The leftist propaganda website, The Wire, in an attempt to further the narrative that Muslims in India under the Narendra Modi government fear for their lives, recently interviewed former Congress leader Arif Mohammed Khan, who resigned from the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet after that government reversed the controversial Shah Bano judgement. Khan, much to The Wire journalist Arfa Khanum Sherwani’s chagrin, dismissed her fear mongering.
The Wire journalist makes it a point to start off with saying how out of the 303 BJP MPs, not a single one of them is Muslim, what will be the future of Muslims in India. She even wonders what will be the future of secularism in the nation.
Here are some of the highlights of the interview:
Arfa Khanum (AK): In his first speech in the Parliament, PM Modi talked about how Congress wants Muslims to stay in the gutter. Why after 33 years Modi, who got a thumping majority, with almost none or minimum Muslim support, does he keep talking about Muslims and Congress?
Arif Mohammed Khan (AMK): You are mixing two things: speaking about Congress and they getting a thumping majority. They are both different things. They got thumping majority because the country wanted them back. Both sides criticising the other is a part of democracy.
AK: Why did they even have to bring it up?
AMK: This is not a new thing. This is normal. This never stops in democracy. The PM did not bring it (triple talaq) on his own. He spoke of an old interview where a Congress minister took a stand against the government during the Shah Bano case, and reminded everyone how Congress does not have the political will to do things which are being referred to as appeasement. Congress did not have an intention to benefit a common Muslim, just a class which is a privileged class.
AK: Shah Bano judgement was reversed in 1986 and the first bill Modi government tables is on triple talaq. You seem to have become a prisoner of 1986 (when Shah Bano judgement was reversed by Rajiv Gandhi government).
AMK: Have the issues which came up in 1986 been solved?
AK: But circumstances have changed.
AMK: You are contradicting yourself. You yourself said that the first bill introduced is based on the issue which brought Shah Bano case to limelight. She was given triple talaq. Ayodhya. Is the issue solved?
AK: Modi government wants us to be stuck on these things.
AMK: Come to that thing which you said. Tell me, are the issues which were created in 1986 solved? I am not stuck in 1986. The issues which were created in ’86 took the country back to 1947. Wish we were in 1986. The hatred which was sowed in 1947… Do you know how many people were lynched in the 50s? Millions were killed. Always remember, when you try to live in the moment, you will always be disappointed. Do not let go of the perspective.
AK: The politics of 1947 was different and politics of 2019 is different. You are even saying that the Muslims shouldn’t be afraid of Hindutva politics.
AMK: First answer my question. If the issues of 1986 are still alive as they were back then, and the problems this Personal Law Board created for the nation are still as relevant even today. On 6th February, Rajiv ji had told me that no Muslim leader will oppose the lock which has opened in Ayodhya. I asked how? He said I had informed everyone before the locks were opened.
These issues are still alive and took us back to the time when India faced partition.
AK: Why bring 1986 issues now?
AMK: Because they are not solved. UPA had ten years, why didn’t they solve?
AK: Because there were other issues. Committees were set up.
AMK: Then what happened?
AK: Issues were identified.
AMK: They were identified long back. Please don’t try to mislead people.
AK: Is there no difference between the Modi government and previous Congress governments?
AMK: After Shah Bano case, Shahbuddin sahab worte a letter to the Prime Minister and Satanic Verses was banned. I want to ask you, what is the purpose of banning a book? The purpose is that things which are problematic should not be made available to people. After the controversy, I went to a book store in Khan Market. I had a copy which I had returned (before the ban). I asked whether that book is still available. I was informed as many as you want they are available. 7 copies were sold prior to the ban and after the ban 10,000 copies were sold. Another store also confirmed it.
I came back and put up an unstarred question in the Parliament when was the book banned and how many were confiscated. I was informed that not a single copy was confiscated.
So what was the intention behind banning the book? You agree with this duality? In last five years not a single riot took place in the country.
AK: What about small incidents?
AMK: I just told you it is not new.
AK: But before any elections, riots took place. If you remember 2013 riots in Muzaffarnagar, though another party was in power. There are all evidences where BJP officebearers and MLAs were involved who are now promoted and made ministers.
AMK: Whose responsibility was it to stop the riots in UP?
AK: But if on the grassroot level…
AMK: Amazing. Why did this hatred develop in the crowd?
AK: So you are saying communalism should be done openly.
AMK: You are saying this.
AMK: Six months back, Ghulam Nabi Azad in a meeting at Aligarh said the communalism in the country has increased so much that the candidates who used to call me, now 80% of them no longer invite me. Were those BJP candidates who used to invite him? Which party has become communal?
AK: Do you then agree that our country is becoming communal?
AMK: Our country is not becoming communal. Till those people who talked about one community and were so short-sighted that they didn’t realise it will have a reaction on the other side too… who made up those slogans?
AK: Is majority communalism a reaction to minority communalism?
AMK: Do not use the term minority. I have not used this word and I will not use it.
AK: Modi’s second term is going on as PM. What is the future of Muslims in India?
AMK: The question ‘what is the future of Muslims in India’… Whatever is the future of India is the future of people who live in India. That includes Muslims too.
AK: Their identity does not hold any significance?
AMK: What identity?
AK: This associated with their identity?
AMK: Should my identity be that I give triple talaq to my wife and throw her out of the house? Should my identity be that I don’t have resources to maintain one wife but I can go ahead and get three more wives? In any society, the professional clergy cannot survive till the people are not kept in the dark.
AK: People are raising concerns that India is moving from being a secular democracy to a Hindu Rashtra. Do you agree?
AMK: Did you ever oppose those countries which are Islamic?
AK: Talk from India’s perspective.
AMK: The world is a global village. And what do you understand by Hindu Rashtra?
AK: Where minorities, Muslims or Christians they will become second class citizens.
AMK: This concept is only in other religions. Hinduism does not have a concept of second-class citizens. No one becomes a ‘dhimmi’, no one is asked to pay ‘jaziya’.
AK: You deny ‘Hindu supremacy’?
AMK: The country’s smallest minority is Parsis. They also don’t have a single representative in the Parliament. They are not crying for representation. How many Christians in the country?
AK: But you are now forgetting history. How so many poor people…
AMK: How did they become so poor? Sir Syed said no one has made us poor. When the British started English medium education and a few years later 8,000 maulvis gathered and said that the English schools are a threat to Islam and opposed education of Muslim children in English medium schools. So who is responsible for keeping us poor?
AK: But this is even before 1947.
AMK: This attitude is still alive. I can show you discussion of Deoband which discouraged everyone from taking up modern education.
AK: The communalism, conservatism, fundamentalism you are talking about, I do not disagree. Muslim community also has it and other communities also have it. Only difference is that the clergies you mention do not have support of the government. Those who believe in Hindutva politics they have patronage of the party in power. You still say that Deoband is a bigger threat.
AMK: Your problem is that as a journalist you cannot put words in my mouth.
AK: One questions. What is a bigger threat? Deoband or Nagpur?
AMK: I can fight against my own selfishness, not against others’. Understand that if you could. You had written on Facebook that you will play Holi while saying Bismillah. Remember what was said about you? I remember. I had read all those comments. Where did this intolerance come from?
AK: I agree there is conservatism in either side.
AMK: But we will always attack the other side. But not look inward at our own flaws because it is easier to point at others.
AK: I have a problem that you are ignoring the conservatism and fundamentalism of the other side which has patronage of the government.
AMK: You must fight. I will say that this is a country where Sai Baba whose temples are across the country. Every devotee of Sai Baba knows he was born to Muslim parents. But because people have faith in Him, he is made an avatar and is worshipped. If you become helpful to the nation, you are put on a pedestal like a God.