Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Reaction to the Verdict and a Few Other Bits

Much of the mainstream media has accepted the lack of reaction as a sort of unquestioning acceptance of the verdict from the Indian Muslim (the Hindu and the Outlook are two exceptions, though). However, opinions are now being aired as people stop cowering in fear of another communal conflagration and cautiously peek over the parapet.

Vidya Subrahmaniam of The Hindu in a sharp article on the Muslim reaction to the verdict:
“They spoke calmly but clearly, a small minority with a sense of resignation but almost all others feeling pained that 21st century India could substitute reason with faith. There were no raised voices, no uncontrolled flashes of anger, no talk of invading the streets or starting an agitation. Mr. Shamshad Khan was “deeply disappointed” with the “extra-judicial” verdict but felt Muslims had other far more important matters to focus on: “Are we going to be held hostage to this issue forever?”
Lots of smug talk of India having “moved on” in the air as well, as if 20 years back Indians were a bunch of retards who didn’t even have the good sense to “move on”. Of course, after experiencing the horror of 1992/93, moving on might not be a decision to take—it might be the only direction left to move.

“Yet conversations revealed an impatience to leave behind the past and embrace the future, however uncertain. There were complaints about biases, about being shut out of opportunities, about a sense of alienation. Yet even by these yardsticks, the world ahead was better for the young than the violence and darkness of the past. Their parents would know: All that mattered to the community in the decade after December 6, 1992 was their personal safety. Mulayam Singh in U.P. and Lalu Prasad in Bihar became saviours not because they delivered jobs but simply because they pledged to protect Muslim lives. A constant refrain heard in those troubled times was: “Hum hi nahin to aur kuch ka kya matlab?” (If we are not alive what use is anything else?) Who would want a return to that blighted past?”

Javed Anand, in the Indian Express, also makes a similar point in a somewhat disjointedly written article. Rhetorically asking whether there was “justice in India” in relation to the spate of communal killings after 1947, he questions the platitudes floating about with regard to "reconciliation" post the verdict:

"In the last week or so the media has discovered a magic word: reconciliation. Nelson Mandela has shown the world that in certain circumstances there could be an alternate route to peace — Truth and Reconciliation. But in the land of the Mahatma there is no Mandela in sight and the demand of the hour is reconciliation minus justice, minus truth."

Interestingly, he also advises “Muslims to unilaterally relinquish their claim to the disputed plot” , a claim echoed by many including the VHP. It’s tough to understand whether this is a genuine suggestion or something that Anand says almost in frustration or even anger. But assuming it’s the former, I fail to understand how Muslims, as a collective, would be able to do anything about that plot of land? I mean what does the word “Muslim” mean here? Do the Muslims of India own that land? When the court awarded 3,500 acres of land to Muslims (the language of at least one of the judges not to mention the Times of India on the day after the verdict) did it mean that each of India’s 14 crore Muslims got a fraction of that land? Or the do the Muslims of India control the Sunni Waqf Board to which the land actually went? Are there elections where Muslims from Kerala to Bengal vote to elect the members of the Sunni Waqf board? What could the Muslims of Bombay, who suffered grievously in 1992, have done to change the Board’s mind and their fate? Fired them? Voted them out? Gone en masse to UP and lynched them? I mean, how do you give up something that's not yours, that you have no control over?

Jumping tracks, at the very least, it’ll be interesting to see how this reaction is handled by India’s political class. The Congress, as usual it seems, is beset by indecision and the greed to have a finger in every pie. The BJP, as would be obvious, is over the moon, its vicious campaign of more than 20 years being bought to a neat end endorsed by the Judiciary, no less. Provincial satraps like Mulayam might try and sledgehammer their way into the Muslim vote banks of the heartland, a strategy that might not have the same resonance as it did in the late 80s and early 90s when the situation was a lot more, well, violent. The CPI(M) has come out strongly against the verdict, though; somewhat expected given the verdict’s reliance on faith as well as the coming elections in West Bengal. Interestingly, Mamata Banerjee has so far kept mum on the verdict; something that would, in all probability, change.


Meghana said...

Pooh! Vidya Subramaniam is what the great secular intellect could conjure up! Keep it up seculars - that will continue to keep us communal saffronites in business!

Hades said...


Hahaha! I want to refute yr comment but I can' get myself to dislike a comment that starts with "pooh!"

Meghana said...

Well, you perhaps overlooked the link at the end.