders’. Why are the scales tilted in the favour of the majority when they were equally at fault for flouting norms laid down by the government? Why was a medical issue turned into a religious one? And why did the media not show the other side of the story?

Sabrangindia has reported extensively on this rabid bias apparent in largescale hate-letting by the media. We had asked then, Covid-19: Was Tablighi Jamaat event the only mass gathering leading up to the lockdown? -Are Indian Muslims being selectively targeted despite the fact that gatherings and events were organised by people of different faiths?

High Courts Quash FIRs

By August 2020, several High Courts had quashed politically motivated FIRs against many of those who attended these gatherings.  In August 2020, the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court has fallen in line with the high courts of Karnataka, Allahabad and Madras in letting off members of Tablighi Jamaat either on bail or by quashing FIRs against them. However, it was the Bombay High Court (Aurangabad bench) which was the first high court to have called out the blatant communalism and the way the entire incident was handled by the government, the police and the media.

In its 58-page judgment, dated August 21, the bench comprising Justices MG Sewlikar and TV Nalawade, was related to three FIRs filed at Ahmednagar police stations against a total of 29 foreign nationals and 6 Indians. The FIRs were similar in the circumstances under which the accused were charged. They were all found in mosques, stranded and hence given shelter by the mosque trustees/management.

The petitioners, mainly foreign nationals, had contended that they came to India on valid visas issued by the Government of India and they have come to experience Indian culture, tradition, hospitality and Indian food. They had even informed the District Superintendent of Police, Ahmednagar about their arrival. They were just given shelter in the mosques as they were unable to go and live anywhere else due to lockdown restrictions.

Were visa conditions violated?

The contention of the police was that the petitioners were preaching Islam and despite orders dated March 23, to close religious places, they continued to stay in mosques and “indulged in Tablighi activity”. The police further contended that the petitioners were in violation of the Visa conditions and breached orders issued by the authorities created under Disaster Management Act, 2005.

The court observed that a foreigner may be punished under section 14 of the Foreigners Act if he acts in violation of the conditions of the valid visa. The court said that “the so-called conditions are not in the form of provisions of Act or rules framed under any Act. They are in the form of so called guidelines or at the most executive instructions.”

The court further pointed out that though restrictions are put on the foreigners who come to India on tourist visas to prevent them from engaging in Tablighi activity, there is no restriction on them to visit religious places to attend the normal religious activities like attending religious discourse.

2020: Sabrangindia Listicle of Various events not similarly highlighted by the Media

The coronavirus pandemic in India has infected over 12,000 people in the country and the death toll has crossed 450. In light of this, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba has asked state governments to at once strengthen the surveillance of international air travellers who entered India between January 18 to March 23 as there appeared to be a “gap” between those being monitored for Covid-19 and 15 lakh arrivals during that time, the Economic Times had reported on March 27.

In a letter to all the chief secretaries of States and UTs, Gauba had said that the gap in monitoring of international passengers “may seriously jeopardize the efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19”, given the fact that many of those who have tested positive for the virus have a history of international travel.

"As you are aware, we initiated screening of international incoming passengers at the airports with effect from January 18, 2020. I have been informed that up to March 23, 2020, cumulatively, Bureau Of Immigration has shared details of more than 15 lakh incoming international passengers with the States/UTs for monitoring for COVID-19.

"However, there appears to be a gap between the number of international passengers who need to be monitored by the States/UTs and the actual number of passengers being monitored,” Gauba’s letter read.

If there are so many who can potentially be responsible for the spread of the coronavirus, why is the only the minority community, especially Muslims, who are being targeted for the spread of the virus? It has turned into a vicious cycle of Islamophobia feeding hate, and often targeted and malicious reportage against the community, that in turn further isolates and demonises the community.  

Apart from the Tablighi Jamaat event, which is solely being held responsible for the spike in cases, there were a multitude of gatherings in the country, which went unreported or completely ignored by the mainstream media. And if not unnoticed or unpunished, the people involved were not treated with as much vile discrimination as those who attended the Tablighi Jamaat.

1.  Namaste Trump event – Nearly 100,000 people attended the visit of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Gujarat which took place on February 24. One must remember that the first coronavirus case in the country was detected on January 30. Though the first case in Gujarat was detected almost toward the end of March, the presence of NRIs at the event could be potentially deadly for the population.

2.  Ob Feb 25, thousands of people attended the Maha Shivratri event held by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Founder, Isha Foundation at Coimbatore. All those people must be tested too.

3.  Out of the 800 people who attended a shraddh ceremony in Madhya Pradesh’s Morena district on March 20. Later, at least 12 people who attended the gathering were tested positive for coronavirus, reported IB Times. Out of these 33 people were put under quarantine, but the number of infected people could have been much higher an administrative officer told the publication.

4.  Singer Kanika Kapoor who returned from her stay in the United Kingdom and was tested positive for the coronavirus, faced massive criticism for allegedly hiding her travel history. After returning from London, she hosted a lavish party which saw the attendance of many people, including political leaders. The singer triggered a massive coronavirus scare among parliamentarians and other prominent figures who had interacted with the singer during these parties before she tested positive. All of them have tested negative for the coronavirus now, NDTV reported. According to a report by Aaj Tak, she met scores of people, putting all of their lives in danger, after her arrival on March 9 till March 20, when she was tested positive.

5.  While the coronavirus pandemic was rising in India, Business Insider reported that a total of 61,652 pilgrims visited the Tirumala temple. Though coronavirus prevention camps were put up at all checkpoints, the number of people tested by the government is unknown.

6.  Despite Covid-19, nearly 1.5 lakh from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu attended the temple festival ‘rathavotsam’ in Kadiri town of Andhra Pradesh in March, reported The News Minute. It is not clear how many have been tested for the coronavirus.

7.  The Indian Express on April 1 reported that around 400 pilgrims who had gone to visit the Mata Vaishno Devi temple, were stranded in Jammu due to the cancellation of train services amid the coronavirus scare. However, the shrine board and Press Information Bureau denied the information saying it had closed the temple to visitors on March 18.

8.  The Uttar Pradesh CM, Yogi Adityanath himself violated the lockdown and social distancing rules after he was seen participating in a pre-dawn religious ceremony in Ayodhya. State officials, however, said proper precautions were taken before the ceremony, which was held to shift the idol of Ram Lalla to a temporary structure inside the Ram Janmabhoomi premises. They said thorough sanitisation of both the premises and the people involved had been ensured before the ceremony, Economic Times reported.

9.  In Telangana, which is one of the worst hit states, Allola Indrakaran Reddy (Minister of Endowments, Law and Environment, Forest) and Puvvada Ajay Kumar (Transport Minister), attended a Ram Navami event, reported ANI.

10.  BJP MLA Masala Jayaram violted lockdown norms and celebrated his birthday with children and over 200 members of the village at Turuvekera in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district.

11.  Not far behind was BJP MLA Dadarao Keche from Wardha who celebrated his birthday amid the lockdown. He claims to be innocent saying he invited only 21 labourers to the party, but alleges his political adversaries took advantage of the situation and spread information about the party resulting in 200 people attending it, reported The Indian Express.

12.  Telangana BJP MLA T Raja Singh was found flouting lockdown rules as he gathered with over 70 people in April on the PM’s 9 PM 9 minutes call to light candles, etc, reported The Hindu.

13.  IAS officer Pallavi Jain Govil was accused of dodging the Covid-19 test and conducting meetings despite testing positive. However, the government denied the same saying she and her family had followed all quarantine norms, reported She The People TV.

14.  Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Sunday attended a marriage ceremony in Belagavi where hundreds had gathered, showing scant regard for the government’s own directive which had banned public events, including marriages, with more than hundred people, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

15.  A village in Chittapur of Kalburgi ,deemed hotspot for #COVID19, violated lockdown restrictions to host Siddhalingeswara chariot festival where hundreds of people gathered. Kalburgi reported the first #COVID19 death in the country. Death toll in district now at 3 with 18 active cases. No media outrage over this was reported.

16.  On Monday, April 13, the Uttar Pradesh government arranged over 20 buses to allegedly ferry 900 pilgrims from South India – Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, back who were stuck in Varanasi, back to their hometowns, reported Dainik Jagran. Varanasi District Magistrate Raj Sharma said that there were 700-800 pilgrims who approached their respective member of parliaments who then approached the Centre which arranged for transport to get them home. According to Free Press Journal, they were tested before they were allowed to board the buses. The departure was reportedly supervised by police officers. 


Related:

Covid-19: Was Tablighi Jamaat event the only mass gathering leading up to the lockdown?

FIR against 4 for attending Tablighi Jamaat

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Sabrang

Being a Muslim in this country and facing this every day is not funny

Says a Muslim student as his professor allegedly made a joke about Muslims being terrorists, in a classroom full of students

28 Nov 2022

hate watch

A video has surfaced on social media showing a visibly irked Muslim student raising his voice against an Islamophobic joke cracked by his Professor during a lecture. While the “joke” was not  caught on camera, the student’s reaction makes it clear that it had something to do with Muslims being terrorists.

The student can be seen defending himself and telling the professor that he cannot speak about Muslim in such a derogatory manner and the professor seemed flustered and was apologizing seeing that the student got offended by his “joke”. The student said, “it’s not funny, 26/11 was not funny, Islamic terrorism is not funny. Being a Muslim in this country and facing this everyday is not funny.”

When the professor said, you are just like my son, the student responded, “ will you talk to your son like that and call him a terrorist? How can you call me like that in front of so many people, in the class. You are a professional you are teaching. You can’t call me like that.” The professor sounded clearly embarrassed and said sorry to which the student, “Sir, sorry doesn’t change the way you think or how you portray yourself”.

 

 

While users on Twitter are claiming that the incident took place in Manipal university, the same could not be verified.

This incident is nothing but a depiction of casual Islamophobia in our everyday discourse that we need to address and speak up against. Casual Islamophobia can take a form of stereotyping, avoiding buying goods from Muslim vendors/shops, socially distancing from Muslims, making jokes about Muslims and their culture in private circles, depicting Muslims as “villains” in popular culture, using the ‘go to Pakistan’ or ‘love jihad’ trope casually, are all subtle forms of Islamophobia that one needs to speak against.

The fact that this professor felt that it was acceptable to crack some joke about Muslim being terrorists in a classroom setting is reflective of how, we as a society, have normalized laughing at the expense of Muslim community without realizing how precarious it can be, as one can end up hurting religious sentiments; which is not only an offence under the Indian Penal Code but also stand to erode our culturally diverse society.

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Hate watch: Christians attacked during Sunday mass in Chhattisgarh; 9 hospitalised 

Being a Muslim in this country and facing this every day is not funny

Says a Muslim student as his professor allegedly made a joke about Muslims being terrorists, in a classroom full of students

hate watch

A video has surfaced on social media showing a visibly irked Muslim student raising his voice against an Islamophobic joke cracked by his Professor during a lecture. While the “joke” was not  caught on camera, the student’s reaction makes it clear that it had something to do with Muslims being terrorists.

The student can be seen defending himself and telling the professor that he cannot speak about Muslim in such a derogatory manner and the professor seemed flustered and was apologizing seeing that the student got offended by his “joke”. The student said, “it’s not funny, 26/11 was not funny, Islamic terrorism is not funny. Being a Muslim in this country and facing this everyday is not funny.”

When the professor said, you are just like my son, the student responded, “ will you talk to your son like that and call him a terrorist? How can you call me like that in front of so many people, in the class. You are a professional you are teaching. You can’t call me like that.” The professor sounded clearly embarrassed and said sorry to which the student, “Sir, sorry doesn’t change the way you think or how you portray yourself”.

 

 

While users on Twitter are claiming that the incident took place in Manipal university, the same could not be verified.

This incident is nothing but a depiction of casual Islamophobia in our everyday discourse that we need to address and speak up against. Casual Islamophobia can take a form of stereotyping, avoiding buying goods from Muslim vendors/shops, socially distancing from Muslims, making jokes about Muslims and their culture in private circles, depicting Muslims as “villains” in popular culture, using the ‘go to Pakistan’ or ‘love jihad’ trope casually, are all subtle forms of Islamophobia that one needs to speak against.

The fact that this professor felt that it was acceptable to crack some joke about Muslim being terrorists in a classroom setting is reflective of how, we as a society, have normalized laughing at the expense of Muslim community without realizing how precarious it can be, as one can end up hurting religious sentiments; which is not only an offence under the Indian Penal Code but also stand to erode our culturally diverse society.

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Hate watch: Christians attacked during Sunday mass in Chhattisgarh; 9 hospitalised 

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Imam Bukhari is a sexist: IMSD

25 Nov 2022

Imam

Press release

  • Imam Bukhari is a sexist
  • OK for boys to loiter, not OK for girls?
  • Women have equal right to sacred spaces
  • Open all mosques to Muslim women

Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) condemns the blatant sexism of Imam Bukhari of Delhi’s Shahi Jama Masjid, even as it welcomes his decision since to remove the boards prohibiting Muslim girls from entering the precincts of the mosque.

The earlier decision to put up the notice board was sought to be explained on the ground that Muslim girls ‘loiter’ around the mosque’s sprawling compound. Presumably it’s OK for boys to loiter, not OK for girls. Such an attitude reeks of a patriarchal mindset.

The imam has sought to clarify that the do-not-enter directive did not apply to women who were welcome as before to pray at the mosque. We appreciate the clarification since IMSD has consistently supported the right of women from all religions to equal access to all sacred spaces on par with men.

Muslim women have prayed inside the mosques in Mecca and Medina from the time of Prophet Mohammed. They continue to do so even today in Saudi Arabia and much of the Arab world, the land of Islam’s birth.

Given this, it is the height of irony that in much of the Indian sub-continent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh) Muslim men have kept the doors of mosques shut for Muslim women. IMSD welcomes the fact that in recent years some Muslim religious bodies have started creating space for women inside mosques. It demands that ALL mosques open their doors similarly.

Statement issued by:
Javed Anand, Convener, IMSD               
Feroze Mithiborwala Coconvener, IMSD

Imam

Imam

 

Imam Bukhari is a sexist: IMSD

Imam

Press release

  • Imam Bukhari is a sexist
  • OK for boys to loiter, not OK for girls?
  • Women have equal right to sacred spaces
  • Open all mosques to Muslim women

Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) condemns the blatant sexism of Imam Bukhari of Delhi’s Shahi Jama Masjid, even as it welcomes his decision since to remove the boards prohibiting Muslim girls from entering the precincts of the mosque.

The earlier decision to put up the notice board was sought to be explained on the ground that Muslim girls ‘loiter’ around the mosque’s sprawling compound. Presumably it’s OK for boys to loiter, not OK for girls. Such an attitude reeks of a patriarchal mindset.

The imam has sought to clarify that the do-not-enter directive did not apply to women who were welcome as before to pray at the mosque. We appreciate the clarification since IMSD has consistently supported the right of women from all religions to equal access to all sacred spaces on par with men.

Muslim women have prayed inside the mosques in Mecca and Medina from the time of Prophet Mohammed. They continue to do so even today in Saudi Arabia and much of the Arab world, the land of Islam’s birth.

Given this, it is the height of irony that in much of the Indian sub-continent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh) Muslim men have kept the doors of mosques shut for Muslim women. IMSD welcomes the fact that in recent years some Muslim religious bodies have started creating space for women inside mosques. It demands that ALL mosques open their doors similarly.

Statement issued by:
Javed Anand, Convener, IMSD               
Feroze Mithiborwala Coconvener, IMSD

Imam

Imam

 

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Hate watch: Christians attacked during Sunday mass in Chhattisgarh; 9 hospitalised 

The pastor who founded the church had converted from Hinduism a few years ago

25 Nov 2022

attack on christians

At least nine Christians were attacked by Hindu nationalists in Chhattisgarh’s after a mob burst into a newly built church hall in Koshalnar village during Sunday service, reported Maktoob Media.

A saffron clad mob gathered around the church making calls to the pastor and his brother to come out of the church. Reportedly, the pastor converted to Christianity in 2013 and has been practicing since. He was the one who even founded this church. When the pastor and his brother came to speak to the mob, they were attacked with clubs and were cursed for “abandoning the Hindu faith”.

The mob then went on to attack the worshippers present in the church. The injured had to be taken to the hospital.

The state has seen a spate of attacks against Christians in the recent years. In September 2021, a group accused Pastor Harish Sahu of indulging in religious conversion and manhandled him as well as Ankush Bariyekar, general secretary of Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, and one Prakash Masih, inside Purani Basti police station.

In August 2021, A group of over 100 people allegedly beat up a 25-year-old pastor after barging into his house at Polmi village in Chhattisgarh's Kabirdham district.

In November 2021, A mob of 50 radical Hindu nationalists allegedly attacked 14 Christian homes in Metapal village in the Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh leaving nine Christians seriously injured.

Related:

No coercive action against voluntary religious conversion: MP High Court

India has chosen a path of exclusion and persecution for religious minorities: CMRI report

BJP has strayed away from Nehruvian vales of secularism: IAMC report

Hate watch: Christians attacked during Sunday mass in Chhattisgarh; 9 hospitalised 

The pastor who founded the church had converted from Hinduism a few years ago

attack on christians

At least nine Christians were attacked by Hindu nationalists in Chhattisgarh’s after a mob burst into a newly built church hall in Koshalnar village during Sunday service, reported Maktoob Media.

A saffron clad mob gathered around the church making calls to the pastor and his brother to come out of the church. Reportedly, the pastor converted to Christianity in 2013 and has been practicing since. He was the one who even founded this church. When the pastor and his brother came to speak to the mob, they were attacked with clubs and were cursed for “abandoning the Hindu faith”.

The mob then went on to attack the worshippers present in the church. The injured had to be taken to the hospital.

The state has seen a spate of attacks against Christians in the recent years. In September 2021, a group accused Pastor Harish Sahu of indulging in religious conversion and manhandled him as well as Ankush Bariyekar, general secretary of Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, and one Prakash Masih, inside Purani Basti police station.

In August 2021, A group of over 100 people allegedly beat up a 25-year-old pastor after barging into his house at Polmi village in Chhattisgarh's Kabirdham district.

In November 2021, A mob of 50 radical Hindu nationalists allegedly attacked 14 Christian homes in Metapal village in the Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh leaving nine Christians seriously injured.

Related:

No coercive action against voluntary religious conversion: MP High Court

India has chosen a path of exclusion and persecution for religious minorities: CMRI report

BJP has strayed away from Nehruvian vales of secularism: IAMC report

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India has chosen a path of exclusion and persecution for religious minorities: CMRI report

The CMRI report provides data on hate crimes against religious minorities, and touches upon their portrayal on news media, status of educational institutions, among other aspects

25 Nov 2022

attack on minoritiesImage: The Indian Express

The Council of Minority Rights in India (CMRI) published a report on the Religious Minorities in India in November 2022. Through this report, Socio-Political Status of Religious Minorities in India in the year 2021 has been documented, through collecting primary and secondary data. The report emphasized on the sudden rise in calls for genocides, economic and social boycotts, rape threats to Muslim women, rise in Hindu vigilante groups have resulted in lynching or lynchings of innocent Muslim men, vandalising Christian prayer meetings, and moral policing couples on Valentine’s Day, which displays the growing extremism in the society. the report aims to depicts how it is becoming more and more dangerous to speak freely, think freely and even possess books which may give a message different to the one the current regime is propagating. It is in this socio-political context that this report attempts to document the violence and provide perspectives to the growing intolerance.

Who are the religious minorities of India?

The Ministry of Welfare, Government of India notified five religious communities, the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians (Parsis), as minority communities on 23rd October 1993. The Jains were later notified on 27th January 2014, as a minority community. As per the 2011 census, the above-mentioned six religious minorities constitute 19.4% of the total population. Muslims are the largest minority in India that constitute 14.2% of the total population, whereas Christians and Sikhs constitute 2.3% and 1.7%, respectively.

Hate Crimes: Case of Religious Minorities in India-

The report refers to issue of rising hate crimes against minorities in India, and the bias that leads to it. The report has gone into the detail of how the right-wing ecosystem in India represents a weaponisation of emotions and information to manipulate India’s entire political and societal landscape. The report then goes into how spreading of fake news and misinformation, along with state complicity and state impunity, become to weapons of pushing the political propaganda. As provided in the road, fear or threat from minorities is spread and broadcasted by right-wing outfits, through targeted campaigns, political mobilisation and media (news, entertainment, and social).

Referring to jurisprudence and legislations against hate crime, the report states that India has no such legislation that addresses prejudice motivated crimes or hate crimes. The cases filed against hate crime offenders are usually under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), however, they are hardly filed, as the police officials are not cooperative because of the nexus of the impunity in the country against minority communities. The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989, which is poorly implemented across the nation, is the only hate crime legislation.

Anti-lynching laws were framed and passed in four state legislative assemblies, namely Manipur, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Rajasthan, keeping in view the rising cases of mob lynching in India. But these bills were not implemented.

Since there is an absence of a legal framework that specifies crimes and compartmentalises violence committed against religious minorities with a biased motive into hate crime, a path is paved for the under-reporting of crimes committed, making the numbers of hate crime incidents much less credible.

As per the data provided in the report, in the year 2021, a total of 294 incidents of hate crimes were documented against religious minorities, out of which 192 were against Muslims, 95 against Christians and 7 against the Sikh community. The Christian community was predominantly targeted on allegations of forceful conversion. The Muslim community was chiefly targeted on allegations of inter-faith relationships and cow slaughter. Hate crimes against Sikhs were not documented at all and were also not reported by news media. The perpetrators are majorly right-wing vigilantes or Hindu extremist groups.[1]

The report also provides the types of violence and crimes that the religious minorities had to face in the year 2021, which is as follows:

Type of Offence

Religious Minorities

Total

 

Muslims

Christians

Sikhs

 

Attack on Religious Place/Worship

7

30

2

51

Communal Tension/Riot

11

0

0

11

Denial Of Access to Public Space

11

1

0

12

Discrimination

4

2

1

7

Hate Speech

20

3

0

23

Harassment

14

10

1

25

Lynch/Murder

26

1

1

28

Online

3

0

0

3

Physical Assault

63

26

0

89

Police Violence

7

7

2

16[2]

Sexual Violence/Assault

4

0

0

4

Threat/Intimidation

6

14

0

20

Vandalism

4

1

0

5

Minorities on Prime Time: An inquiry into the portrayal of Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs on Television News

The report then focusses on the representation of the 3 religious minorities in the media as news media is one of the few mediums that represents the popular view, plays a simultaneous role in cultivating a popular view and fanning it across the masses. As such, it is a threat for establishments particularly the state as a platform with the potential for depicting the failures of the state and in the process, sowing discontentment amongst the populace regarding the state as an institution. Hence, the state either censors the media or controls it.

Through the data provided in the report under this sub-topic, the bias against religious minorities was present in the Indian news media since its inception and the media spectacularly failed in its role as the watchdog of democracy, especially since 2014.

All mediums of mass media have been involved in producing scapegoats. Often these scapegoats are ethnic minorities and the mediums engage in ethnic blame, as provided in the report. Ethnic blame as a discourse frames behaviour of ethnic minorities as problematic and inducing conflict thereby, accentuating the negative image of minority communities. In India, preliminary observation done for the report has reflected this consensus of scapegoats is laid at the feet of religious minorities and no medium other than television news perpetuates this consensus in full force with value-laden language, disproportionate weight, and coverage, as well as stereotypes.

The research study conducted in the report analysed prime time broadcast shows of three news channels: Halla Bol of “Aaj Tak” channel, Newstrack with Rahul Kanwal of “India Today” channel and Ravish Ki Report of “NDTV” channel. As provided in the report, from January 2021 to December 2021, the three broadcasts telecasted 793 shows in which 2,574 panelists participated.

  1. Halla Bol, “Aaj Tak”

Some of the issues discussed on prime time related to religious minorities- In 2021, Muslims were incarcerated for “performing” Covid Jihad. Hindutva groups made calls for a pan-nation genocide and boycott of Muslims, leading to a spike in hate crimes targeting the religious minority. Sikhs were accused of conspiring with Pakistan. Hindutva groups alleging Christians of forcible conversion targeted the religious minority with hate crimes, including vandalism of schools and Churches. The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs restricted Missionaries of Charity – the organisation founded by Mother Teresa, from receiving foreign donations on account of alleged proselytism.

Statistics-

  • In 2021, Halla Bol referred to religious minorities in 60 (19.01%) telecasts. The show referred to Muslims in 59 (18.78%) of telecasts, Sikhs in 1 (0.31%) telecast, and made no direct reference to Christians, depriving space of a religious minority comprising 2.3% of total population of India.

  • Halla Bol telecasted 60 (19.10%) shows referring to religious minorities. 57 (95%) of these were negative in nature and 3 (5%) were neutral. All references to Sikhs were negative in nature, while 56 (94.91%) of references made to Muslims were negative and the remaining 3 (5.08%) references to Muslims were neutral. The show did not refer to any religious minority in a positive manner.

  • The show broadcasted 5 (1.59%) telecasts related to conspiracy theories against religious minorities.

  • The show also broadcasted 14 telecasts targeting religious minorities. 12 (85.71%) of these telecasts targeted Muslims, and 2 (14.28%) targeted Sikhs. Targeting refers to media trials conducted in the newsrooms by anchors and Hindu panellists, which deprive the wrongfully accused to present their defence.

  • 1286 panellists appeared in 127 broadcasted telecasts of Halla Bol. Only 192 (14.93%) of the panellists belonged to religious minorities, with 147 (11.43%) representing Muslims, 45 (3.49%) representing Sikhs and 0% representing Christians.

  1. Newstrack, “India Today”

Statistics-

  • The prime-time broadcast show Newstrack of “India Today” channel, anchored by News Director Rahul Kanwal, telecasted 230 shows in the year 2021. 92 (40%) of the telecasts had panellists from religious minorities but only 1 (0.43%) telecast focused on topics related to religious minorities.

  • The show directly referred to Muslims in 35 (15.21%) of telecasts, Sikhs in 2 (0.86%) telecasts, and made no direct reference to Christians

  • In the year 2021, Newstrack telecasted 37 (16.08%) shows referring to religious minorities, of which 34 (91.89%) were negative in nature, 2 (5.40%) were neutral in nature and 1 (2.70%) was positive. All references to Sikhs were negative in nature again following the pattern observed in telecasts of Halla Bol, while 32 (91.42%) of references made to Muslims were negative, 2 (5.71%) were neutral and the remaining 1 (2.85%) reference was positive.

  • The show broadcasted 4 (1.73%) telecasts related to conspiracy theories against religious minorities, 3 (80%) of which were against the religious minority of Muslims, and 1 (20%) was against the religious minority of Sikhs.

  • The show also broadcasted 8 telecasts targeting religious minorities. 7 (87.50%) of these telecasts targeted Muslims, and the remaining 1 (12.50%) targeted Sikhs.

  1. Prime Time with Ravish, “NDTV”

  • The prime-time broadcast show Prime Time with Ravish of “NDTV”, anchored by Senior Executive Editor Ravish Kumar, telecasted 249 shows in the year 2021.

  • Only 53 (21%) of the telecasts featured panelists from religious minorities and not one telecast focused on issues pertaining to religious minorities. The show referred to Muslims in 22 (8.83%) of telecasts, Sikhs in 1 (0.40%) telecast, and made no direct reference to Christians.

  • In 2021, Prime Time with Ravish Kumar telecasted 23 (9.23%) shows referring to religious minorities: 4 (1.60%) were positive in nature and (7.63%) were neutral. The single reference to Sikhs was positive in nature while out of 22 references made to Muslims, 19 were neutral and the remaining 3 were positive.

  • 342 panelists appeared in 249 broadcasted telecasts of Ravish Ki Report. Only 59 (17%) panelists belonged to religious minorities, with 49 (14.32%) of total panelists representing Muslims, 7 (2.04%) representing Sikhs and 3 (0.87%) representing Christians.

Through the data provided in the report, the CMRI has concluded that the institution of Indian television news functions every day by at best ignoring Muslims, Sikhs and Christians and at worst, defaming the said communities. news television avoids effective coverage of religious minorities as a subject and provides only tokenism representation to religious minorities in newsrooms.

Qualitative changes in hate speech against minorities

As per the report, in the lead up to the 2019 elections, social media was seen to be used in an extremely dangerous fashion, especially WhatsApp, toxic misinformation and to incite fear amongst the population against non-Hindus.

Incidents of genocidal hate speeches made against the religious minority communities-

  • As of January 2022, over 12 open calls inciting group killings of Muslims were made in 5 Indian states in just two years. However, the number crossed 20 in just the next 3 months. And by 20th April, 2022, at least 10 more open calls to genocide by the same group of Hindu nationalists were made in just 20 days including the repetition of the infamous Haridwar Dharam Sansad at various places across India.

  • Between 17th December and 20th December 2021, at the religious congregation in Haridwar, Hindutva leaders were seen addressing the public calling for ‘real Hindus’ to take up arms and kill Muslims. As has become the norm, the Uttarakhand government was silent.

  • In 2021, the slogan “Jab Mulle Kaate jayenge, Tab Ram Ram Chillayenge” [When Muslims will be cut up, they will shout the name of Ram] came to light after the series of Mahapanchayats in the Northern state of Haryana in support of the Hindus accused in the lynching case of a Muslim gym trainer named Asif.

  • In seeking re-election earlier this year, bulldozers became an integral part of the Yogi’s campaign as of the dispossession of Muslims in India, and were also stationed at election rallies as a symbol.

  • In a wave of islamophobia during the Covid- 19 spike, the Tablighi Jamaat incident led to Muslim-owned businesses being boycotted and health workers being discriminated against. Muslims were denied healthcare on account of being ‘super-spreaders’ regardless of their involvement in the congregation. Leaders of the majority parties were even referring to the meeting as a ‘Talibani crime’ and ‘corona terrorism.’ The hashtag ‘Corona Jihad’ went viral on social media.

Repression of Christian-run Educational Institutions in India

As provided in the report, according to the World Watch List 2022, India ranks 10th, making it one of the worst countries globally to follow Christianity. In the last years, Christian educational institutions have undergone threats and attacks in the country. These attacks on Christians can be categorised as both organised and unorganised i.e., carried out by state and nonstate actors, as per the CMRI report. They are designed to target the Christian educational institutions that are widely present across the country.

The schools run by Christian groups are often portrayed by the allegations of forced religious conversions. As mentioned in the report, the allegations and propaganda of forceful religious conversions have further segregated the minorities and its effect has been noticeably seen through the new anti-conversion laws which have been passed in five states of the country, which are Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Karnataka.

Incidents of attack:

  • As mentioned in the report, according to a report jointly released by three organisations namely, the Association for protection of Civil Rights, United Against Hate, and United Christian Forum around 300 cases of violence have been reported against Christians in nine months of 2021

  • Christian schools in Vidisha and Mumbai were targeted by Hindu Nationalist organisations, claiming that the schools were involved in forced religious conversions. Similarly, Christian schools in Aligarh were threatened to not celebrate Christmas by a Hindu Nationalist organisation.

  • On 6th December, 2021, when St Joseph School was vandalised, 14 students were inside the school premises appearing for the examination.

  • In 2017, Christian schools in Aligarh were warned by Hindu Jagran Manch to not observe Christmas. Sonu Savita, an HJM leader, alleged that in these Christian schools Hindus were in minority, and celebrating Christmas is a subtle way to tell the children about Christianity.

  • In December 2021, several men wearing saffron scarves barged into Karnataka schools to stop the Christmas celebrations.25 The mob threatened the administration and accused them of 'ignoring Hindu gods' and 'introducing Christianity to Hindu students.’

  • In February 2021, the local administration of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and the Daman-and-Diu States forced children of all the schools, irrespective of their faiths, to celebrate Vasant Panchami.

Gendered Islamophobia in India: Targeted hate violence against Muslim women

As provided in the report, the conversations in the mainstream academia and media regarding Muslim women in India have been stereotypically discourteous and monolith - that of forcefully covered oppressed beings, lacking voice, agency, or freedom always under the ‘control’ supposedly stemming from the fundamentalist tendencies of the men of the Muslim community and the faith they adhere to. Gendered Islamophobia, as per community definitions, is the ways in which the state utilizes gendered forms of violence, to oppress, monitor, punish, maim and exercise control over Muslim women’s bodies. These negative social constructions also portray Muslim women as terrorists, terrorist sympathisers on one hand, and on the other as inherently oppressed. As provided in the report, Muslim women are treated as cultural representatives of Islam and Muslim communities, which is mostly the reason why the bodies of Muslim women and girls are considered sites of domination and control.

Incidents of hatred against Muslims women:

  • In May 2022, a Hindu man delivered a hate-filled speech in the theatre after watching the film ‘The Kashmir Files’18, calling upon Hindu men to marry and impregnate Muslim women so that the demographic imbalances of India are "corrected."

  • In 2021, the Union Ministry of Indian Affairs announced that Muslim Women's Rights Day will be observed across the country on 1st August to “celebrate” the enactment of the legislation which criminalises Triple Talaq. The report highlights that the legislation was passed in a hurry, while several Muslim women’s collectives and advocates of human rights stood vehemently opposed to the criminalization of divorce. The voices of the very women the act supposedly ‘saves’ were deliberately silenced.

  • The targeted attack and conspiracy of ‘love jihad’ and ‘population jihad’ is established through the strategic stigmatisation of dark sexual obsession about allegedly ultra-masculine Muslim male bodies and over-fertile Muslim female ones.

  • At a rally, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, said, “Men are sleeping under quilts; women, kids are pushed forward to protest against CAA '' (Khan, 2020). Prime Minister Narendra Modi even declared that protestors could be recognized by their clothes, “hinting at veiled Muslim women at Shaheen Bagh” (Kadiwal, 2021).

  • One of the Mahapanchayath organised at Ramlila ground, Pataudi on 4th July, 2021, 19-year-old Sharma alias Ram Bhakth Gopal, in response to Love jihad, called for the abduction of Muslim women and urged Hindu men to protect their sisters and daughters.

  • On 3rd January, 2022, a video was shared on social media, where Hindu leader Yati Narasinghanad sitting on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar, spewing objectionable and Islamophobic remarks against Muslim women.

  • ‘Bulli bai’ and its previous version ‘sulli deals’ are two similar applications on the GitHub platform, which auctioned dozens of vocal Muslim women to threaten and humiliate them. On 4th July, Sulli Deals, a web-based app, used publicly available pictures of several Muslim women activists, scholars, journalists, and other professionals without their consent; and created profiles, describing them as the ‘deal’ of the day.

  • The restriction on wearing hijab for students in pre- university campuses of the Indian State of Karnataka, which the Karnataka high court later legalized, is viewed by many as another step toward criminalising the presence of Muslims, and more particularly, Muslim women in India.

The Sikhs of India; Repression and Exclusion

As provided in the report, the Sikhs are a small minority community in India with a population of less than 2 percent. Further provided in the report is that there have been active efforts by ruling dispensations of the central Indian government to curb activism and mobilisation within the Sikh community. There was a massive increase in anti-Sikh hate and anti-Sikh propaganda during the protest by Indian farmers against the Narendra Modi government's controversial agricultural laws. Though the protest was carried out by farmers from across North India, Sikh farmers from the Punjab province played a leading role in the entire agitation. The report states that there was a clear attempt by the Indian government as well as a major section of the pro-government media to project the protests by Sikhs as "anti-national" or "treason". The protesters had to face brute force from the police when they were marching peacefully from Punjab to Delhi.

Incidents of hatred against Sikh community:

  • In June 2020, Sikligars in MP’s Khargone district claimed that they had to flee their homes and were forced to live in the forest due to being hounded by the police.23 Later that year a Sikh Granthi (preacher) belonging to the Sikligar community was publicly thrashed by the police in Madhya Pradesh's Barwani district.

  • In 2018, houses belonging to Sikligars and a Gurdwara were damaged by the police in Balsa near Parbhani in Maharashtra.

  • As of July 2020, there were 94 UAPA cases in the Punjab province under which 370 people had been kept in jail, most of them Sikhs.

  • In April 2018, Punjab Police arrested 4 youths allegedly planning to highlight Khalistan issues at cricket matches. The cyber cell tracked these youths from a Facebook page in the name of “Referendum 2020". The youth was allegedly instructed on the page to put Referendum 2020 posters to get media attention.

  • On 28th June, 2020, police arrested Mohinder Pal Singh, Gurtej Singh and Lovepreet Singh and charged them with terrorism related offences. Three phones were recovered with videos and photographs related to the Khalistani movement and their propagators, the police claimed. The police alleged that Lovepreet was very active on Social Media Platforms and made a Facebook Page named ‘KhalsaBhindrewalaji’.

  • A number of Sikh websites, social media accounts, and hashtags have also been banned by the Indian authorities. Punjab-based news website Sikh Siyasat was blocked in June 2020 within India.29 Sikh oriented news channels Akaal Channel, KTV and TV84 were blocked on YouTube.30 While Akaal Channel is live again, the ban on the YouTube homepages of TV84 and KTV continues. Sikh Siyasat’s English website also remains blocked in India.

Universities as sites of resistance: Journey of Muslims to and in Higher Education

Under this, the report analyses the factors which contribute to the steadily declining presence of Muslim communities at all levels of the education system, be it primary, secondary or postsecondary university education. Lack of economic resources, political and social marginalization are the major contributing factors.

Statistics provided in the report-

  • All India Survey of Education (AISHE), suggests that in the years 2019-20, only about 21 lakh Muslims were enrolled in Higher Education, of which 77.36% were in colleges that are not particularly renowned.

  • In institutes of national importance, such as the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the National Institute of Technology (NIT), and the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER), Muslims constitute a staggeringly low figure of 1.92%.

  • The growth rate of Muslim enrolment in higher education was 120.09% from 2010-11 to 2014-15, to only 36.96% from 2014-15 to 2019-20, reflecting a steady decline.

  • Despite comprising 14% of India’s population, Muslims account for about 5.5% of students enrolled in higher education, according to the AISHE 2019-20.

  • India’s top law schools have consistently seen a low rate of enrolment of Muslims, with the lowest being 1.51% in 2017-27 and rising at a slow rate to 3.88% in 2018-19. It has been recorded that Muslims constitute only 2.5% of students who appear for law exams.

  • The rate of Muslim dropouts is about 23.1 % is higher than the national average of 18.96%, with different states of the country having varying differences between the two, some states ranging at extreme differences.


The full report may be read here.

 


[1] The data on hate crimes against religious minorities (Christian, Muslim, and Sikh) has been compiled by referring to the archives maintained by different non-state actors, such as DOTO, Hindutva Watch, WTS, news reports (print and digital), fact-finding reports by civil society organisations and individuals.

[2] Police violence against minorities is mostly overlooked and very less often considered as a result of the structured prejudices prevalent against the victim communities. The incidents taken into account do not include, extra-judicial killings, illegal detention, custodial torture or, custodial death.

 

Related Articles:

BJP has strayed away from Nehruvian vales of secularism: IAMC report

Religious Minorities Worry More About Media Freedom Than Hindus: CSDS Survey

Pack up your belongings: VHP leader to Maulvis in Manesar

When worship itself becomes a crime

India has chosen a path of exclusion and persecution for religious minorities: CMRI report

The CMRI report provides data on hate crimes against religious minorities, and touches upon their portrayal on news media, status of educational institutions, among other aspects

attack on minoritiesImage: The Indian Express

The Council of Minority Rights in India (CMRI) published a report on the Religious Minorities in India in November 2022. Through this report, Socio-Political Status of Religious Minorities in India in the year 2021 has been documented, through collecting primary and secondary data. The report emphasized on the sudden rise in calls for genocides, economic and social boycotts, rape threats to Muslim women, rise in Hindu vigilante groups have resulted in lynching or lynchings of innocent Muslim men, vandalising Christian prayer meetings, and moral policing couples on Valentine’s Day, which displays the growing extremism in the society. the report aims to depicts how it is becoming more and more dangerous to speak freely, think freely and even possess books which may give a message different to the one the current regime is propagating. It is in this socio-political context that this report attempts to document the violence and provide perspectives to the growing intolerance.

Who are the religious minorities of India?

The Ministry of Welfare, Government of India notified five religious communities, the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians (Parsis), as minority communities on 23rd October 1993. The Jains were later notified on 27th January 2014, as a minority community. As per the 2011 census, the above-mentioned six religious minorities constitute 19.4% of the total population. Muslims are the largest minority in India that constitute 14.2% of the total population, whereas Christians and Sikhs constitute 2.3% and 1.7%, respectively.

Hate Crimes: Case of Religious Minorities in India-

The report refers to issue of rising hate crimes against minorities in India, and the bias that leads to it. The report has gone into the detail of how the right-wing ecosystem in India represents a weaponisation of emotions and information to manipulate India’s entire political and societal landscape. The report then goes into how spreading of fake news and misinformation, along with state complicity and state impunity, become to weapons of pushing the political propaganda. As provided in the road, fear or threat from minorities is spread and broadcasted by right-wing outfits, through targeted campaigns, political mobilisation and media (news, entertainment, and social).

Referring to jurisprudence and legislations against hate crime, the report states that India has no such legislation that addresses prejudice motivated crimes or hate crimes. The cases filed against hate crime offenders are usually under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), however, they are hardly filed, as the police officials are not cooperative because of the nexus of the impunity in the country against minority communities. The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989, which is poorly implemented across the nation, is the only hate crime legislation.

Anti-lynching laws were framed and passed in four state legislative assemblies, namely Manipur, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Rajasthan, keeping in view the rising cases of mob lynching in India. But these bills were not implemented.

Since there is an absence of a legal framework that specifies crimes and compartmentalises violence committed against religious minorities with a biased motive into hate crime, a path is paved for the under-reporting of crimes committed, making the numbers of hate crime incidents much less credible.

As per the data provided in the report, in the year 2021, a total of 294 incidents of hate crimes were documented against religious minorities, out of which 192 were against Muslims, 95 against Christians and 7 against the Sikh community. The Christian community was predominantly targeted on allegations of forceful conversion. The Muslim community was chiefly targeted on allegations of inter-faith relationships and cow slaughter. Hate crimes against Sikhs were not documented at all and were also not reported by news media. The perpetrators are majorly right-wing vigilantes or Hindu extremist groups.[1]

The report also provides the types of violence and crimes that the religious minorities had to face in the year 2021, which is as follows:

Type of Offence

Religious Minorities

Total

 

Muslims

Christians

Sikhs

 

Attack on Religious Place/Worship

7

30

2

51

Communal Tension/Riot

11

0

0

11

Denial Of Access to Public Space

11

1

0

12

Discrimination

4

2

1

7

Hate Speech

20

3

0

23

Harassment

14

10

1

25

Lynch/Murder

26

1

1

28

Online

3

0

0

3

Physical Assault

63

26

0

89

Police Violence

7

7

2

16[2]

Sexual Violence/Assault

4

0

0

4

Threat/Intimidation

6

14

0

20

Vandalism

4

1

0

5

Minorities on Prime Time: An inquiry into the portrayal of Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs on Television News

The report then focusses on the representation of the 3 religious minorities in the media as news media is one of the few mediums that represents the popular view, plays a simultaneous role in cultivating a popular view and fanning it across the masses. As such, it is a threat for establishments particularly the state as a platform with the potential for depicting the failures of the state and in the process, sowing discontentment amongst the populace regarding the state as an institution. Hence, the state either censors the media or controls it.

Through the data provided in the report under this sub-topic, the bias against religious minorities was present in the Indian news media since its inception and the media spectacularly failed in its role as the watchdog of democracy, especially since 2014.

All mediums of mass media have been involved in producing scapegoats. Often these scapegoats are ethnic minorities and the mediums engage in ethnic blame, as provided in the report. Ethnic blame as a discourse frames behaviour of ethnic minorities as problematic and inducing conflict thereby, accentuating the negative image of minority communities. In India, preliminary observation done for the report has reflected this consensus of scapegoats is laid at the feet of religious minorities and no medium other than television news perpetuates this consensus in full force with value-laden language, disproportionate weight, and coverage, as well as stereotypes.

The research study conducted in the report analysed prime time broadcast shows of three news channels: Halla Bol of “Aaj Tak” channel, Newstrack with Rahul Kanwal of “India Today” channel and Ravish Ki Report of “NDTV” channel. As provided in the report, from January 2021 to December 2021, the three broadcasts telecasted 793 shows in which 2,574 panelists participated.

  1. Halla Bol, “Aaj Tak”

Some of the issues discussed on prime time related to religious minorities- In 2021, Muslims were incarcerated for “performing” Covid Jihad. Hindutva groups made calls for a pan-nation genocide and boycott of Muslims, leading to a spike in hate crimes targeting the religious minority. Sikhs were accused of conspiring with Pakistan. Hindutva groups alleging Christians of forcible conversion targeted the religious minority with hate crimes, including vandalism of schools and Churches. The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs restricted Missionaries of Charity – the organisation founded by Mother Teresa, from receiving foreign donations on account of alleged proselytism.

Statistics-

  • In 2021, Halla Bol referred to religious minorities in 60 (19.01%) telecasts. The show referred to Muslims in 59 (18.78%) of telecasts, Sikhs in 1 (0.31%) telecast, and made no direct reference to Christians, depriving space of a religious minority comprising 2.3% of total population of India.

  • Halla Bol telecasted 60 (19.10%) shows referring to religious minorities. 57 (95%) of these were negative in nature and 3 (5%) were neutral. All references to Sikhs were negative in nature, while 56 (94.91%) of references made to Muslims were negative and the remaining 3 (5.08%) references to Muslims were neutral. The show did not refer to any religious minority in a positive manner.

  • The show broadcasted 5 (1.59%) telecasts related to conspiracy theories against religious minorities.

  • The show also broadcasted 14 telecasts targeting religious minorities. 12 (85.71%) of these telecasts targeted Muslims, and 2 (14.28%) targeted Sikhs. Targeting refers to media trials conducted in the newsrooms by anchors and Hindu panellists, which deprive the wrongfully accused to present their defence.

  • 1286 panellists appeared in 127 broadcasted telecasts of Halla Bol. Only 192 (14.93%) of the panellists belonged to religious minorities, with 147 (11.43%) representing Muslims, 45 (3.49%) representing Sikhs and 0% representing Christians.

  1. Newstrack, “India Today”

Statistics-

  • The prime-time broadcast show Newstrack of “India Today” channel, anchored by News Director Rahul Kanwal, telecasted 230 shows in the year 2021. 92 (40%) of the telecasts had panellists from religious minorities but only 1 (0.43%) telecast focused on topics related to religious minorities.

  • The show directly referred to Muslims in 35 (15.21%) of telecasts, Sikhs in 2 (0.86%) telecasts, and made no direct reference to Christians

  • In the year 2021, Newstrack telecasted 37 (16.08%) shows referring to religious minorities, of which 34 (91.89%) were negative in nature, 2 (5.40%) were neutral in nature and 1 (2.70%) was positive. All references to Sikhs were negative in nature again following the pattern observed in telecasts of Halla Bol, while 32 (91.42%) of references made to Muslims were negative, 2 (5.71%) were neutral and the remaining 1 (2.85%) reference was positive.

  • The show broadcasted 4 (1.73%) telecasts related to conspiracy theories against religious minorities, 3 (80%) of which were against the religious minority of Muslims, and 1 (20%) was against the religious minority of Sikhs.

  • The show also broadcasted 8 telecasts targeting religious minorities. 7 (87.50%) of these telecasts targeted Muslims, and the remaining 1 (12.50%) targeted Sikhs.

  1. Prime Time with Ravish, “NDTV”

  • The prime-time broadcast show Prime Time with Ravish of “NDTV”, anchored by Senior Executive Editor Ravish Kumar, telecasted 249 shows in the year 2021.

  • Only 53 (21%) of the telecasts featured panelists from religious minorities and not one telecast focused on issues pertaining to religious minorities. The show referred to Muslims in 22 (8.83%) of telecasts, Sikhs in 1 (0.40%) telecast, and made no direct reference to Christians.

  • In 2021, Prime Time with Ravish Kumar telecasted 23 (9.23%) shows referring to religious minorities: 4 (1.60%) were positive in nature and (7.63%) were neutral. The single reference to Sikhs was positive in nature while out of 22 references made to Muslims, 19 were neutral and the remaining 3 were positive.

  • 342 panelists appeared in 249 broadcasted telecasts of Ravish Ki Report. Only 59 (17%) panelists belonged to religious minorities, with 49 (14.32%) of total panelists representing Muslims, 7 (2.04%) representing Sikhs and 3 (0.87%) representing Christians.

Through the data provided in the report, the CMRI has concluded that the institution of Indian television news functions every day by at best ignoring Muslims, Sikhs and Christians and at worst, defaming the said communities. news television avoids effective coverage of religious minorities as a subject and provides only tokenism representation to religious minorities in newsrooms.

Qualitative changes in hate speech against minorities

As per the report, in the lead up to the 2019 elections, social media was seen to be used in an extremely dangerous fashion, especially WhatsApp, toxic misinformation and to incite fear amongst the population against non-Hindus.

Incidents of genocidal hate speeches made against the religious minority communities-

  • As of January 2022, over 12 open calls inciting group killings of Muslims were made in 5 Indian states in just two years. However, the number crossed 20 in just the next 3 months. And by 20th April, 2022, at least 10 more open calls to genocide by the same group of Hindu nationalists were made in just 20 days including the repetition of the infamous Haridwar Dharam Sansad at various places across India.

  • Between 17th December and 20th December 2021, at the religious congregation in Haridwar, Hindutva leaders were seen addressing the public calling for ‘real Hindus’ to take up arms and kill Muslims. As has become the norm, the Uttarakhand government was silent.

  • In 2021, the slogan “Jab Mulle Kaate jayenge, Tab Ram Ram Chillayenge” [When Muslims will be cut up, they will shout the name of Ram] came to light after the series of Mahapanchayats in the Northern state of Haryana in support of the Hindus accused in the lynching case of a Muslim gym trainer named Asif.

  • In seeking re-election earlier this year, bulldozers became an integral part of the Yogi’s campaign as of the dispossession of Muslims in India, and were also stationed at election rallies as a symbol.

  • In a wave of islamophobia during the Covid- 19 spike, the Tablighi Jamaat incident led to Muslim-owned businesses being boycotted and health workers being discriminated against. Muslims were denied healthcare on account of being ‘super-spreaders’ regardless of their involvement in the congregation. Leaders of the majority parties were even referring to the meeting as a ‘Talibani crime’ and ‘corona terrorism.’ The hashtag ‘Corona Jihad’ went viral on social media.

Repression of Christian-run Educational Institutions in India

As provided in the report, according to the World Watch List 2022, India ranks 10th, making it one of the worst countries globally to follow Christianity. In the last years, Christian educational institutions have undergone threats and attacks in the country. These attacks on Christians can be categorised as both organised and unorganised i.e., carried out by state and nonstate actors, as per the CMRI report. They are designed to target the Christian educational institutions that are widely present across the country.

The schools run by Christian groups are often portrayed by the allegations of forced religious conversions. As mentioned in the report, the allegations and propaganda of forceful religious conversions have further segregated the minorities and its effect has been noticeably seen through the new anti-conversion laws which have been passed in five states of the country, which are Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Karnataka.

Incidents of attack:

  • As mentioned in the report, according to a report jointly released by three organisations namely, the Association for protection of Civil Rights, United Against Hate, and United Christian Forum around 300 cases of violence have been reported against Christians in nine months of 2021

  • Christian schools in Vidisha and Mumbai were targeted by Hindu Nationalist organisations, claiming that the schools were involved in forced religious conversions. Similarly, Christian schools in Aligarh were threatened to not celebrate Christmas by a Hindu Nationalist organisation.

  • On 6th December, 2021, when St Joseph School was vandalised, 14 students were inside the school premises appearing for the examination.

  • In 2017, Christian schools in Aligarh were warned by Hindu Jagran Manch to not observe Christmas. Sonu Savita, an HJM leader, alleged that in these Christian schools Hindus were in minority, and celebrating Christmas is a subtle way to tell the children about Christianity.

  • In December 2021, several men wearing saffron scarves barged into Karnataka schools to stop the Christmas celebrations.25 The mob threatened the administration and accused them of 'ignoring Hindu gods' and 'introducing Christianity to Hindu students.’

  • In February 2021, the local administration of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and the Daman-and-Diu States forced children of all the schools, irrespective of their faiths, to celebrate Vasant Panchami.

Gendered Islamophobia in India: Targeted hate violence against Muslim women

As provided in the report, the conversations in the mainstream academia and media regarding Muslim women in India have been stereotypically discourteous and monolith - that of forcefully covered oppressed beings, lacking voice, agency, or freedom always under the ‘control’ supposedly stemming from the fundamentalist tendencies of the men of the Muslim community and the faith they adhere to. Gendered Islamophobia, as per community definitions, is the ways in which the state utilizes gendered forms of violence, to oppress, monitor, punish, maim and exercise control over Muslim women’s bodies. These negative social constructions also portray Muslim women as terrorists, terrorist sympathisers on one hand, and on the other as inherently oppressed. As provided in the report, Muslim women are treated as cultural representatives of Islam and Muslim communities, which is mostly the reason why the bodies of Muslim women and girls are considered sites of domination and control.

Incidents of hatred against Muslims women:

  • In May 2022, a Hindu man delivered a hate-filled speech in the theatre after watching the film ‘The Kashmir Files’18, calling upon Hindu men to marry and impregnate Muslim women so that the demographic imbalances of India are "corrected."

  • In 2021, the Union Ministry of Indian Affairs announced that Muslim Women's Rights Day will be observed across the country on 1st August to “celebrate” the enactment of the legislation which criminalises Triple Talaq. The report highlights that the legislation was passed in a hurry, while several Muslim women’s collectives and advocates of human rights stood vehemently opposed to the criminalization of divorce. The voices of the very women the act supposedly ‘saves’ were deliberately silenced.

  • The targeted attack and conspiracy of ‘love jihad’ and ‘population jihad’ is established through the strategic stigmatisation of dark sexual obsession about allegedly ultra-masculine Muslim male bodies and over-fertile Muslim female ones.

  • At a rally, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, said, “Men are sleeping under quilts; women, kids are pushed forward to protest against CAA '' (Khan, 2020). Prime Minister Narendra Modi even declared that protestors could be recognized by their clothes, “hinting at veiled Muslim women at Shaheen Bagh” (Kadiwal, 2021).

  • One of the Mahapanchayath organised at Ramlila ground, Pataudi on 4th July, 2021, 19-year-old Sharma alias Ram Bhakth Gopal, in response to Love jihad, called for the abduction of Muslim women and urged Hindu men to protect their sisters and daughters.

  • On 3rd January, 2022, a video was shared on social media, where Hindu leader Yati Narasinghanad sitting on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar, spewing objectionable and Islamophobic remarks against Muslim women.

  • ‘Bulli bai’ and its previous version ‘sulli deals’ are two similar applications on the GitHub platform, which auctioned dozens of vocal Muslim women to threaten and humiliate them. On 4th July, Sulli Deals, a web-based app, used publicly available pictures of several Muslim women activists, scholars, journalists, and other professionals without their consent; and created profiles, describing them as the ‘deal’ of the day.

  • The restriction on wearing hijab for students in pre- university campuses of the Indian State of Karnataka, which the Karnataka high court later legalized, is viewed by many as another step toward criminalising the presence of Muslims, and more particularly, Muslim women in India.

The Sikhs of India; Repression and Exclusion

As provided in the report, the Sikhs are a small minority community in India with a population of less than 2 percent. Further provided in the report is that there have been active efforts by ruling dispensations of the central Indian government to curb activism and mobilisation within the Sikh community. There was a massive increase in anti-Sikh hate and anti-Sikh propaganda during the protest by Indian farmers against the Narendra Modi government's controversial agricultural laws. Though the protest was carried out by farmers from across North India, Sikh farmers from the Punjab province played a leading role in the entire agitation. The report states that there was a clear attempt by the Indian government as well as a major section of the pro-government media to project the protests by Sikhs as "anti-national" or "treason". The protesters had to face brute force from the police when they were marching peacefully from Punjab to Delhi.

Incidents of hatred against Sikh community:

  • In June 2020, Sikligars in MP’s Khargone district claimed that they had to flee their homes and were forced to live in the forest due to being hounded by the police.23 Later that year a Sikh Granthi (preacher) belonging to the Sikligar community was publicly thrashed by the police in Madhya Pradesh's Barwani district.

  • In 2018, houses belonging to Sikligars and a Gurdwara were damaged by the police in Balsa near Parbhani in Maharashtra.

  • As of July 2020, there were 94 UAPA cases in the Punjab province under which 370 people had been kept in jail, most of them Sikhs.

  • In April 2018, Punjab Police arrested 4 youths allegedly planning to highlight Khalistan issues at cricket matches. The cyber cell tracked these youths from a Facebook page in the name of “Referendum 2020". The youth was allegedly instructed on the page to put Referendum 2020 posters to get media attention.

  • On 28th June, 2020, police arrested Mohinder Pal Singh, Gurtej Singh and Lovepreet Singh and charged them with terrorism related offences. Three phones were recovered with videos and photographs related to the Khalistani movement and their propagators, the police claimed. The police alleged that Lovepreet was very active on Social Media Platforms and made a Facebook Page named ‘KhalsaBhindrewalaji’.

  • A number of Sikh websites, social media accounts, and hashtags have also been banned by the Indian authorities. Punjab-based news website Sikh Siyasat was blocked in June 2020 within India.29 Sikh oriented news channels Akaal Channel, KTV and TV84 were blocked on YouTube.30 While Akaal Channel is live again, the ban on the YouTube homepages of TV84 and KTV continues. Sikh Siyasat’s English website also remains blocked in India.

Universities as sites of resistance: Journey of Muslims to and in Higher Education

Under this, the report analyses the factors which contribute to the steadily declining presence of Muslim communities at all levels of the education system, be it primary, secondary or postsecondary university education. Lack of economic resources, political and social marginalization are the major contributing factors.

Statistics provided in the report-

  • All India Survey of Education (AISHE), suggests that in the years 2019-20, only about 21 lakh Muslims were enrolled in Higher Education, of which 77.36% were in colleges that are not particularly renowned.

  • In institutes of national importance, such as the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the National Institute of Technology (NIT), and the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER), Muslims constitute a staggeringly low figure of 1.92%.

  • The growth rate of Muslim enrolment in higher education was 120.09% from 2010-11 to 2014-15, to only 36.96% from 2014-15 to 2019-20, reflecting a steady decline.

  • Despite comprising 14% of India’s population, Muslims account for about 5.5% of students enrolled in higher education, according to the AISHE 2019-20.

  • India’s top law schools have consistently seen a low rate of enrolment of Muslims, with the lowest being 1.51% in 2017-27 and rising at a slow rate to 3.88% in 2018-19. It has been recorded that Muslims constitute only 2.5% of students who appear for law exams.

  • The rate of Muslim dropouts is about 23.1 % is higher than the national average of 18.96%, with different states of the country having varying differences between the two, some states ranging at extreme differences.


The full report may be read here.

 


[1] The data on hate crimes against religious minorities (Christian, Muslim, and Sikh) has been compiled by referring to the archives maintained by different non-state actors, such as DOTO, Hindutva Watch, WTS, news reports (print and digital), fact-finding reports by civil society organisations and individuals.

[2] Police violence against minorities is mostly overlooked and very less often considered as a result of the structured prejudices prevalent against the victim communities. The incidents taken into account do not include, extra-judicial killings, illegal detention, custodial torture or, custodial death.

 

Related Articles:

BJP has strayed away from Nehruvian vales of secularism: IAMC report

Religious Minorities Worry More About Media Freedom Than Hindus: CSDS Survey

Pack up your belongings: VHP leader to Maulvis in Manesar

When worship itself becomes a crime

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Calling it “improper,” Delhi’s Jama Masjid bans entry of single, unaccompanied women

Putting into practice this objectionable gender driven exclusion, this iconic masjid and monument will impose in India’s capital an unconstitutional practice

24 Nov 2022

Jama Masjid

The Jama Masjid administration in Delhi has issued an order, imposing a ban on the entry of girls/women coming alone or in a group. PRO Sabiullah Khan says, "There is no restriction on girls/women coming with families, no restriction on married couples either." 

He added, "Women's entry not banned. When women comealone-improper acts done, videos shot. Ban is to stop this. No restrictions on families/married couples. Making this place a meeting point is wrong for religious places. 

The Jama Masjid PRO also said that the restriction does not apply to women coming with their families or husband. The Jama Masjid administration in Delhi has rhrough this unconstitutional act, banned the entry of women coming alone to the mosque. The diktat has triggered an outrage.

The PRO further said that the restriction has been imposed in order to check "improper acts" in the mosque premises.

"Women's entry is not banned. Improper acts are done when women come alone, they shoot TikTok videos and dance. The ban is to stop this. There is no restriction on families/married couples. Making it a meeting point for boys and girls inapt for religious places," Sabiullah Khan, Jama Masjid PRO told ANI.
 

 

Meanwhile, DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal expressed strong discontent to the ban, and has issued a notice to the Imam of the Jama Masjid over the issue.
 

 

Details:

“Women's entry (is) not banned. When women come alone... improper acts are done, videos are shot... and the ban is to stop this. No restrictions on families/married couples," Jama Masjidpress officer Sabiullah Khan said, according to news agency ANI.

Reports indicate there are already signs outside the masjidinforming visitors that unaccompanied women are not allowed.

Each of the three entrances reportedly have such a signboard; each says, "Girls/women are not allowed to enter Jama Masjidalone."

“There is no restriction on the entry of women. The restriction is for women who come here alone, give time to men, do wrong things, and make videos. Right now, there are several women here. If you come with family, there is no ban, if you are a married couple, there is no ban. But making this a meeting point, treating it like a park, dancing, and making TikTok videos are not acceptable in any place of worship, be it a temple, a masjid, or a gurdwara. Our aim behind the ban is that the masjid is used only as a place of worship,” Khan said.

A sign board that says a single woman or a group of single women cannot enter the premises has also been put up. This is in addition to a signboard that says mucus video shoots are strictly prohibited.

In 2019, the Jama Masjid administration had banned shooting videos with music inside the mosque. The administration had also constituted a team of 10 people to catch youngsters making videos and stop them.

At the time the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Maulana SyedAhmed Bukhari, had told The Indian Express, “During prayer time, that is five times a day, namazis and non-namazis can access the two small domes only through the main dome route. We want to restrict the area occupied by people so that we can keep a watch on youngsters making such videos as music is not allowed inside a masjid…”.

“I know about the TikTok craze amongst youngsters but never before had such videos shot at Jama Masjid come to my notice. In the last one month, at least five such videos have come to my notice. Whether it’s a temple or a mosque or a gurdwara, one cannot behave in this manner. This is a place of worship, not meant for such activities,” he had said.


Related:

The Fight For Haji Ali Dargah - Should Women Be Allowed?

SC order: Haji Ali Dargah Trust Must implement Bombay HC Verdict Granting Women Equal Access to the Sanctum Sanctorum

Calling it “improper,” Delhi’s Jama Masjid bans entry of single, unaccompanied women

Putting into practice this objectionable gender driven exclusion, this iconic masjid and monument will impose in India’s capital an unconstitutional practice

Jama Masjid

The Jama Masjid administration in Delhi has issued an order, imposing a ban on the entry of girls/women coming alone or in a group. PRO Sabiullah Khan says, "There is no restriction on girls/women coming with families, no restriction on married couples either." 

He added, "Women's entry not banned. When women comealone-improper acts done, videos shot. Ban is to stop this. No restrictions on families/married couples. Making this place a meeting point is wrong for religious places. 

The Jama Masjid PRO also said that the restriction does not apply to women coming with their families or husband. The Jama Masjid administration in Delhi has rhrough this unconstitutional act, banned the entry of women coming alone to the mosque. The diktat has triggered an outrage.

The PRO further said that the restriction has been imposed in order to check "improper acts" in the mosque premises.

"Women's entry is not banned. Improper acts are done when women come alone, they shoot TikTok videos and dance. The ban is to stop this. There is no restriction on families/married couples. Making it a meeting point for boys and girls inapt for religious places," Sabiullah Khan, Jama Masjid PRO told ANI.
 

 

Meanwhile, DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal expressed strong discontent to the ban, and has issued a notice to the Imam of the Jama Masjid over the issue.
 

 

Details:

“Women's entry (is) not banned. When women come alone... improper acts are done, videos are shot... and the ban is to stop this. No restrictions on families/married couples," Jama Masjidpress officer Sabiullah Khan said, according to news agency ANI.

Reports indicate there are already signs outside the masjidinforming visitors that unaccompanied women are not allowed.

Each of the three entrances reportedly have such a signboard; each says, "Girls/women are not allowed to enter Jama Masjidalone."

“There is no restriction on the entry of women. The restriction is for women who come here alone, give time to men, do wrong things, and make videos. Right now, there are several women here. If you come with family, there is no ban, if you are a married couple, there is no ban. But making this a meeting point, treating it like a park, dancing, and making TikTok videos are not acceptable in any place of worship, be it a temple, a masjid, or a gurdwara. Our aim behind the ban is that the masjid is used only as a place of worship,” Khan said.

A sign board that says a single woman or a group of single women cannot enter the premises has also been put up. This is in addition to a signboard that says mucus video shoots are strictly prohibited.

In 2019, the Jama Masjid administration had banned shooting videos with music inside the mosque. The administration had also constituted a team of 10 people to catch youngsters making videos and stop them.

At the time the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Maulana SyedAhmed Bukhari, had told The Indian Express, “During prayer time, that is five times a day, namazis and non-namazis can access the two small domes only through the main dome route. We want to restrict the area occupied by people so that we can keep a watch on youngsters making such videos as music is not allowed inside a masjid…”.

“I know about the TikTok craze amongst youngsters but never before had such videos shot at Jama Masjid come to my notice. In the last one month, at least five such videos have come to my notice. Whether it’s a temple or a mosque or a gurdwara, one cannot behave in this manner. This is a place of worship, not meant for such activities,” he had said.


Related:

The Fight For Haji Ali Dargah - Should Women Be Allowed?

SC order: Haji Ali Dargah Trust Must implement Bombay HC Verdict Granting Women Equal Access to the Sanctum Sanctorum

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Gujarat: VHP workers assault Muslim students for ‘luring’ Hindu girls in Surat

They spoke to a few girl students and acted only after collecting evidence, the VHP workers claimed.

24 Nov 2022

attack on muslims

Surat: Accusing them of luring Hindu girls with false identities and exploiting them sexually, Bajrang Dal and VHP activists assaulted a few minority community students in Bhagwan Mahavir University campus here, sources said on Thursday.

On Thursday, a video clip surfaced showing a Muslim boy identifying himself as Raj Shaihk, resident of Bhestan, confessing on camera that he was dating two to three Hindu girls simultaneously. He is also seen claiming that he had physical relations with one of the girls. Activists have found two to three girls’ photos on his mobile phone.

 

 

Bhagwan Mahavir University registrar Vijay Matawala told local media that he too is in possession of the said video clip which would be handed over to the disciplinary committee.

On the incident of assault on the campus on Wednesday, Matawala’s said that the administration mistook it to be a minor scuffle between students.

In the wake of the rise in the incidents of alleged ‘Love Jihad’, the VHP and Hindu activists had been keeping a watch on the campus for the past few days.

They spoke to a few girl students and acted only after collecting evidence, the VHP workers claimed.

Courtesy: The Daily Siasat

Gujarat: VHP workers assault Muslim students for ‘luring’ Hindu girls in Surat

They spoke to a few girl students and acted only after collecting evidence, the VHP workers claimed.

attack on muslims

Surat: Accusing them of luring Hindu girls with false identities and exploiting them sexually, Bajrang Dal and VHP activists assaulted a few minority community students in Bhagwan Mahavir University campus here, sources said on Thursday.

On Thursday, a video clip surfaced showing a Muslim boy identifying himself as Raj Shaihk, resident of Bhestan, confessing on camera that he was dating two to three Hindu girls simultaneously. He is also seen claiming that he had physical relations with one of the girls. Activists have found two to three girls’ photos on his mobile phone.

 

 

Bhagwan Mahavir University registrar Vijay Matawala told local media that he too is in possession of the said video clip which would be handed over to the disciplinary committee.

On the incident of assault on the campus on Wednesday, Matawala’s said that the administration mistook it to be a minor scuffle between students.

In the wake of the rise in the incidents of alleged ‘Love Jihad’, the VHP and Hindu activists had been keeping a watch on the campus for the past few days.

They spoke to a few girl students and acted only after collecting evidence, the VHP workers claimed.

Courtesy: The Daily Siasat

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UP: 'BJP's Pasmanda Appeasement is Nothing More Than Hollow Rhetoric'

Muslim intellectuals believe it is another attempt to divide Muslims into sects.

23 Nov 2022

UP: 'BJP's Pasmanda Appeasement is Nothing More Than Hollow Rhetoric'
Image Courtesy: NDTV

Lucknow: Months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for an outreach programme focussing on Pasmanda (Backward) Muslims, the Uttar Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has launched an aggressive campaign ahead of the forthcoming urban polls in the state.

Three back-to-back conventions for the "socio-economic uplift" of the Pasmanda community were held in Lucknow, Bareilly, Rampur and Kanpur, respectively, as part of its Muslim outreach programme. At least half a dozen such events featuring top ministers of Yogi government 2.0 lined up till next month, especially in western Uttar Pradesh, where Pasmanda Muslims have a sizable presence.

Amid the buzz that the saffron party could field Muslim candidates, mostly in western Uttar Pradesh, in these urban elections, the BJP has been tactically aiming to win over the most backward among the Muslims, ones who do odd jobs for survival and have been among the beneficiaries of the various schemes of the "double engine" BJP governments at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh.

Minority Welfare Minister Danish Azad Ansari, the lone Muslim face of the Yogi 2.0 government, said, "Both Central and State governments have worked for economic and social empowerment of Muslims so far without any discrimination. The BJP now wants the political empowerment of Muslims by ensuring their participation" during the first convention held in the state capital.

The president of the Uttar Pradesh BJP's minority wing, Kunwar Basit Ali, said this time strong and trusted Muslim BJP workers will be given tickets in the urban local bodies elections.  

"The BJP government has done as much as it could do for the Pasmanda Muslims. Now, it has to take it from them," he said.

"The government has given benefits of its schemes to 4.5 crore Muslims in UP, they have been made a minister, head of minority commission, president of Urdu Academy, 80 per cent share to Pasmanda Muslims in various commissions and morchas of the government," Ali claimed during an outreach programme in west UP.

In Pasmanda Muslim meets, the BJP leaders highlighted that the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress always used Muslims as a "vote bank" and did not give them their due.

The BJP top brass also pointed out the recent wins in the Lok Sabha by-polls in Muslim-dominated constituencies from Rampur and Azamgarh to state that the script is changing.

Attempt to Divide Muslims?

The party's reach indicates that it wants to win over Muslims, who have traditionally been thought of as its rival parties' vote bank in the state's power.

Muslim intellectuals NewsClick spoke with, believe that it is another attempt to divide Muslims into sects.

Omar Rashid, who has been tracking UP politics for over a decade and formerly worked with The Hindu, told NewsClick, "The BJP's Pasmanda Muslim outreach contradicts the BJP's own approach towards Muslims in general as the party has marginalised the beleaguered minority community not only in representation but also through oppressive laws targetting their marriages, food habits, clothes, security as well as prayer. In such a scenario, the BJP's outreach to create an artificial political division among Muslims appears nothing but a publicity stunt to further push the Opposition into submission and keep them constrained to the Muslim question, which in turn helps the BJP polarise Hindu communities. The BJP would not feel comfortable taking on the Opposition parties if the question evolved around the well-being and future of OBC and Dalit castes."

He further added, "Although there are social differences within Muslims and their castes often mimic the hierarchical style of the Hindu caste system, the division is not as stark especially when it comes to politics. There is little to no anger amongst Pasmandas towards the upper-caste Muslims when it comes to critical questions of security and freedom. In the last four decades, it has been always directed at the BJP and its Hindutva agenda. After such a long experience with the BJP, which Muslims across classes and castes have repeatedly voted against, it seems unlikely that the BJP's narrative would find any takers among the Muslim masses. By propping up a couple of opportunistic Muslim brokers in the hope of accentuating the narrative, the BJP can create a discussion in the media. However, building trust among Muslims, be they poor or rich, Pasmanda or Ashraf (Upper class), is a long journey for a party whose core is the subjugation of minorities and their constitutionally granted rights."

Rashid questioned why did the BJP not reach out to the Pasmandas even once in eight years. The social justice report of 2018 which recommends the division of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota into three parts is still lying in storage. Pasmanda Muslims would benefit from that. So what stops the BJP from implementing the sub-quota?

Nakshab, a senior journalist based in Meerut, told NewsClick, "Muslims as a community itself is Pasmanda. According to the Sachar Committee, Muslims are the most prosecuted community in the country. In fact, the condition of Muslims is worse than Dalits as per the report. The intake of Muslims in government jobs is around one or two%, they are not being able to avail the social welfare schemes. This outreach by the BJP among Pasmanda is an attempt to divide Muslims into sects and would portray how Pasmanda Muslims are being exploited by Ashraf Muslims like the upper caste Hindu treating Dalits."

When questioned will downtrodden Muslims be attracted by this outreach, he further added, "the same party doing prosecution of same Pasmanda Muslims in the name of cow protection and other hand you are talking about the welfare of the same community. These two things cannot go hand in hand."

The journalists said that the BJP often comes out with outlandish claims to push its narrative and derail the opposition in the media. Earlier, the party vehemently claimed that Muslim women, that too those clad in burqa, were voting for the BJP due to the criminalisation of triple talaq and other welfare measures. Such claims infantilise Muslim women and also reduce their agency as thinking adults.

The Muslim intellectuals questioned the BJP government's stand as to how its party leaders had kept quiet on volatile issues like CAA-NRC despite 23 Muslims, mostly Pasmanda being killed in alleged police firing. The victims killed during the violence hail from poor financial backgrounds. And most of them were daily wagers. Even mob lynching, bulldozing of homes of Muslims and public flogging still prevails across the state.

Who Are Pasmanda Muslims?

The word Pasmanda is derived from Persian and it means "left behind" or oppressed. The Pasmanda group makes up over 85% of Muslim voters in Uttar Pradesh.

Even though the Pasmandas are in the majority, the community is socially and economically backward. The community includes Dalit (Arzals) and backward Muslim (Ajlafs) population. The rest of the 15% of Muslims are considered upper class or Ashrafs.

The castes within Pasmanda Muslims are generally decided by their profession. It includes more than 45 communities such as Malik (Teli), Momin Ansar (weavers), Qureshi (butchers), Mansoori (those who make quilts and mattresses), Idrisi (tailors), Saifi (iron smith), Salmani (barbers), Ghosi (animal trader), Saifi (carpenter), Raeen (vegetable growers/sellers) and Hawari (washermen).

The Ashraf or elite class comprises the Sheikhs, Sayyeds, Turks and Pathans.

Ali Anwar Ansari, a former Member of Parliament may not have been the first person who coined the term 'Pasmanda' but he is credited for widely using it. In 1998, he founded All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (AIPMM), an apolitical body. This term is mostly used by the Muslims in north India- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand.

"BJP is habitual of such cheating and forgery. Their audacity with the Muslims has already been exposed. The entire politics of the current government is anti-Muslim and now they are talking about 'Sneh' yatra for Pasmanda Muslims which is only merely lip service. BJP only pretends to respect Babasaheb Ambedkar but opposes his ideology. Same in the Mahatma Gandhi case. PM Modi praises Gandhi on foreign soil but his leaders and workers praise and garland his killer. BJP does not have any stalwart leader so they keep mentioning Ambedkar and Gandhi in their speech. How will the party attract Pasmanda Muslims when it talks about an economic boycott of the community, give calls to make India a Hindu Rashtra and leave no stone unturned to harass Muslims in the name of love jihad, UPSC jihad with the help of media," Ali Anwar told NewsClick.

The former MP further added, "Bilkis Bano belongs to the Ghanchi community of Pasmanda, the same community PM Modi belongs to but what happened with the accused? All of them were freed with the help of Modi. Where did his love for Pasmanda Muslims go then?

Taking a dig at the Opposition, he further said that as the ruling party continues to explore new ways to widen its support base, the Opposition's space to manoeuvre appears to be shrinking.

"Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lalji Tandon benefited from doing Shia-Sunni and Modi and Yogi want to do the same but it won't happen. However, fearing BJP, the opposition parties including Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress stopped talking about secularism, leaving aside Pasmanda Muslims and addressing their issues. BJP wants to portray they are concerned for the Pasmanda community. Muslim religious scholars and intellectuals are also responsible for giving a little space to BJP among Pasmanda Muslims as they never address their issues on the ground which I had realised post-Babri demolition and doing my bit to bring them under one umbrella," he stressed.

Ali Anwar Ansari also wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanking him for using the word 'Pasmanda during the BJP's national executive in Hyderabad in July. Anwar in his letter questioned why backward Muslims had not been part of discussions earlier and why BJP thought of organising a 'Sneh yatra' now.

"It was a pleasant surprise to hear you talk about Pasmanda, but the Pasmanda Muslims want 'Samman' (equality and dignity), not 'sneh' (affection). The term 'sneh' has a specific connotation: That the Pasmanda Muslims need 'sneh' denotes that they are an inferior lot requiring patronage from the ones who are superior," Ansari wrote.

(Photo of the letter accessed by NewsClick)

(Photo of the letter accessed by NewsClick)
 

Commenting over the outreach by BJP, Abdul Hafiz Gandhi, Samajwadi Party (SP) spokesperson told NewsClick, "those who have been left behind should be talked about and welfare policies should be made for them. There is a difference between 'kathni (saying) and karni' (doing) of the BJP. It is evident that the party could not field any Muslim in 2014, 2017, 2019 and 2022 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections and they are talking about political representation of Pasmanda Muslims."

The SP spokesperson also accused the ruling BJP to clear its stand on Article 341 of the constitution which was supposed to give benefits to the Pasmanda community.

The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, stipulates that no person professing a religion different from Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism can be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste. The original order under which only Hindus were classified was later amended to include Sikhs and Buddhists.

Congress leader Shahnawaz Alam also raised livelihood issues of the Qureshi community of the Pasmanda section. He said the plight of weavers in PM Modi's constituency is not hidden from anyone.

Courtesy: Newsclick

UP: 'BJP's Pasmanda Appeasement is Nothing More Than Hollow Rhetoric'

Muslim intellectuals believe it is another attempt to divide Muslims into sects.

UP: 'BJP's Pasmanda Appeasement is Nothing More Than Hollow Rhetoric'
Image Courtesy: NDTV

Lucknow: Months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for an outreach programme focussing on Pasmanda (Backward) Muslims, the Uttar Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has launched an aggressive campaign ahead of the forthcoming urban polls in the state.

Three back-to-back conventions for the "socio-economic uplift" of the Pasmanda community were held in Lucknow, Bareilly, Rampur and Kanpur, respectively, as part of its Muslim outreach programme. At least half a dozen such events featuring top ministers of Yogi government 2.0 lined up till next month, especially in western Uttar Pradesh, where Pasmanda Muslims have a sizable presence.

Amid the buzz that the saffron party could field Muslim candidates, mostly in western Uttar Pradesh, in these urban elections, the BJP has been tactically aiming to win over the most backward among the Muslims, ones who do odd jobs for survival and have been among the beneficiaries of the various schemes of the "double engine" BJP governments at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh.

Minority Welfare Minister Danish Azad Ansari, the lone Muslim face of the Yogi 2.0 government, said, "Both Central and State governments have worked for economic and social empowerment of Muslims so far without any discrimination. The BJP now wants the political empowerment of Muslims by ensuring their participation" during the first convention held in the state capital.

The president of the Uttar Pradesh BJP's minority wing, Kunwar Basit Ali, said this time strong and trusted Muslim BJP workers will be given tickets in the urban local bodies elections.  

"The BJP government has done as much as it could do for the Pasmanda Muslims. Now, it has to take it from them," he said.

"The government has given benefits of its schemes to 4.5 crore Muslims in UP, they have been made a minister, head of minority commission, president of Urdu Academy, 80 per cent share to Pasmanda Muslims in various commissions and morchas of the government," Ali claimed during an outreach programme in west UP.

In Pasmanda Muslim meets, the BJP leaders highlighted that the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress always used Muslims as a "vote bank" and did not give them their due.

The BJP top brass also pointed out the recent wins in the Lok Sabha by-polls in Muslim-dominated constituencies from Rampur and Azamgarh to state that the script is changing.

Attempt to Divide Muslims?

The party's reach indicates that it wants to win over Muslims, who have traditionally been thought of as its rival parties' vote bank in the state's power.

Muslim intellectuals NewsClick spoke with, believe that it is another attempt to divide Muslims into sects.

Omar Rashid, who has been tracking UP politics for over a decade and formerly worked with The Hindu, told NewsClick, "The BJP's Pasmanda Muslim outreach contradicts the BJP's own approach towards Muslims in general as the party has marginalised the beleaguered minority community not only in representation but also through oppressive laws targetting their marriages, food habits, clothes, security as well as prayer. In such a scenario, the BJP's outreach to create an artificial political division among Muslims appears nothing but a publicity stunt to further push the Opposition into submission and keep them constrained to the Muslim question, which in turn helps the BJP polarise Hindu communities. The BJP would not feel comfortable taking on the Opposition parties if the question evolved around the well-being and future of OBC and Dalit castes."

He further added, "Although there are social differences within Muslims and their castes often mimic the hierarchical style of the Hindu caste system, the division is not as stark especially when it comes to politics. There is little to no anger amongst Pasmandas towards the upper-caste Muslims when it comes to critical questions of security and freedom. In the last four decades, it has been always directed at the BJP and its Hindutva agenda. After such a long experience with the BJP, which Muslims across classes and castes have repeatedly voted against, it seems unlikely that the BJP's narrative would find any takers among the Muslim masses. By propping up a couple of opportunistic Muslim brokers in the hope of accentuating the narrative, the BJP can create a discussion in the media. However, building trust among Muslims, be they poor or rich, Pasmanda or Ashraf (Upper class), is a long journey for a party whose core is the subjugation of minorities and their constitutionally granted rights."

Rashid questioned why did the BJP not reach out to the Pasmandas even once in eight years. The social justice report of 2018 which recommends the division of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota into three parts is still lying in storage. Pasmanda Muslims would benefit from that. So what stops the BJP from implementing the sub-quota?

Nakshab, a senior journalist based in Meerut, told NewsClick, "Muslims as a community itself is Pasmanda. According to the Sachar Committee, Muslims are the most prosecuted community in the country. In fact, the condition of Muslims is worse than Dalits as per the report. The intake of Muslims in government jobs is around one or two%, they are not being able to avail the social welfare schemes. This outreach by the BJP among Pasmanda is an attempt to divide Muslims into sects and would portray how Pasmanda Muslims are being exploited by Ashraf Muslims like the upper caste Hindu treating Dalits."

When questioned will downtrodden Muslims be attracted by this outreach, he further added, "the same party doing prosecution of same Pasmanda Muslims in the name of cow protection and other hand you are talking about the welfare of the same community. These two things cannot go hand in hand."

The journalists said that the BJP often comes out with outlandish claims to push its narrative and derail the opposition in the media. Earlier, the party vehemently claimed that Muslim women, that too those clad in burqa, were voting for the BJP due to the criminalisation of triple talaq and other welfare measures. Such claims infantilise Muslim women and also reduce their agency as thinking adults.

The Muslim intellectuals questioned the BJP government's stand as to how its party leaders had kept quiet on volatile issues like CAA-NRC despite 23 Muslims, mostly Pasmanda being killed in alleged police firing. The victims killed during the violence hail from poor financial backgrounds. And most of them were daily wagers. Even mob lynching, bulldozing of homes of Muslims and public flogging still prevails across the state.

Who Are Pasmanda Muslims?

The word Pasmanda is derived from Persian and it means "left behind" or oppressed. The Pasmanda group makes up over 85% of Muslim voters in Uttar Pradesh.

Even though the Pasmandas are in the majority, the community is socially and economically backward. The community includes Dalit (Arzals) and backward Muslim (Ajlafs) population. The rest of the 15% of Muslims are considered upper class or Ashrafs.

The castes within Pasmanda Muslims are generally decided by their profession. It includes more than 45 communities such as Malik (Teli), Momin Ansar (weavers), Qureshi (butchers), Mansoori (those who make quilts and mattresses), Idrisi (tailors), Saifi (iron smith), Salmani (barbers), Ghosi (animal trader), Saifi (carpenter), Raeen (vegetable growers/sellers) and Hawari (washermen).

The Ashraf or elite class comprises the Sheikhs, Sayyeds, Turks and Pathans.

Ali Anwar Ansari, a former Member of Parliament may not have been the first person who coined the term 'Pasmanda' but he is credited for widely using it. In 1998, he founded All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (AIPMM), an apolitical body. This term is mostly used by the Muslims in north India- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand.

"BJP is habitual of such cheating and forgery. Their audacity with the Muslims has already been exposed. The entire politics of the current government is anti-Muslim and now they are talking about 'Sneh' yatra for Pasmanda Muslims which is only merely lip service. BJP only pretends to respect Babasaheb Ambedkar but opposes his ideology. Same in the Mahatma Gandhi case. PM Modi praises Gandhi on foreign soil but his leaders and workers praise and garland his killer. BJP does not have any stalwart leader so they keep mentioning Ambedkar and Gandhi in their speech. How will the party attract Pasmanda Muslims when it talks about an economic boycott of the community, give calls to make India a Hindu Rashtra and leave no stone unturned to harass Muslims in the name of love jihad, UPSC jihad with the help of media," Ali Anwar told NewsClick.

The former MP further added, "Bilkis Bano belongs to the Ghanchi community of Pasmanda, the same community PM Modi belongs to but what happened with the accused? All of them were freed with the help of Modi. Where did his love for Pasmanda Muslims go then?

Taking a dig at the Opposition, he further said that as the ruling party continues to explore new ways to widen its support base, the Opposition's space to manoeuvre appears to be shrinking.

"Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lalji Tandon benefited from doing Shia-Sunni and Modi and Yogi want to do the same but it won't happen. However, fearing BJP, the opposition parties including Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress stopped talking about secularism, leaving aside Pasmanda Muslims and addressing their issues. BJP wants to portray they are concerned for the Pasmanda community. Muslim religious scholars and intellectuals are also responsible for giving a little space to BJP among Pasmanda Muslims as they never address their issues on the ground which I had realised post-Babri demolition and doing my bit to bring them under one umbrella," he stressed.

Ali Anwar Ansari also wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanking him for using the word 'Pasmanda during the BJP's national executive in Hyderabad in July. Anwar in his letter questioned why backward Muslims had not been part of discussions earlier and why BJP thought of organising a 'Sneh yatra' now.

"It was a pleasant surprise to hear you talk about Pasmanda, but the Pasmanda Muslims want 'Samman' (equality and dignity), not 'sneh' (affection). The term 'sneh' has a specific connotation: That the Pasmanda Muslims need 'sneh' denotes that they are an inferior lot requiring patronage from the ones who are superior," Ansari wrote.

(Photo of the letter accessed by NewsClick)

(Photo of the letter accessed by NewsClick)
 

Commenting over the outreach by BJP, Abdul Hafiz Gandhi, Samajwadi Party (SP) spokesperson told NewsClick, "those who have been left behind should be talked about and welfare policies should be made for them. There is a difference between 'kathni (saying) and karni' (doing) of the BJP. It is evident that the party could not field any Muslim in 2014, 2017, 2019 and 2022 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections and they are talking about political representation of Pasmanda Muslims."

The SP spokesperson also accused the ruling BJP to clear its stand on Article 341 of the constitution which was supposed to give benefits to the Pasmanda community.

The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, stipulates that no person professing a religion different from Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism can be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste. The original order under which only Hindus were classified was later amended to include Sikhs and Buddhists.

Congress leader Shahnawaz Alam also raised livelihood issues of the Qureshi community of the Pasmanda section. He said the plight of weavers in PM Modi's constituency is not hidden from anyone.

Courtesy: Newsclick

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Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma excludes “encroachers” from Mission Bashundhara 2.0

In another attempt to single out and discriminate against Bengali Muslims, Biswa asserts that they will only give legitimacy to those living in Assam for three generations

19 Nov 2022

Himanta Biswa

On November 14, 2022, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma ceremonially launched Mission Basundhara 2.0, a flagship scheme of government to redress all kinds of land issues. This scheme is one under which eight land-related services would be provided to people in the digital mode. In an announcement made earlier, Himanta Biswa Sarma had appealed to the people of the state who have land issues to settle to apply under Mission Basundhara 2.0. 

The new services under the Mission are settlement of government khas and ceiling surplus land, conferring ownership rights to occupancy tenants, settlement of transferred annual patta land, settlement of village grazing reserve and professional grazing reserve, settlement of land for indigenous special cultivators, settlement of hereditary land of tribal communities, composite land transfer service and online payment of land revenue.

He had also highlighted that during the first phase of Mission Basundhara, which was launched in October, 2021 and continued till May, 2022, nearly 600,000 applicants had availed the benefits. Meanwhile land revenue collection would soon become online for all over the Assam. While this could have been an effort towards ensuring that everyone gets their right, the CM announced that under this scheme, the “encroachers” will not be entertained. 

Video link from HBS official  Facebook live is as follows: https://fb.watch/gPIGrrNWQY/?mibextid=iujhyo

From his speech, we have extracted and translated a certain portion (2 minutes 27 seconds) from 40 Minutes 03 seconds to 42 Minutes 30. 

In his speech, Himanta said, “Indigenous people will get land rights and for that they should have resided in the land for three generations. The new mission will not encourage encroachers and anyone encouraging the same  will be dealt with according to law.” 

Defining an Assamese village, Himanta Biswa Sarma warned some Circle Office of giving Land Patta, "I am intentionally saying this for two, three circle officers that we should be smart but not over smart, such as going to Gorukhuti to provide Patta."

 He added, "We will only provide to original inhabitants of the village, irrespective of any caste or community."  He later give the definition of the original inhabited village as "Assamese, Manipuri, a Bengali from Varak Valley could be original inhabitants and,as per the definition in the Forest Land, that individual has to be here for three generations." 

Finally, he also announced that "provide the patta to the village where three generations have been living."

Now the question that arises is that who are these indigenous people of Assam that Himanta is referring to? Additionally, who are the “encroachers” that will be left out of this scheme? Has the CM considered those millions of people are displaced every year due to floods in Assam? In which category will they fit?

Furthermore, what will happen about the patta to the Bengali speaking people of the Brahmaputra valley? Specially Bengali speaking Muslim those who live in Char areas. As can be deduced from his speech, the politics of discrimination is out in the open. 

In his speech, Biswa again warned that, "Provide the Patta to the village where three generations have been living, but do notmake the mistake of providing it to these so called encroachers." 

Through his speech, he has made it very clear that mission Basundhara 2 will not provide any land to “encroachers” never mind how self limiting the definition is. He further directed the District Commissioner to specifying the district. He has said "All District Commissioners should make it crystal clear that this Basundhara 2 will not encourage any organised encroachment." 

Continuing with his speech, he further threatened that, "If anybody goes beyond the decision of the government or 'over stepping' it, they will face strong action accordance to law. DC Dhubri, DC Goalpara, DC Barpeta, DC Nagaon, DC Morigaon please be sure, this will not give any legitimacy to any encroachers." The CM later categorically made it a point to pronounce the names of the other districts.

In response to this speech by Biswa, Abdul Khaleque, Congress leader from Assam and the member of parliament of Barpeta Lok  sabha constituency, reacted on twitter, "When a Chief Minister doesn't want to be the Chief Minister of each and every person of the state irrespective of their caste, creed, race,religion and language, that state can't prosper . 

He further wrote, “মই নাজানো ভগৱানে কেতিয়া আমাৰ মুখ্যমন্ত্ৰী@himantabiswa মহোদয়ক সুমতি দিব?” (I don't know when will God give good sense to our Chief Minister @himantabiswa sir?)

Here is the link of twitter: https://twitter.com/MPAbdulKhaleque/status/1592381231257505792?t=GXHuhaCl7gKWhjDPzRr50w&s=19

 

 

Previous incidents supporting hate:

In this incident, a newly established Miya Museum, set up in the Goalpara district of Assam was inaugurated on October 23. On October 25, the Miya Museum was sealed just day after the inauguration. Two leaders of the community, including the person who set up the museum, were also detained. These developments on October 25 were, predictably, preceded by a string of hate speeches made targeting Bengali Muslims and their culture. The first such, was made by controversial former MLA of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Shiladitya Dev and then followed by another made by the \chief minister, Hemanta Biswas Sarma himself.

Assam’s chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stood behind Dev, and also added fuel to the fire. He said, “I don’t know what kind of Museum it is, there is nothing new except the lungi (loin cloth). All the others like plough or fish hunting tools are being used in Assam for centuries. They have to face the law as they took (snatched) these things from the Assamese people and put them up in ‘their’ Museum, if they want to keep these items there, then they have to produce a valid inscription.”

Addressing intellectuals from Assam at a press conference on the issue, Sarma said: “Now is the time for Assamese intellectuals to think. When I (earlier) criticised Miya poetry they called me communal. Now there is miya poem, miya school, miya museum.”  He took on the very idea if a Miya Museum and said, “I was saying about these threads earlier. They have to answer to this government about the things they have preserved because they took the Gamosa (gancha) from Deshi people. After the holidays action will take place.”

(https://fb.watch/goF52rMJwS/; 5.30 p.m. to 6 p.m., October 25)

Sarma also spoke about three important tasks, he stated, “Number one, They have to give historical data that plough is only used by the Miyas. Second part is from where have they got the money for this museum, they must reveal details to the police and police will investigate. Thirdly, intellectuals should now address this issue, I only faced flak earlier.”

He further commented on the items on display at the Museum, “I understand the lungi is their original contribution but all others like fish hunting tools, we have already preserved those as part of Brahmaputra Heritage. Now they have to answer which one is their original symbol of representation? ” He also alleged, “Deshi people saying that their Gamosa has been stolen from them and ‘claimed’ by Miya Muslims there.”

He lastly spoke about the contentious issue of demography, that is “Muslim-majority districts!  “You have already known about eight districts and their condition. If someone place something on their homes, how many houses can the government evict? So there should be a cultural, political protest against this attitude.”

He ended his exhortation with suggestions for the wider Assamese Community, “Moreover, the Assamese community should think about the resistance to these tendencies; in the coming days we may face more such challenges. If you see the voter list of Barpeta district some 50 years ago, you will find out that there were historic places in almost all villages by name but everything has ‘disappeared’ now. I have spoken about the Barpeta Satra too, but many ‘Assamese intellectuals’ have criticised me. They (Miya Muslims) are holding 1/3 of all lands in Assam, the government can demolish one house but how many more can we do. There should be a spontaneous resistance from the people.”

In early 2021, as the State approaches the Assembly polls, Hemant Biswa Sarma had said that the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) does not need votes from the Bengali origin Muslim community in Assam to win the elections, and accused them of “openly challenging Assamese culture, language and the composite Indian culture”, as reported by the Indian Express

 

Related:

Political functionaries spew hate against minority: Assam

Don’t need Miya Muslim vote: Himanta Biswa Sarma

Multiple FIRs against BJP MLA Shiladitya Dev’s Hate Speech: Assam

CJP moves NCM against Shiladitya Dev for targeting the ‘Miya Muslim’ community of Assam

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma excludes “encroachers” from Mission Bashundhara 2.0

In another attempt to single out and discriminate against Bengali Muslims, Biswa asserts that they will only give legitimacy to those living in Assam for three generations

Himanta Biswa

On November 14, 2022, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma ceremonially launched Mission Basundhara 2.0, a flagship scheme of government to redress all kinds of land issues. This scheme is one under which eight land-related services would be provided to people in the digital mode. In an announcement made earlier, Himanta Biswa Sarma had appealed to the people of the state who have land issues to settle to apply under Mission Basundhara 2.0. 

The new services under the Mission are settlement of government khas and ceiling surplus land, conferring ownership rights to occupancy tenants, settlement of transferred annual patta land, settlement of village grazing reserve and professional grazing reserve, settlement of land for indigenous special cultivators, settlement of hereditary land of tribal communities, composite land transfer service and online payment of land revenue.

He had also highlighted that during the first phase of Mission Basundhara, which was launched in October, 2021 and continued till May, 2022, nearly 600,000 applicants had availed the benefits. Meanwhile land revenue collection would soon become online for all over the Assam. While this could have been an effort towards ensuring that everyone gets their right, the CM announced that under this scheme, the “encroachers” will not be entertained. 

Video link from HBS official  Facebook live is as follows: https://fb.watch/gPIGrrNWQY/?mibextid=iujhyo

From his speech, we have extracted and translated a certain portion (2 minutes 27 seconds) from 40 Minutes 03 seconds to 42 Minutes 30. 

In his speech, Himanta said, “Indigenous people will get land rights and for that they should have resided in the land for three generations. The new mission will not encourage encroachers and anyone encouraging the same  will be dealt with according to law.” 

Defining an Assamese village, Himanta Biswa Sarma warned some Circle Office of giving Land Patta, "I am intentionally saying this for two, three circle officers that we should be smart but not over smart, such as going to Gorukhuti to provide Patta."

 He added, "We will only provide to original inhabitants of the village, irrespective of any caste or community."  He later give the definition of the original inhabited village as "Assamese, Manipuri, a Bengali from Varak Valley could be original inhabitants and,as per the definition in the Forest Land, that individual has to be here for three generations." 

Finally, he also announced that "provide the patta to the village where three generations have been living."

Now the question that arises is that who are these indigenous people of Assam that Himanta is referring to? Additionally, who are the “encroachers” that will be left out of this scheme? Has the CM considered those millions of people are displaced every year due to floods in Assam? In which category will they fit?

Furthermore, what will happen about the patta to the Bengali speaking people of the Brahmaputra valley? Specially Bengali speaking Muslim those who live in Char areas. As can be deduced from his speech, the politics of discrimination is out in the open. 

In his speech, Biswa again warned that, "Provide the Patta to the village where three generations have been living, but do notmake the mistake of providing it to these so called encroachers." 

Through his speech, he has made it very clear that mission Basundhara 2 will not provide any land to “encroachers” never mind how self limiting the definition is. He further directed the District Commissioner to specifying the district. He has said "All District Commissioners should make it crystal clear that this Basundhara 2 will not encourage any organised encroachment." 

Continuing with his speech, he further threatened that, "If anybody goes beyond the decision of the government or 'over stepping' it, they will face strong action accordance to law. DC Dhubri, DC Goalpara, DC Barpeta, DC Nagaon, DC Morigaon please be sure, this will not give any legitimacy to any encroachers." The CM later categorically made it a point to pronounce the names of the other districts.

In response to this speech by Biswa, Abdul Khaleque, Congress leader from Assam and the member of parliament of Barpeta Lok  sabha constituency, reacted on twitter, "When a Chief Minister doesn't want to be the Chief Minister of each and every person of the state irrespective of their caste, creed, race,religion and language, that state can't prosper . 

He further wrote, “মই নাজানো ভগৱানে কেতিয়া আমাৰ মুখ্যমন্ত্ৰী@himantabiswa মহোদয়ক সুমতি দিব?” (I don't know when will God give good sense to our Chief Minister @himantabiswa sir?)

Here is the link of twitter: https://twitter.com/MPAbdulKhaleque/status/1592381231257505792?t=GXHuhaCl7gKWhjDPzRr50w&s=19

 

 

Previous incidents supporting hate:

In this incident, a newly established Miya Museum, set up in the Goalpara district of Assam was inaugurated on October 23. On October 25, the Miya Museum was sealed just day after the inauguration. Two leaders of the community, including the person who set up the museum, were also detained. These developments on October 25 were, predictably, preceded by a string of hate speeches made targeting Bengali Muslims and their culture. The first such, was made by controversial former MLA of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Shiladitya Dev and then followed by another made by the \chief minister, Hemanta Biswas Sarma himself.

Assam’s chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stood behind Dev, and also added fuel to the fire. He said, “I don’t know what kind of Museum it is, there is nothing new except the lungi (loin cloth). All the others like plough or fish hunting tools are being used in Assam for centuries. They have to face the law as they took (snatched) these things from the Assamese people and put them up in ‘their’ Museum, if they want to keep these items there, then they have to produce a valid inscription.”

Addressing intellectuals from Assam at a press conference on the issue, Sarma said: “Now is the time for Assamese intellectuals to think. When I (earlier) criticised Miya poetry they called me communal. Now there is miya poem, miya school, miya museum.”  He took on the very idea if a Miya Museum and said, “I was saying about these threads earlier. They have to answer to this government about the things they have preserved because they took the Gamosa (gancha) from Deshi people. After the holidays action will take place.”

(https://fb.watch/goF52rMJwS/; 5.30 p.m. to 6 p.m., October 25)

Sarma also spoke about three important tasks, he stated, “Number one, They have to give historical data that plough is only used by the Miyas. Second part is from where have they got the money for this museum, they must reveal details to the police and police will investigate. Thirdly, intellectuals should now address this issue, I only faced flak earlier.”

He further commented on the items on display at the Museum, “I understand the lungi is their original contribution but all others like fish hunting tools, we have already preserved those as part of Brahmaputra Heritage. Now they have to answer which one is their original symbol of representation? ” He also alleged, “Deshi people saying that their Gamosa has been stolen from them and ‘claimed’ by Miya Muslims there.”

He lastly spoke about the contentious issue of demography, that is “Muslim-majority districts!  “You have already known about eight districts and their condition. If someone place something on their homes, how many houses can the government evict? So there should be a cultural, political protest against this attitude.”

He ended his exhortation with suggestions for the wider Assamese Community, “Moreover, the Assamese community should think about the resistance to these tendencies; in the coming days we may face more such challenges. If you see the voter list of Barpeta district some 50 years ago, you will find out that there were historic places in almost all villages by name but everything has ‘disappeared’ now. I have spoken about the Barpeta Satra too, but many ‘Assamese intellectuals’ have criticised me. They (Miya Muslims) are holding 1/3 of all lands in Assam, the government can demolish one house but how many more can we do. There should be a spontaneous resistance from the people.”

In early 2021, as the State approaches the Assembly polls, Hemant Biswa Sarma had said that the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) does not need votes from the Bengali origin Muslim community in Assam to win the elections, and accused them of “openly challenging Assamese culture, language and the composite Indian culture”, as reported by the Indian Express

 

Related:

Political functionaries spew hate against minority: Assam

Don’t need Miya Muslim vote: Himanta Biswa Sarma

Multiple FIRs against BJP MLA Shiladitya Dev’s Hate Speech: Assam

CJP moves NCM against Shiladitya Dev for targeting the ‘Miya Muslim’ community of Assam

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Sabrang

Gujarat Elections: RTE Rules Being Flouted in Muslim Areas, Allege Teachers

Closure of several Urdu-medium primary government- aided schools contradicts NPE objectives, say local teachers in Rakhiyal.

18 Nov 2022

gUJARAT MUSLIMS
A primary school in Rakhiyal

Ahmedabad: There’s a pile of debris on the site of a primary school building in the Musllim-dominated Rakhiyal area of Ahmedabad, which was brought down in November 2020. As a testimony to its existence, a slide where children would have played, stands on one corner of the ground.

“Who will believe there was a school in this place earlier? All that is left is a slide in the extreme corner of the ground where, in 2020, there used to be a four-storeyed school. Hundreds of students lost access to education once the school was brought down,” says Rahil, a government school teacher in a Hindi-medium school of Rakhiyal. He happened to be in demolished school to meet the principal just two days before it was to be vacated.

A bike ride with a local teacher in Ahmedabad’s Rakhiyal unfolded several untold stories of primary schools that now either lie vacant because the government appointed engineer happened to find the condition of the building not fit due to old infrastructure, or the school had less than the number of required students, as per rules to run it. However, local teachers in Rakhiyal deny both these reasons and have a different story to narrate.

Right beside the Kalandari Masjid of Rakhiyal lies a two-storey building with a school on the first floor and shops on the ground floor. The school was shut down in November 2020 after the engineer said it needed renovation.

“The shops are in the same building. Look at the irony, it was inappropriate for education, but perfectly fit to run businesses?” Rahil pointed out to Newsclick.

Pandemic changed lives of hundreds of kids

As property rates in the Rakhiyal area are low, many migrant workers send their kids to these corporation schools. But, with the pandemic came troubles for them and their children. Workers had to leave the town and head back home. Two years later, as the schools started in June this year, very few workers had returned, while several others eventually returned within a month.

After a halt of  over2 years, students are now finally showing up at school

After a halt of  over2 years, students are now finally showing up at school

Romila, who has been teaching in an Urdu-medium for the past 17 years, said she had been trying to encourage children from her community to study so that they end up in a better place and improve the economic conditions of their families. “The children who come to us are not the usual ones. We have to keep pushing them as well as their parents,” she told NewsClick. Romila also made some shocking revelations indicating “intentional” deprivation of already economically weak students from a basic right -- the Right to Education.

A student's name can be cancelled from school but only after a lengthy process. For the first two days, if the child does not show up at school, a neighbouring student is asked to check up on him/her and let the administration know. If that does not work and the student still does not show up for a week, the class teacher visits his/her house to bring them back.

Only after a month of absence, a committee involving the local supervisor, teachers of the school, and a government supervisor collectively decide on striking off the student’s name from the school.

“None of these required procedures were followed after the reopening of schools after a gap of two years (during the pandemic). The supervisor in charge showed up a month after the school reopened, and as soon as I would try to explain to them about a particular child and the nature of his/her absence, they would ask me to strike the name off,” she said.

Romila claimed that names of 300 students were cancelled out this way, some of whose parents said over phone that they were labourers and would show up only once they had a job surety.

As per a recent news report, as many as 62 primary schools in the last 25 years have been shut down in Ahmedabad. At least 23 have been either shut down or merged with another, in the last two years alone.

Pic5

The primary school in Rakhiyal does not much seating capacity, and the roof is not a pucca one.

Several teachers and principals of primary schools in the Muslim settlement alleged that this was not the only rule that was flouted by government representatives. There is another law on the merger of schools. As per the rules, schools can be merged only if the number of students in each school is less than one hundred. However, the teaching staff of different schools alleged that schools with over 200-300 students were also shut down. Moreover, the ones under renovation for the past two years had yet not been started.

Spike in Dropout Rates

In Juhapura, the largest slum, with a population of two and a half to three lakh, there is only one senior secondary government aided school. With little choice left between the daily bread and their children’s education in a private school, parents are often compelled to pull their children out of school.

Yushra, Saniya and Nazia, three girls who recently got back to studies after a 6 year long drop out.(left to right)

Yushra, Saniya and Nazia, three girls who recently got back to studies after a 6 year long drop out.(left to right)

Yushra, Nazia, and Saniya are three girls in their 20s who are pursuing their 10th grade after dropping out for nearly six years. Yushra, in particular, the most academically bright among the three, said she wanted to study “with all her heart” to make a good career. Her father is in jail, and she works during the day with her mother, who sews clothes so that she can run the house and also continue to fund her daughter’s education. Yushra very recently got the opportunity to get back to studying after six years of dropping out of school with the help of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works with dropouts in the area.

The other two have also had similar encounters. The students who dropped out were not ready to speak under pressure from their families, but the ones getting back to school had tales of misery. “Once we drop out, it seems like there is no going back. It always starts with our parents being unable to bear the school fee for a private one, and later extends to a permanent dropout label as we are girls,” Nazia told NewsClick.

Hajra Aapa, popularly known as Munni Ben who works on getting the dropped out students back on track

Hajra Aapa, popularly known as Munni Ben who works on getting the dropped out students back on track

“Had there been a government-aided school in the area, people would not have worried. There would not have been so many dropouts,” said Hajra, an old lady working for these students.

Access to Right to Education

The Reform Educational and Social Trust (REST) is a body that surveys Muslim settlements of the city and appeals to the government for educational reforms and creating opportunities for minority students where needed.

The barren land which once used to be a 4-storey school, now the only visible things are a slide and a JCB

The barren land which once used to be a 4-storey school, now the only visible things are a slide and a JCB

In 2017, the organisation conducted a survey and found barren lands in several places that could be used to build schools. Additionally, the organisation even did a door-to-door survey and came out with a report that suggested that over 1,000 kids were awaiting education in those designated areas. However, all the efforts were in vain as their proposal was never considered by the authorities.

One of the biggest restrictions that the teachers feel, is the shutting down of primary Urdu medium schools. The minorities in the area see that as a direct attack on their religion and accuse the government of imposing such decisions on the community. REST also made a list of the Urdu schools that had either been shut down or merged in the city.

Rakhiyal Urdu Shala No-1,2, Rajpur Urdu Shala No 7,1, Gomtipur Urdu Shala No 2,1,3,4, Jamalpur Urdu Shala No 6 have allegedly been shut. A different list by REST shows that nearly 16 schools have allegedly been merged with other schools. 

“The mergers and shutdowns do not help. We do not have a problem with our students learning in English medium schools. But are we giving them the right teachers? The teachers who were teaching in Urdu medium, ones who have been trained to do so, are now teaching in English and Hindi mediums,” claimed a teacher from Rakhiyal.

Within this school now run 3 schools in different shifts, as the other two were merged with this.

Within this school now run 3 schools in different shifts, as the other two were merged with this.

The biggest allegation by some teachers is that the government is contradicting itself in doing so, as this is being done even as the government is saying that it is trying to apply the National Education Policy (NEP) in the entire country. “We feel upset when we hear the government saying in the NEP 2020 that for primary education, a child should be studying in their mother tongue, while this treatment is being meted out to Urdu medium schools here,” a teacher said on the condition of anonymity.

Limited Interaction with Hindu Community

Narrating an incident, Rahim, the principal, said he was speechless when “one fine day, a student came up to me and asked if the Muslim community had betrayed the country?”

On the first floor was a primary school, and the ground floor occupied by shops. Schools shut down while shops continue to run smoothly.

On the first floor was a primary school, and the ground floor occupied by shops. Schools shut down while shops continue to run smoothly.

Geographical segregation in the city has resulted in a complete black hole in the interaction of two communities, the teachers say. Observing the children over the years, the teachers say that students only knew Diwali via pictures and crackers, Holi for its colours, and Janmashtami for Lord Krishna. The opaque wall dividing the two communities had restricted their mindsets, too.

One of the Hindu teachers also agreed to speak to NewsClick over the phone on the condition of anonymity. “I do sense the attack on the community here. There are schools in the Hindu settlements that have fewer students but are not being shut. We see our suggestions being taken, and theirs completely ignored. And most of all, there seems to be a targeted shutdown of Urdu medium schools,” the teacher told NewsClick.

The constant battle with the State for rights is not limited to students or teachers from one community. As per the government data, approximately 19,000 posts are vacant for positions of primary teachers across Gujarat. The teachers had been visiting ministers every week, until the government, right before the Assembly elections were announced, released a notification for 2,600 posts. However, the process for that will begin only after elections.

The writer is an independent journalist based out of Delhi. He is in Gujarat to report on the elections.

Courtesy: Newsclick

Gujarat Elections: RTE Rules Being Flouted in Muslim Areas, Allege Teachers

Closure of several Urdu-medium primary government- aided schools contradicts NPE objectives, say local teachers in Rakhiyal.

gUJARAT MUSLIMS
A primary school in Rakhiyal

Ahmedabad: There’s a pile of debris on the site of a primary school building in the Musllim-dominated Rakhiyal area of Ahmedabad, which was brought down in November 2020. As a testimony to its existence, a slide where children would have played, stands on one corner of the ground.

“Who will believe there was a school in this place earlier? All that is left is a slide in the extreme corner of the ground where, in 2020, there used to be a four-storeyed school. Hundreds of students lost access to education once the school was brought down,” says Rahil, a government school teacher in a Hindi-medium school of Rakhiyal. He happened to be in demolished school to meet the principal just two days before it was to be vacated.

A bike ride with a local teacher in Ahmedabad’s Rakhiyal unfolded several untold stories of primary schools that now either lie vacant because the government appointed engineer happened to find the condition of the building not fit due to old infrastructure, or the school had less than the number of required students, as per rules to run it. However, local teachers in Rakhiyal deny both these reasons and have a different story to narrate.

Right beside the Kalandari Masjid of Rakhiyal lies a two-storey building with a school on the first floor and shops on the ground floor. The school was shut down in November 2020 after the engineer said it needed renovation.

“The shops are in the same building. Look at the irony, it was inappropriate for education, but perfectly fit to run businesses?” Rahil pointed out to Newsclick.

Pandemic changed lives of hundreds of kids

As property rates in the Rakhiyal area are low, many migrant workers send their kids to these corporation schools. But, with the pandemic came troubles for them and their children. Workers had to leave the town and head back home. Two years later, as the schools started in June this year, very few workers had returned, while several others eventually returned within a month.

After a halt of  over2 years, students are now finally showing up at school

After a halt of  over2 years, students are now finally showing up at school

Romila, who has been teaching in an Urdu-medium for the past 17 years, said she had been trying to encourage children from her community to study so that they end up in a better place and improve the economic conditions of their families. “The children who come to us are not the usual ones. We have to keep pushing them as well as their parents,” she told NewsClick. Romila also made some shocking revelations indicating “intentional” deprivation of already economically weak students from a basic right -- the Right to Education.

A student's name can be cancelled from school but only after a lengthy process. For the first two days, if the child does not show up at school, a neighbouring student is asked to check up on him/her and let the administration know. If that does not work and the student still does not show up for a week, the class teacher visits his/her house to bring them back.

Only after a month of absence, a committee involving the local supervisor, teachers of the school, and a government supervisor collectively decide on striking off the student’s name from the school.

“None of these required procedures were followed after the reopening of schools after a gap of two years (during the pandemic). The supervisor in charge showed up a month after the school reopened, and as soon as I would try to explain to them about a particular child and the nature of his/her absence, they would ask me to strike the name off,” she said.

Romila claimed that names of 300 students were cancelled out this way, some of whose parents said over phone that they were labourers and would show up only once they had a job surety.

As per a recent news report, as many as 62 primary schools in the last 25 years have been shut down in Ahmedabad. At least 23 have been either shut down or merged with another, in the last two years alone.

Pic5

The primary school in Rakhiyal does not much seating capacity, and the roof is not a pucca one.

Several teachers and principals of primary schools in the Muslim settlement alleged that this was not the only rule that was flouted by government representatives. There is another law on the merger of schools. As per the rules, schools can be merged only if the number of students in each school is less than one hundred. However, the teaching staff of different schools alleged that schools with over 200-300 students were also shut down. Moreover, the ones under renovation for the past two years had yet not been started.

Spike in Dropout Rates

In Juhapura, the largest slum, with a population of two and a half to three lakh, there is only one senior secondary government aided school. With little choice left between the daily bread and their children’s education in a private school, parents are often compelled to pull their children out of school.

Yushra, Saniya and Nazia, three girls who recently got back to studies after a 6 year long drop out.(left to right)

Yushra, Saniya and Nazia, three girls who recently got back to studies after a 6 year long drop out.(left to right)

Yushra, Nazia, and Saniya are three girls in their 20s who are pursuing their 10th grade after dropping out for nearly six years. Yushra, in particular, the most academically bright among the three, said she wanted to study “with all her heart” to make a good career. Her father is in jail, and she works during the day with her mother, who sews clothes so that she can run the house and also continue to fund her daughter’s education. Yushra very recently got the opportunity to get back to studying after six years of dropping out of school with the help of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works with dropouts in the area.

The other two have also had similar encounters. The students who dropped out were not ready to speak under pressure from their families, but the ones getting back to school had tales of misery. “Once we drop out, it seems like there is no going back. It always starts with our parents being unable to bear the school fee for a private one, and later extends to a permanent dropout label as we are girls,” Nazia told NewsClick.

Hajra Aapa, popularly known as Munni Ben who works on getting the dropped out students back on track

Hajra Aapa, popularly known as Munni Ben who works on getting the dropped out students back on track

“Had there been a government-aided school in the area, people would not have worried. There would not have been so many dropouts,” said Hajra, an old lady working for these students.

Access to Right to Education

The Reform Educational and Social Trust (REST) is a body that surveys Muslim settlements of the city and appeals to the government for educational reforms and creating opportunities for minority students where needed.

The barren land which once used to be a 4-storey school, now the only visible things are a slide and a JCB

The barren land which once used to be a 4-storey school, now the only visible things are a slide and a JCB

In 2017, the organisation conducted a survey and found barren lands in several places that could be used to build schools. Additionally, the organisation even did a door-to-door survey and came out with a report that suggested that over 1,000 kids were awaiting education in those designated areas. However, all the efforts were in vain as their proposal was never considered by the authorities.

One of the biggest restrictions that the teachers feel, is the shutting down of primary Urdu medium schools. The minorities in the area see that as a direct attack on their religion and accuse the government of imposing such decisions on the community. REST also made a list of the Urdu schools that had either been shut down or merged in the city.

Rakhiyal Urdu Shala No-1,2, Rajpur Urdu Shala No 7,1, Gomtipur Urdu Shala No 2,1,3,4, Jamalpur Urdu Shala No 6 have allegedly been shut. A different list by REST shows that nearly 16 schools have allegedly been merged with other schools. 

“The mergers and shutdowns do not help. We do not have a problem with our students learning in English medium schools. But are we giving them the right teachers? The teachers who were teaching in Urdu medium, ones who have been trained to do so, are now teaching in English and Hindi mediums,” claimed a teacher from Rakhiyal.

Within this school now run 3 schools in different shifts, as the other two were merged with this.

Within this school now run 3 schools in different shifts, as the other two were merged with this.

The biggest allegation by some teachers is that the government is contradicting itself in doing so, as this is being done even as the government is saying that it is trying to apply the National Education Policy (NEP) in the entire country. “We feel upset when we hear the government saying in the NEP 2020 that for primary education, a child should be studying in their mother tongue, while this treatment is being meted out to Urdu medium schools here,” a teacher said on the condition of anonymity.

Limited Interaction with Hindu Community

Narrating an incident, Rahim, the principal, said he was speechless when “one fine day, a student came up to me and asked if the Muslim community had betrayed the country?”

On the first floor was a primary school, and the ground floor occupied by shops. Schools shut down while shops continue to run smoothly.

On the first floor was a primary school, and the ground floor occupied by shops. Schools shut down while shops continue to run smoothly.

Geographical segregation in the city has resulted in a complete black hole in the interaction of two communities, the teachers say. Observing the children over the years, the teachers say that students only knew Diwali via pictures and crackers, Holi for its colours, and Janmashtami for Lord Krishna. The opaque wall dividing the two communities had restricted their mindsets, too.

One of the Hindu teachers also agreed to speak to NewsClick over the phone on the condition of anonymity. “I do sense the attack on the community here. There are schools in the Hindu settlements that have fewer students but are not being shut. We see our suggestions being taken, and theirs completely ignored. And most of all, there seems to be a targeted shutdown of Urdu medium schools,” the teacher told NewsClick.

The constant battle with the State for rights is not limited to students or teachers from one community. As per the government data, approximately 19,000 posts are vacant for positions of primary teachers across Gujarat. The teachers had been visiting ministers every week, until the government, right before the Assembly elections were announced, released a notification for 2,600 posts. However, the process for that will begin only after elections.

The writer is an independent journalist based out of Delhi. He is in Gujarat to report on the elections.

Courtesy: Newsclick

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