Syed Khalique Ahmed | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI—Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the first prime minister in the last 50 years to be chief guest at the Aligarh Muslim University, avoided to speak on the minority character of the AMU but chose to speak about his government “ending the practice of Triple Talaq”, perhaps to appease his political constituency that is happy with everything anti-Muslim. The first two prime minister’s who were chief guest at AMU were Pandit Jawaharhlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shahstri. Earlier, AMU students had not allowed former union minister Murli Manohar Joshi and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh to address AMU functions.
PM made the comment on Triple Talaq while addressing the AMU community through video-conferencing on centenary year celebrations of the university on Tuesday where he was invited as chief guest. His government two years ago had brought an ordinance-The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Second Ordinance, 2019-criminalising the Triple Talaq that was opposed by Muslims of all schools of thought while divorce given without due process of law in all other religions still continues to be a civil offence. That indicated double-standard of Modi government and its anti-Muslim mindset. All India Muslim Personal Law Board(AIMPLB) submitted lakhs of signatures from all over the country against criminalising Triple Talaq but Modi government did not listen.
While he spoke about “blending aspirations of the people with national goals irrespective of one’s religion”, it would be appropriate to remind him that Muslims have for long been fighting for protection of minority character of AMU under Article 30 of the Constitution of India and the previous UPA government led by the Congress had submitted an appeal in the Supreme Court in favour of the minority character of the university, but Modi government that came to power in May 2014 withdrew that appeal, clearly stating that AMU is not a minority institution and this demolished the rightful aspirations of the Muslim community of India.
While Modi termed AMU as “mini India”, it is surprising that he has never stopped his party leaders from speaking against AMU and describing it as “hub of terrorists”. Even UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Lok Sabha MP from Aligarh Satish Gautam has also several times in the past questioned the minority character of the university. Hindu Yuva Vahini chief Sunil Singh alleged in 2015 that AMU was a “nursery of terrorists”. BJP leader and former deputy mayor of Agra Naveen Jain called AMU as the ‘hub of terrorists’. Will Modi reign in his party leaders and workers to defame AMU in this way in future?
While PM praised the “research done by the AMU on Islamic literature that strengthened India’s cultural relations with the entire Islamic world”, it is logical to remind him on this occasion that his party’s government in Assam recently abolished government-funded ‘madrasas’ (Islamic seminaries) while retaining the Sanskrit schools that are engaged in teaching of Hindu religion.
He also mentioned that ideological divides should not come in the way of nation’s development and reminded the audience that many freedom fighters produced by AMU set aside their ideological differences for freedom. He exhorted people to get united for “Naya Bharat” like freedom united the entire country while at the same time his government is leaving no stone unturned to divide the society and isolate Muslims at national level from the mainstream population, for example, by bringing the Citizenship Amendment Act(CAA) which in tandem with proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), aims to snatch the citizenship of Indian Muslims and reduce them to the status of aliens in their own country. While PM said that “We are heading to a path where no one is left behind because of religion and every one is able to fulfil their dreams”, CAA granting citizenship on basis of religion is exactly anti-thesis of what the PM is saying. If CAA is implemented as Union Home Minister Amit Shah a few days ago said in a public speech in West Bengal, it would open the process for reducing vast majority of Indian Muslims as foreigners because everybody will not be in a position to submit the documents required to pass the test of NRC because of illiteracy and other reasons. While all non-Muslim communities of India have been given protection in CAA and will be able to get citizenship even if they are not able to produce required documents, Muslims have been completely excluded from the protection provided to non-Muslims in the CAA. The Muslim community launched a nationwide protest soon after passage of CAA from both the House of Parliament in December 2019 but the Modi government refused to withdraw the law and his ministers and party leaders now talk of implementing it. And everybody knows which community is going to suffer when CAA is implemented. Will Modi give an assurance to Muslims that CAA will be withdrawn?
While asking people “to be vigilant against misleading propaganda and keep the nation’s interest supreme in one’s heart”, perhaps in the context of month-long farmer protests on the borders of Delhi, PM must know that the interest of farmers, that is seeking MSP for their produce and to ensure that their lands are not captured by corporates, are also in the interest of the nation. Can India progress and become “Atmanirbhar” without growth and development of farmers. In his speech he said that “politics can wait but society cannot” but the same thing applies to PM and his party as well.