Sharique N Siddiquie
The creation of Pakistan was one of the bloodiest incidents of modern history. As a country struggling to free itself from the clutches of imperialist Britain, India was not ready for such bloodshed and division, especially in the name of religion. But, because of Jinnah’s Muslim League and to an extent even Congress, Indians had to face the worst nightmare.
Sixty-three years on, the wound is still fresh and the chasms clear. In the hype and hoopla about the roles of Jinnah and Nehru in partition; we have missed the worst sufferers of the incident, the Indian Muslims.
The plight of Muslims who were opposed to partition could be summed up in the last words of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan that he conveyed to Mahatma Gandhi, “You have thrown us to the wolves.”
But the inevitable happened and thus began the plight of Indian Muslims- those who migrated and those who stayed on in India.
The Muslims of India migrated to Pakistan in the hope of a better future. They thought of living with their ‘own’ people in their ‘own’ land. But it was nothing more than a mere utopia. The bubble burst and the problem of being a ‘Muhajir’ cropped up soon enough.
The sacred word ‘Muhajir’ that was once used for none other than Prophet Muhammad himself, turned derogatory for the migrated Indian Muslims. Far from welcoming them, the natives of Pakistan treated them as second class citizens; as burdens on their society.
This led to the rise of Muhajir Quami Movement (MQM) against the oppressive Pakistan governments. After more than three decades of struggle, though the situation is now better for migrants, still the flares refuse to die down.
Poor economic condition of Indian Muslims
It is no hidden fact that the economic condition of Muslims in India is far from ideal. There are a number of theories that give various reasons for this, like government apathy, lack of education and ignorance, but there is one reason that most miss out, the migration of upper class and rich Muslims to Pakistan.
Though it may sound like a far fetched theory, but one cannot deny that most of the people who migrated to Pakistan were rich landlords. As they say, the cream of Muslims moved away from the country, leaving behind poor Muslims. This disturbed the balance of the society.
The situation further compounded by the government apathy towards Muslims and lack of dedicated plans towards the most downtrodden strata of society.
Since, the number of rich people within the society shrunk, there was not much hope for Indian Muslims apart from depending on government programs for development.
This theory can be justified by sighting the example of the Sikh community. They are among the most progressive in India and the main reason for it is their entrepreneurship and the community help they received, especially as refugees at the time of migration.
The problem of distrust
The worst side effect of the creation of Pakistan is the prevalent distrust among the common people of India on Muslims. Even after 63 years of partition, Indian Muslims are still facing the tag of being ‘Pakistan friendly’.
Immediately after the partition, it had become a problem of sorts for unemployed Muslims to find a job under a Hindu employer, as they were not trusted. This continued for a long time, but eventually things improved.
Though, such problem are non-existent today, the inherent distrust still lingers on. The taunt of having fifth column feelings is faced by almost all Muslims at some point or the other. The worst thing is that not only the illiterate, but even educated people behave in the same manner.
People have just failed to understand that Muslims, who stayed back in India, did not leave the place because they considered it their motherland. It is their love for this country that prompted them to remain here.
The biggest menace of modern India, terrorism is clearly a Pakistan promoted monster. Be it the traditional battleground of Kashmir or the rise of neo-terrorism among the dissatisfied Muslim youth, Pakistan has played a major role.
After Partition, the biggest ploy for Pakistan to destabilise India was terrorism, first in the name of Kashmir’s autonomy and later about India’s perceived apathy towards Muslims. Most of all to avenge the creation of Bangladesh. In these unholy intentions of Pakistan, the Muslims of India became the unsuspecting victims.
Indian Muslims faced the double edged sword, with Pakistan exploiting them for their malicious intentions and Indians suspecting them for their soft corner for Pakistan. This alienated majority of the Muslims from the mainstream.
This compounded the problem further. Then the rise of religious parties like BJP and lack of leadership within the community further led to the disillusionment of Muslims from the system. Incidents like Babri demolition and post Godhra riots further added fuel to the fire and strained relations to breaking point.
Here, if we conclude that the formation of Pakistan is essentially the reason for most, if not all, the problems faced by Indian Muslims, it will not be an exaggeration.
It has been long since the country was partitioned. A whole new generation of Muslims has come which had no role in the partition and which is as Indian as any Hindu or Sikh or Christian would be. They want to contribute in the progress of country. The only thing that they need is an unbiased approach in dealing with them. We need to understand that Muslims are an integral part of India and they are not lacking in patriotism.
The only question here is, are we ready for a paradigm shift? India needs to answer that!