By Subhash Gatade
09 September, 2014
Hotelier Mustafa Patel from Gujarat- owner of Jyoti Hotel – is a very sad these days.
His famous hotel– which used to lie on Viramgam highway, merely ninety minute drive from Ahmedabad, is now closed. Anyone who has travelled on that road would vouch about its quality preparations, all the employees who worked with him are in search of another job. Undoubtedly, for Mr. Mustafa it was a very painful decision to close it, but there was no other option. It is being alleged that he was receiving threats from anti-social elements – many of whom had covert links with the ruling dispensation in the state- and despite court orders police refused to provide him protection. The only option for him was to get ready to face bullets or concede to their demand. He preferred the latter option, perhaps with a view that it will at least help save few innocent’s blood.His petition to the National Commission on Minorities makes it clear how the issue unfolded and how the police reacted to the developments.
Mustafa Patel’s case is not an exception.
It includes several others who were similarly forced to go out of business within last one month. It includes Kasim Ahmed (scrap dealer), Ahmed Airf (minerals), Farooq Bhai (power production unit), Yakub Mohammad (mineral production), Saifudin Ali (power production), Ahmed Khoka (power), Shabir Bhai (mineral production), Majid Khan (power) and Harun Abdul Malajher (mines). (http://www.maeeshat.in/2014/09/gujarati-muslims-are-not-allowed-in-vibrant-gujarat-program/)
One learns that recently the NCM wrote to the Gujarat government where businesspeople/traders belonging to the minority community are intimidated/coerced to close their business. And the response by the state government was on expected lines. A senior minister in Ms Anandiben Patel’s cabinet completely refuted the allegations and charged the complainants themselves.
In fact, it is not for the first time that the Commission had received complaints from traders belonging to minority community in Gujarat. Earlier it had received complaints from nine traders of Chota Udepur, Gujarat, wherein the complainants had provided details about the unholy nexus between communal elements at the grass-root level and the administration. A classic case was of Irfan Abdul Ghani who owned and managed luxury transport business in the area. His competitor – who also happened to be a Sarpanch of the village Baroj – Jayanti Rathwa, supposedly engineered a riot in the area to take away his business and was nearly successful. One also witnessed a communal clash in the region after a minor altercation between Adivasis and Muslims, minority industries were attacked in a concerted manner, police went there, FIRs were filed but nobody has been arrested till date.
One can say that any close watcher of the unfolding situation in Gujarat could have had a ‘premonition’ that ‘something of this nature’ would happen when the state government promised to look favourably towards the demands raised by Jain monks regarding Palitana. Palitana, near Bhavnagar, is considered a sacred place by the Jains, witnessed an agitation by them in July. The monks launched a hunger strike – threatening to fast unto death – demanding that non-vegetarian food – in which they include eggs as well – should not be permitted for sale or storage anywhere in Palitana. They also called for a ban on the ritual slaughter of animals and closing of an estimated 260 butchers’ shops.
Commenting on this issue (http://muslimmirror.com/eng/muslim-traders-being-forced-to-close-down-their-business-in-vibarant-gujarat/) Abdul Hafiz Lakhani reports how “Muslims are not allowed to do meat business and egg business in Palitana about 100 KM. from Bhavnagar” when “western diplomats and investors are making a beeline to seek favours from Gujarat, “
It is difficult to say what will happen next?
Whether Mustafa Patel would be able to reopen his hotel? Whether the people in power would look into the complaints by traders and would direct police officials to nab the culprits?
It was only last month that Mr Modi, talked of 10 year moratorium on communal and caste violence in his independence speech from Red Fort. Even if one limits oneself to Gujarat – his home state – one can gather the great hiatus between what he says and what the footsoldiers of the Hindutva brigade are doing on the ground. There are reports that Gujarat has of late witnessed many communal flareups with the change of power at the centre.
Subhash Gatade is the author of Pahad Se Uncha Aadmi (2010) Godse’s Children: Hindutva Terror in India,(2011) and The Saffron Condition: The Politics of Repression and Exclusion in Neoliberal India(2011). He is also the Convener of New Socialist Initiative (NSI) Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Agencies | 10 September 2014/15 Dhul Qa’dah 1435
Fired up and full of vitriol, Hindu activist Rajeshwar Singh is on a mission to end centuries of religious diversity in India, one conversion at a time.
His voice echoing off the walls of a Protestant church across a narrow street, Singh railed against foreign faiths at an event last week to convert a Christian family to Hinduism in the rural town of Hasayan, 140 km (87 miles) south of Delhi.
“We will cleanse our Hindu society. We will not let the conspiracy of church or mosque succeed in Bharat (India),” he said, standing in the family’s front yard by a ritual fire lit to purify the poor, lower-caste converts.
Emboldened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rise to power in May, leaders of his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have joined right-wing activists like Singh to openly declare India a nation of Hindus, posing a challenge to its multi-faith constitutional commitment.
About a fifth of India’s 1.27 billion people identify themselves as belonging to faiths other than Hinduism.
Singh is affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a vast nationalist volunteer organisation that aims to unify Hindus “to carry the nation to the pinnacle of glory”.
The RSS brought Modi into politics as a young man and its foot soldiers helped cement his May election victory in India’s heartland, most notably in the country’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, where Hasayan is located.
The RSS has grown in prominence since the general election, with members appointed to key cabinet posts and senior leaders deputed to the party.
Increasingly hardline statements by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, an old friend of Modi, have helped motivate millions of volunteers, like Singh, already excited by the prime minister’s May victory.
“Just as those who stay in England are English, those who stay in Germany are German, and those in U.S. are Americans, all those who stay in Hindustan (India) are Hindus,” Bhagwat said in August, angering India’s Muslim and Christian minorities.
The debate triggered by the comments revealed a deep ideological rift between those who believe the term describes a national identity as well as a religion, and liberals who think in a multi-faith nation, all cannot be called Hindus.
Adding to the controversy, RSS-linked groups have stepped up a campaign against “Love Jihad” – a term for what they consider to be a Muslim strategy to convert Hindu women through marriage.
Previous police investigations have found no evidence of an organised “Love Jihad”. But the concept has gained credence across central India in recent weeks, leading to sometimes- violent protests, despite being considered an absurd conspiracy theory by mainstream, moderate Indians.
A pamphlet named “Love Jihad” is being widely circulated by members of RSS at Hindu weddings, festivals and outside colleges across the country.
Written in 2011, it links the concept of “Love Jihad” to the rule of Muslim Mughals in India centuries ago – a popular theme with Hindu nationalists who feel Hinduism was weakened by foreign rule.
In Uttar Pradesh, police found no evidence of attempted or forced conversion in five of six reported “Love Jihad” cases in the past three months.
“In most cases we found that a Hindu girl and Muslim boy were in love and had married against their parents’ will,” state police chief A.L. Banerjee told Reuters. “These are cases of love marriages and not Love Jihad.”
However, activists like Singh have stepped up what they see as necessary defensive measures – converting others “back” to Hinduism. Hinduism is not normally considered a religion that seeks converts, but it does not have strict rules against the practice.
“The Hindu wave has just begun. In 10 years we will convert all Christians and Muslims,” shaven-headed Singh said with a grin after Friday’s conversion ceremony, to murmurs of approval from other organisers of the ritual.
His colleagues included a former Adventist preacher now dedicated to Hindu “homecoming” conversions and a businessman from the city of Agra, home to the world-famous Muslim-built monument, the Taj Mahal.
“The BJP is our political organisation. They are our brothers. We have ensured that they won the election. Modi is a Hindu leader,” Singh said. “This is our golden age.”
Singh’s 10-year deadline is unrealistic in a country of 175 million Muslims, who account for around 15 percent of Indians and constitute the third-largest Muslim population in the world, as well as other faiths.