By Sushil Kutty
It took 75 years but at last at least one politician has confessed that India is not a safe country for Muslims. Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui told this to his children, a son and a daughter. Growing up they lived the privileged lives that comes with being children of a Bihar minister. The son is currently in the United States, while the daughter is in London.
But Siddiqui has now told his son, and his daughter, to take up jobs abroad or, even better, secure foreign citizenships. Right, whoever thought India was marching towards utopia could not have been more wrong. Also, India wasn’t healing, like some unity in wonderland types were suggesting.
A close associate of RJD supremo Lalu Yadav, Abdul Bari Siddiqui says he has told his children not to return to India, where the atmosphere is toxic. Bari does not speak Hindu-Muslim, but his name is a giveaway. And the message is clear. The Muslim is not safe in India.
Siddiqui’s son is a student of Harvard while the daughter was a student of the London School of Economics. “I told them to settle abroad because the atmosphere in India is not safe.”
Siddiqui was talking of institutional bias, a vitriolic hatred of the Muslim prompted by the state’s silence.
After their father’s apprehensions went viral, Siddiqui’s children should have been convinced he wasn’t joking. But his son has asked Siddiqui to keep his advice to himself. However, this came only after Siddiqui’s statement met with a spate of criticism though there were many who agreed with him that India was indeed the worst place on the planet for the children of Muslims.
Siddiqui told his son and daughter they would not be able to “bear the atmosphere” in India if they came back and that it was not like how it used to be before May 2014, when Narendra Modi became Prime Minister.
The secular atmosphere has evaporated, gone up in the hot air. Of course, nobody likes to leave the motherland and it must have been difficult for Siddiqui to tell his own children to stay away from the motherland but he felt constrained to. Just like actors Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan. And Naseeruddin Shah. All three of them had expressed their anguish at living in an “intolerant India”.
Siddiqui himself isn’t going anywhere, leaving his “beloved motherland” for foreign climes despite a BJP spokesperson, named Nikhil Anand, telling him that he should leave if he felt threatened; give up all the privileges he gets as a politician and as a former minister and “move to Pakistan”.
The fact that ‘Muslim is in danger’ has been a recurring theme since May 26, 2014. And there were real reasons to believe so. The spate of cow lynching after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister permeated the atmosphere. Everywhere one turned, there was a story of somebody who was a Muslim being lynched. The names identified the victims’ religious affiliations.
People were killed for what they ate. In fact, for what they kept in their refrigerators. The toxic videos of lynching on Social Media spread the hatred further, and farther. The fear settled in and yet the victims of the hatred largely maintained stoic silence. None of the opposition parties could come up with an answer to how to put a halt to the communal hatred, the violence that characterized the times?
Even the likes of Abdul Bari Siddiqui kept their emotions bottled up. For all we know the hatred will not go away. Does not matter how much a politician crisscrossed the country on foot, spending the nights in a container on wheels. The political parties aren’t in the mood to lower the bar for fostering friendship. This despite the opposition parties having had enough of the “fascist and the communal”.
Have had enough of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Home Minister Amit Shah. The electoral defeats and losing state after state is a dampener contributing to the hatred that separates the ruling party from the Opposition. The bouts of name-calling is a symptom. The bitterness is such that the divide is unbridgeable.
The ideological hatred has trickled down to the followers of the ruling and the opposition political parties. The communal sparring that goes on in Social Media speaks of how deep the divide can go. Even the media is split down the middle. The irony is that only a deepening of the divide to a stark relief will get the country out of the abyss that it finds itself in. The paradox that Abdul Bari Siddiqui has given in to! (IPA Service)