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The communal virus | Greater Kashmir

Covid 19 may or may not be tamed by the year-end, vaccine or no vaccine, but there is another virus, more dangerous, than all these viruses put together – the communal virus, that is, infecting the Indian body-politic with a vengeance.  Covid, under worldwide attack, such as it is, continues to surge, will finally be tamed, no matter the havoc it brings in its train.  But of the communal virus being spread with shocking abundance by the Hindu right wing extremists, their response to the nationalistic majoritarianism of the ruling Bharatiya  Janata Party, leaves no room for doubt that the Hindu right wing as much as the BJP won’t rest one whit until they have seriously dented the secular idealism enshrined in the country’s Constitution. The delimitation of constituencies now underway with vigour in Jammu & Kashmir is just one part of it, directed against the Muslim majority character of the valley. But equally significant is the intensification of the hate drive against the minorities, the Muslim minority especially, in the rest of the country as a whole. The National Register of Citizenship is but one part of it. The more important part is to silence the significant Muslim (20 crores) minority in the country. Direct and indirect tactics of achieving the objective, even sullen acceptance of its lot by the minority community, would suit the perpetrators. Tactics may vary but the objective is clear: make the minority community feel unwanted. The hate campaign has so deeply taken root that even the Jamia Teacher’s Association has taken strong exception to the students of its Academy being described as Jihadis. But then this is not the first time that Jamia with its strong credentials has been the subject of right wing Hindu attention, always negative to be sure. The Association has urged action against the nondescript channel and its Editor for describing the student of the Jamia Academy as Jihadis. In a observation made by the Editor he asks if he is wrong in mentioning that Muslims are getting into Civil Services in increasing numbers thereby endangering the future of Administrative System.

According to Jamia PRO Ahmed Azeem “We have written to the Education Ministry informing it about the whole episode and requested for appropriate action we told them that Sudarshan Channel has not only tarnished the image of the Jamia and a particular community but the image of the UPSC as well”. Mr Suresh Chavankhe of the channel in an interview has said he does not know if there are Hindus in the Jamia Academy or among the successful candidates. Those opposing the word Jihadi should first answer if they think it is an abuse, he observes tauntingly. “I don’t know if there are Hindus in the RCA. Those opposing the word Jihadi, they should first answer if they think it is an abuse”. “I maintain my stand and want to know how Muslim numbers are increasing in the Civil Services”. He thinks with that he has made a clean breast of it all but that’s how the Hundutva men wind up their arguments. That’s it, they add with finality. And that’s how it should not be, say I.

Routine occurrences like, say, Muslim candidates qualifying in nationwide competitive tests are likely to be challenged, post selection. Take the case of the attack made on the very fine Jamia Milia Islamia University, an institution blessed by the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, not an opportunity is missed to put the institution under the scanner. The university was subjected to uncalled for indignities earlier this year and ironically its adorable success in the recently held civil services exams is being painted as a master class in duplicity. One of the numerous rightist Hindu channels Sudarshan has charged that the Jamia is “infiltrating” Muslims into the civil services via its Coaching Academy. The Academy is a well run institution and this is not the first time it has secured success in the UPSC test. The Jamia Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar has said that her university would not go to court but the news channel had already described the candidates who cleared the test as Jamia’s contribution to the Jehadi ranks. This, of a university which can well claim to be one that excels. As pointed out by the Vice Chancellor 30 students from the RCA cleared the UPSC exam this year and of them 16 are Muslims and 14 Hindus; to go by Sudarshan’s description this sense of insecurity seems most uncalled for and unnecessary. For one, the students have as yet only cleared the written test and the drill is yet far from complete. For one thing the crucial viva test is yet to come and don’t you forget the make-or-break physical fitness test. Let me conclude with a personal anecdote. Decades ago a young Kashmiri boy who had had his schooling in a upcountry exclusive residential school, been to a good college and sure enough took the UPSC test and not surprisingly he qualified to. Only after clearing the viva he had reckoned without the physical fitness test. And to his horror he was baulked at this late stage putting an end to his day dream. A Kashmiri Government Official brought him to my office in Delhi and frankly I was quite impressed with the young man’s demeanor and his presentation of his case. I made a few calls and ended up with one of the doctors who had examined him at the earlier fitness test. He agreed to a review by another panel and sure enough the young man was found fit – – “nothing the matter will the young fella”, the chief of the review panel confided. The young man rose to be the Chief Secretary of the Government. And incidentally he was a Muslim too.

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