On June 9, it emerged that an exodus of Hindus has been taking place over the past two years from the predominantly Muslim town of Kairana, situated just 124 kilometres from India's national capital of New Delhi. Hukum Singh, an MP from the Kairana parliamentary constituency, has produced a list of 346 families which were forced to flee Kairana, leaving behind their homes and businesses. The immediate reasons for the exodus include extortions, murders, targeted attacks and other forms of banditry. Though these appear as acts of crime, the important point is that all of the fleeing families are Hindus.
According to a report by Zee News, which brought the issue before the nation, the town of Kairana had 30 percent Hindus and 68 percent Muslim population as per 2011 census. However, the Hindu population has declined to eight percent in 2016 while the Muslim population has risen to 92 percent from 68 percent in just about six years, as estimated by local officials. Kairana is not an isolated case. There are areas in India which are called “mini Pakistan” – not by Hindus. A Muslim locality I visited in India a few years ago, a highly educated Muslim youth told me proudly, “This area is mini Pakistan.” I turned to him and asked, “Is it something good for Indian Muslims?” As realisation fell upon him, he became silent. The religious nature of the exodus from Kairana fits similar patterns of forced migrations in history.
Health of societies is defined by movement of ideas. Ideas travel across time and territories through wars, technologies and globalisation. The consequences of ideas do not register on human minds because these take place over long periods of history, often across several lifetimes. Let's explain it this way: if we lived for 200 years and more, our minds would be better equipped to grasp how the society in which we were born has changed over the course of two centuries. Since our lifespan is on an average just about 80-90 years, our mind fails to grasp the movement of ideas occurring over the course of several centuries. In the 7th century, a movement of ideas began from Mecca as a consequence of which there are no Jews in Saudi Arabia today.
This movement of ideas reached Iran as a result of which today there are no Zoroastrians in Iran, originally their homeland. In the 12th century, this movement of ideas arrived in the Indian Subcontinent as a consequence of which there are no Hindus in Balochistan, there are no Hindus in Afghanistan, there are no Hindus in Pakistan, there are no Sikhs in Lahore which was a Sikh metropolis till recently. In 1947, it took a piece of ours away from us. In the 1990s, in our lifetime, Hindu Pandits were forced to flee from Kashmir. This historical template fits the exodus of Hindu families from Kairana. There are concerns that similar patterns of exclusion are happening in Malda and parts of Assam.A senior police officer who toured Malda recently tells me that cops are being treated as thugs and criminals.
As per this historical template, this movement of ideas makes it extremely difficult for non-Muslims to live in lands where the Muslim population rises to become dominant. The defining traits of this movement of ideas are: exclusion, intimidation, persecution, conversion and forced migration. For example, not a week passes when a Hindu girl is not abducted and forcibly converted in Pakistan's Sindh province. Forced conversion of Hindu girls in Sindh, sometimes carried out in order to occupy their land, is considered a pious work. The case of Bangladesh is no different where Hindus are being persecuted and systematically murdered.
But there are counterfeit liberal editors who give examples of Hindu-Muslim unity. Such examples are isolated acts of humanism, not outstanding patterns of communal behaviour that can be described as features of modern civilisation. Exclusionary religions counter pluralism. On Twitter, senior journalist R. Jagannathan tells me that religions need not change, but their adherents must change in support of pluralism. Like Islam, Christianity, being a monotheistic religion, is also exclusionary but its adherents have changed liberally, notably in America and Europe. In the United States, Christians allow their churches to be used by Muslims for Friday prayer, sometimes for a fee. However, Muslims will never allow their mosques to be used by Hindus for any ritual.
Contrast this with a common scene in the inner circle of New Delhi's Connaught Place where Hindus make way to allow Muslims to offer weekly Friday prayers on public property. The best example of exclusionary practices rooted in religion can be given from the activities of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind. While we see many Hindus defending Muslim riot victims in Gujarat and many others parts of India, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind tracks riot victims and innocents lodged in prisons, and ensures first that they are believers of Islam before taking up their cases. If Hindus were to do the same before helping riots victims, they will be called bigots.
It will be against the historical template of this exclusionary practice to argue that cases like the exodus of Hindus from Kashmir and Kairana will not happen again. Currently, this exclusionary practice is enabled by the Indian state. For example, the rationale of the Indian state demands that Kamlesh Tiwari, the Hindu man held for derogatory remark against Prophet Muhammad, be arrested. Although India does not have Islam's blasphemy law, practically it enforces the blasphemy laws prevalent in other Muslim countries. For example, Kamlesh Tiwari has been languishing in prison under the National Security Act (NSA) without any court hearing. Tiwari's detention is a blot on the face of the Indian republic, as most democracies today do not allow any person, not even a terrorist, to be in imprison without charge.
Contrast this behaviour of the Indian state towards Kamlesh Tiwari with its behaviour towards a set of Islamic clerics led by Maulana Anwarul Haq Sadiq of Bijnor who went in public, on Indian television, to announce a reward of 51 lakh rupees for anyone who could behead Tiwari whether in prison or outside. All of these clerics are free because the rationale of the Indian state demands that Muslim thugs will not be arrested while any Hindu can be arrested for bad behaviour. I have also been reliably informed that Tiwari's arrest enjoys the support of the Home Minister of India Shri Rajnath Singh. At issue is not Rajnath Singh but the historical template that has become the rationale of the Indian state. This rationale demands that the president of India organise Iftar parties every year at the expense of the taxpayer while not organising religious events of other religions.
Until this rationale of the Indian state is defeated electorally, politically and constitutionally, please prepare for this historical template to reproduce more examples like Kairana. The question is also this: what can the Indian state do? It will be too much to expect from the current centre-right government in New Delhi. Much like the Congress governments practised secularism and quota politics, the current centre-right government believes in giving Muslims Sufism – not mathematics, economics and physics to Muslim girls from grade one through 12. This outstanding rationale of the Indian republic must be countered so that India becomes an authentic republic with zero tolerance for anyone who breaks law.
For India to establish itself as a Great Power, the rule of law is the only hope. Currently, the rule of law is routinely mauled by cops who rob poor thela walas for a weekly extortion of ten rupees. Therefore, cops are morally incompetent to secure the Indian republic for our future generations. Here is also something to do: India could invest $100 billion and more in upgrading the last-mile police stations and get foreigners to train cops in professionalism, due process and honesty.
Tufail Ahmad is author of “Jihadist Threat to India – The Case for Islamic Reformation by an Indian Muslim.”