Islamic Fundamentalism Is Reaching Pre-Partition Levels; Any Denials Are Delusional

Vikas Saraswat

Aug 14, 2022, 11:59 AM | Updated 11:58 AM IST

Violence in Delhi in February 2020
Violence in Delhi in February 2020
  • Germany undertook an earnest effort to completely uproot Nazi ideology from the German polity after the Second World War and Holocaust.
  • Similarly, eradication of Islamic fundamentalism, the root cause of Partition horror, from the body politic of the nation, should be an important goal of Indian politics.
  • To celebrate 75th anniversary of our Independence, various government and non-government programmes have already been going on for the last one year. Marked by great enthusiasm and fervour, these celebrations called "Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav" will see a grand finale on 15 August.

    But just a day before, on 14 August, the government is also going to observe Partition Horror Remembrance Day, like last year. On this solemn occasion, educational and cultural institutions will be organising talks and seminars while Central government will be hosting exhibitions at different places. The Partition horror, which accompanied Indian Independence, is such a massive tragedy that even today many people in Punjab and Bengal remember 15 August more as a day of Partition than Independence Day.

    The Partition of India is a dark and frightening chapter in annals of the past, the parallels of which are rare to be found in human history.

    This event is not only an opportunity to express our grief over the deep wounds received in this tragedy, but also an opportunity to reflect on the reasons that caused unprecedented human slaughter in this land of tolerance and harmonious living.

    On Partition, the Indian discourse has seen a lot of superficial discussion involving either party politics or individual characters like Jinnah and Nehru, but there has been complete silence on Muslim separatism which was the root cause of Partition. At the most, Partition has been described as a mischief of the British, but there has been no discussion on Islamic fanaticism and Muslim supremacism because of which an overwhelming number of Muslims refused to live in a democratic India under "one man one vote". Overwhelming, because the Muslim League's divisive agenda was supported by nearly 90 percent of the Muslim population in the 1946 Provincial assembly elections.

    Just as silence on the Islamic factors of Partition, which forced the greatest migration in recorded history and consumed the lives of 15-20 lakh people, shows intellectual cowardice and dishonesty, denial of the fact that Islamic fundamentalism in India has once again reached pre-'47 levels will also be delusional.

    The insistence on cow slaughter that has been seen in the last few years only to provoke Hindus is reminiscent of the riots in Faizabad, Bettiah, Patna, Muzaffarnagar and many parts of Awadh, Bihar and Bengal between 1910 and 1947. Similarly the riots in Kolkata (1925), Ahmedabad (1927), Dehradun (1927), Nagpur (1927), Jamalpur (1936), Gaya (1939), Kanpur (1939) and many other places over Hindu processions passing in front of mosques or over playing of music have been repeated recently in the form of attacks on Ram Navami, Durga Puja and Hanuman Jayanti processions all over India.

    Apart from these riots, the most dangerous form of Islamic fanaticism has been witnessed in the form of murders alleging blasphemy. Starting from Kamlesh Tiwari, Kishan Bharwad, Kanhaiya Lal and Umesh Kolhe to Praveen Nettaru, the series of murders remind us about the killings of Pandit Lekh Ram, Swami Shraddhanand, Lala Nanak Chand, Nathuramal Sharma, Mahashaya Rajpal, Bholanath Sen, Haridas and Satish.

    The frenzy and widespread support among the community for blasphemy killings bears an uncanny similarity with the pre-Partition past. Just as Jinnah defended Ilmuddin, the killer of Mahashaya Rajpal in the court and Fazlul Haq appeared for Amir Ahmed and Ahmed Khan, killers of Bholanath Sen, Haridas and Satish, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind has also come out brazenly in the open offering legal help to killers of Kamlesh Tiwari.

    And just as Allama Iqbal, a supposed intellectual, praised the killer Ilmuddin as someone who "despite being an illiterate had surpassed the educated Muslims like him", almost all of Muslim intelligentsia aided by Left liberals was seen putting a mark on Nupur Sharma's back.

    The similarity between the first half of the twentieth century and the turn of events in the last few years is not only with regard to growing Islamic fundamentalism, but also with respect to similarity in political apathy towards this challenge. Unfortunately, today's political leadership also seems to be trying to appease and propitiate the bigotry like it was doing prior to 1947.

    Just as Mahatma Gandhi provided an apology for blasphemy killings by calling Swami Shraddhanand's Shuddhi movement provocative, the current dispensation and judiciary have also played in the hands of Islamic fundamentalism by censuring Nupur Sharma and criticising the demonstrations in support of Nupur as vitiating the atmosphere of the country. The National Security Advisor's sharing of dais with an extremist Maulana like Salman Nadvi and the BJP's attempts to assuage "enraged" Muslim sentiments through outreach programmes are disheartening because not only is this the same appeasement exercise which ruling party has opposed for long but also because it is sure shot recipe for disaster, as proven repeatedly in the past.

    It is pretty obvious that the shelving of NRC, the dithering on PFI and the silence of the top leadership on selective Hindu killings across the country has emboldened Islamist forces to a point that they have went on a blasphemy killing spree. Remembering the horror of Partition and according the observance an official status is a welcome move but that alone will not suffice. Just as Germany undertook an earnest effort to completely uproot Nazi ideology from German polity after the Holocaust, eradication of Islamic fundamentalism, the root cause of Partition horror, from the body politic of the nation, should be an important goal of Indian politics.

    The ruling party BJP also has a mandate to explicitly fight Islamism in all its forms. The real meaningfulness of Partition Horror Day is only when the government is seen fighting all kinds of Islamic bigotry, including blasphemy-mongering. Otherwise, Partition has already shown us what the consequences of appeasement can be.

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