Out with the rabble- rousers
Young Muslims oscillate between fear of security and the bo gey of victimhood
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.