Out with the rab­ble- rousers

Young Mus­lims os­cil­late be­tween fear of se­cu­rity and the bo gey of vic­tim­hood

India Today - - COVER STORY - By T.S. Sud­hir Fol­low the writer on Twit­ter @lamtssud­hir

In the buzzing streets of old Hy­der­abad, cur­rently ob­sess­ing over the Te­lan­gana tus­sle, there are ap­pre­hen­sions of a greater di­vide be­tween Hin­dus and Mus­lims in the run-up to the 2014 Gen­eral Elec­tions. The voices of frus­tra­tion and anx­i­ety ring loud and clear among the city’s nearly 41 per cent Mus­lim com­mu­nity. “The wa­ter depart­ment de­lib­er­ately does not let wa­ter into our area be­cause it is 100 per cent Mus­lim,” com­plains Mo­hammed Wahid, a shop­keeper in Jhirra lo­cal­ity.

Para­noid as it may sound, the com­mu­nal over­tone to a rou­tine civic com­plaint gives a sense of alien­ation that runs deep in many of the city’s ghet­toised colonies.

In neigh­bour­ing Asif­na­gar, twen­ty­four-year-old Abid Ali, a tai­lor, pre­dicts Hindu-Mus­lim ten­sion in ar­eas where people of the two com­mu­ni­ties live cheek by jowl if Naren­dra Modi be­comes prime min­is­ter. “Modi does not look at people as hu­man be­ings, he dif­fer­en­ti­ates on the ba­sis of re­li­gion,” adds Mo­hammed Ra­heem, who re­pairs fur­ni­ture in the same lo­cal­ity.

The Modi fac­tor may iron­i­cally end up ben­e­fit­ing both BJP and the All In­dia Ma­jlis-e-It­te­hadul Mus­limeen ( AIMIM) in dif­fer­ent pock­ets. There is con­form­ity of thought in how Modi is per­ceived, both among ed­u­cated Mus­lims and the not-so-lit­er­ate. Ed­u­ca­tion­ist Faiz Khan says, “The aver­age Mus­lim voter and a sec­u­lar In­dian is com­mit­ted to de­feat­ing BJP and Naren­dra Modi. He is sim­ply not in­clu­sive enough, his ac­tions speak louder than his words.”

It’s not that Mus­lims do not buy into Modi’s de­vel­op­ment mantra. “Modi may make my lot bet­ter but it would be log­i­cal for the Mus­lim com­mu­nity to avoid him if there was even a one per cent chance that he was re­spon­si­ble for the Gu­jarat ri­ots,” says Rau­naq Yar Khan, great grand­son of the sixth Nizam of Hy­der­abad.

Hy­der­abad has long been a tin­der­box, hav­ing suf­fered com­mu­nal ri­ots in the 1980s and the 1990s. The fear is that a more ag­gres­sive saf­fron bri­gade may pro­voke an eye­ball-toeye­ball con­fronta­tion and a re­turn to those hor­rific days. Al­ready, pro­ces­sions taken out dur­ing pop­u­lar Hindu and Mus­lim fes­ti­vals such as Hanu­man Jayanti and Id-ul-Mi­lad are

“Modi may make my lot bet­ter but it

would be log­i­cal for us to avoid him for his role in the

Gu­jarat ri­ots.” RAU­NAQ YAR KHAN Scion of the Nizams

a ma­cho show of strength of the youth of re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties, that can flare up with the slight­est spark.

For the city’s Mus­lims, AIMIM has been a pre­ferred choice since 1984. “Our Hy­der­abad MP, Asadud­din Owaisi makes us feel se­cure,” says Mo­hammed Saleem, 22, who runs a fruit shop and will vote for the first time this elec­tion. But while there is ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Owaisi’s brand of ‘Main Hoon Na’ pol­i­tics, young Mus­lims in the newer parts of Hy­der­abad also feel un­com­fort­able with the rab­ble-rous­ing that comes with the pack­age. Aye­sha Ifte­qar, 18, a stu­dent of lit­er­a­ture, says the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship of the com­mu­nity “cre­ates a bo­gey of vic­tim­hood. If you be­have like

a vic­tim, you will be treated like one”. Khansa Kha­toon, a stu­dent of mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion, says af­ter Ak­barud­din Owaisi’s al­leged hate speech in De­cem­ber 2012, Mus­lims like her had to face un­com­fort­able ques­tions from Hindu friends. “Other­wise I do not feel I am a mi­nor­ity,” says Khansa.

This elec­tion will see voting from an en­tire gen­er­a­tion that was born af­ter the Babri Masjid de­mo­li­tion and was too young at the time of the Gu­jarat ri­ots. No sur­prise that both wa­ter­shed events are not ‘the’ is­sue for these young vot­ers. But doubts per­sist. “What if Modi comes to power and 2002 hap­pens again?” asks Khansa.


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