Open Letter to Aakar Patel PDF Print E-mail

KK Kak

This is with reference to your "Stop bashing Muslims, and start focusing on positive Hindutva”, by Aakar Patel (Times of India 12.6.2016 - ).

Your commentary on what you call the three main Hindutva thrusts is characteristically negative. Ayodhya is not about depriving Muslims of a mosque (a mosque where there have been no prayers in decades); it is about removing a symbol of Muslim tyranny and reclaiming a spot deemed sacred by Hindus. Hindu groups had offered to relocate the mosque -- an offer turned down by Muslim groups. The Allahabad High Court judgement awards two-thirds of the disputed site to Hindu groups -- why did the so-called secular lobby oppose the judgement? Why has the Supreme Court been sitting on the appeals for the last six years? This is a “thrust of Hindutva ideology” which is fairly easy to settle one way or the other. Why is no “secularist” or Muslim group asking for a quick court verdict (only Hindu groups are doing so)?

The Uniform Civil Code is not about depriving Muslims of their personal law, it is about having a common secular law for all citizens, which you should surely consider desirable in a modern, secular country. The Constitution mandates it as a Directive Principle, the Supreme Court has asked for it, practically every modern, secular country in the world has a common civil law -- the US, UK, France, Germany and Australia included. Do you presume they are all Hindutvavadis? India has had a common criminal law for decades, with no objections from the “secular” lobby. Why don't you demand that Muslims should also enjoy their own personal criminal (sharia) laws -- including some of the more draconian provisions? Or how about the basic principle -- if Hindus can give up their personal laws, why can't Muslims do the same? Who says that a Uniform Civil Code has to be entirely Hindutva-based, or that it can't incorporate positive elements of Muslim personal laws? And why won't the Muslim-secular lobby permit a rational debate on this subject, instead preferring to shout down any attempt at a rational discussion?

The removal of Article 370 is Constitutionally valid and is essentially a secular demand to integrate J&K with the rest of the country. It is so that Indian laws can apply to J&K, so that Indians from other states can settle in J&K the same way Kashmiris can settle in the rest of India. It is so that all Indians have equal rights in Kashmir -- something which is not the case today. Why do you make it a communal issue about depriving Muslims of their “constitutional autonomy”? Don't Muslims in other Indian states (without Article 370) have “constitutional autonomy”? Doesn't Kashmir also include Hindus, Christians, Sikhs? Or is Kashmir in your eyes a purely Muslim entity? Are you aware that J&K is exempt from India's service tax laws, because the J&K Assembly has not ratified the Indian laws to this effect? Because Indian laws do not apply to J&K, courtesy Article 370 so Indian Muslims (and Hindus) from other states have to pay service tax, while J&K Hindus (and Muslims) do not. Will ToI conduct an opinion poll on Article 370 and tell us what non-Kashmiri Muslims really think? Or non-Muslim Kashmiris? Or Sikhs in Jammu? Article 370 is a nationalist issue, not a religious one, and your attempt to paint it in religious colours is disgraceful.

On the other hand, your attempt to paint Pakistani Islam as a force that “addresses Muslims and tries to reform their behavior” is laughable. Look at the examples you give -- prohibition for

Muslims, no practical implementation of the hudood laws, starting PIA flights with an Arabic prayer, forcible confiscation of a portion of bank fixed deposits on Eid towards zakat. In other words, it is positive Islam to have draconian Islamic laws provided you don't always apply those punishments? In that case, why not pass hudood laws for Indian Muslims? And as for Arabic prayers in PIA flights -- would you support Air India flights starting with Sanskrit prayers? Or would all secularist hell break loose? What about confiscating a portion of bank fixed deposits on Diwali? Would you classify that as positive Hindutva? For that matter, if the NDA government. were to confiscate a portion of the fixed deposits of Muslims on Eid, would you call that positive Islam (as you do for Pakistan)? Or would you call it negative Hindutva? Would you be okay with a portion of your bank fixed deposits being confiscated?

You suggest that the BJP gets excited about beef and nationalism because they are “things that concern Muslims”. I thought that beef was about Hinduism, not Islam -- and beef was banned in Delhi by a Congress government, with the ban being retained by an AAP government. Have you asked the anti-Hindutva Mr Kejriwal to revoke the ban? Or a secular Mr Yadav to do so in UP? Is nationalism only about Muslims? The JNU leaders who got into trouble for shouting anti-India slogans were mostly Hindu. It appears to me that it is the “secular” lobby, not the BJP, which is communalizing nationalism.

Your suggestion to improve the lot of Dalits is a reasonable one. But is there any reason why upliftment of Dalits cannot proceed hand in hand with removal of Article 370, or a Uniform Civil Code? Why does it have to be either / or, rather than both together? Why do you want only “Hindus, particularly the mercantile classes, to pay their income tax in full'? Isn't paying income tax in full the responsibility of every citizen, regardless of religion? Then, you want a "Hindu tradition of philanthropy' – but there is a well-established tradition of daana in Hinduism. In any case, shouldn't philanthropy extend to all religions? Or is it that, not satisfied with communalizing Article 370 and nationalism, you now want to communalize income tax and philanthropy as well?

How about giving similar advice to Muslim leaders -- for instance, the Muslim Personal Law Board, instead of fighting to retain triple talaaq and four wives, could push for Muslim philanthropy and the uplift of poor Muslims? “Secular” leftists (like your favourite Kanhaiya Kumar) could perhaps work for Muslim and Dalit education instead of shouting pro-Afzal Guru and Yakub Memon slogans? In fact, Mr Kanhaiya Kumar could perhaps take your advice and start “paying income tax in full” after getting a job -- instead of sponging off the taxpayers himself?

But you won't do that. Because, in your worldview, positive Hindutva is about philanthropy, paying income tax, uplifting the deprived. Positive Islam is about Arabic verses in planes and not actually stoning people to death, while retaining the laws that allow it.

Stop bashing Hindus. Do you even realize your double standards? But then, without these double standards, where would you be professionally?