On Sunday night, a Durga Mandir in Old Delhi was vandalized by a Muslim mob that comprised of around 300-400 people. Communal tensions prevailed in the area following the hate crime and forces have been deployed in significant number to prevent the situation from escalating.
Chants such as “Allah-hu-Akbar” and “Naara-e-Takbeer” were raised as the mob busied itself damaging the home of the Gods. The Police, reportedly, has arrested three so far and one of them is believed to be a juvenile. However, as recent events in Delhi and elsewhere in the country have demonstrated, there doesn’t appear to be any long term strategy to deal with the menace of ‘community crimes’.
Before we proceed any further, we need to define what ‘community crimes’ are. To put it succinctly, there are crimes apart from mob violence that are occasionally not always motivated by religion, but often are, which appear to have the backing of the entire local community, or at least the family.
For instance, there have been occasions when Muslim youths have kidnapped Hindu women or assaulted them sexually. When the family of the Hindu women went to confront the family of the alleged perpetrators, they were murdered by them. There are other occasions when entire Muslim localities attacked the Police to help heinous criminals escape.
Then, there was the recent mob violence in Delhi on Eid when a Muslim mob went on a rampage after a Muslim driver rushed past them perilously. All such crimes, in addition to hate crimes, which have either the active or tacit support from significant sections of the community, and often their involvement as well, are referred here as ‘Community crimes’.
We have no strategy in place to deal with such crimes. Efforts to have one are scuttled by false notions of all religions being the same. But they are not. Every religion has its own unique brand of power structures, its own particular way of organizing society and its own specific manner of relationship between the devotees and the God. Therefore, to brush all these differences under the carpet only leaves us vulnerable to the threats that such differences pose.
To understand why most community crimes are committed by one particular community, we need to understand the power structures that dominate their society. When Dera Sachcha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan was convicted for rape, his followers went on a rampage in NCR, damaging public property at will. The power structures within Muslim society is such that there are hundreds and thousands of such individuals in the form of Maulvis and Maulanas and Muftis.
These Islamic leaders hold great sway over the Muslim community and it can be argued that the primary loyalty of Muslims does not lie with the wider civic sense but to these clerics. The clergy in Islam is decentralized, there is no one leader such as the Pope for Catholics. In fact, it has a lot in common with Protestant society.
Thus, to prevent community crimes, the first and foremost challenge is to destroy the hold these leaders have over the Muslim population. There have been numerous occasions when such people have instigated violence and quite blatantly vitiated communal harmony in the country. However, politicians have allowed such individuals to walk away scot free.
In doing so, they have endangered the safety of citizens across the country by encouraging such elements with their inaction. Now, they feel emboldened enough to preach hatred from their pulpits secure in their belief that they will not be persecuted. Their sense of security needs to be dispelled. Otherwise, the consequences could be grave.
Apart from religious leaders within the community, there are also politicians and local goons who sow the seeds of division to reap fruits during the election cycle. Leaders such as Akbaruddin Owaisi, who openly incited violence against Hindus in the country, has suffered no consequences at all for his hate speech.
If we are to prevent community crimes, such actors cannot be permitted to evade the consequences of their actions. Instead of being behind bars, he is now an elected representative of the Telangana Legislative Assembly. Such callousness while dealing with such figures is one of the primary reasons why our country has been utterly ineffective in dealing with radicalization and Jihad.
There is another aspect to the whole problem that needs proper investigation. A pattern of events has emerged over time where the Muslim community has demonstrated its ability to gather hundreds of people within a very short span of time to commit acts of violence. It was seen in Kolkata in the attack against doctors and interns at the NRS hospital, it has been seen in attacks in the past and it was again seen during the desecration of the Durga Mandir in Old Delhi.
The state needs to investigate the mechanisms which enable Muslims to organize in such large numbers in such a short span of time with the objective of committing violence. Social media, undoubtedly, plays a critical part in this. However, a detailed investigation is required to uncover other aspects and factors which contribute to the phenomenon.
Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds these days which can be used by the state machinery to maintain a tab on such incidents which could enable to pursue preemptive measures to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future. The hotspots for such violence need to be identified, common factors ought to be deduced and modern technology must be used by the law enforcement authorities to prevent such mishaps from happening again and again.
Another variety of community crimes which is an even greater threat is the one where rapes and sexual assault and kidnapping of women from other religious communities appear to have the tacit support from the family members of the perpetrators. We have to entertain the very disturbing possibility that ‘Love Jihad’ does have widespread community support. It should not come as a shock as the pattern has been observed in Western countries as well. There, the phenomenon is called ‘Grooming Gangs’.
In India, radical Islamist outfits have been exposed to invest heavily in ‘Love Jihad’ of Hindu and Christian girls with ulterior motives. Despite that, such outfits haven’t been banned across the country. The state must step in and take the harshest of actions against such elements and ensure that they do not succeed in their evil plans. Such groups must be dismantled root, stem and branches to ensure communal harmony in the country.
More than that, if it is discovered after investigation that family members collaborated or cooperated with the perpetrators of Love Jihad in any manner whatsoever, including not taking steps to ensure that the girl is returned to her family without any further harassment, then they need to be treated at par with the rapists themselves and must receive adequate punishment. Also, such crimes should not be treated as rape or sexual harassment alone, they should be considered by law to be attempts to create disharmony between communities and consequently, the quantum of punishment ought to reflect that.
The main problem with the Indian State’s policy towards Islamic extremism is that it believes it can sway Muslim youth away from the rabid Mullahs and Maulanas through education alone. However, it doesn’t work that way. As was evident in the case of even Zaira Wasim who quit her acting career because it was taking her from her religion, education will not be sufficient to contain the rise of Islamic extremism.
There is often the talk in intellectual circles about the necessity of reforms in Islamic society. However, they never quite specify what exactly such a reform would entail. We are aware of the necessity of reforms within the Muslim community, as much for our safety as for their development, but there has to be a clear strategy involved.
If we look at the history of societal reformations, it has involved the fundamental restructuring of the power structures of society. Muslims in India, anywhere in the world for that matter, haven’t experienced such reformations. Regardless of their defeat in military battles, their power structures endured and therefore, a respite from Jihad has always been temporary. The Indian state, if it has to succeed in containing Islamic extremism, must destroy the power structures within Muslim society which are the pillars of Jihad.
Destruction of power structures would mean Maulvis, Maulanas, Muftis and toxic politicians losing their hold over Islamic society. Such a feat is possible only if the state decides to inflict exemplary cost for indoctrinating Muslim society with the concept of Jihad. If any Muslim leader says anything remotely incendiary, the punishment should be swift and harsh. Such toxic people should be positively scared out of their wits by any means necessary. Only then could there ever be hope for reformation.
Legislative measures need to be adopted to disrupt these power structures. The Triple Talaq Bill is a positive development towards that end. It will empower Muslim women to take action against those who exploit them sexually and emotionally and sow the seeds of fear within clerics and toxic men who harbour extremely problematic opinions. More laws along the lines of the Triple Talaq Bill are of utmost necessity.
Madarsas, which even certain Muslim leaders admit are terrorist manufacturing units, ought to be heavily regulated and the syllabus that is taught to the children should be government approved. Government approval must be made mandatory for operating madarsas, violation of it should attract harsh punishment. CCTVs ought to be installed and frequent checks should be conducted to ensure that problematic concepts are not being taught to students. The students themselves should be interviewed regularly to gauge the concepts they are being taught. Additional measures such as surveillance should also be considered.
Such measures are only far too obvious, surely, people far more qualified than I am have suggested these measures as well. However, the only reason such measures have not been adopted is because the Indian State is far too scared of the violence that might occur if any effort is made to implement them. As a consequence, we have allowed ourselves to be held hostage by people whose ideology is no different than that of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. That Akbaruddin Owaisi is an elected representative of the Telangana Legislative Assembly is a slap on the face of the Indian constitution. And it ought to embarrass every single person who has ever held public office.
We cannot allow the most toxic elements from the Indian Muslim community to hold us hostage for the same reason that we cannot allow the Taliban and the Al Qaeda to hold us hostage. There’s no doubt that violence is a distinct possibility if efforts are made to take action against the toxic leaders of the Muslim community. However, the State must prepare for every manner of contingency before proceeding with its plan.
The Indian State is perennially scared to cause affront to the Muslim community. We are still living with the Ghosts of Partition. When supporters of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan ran riot across NCR, law enforcement authorities did not hesitate to shoot them at sight. Where does this courage flee when confronted with Muslim mobs? In West Bengal, in Delhi, in Uttar Pradesh, in Madhya Pradesh, in every single state of the country, the Police remains mute spectators when Muslim mobs run amok destroying everything in sight. Why are criminals treated differently on the basis of their religion?
The mentality of the country has to change. It’s not the Indian State that is responsible for the pitiable living conditions of the Muslim community. Their own leaders have used them as pawns for furthering their own political objectives and increasing their own power. By treating these mobs and their leaders with kid gloves, we have only provided them with more incentives to indulge in criminal activities. The more they behave criminally, the more we appease them and empower the leaders of their community. It hasn’t worked thus far and it won’t in the future.
Going forward, every measure must be taken and a holistic approach should be embraced to undermine the hold of the Clergy in Islamic society at every step. Relying only on Education alone will not work, has never worked. There is an urgent need to prevent community crimes, the overwhelming majority of which is committed by the Muslim community. Legislative measures combined with effective implementation of laws that already exist is of utmost importance. Modernization of the Police Force is also an urgent necessity to enable them to deal with these entities effectively. Unable to do so would lead the country towards a path that ends in catastrophe.
Radicalization is a two-way street, it will be extremely naive for people to assume that incessant lawlessness by the toxic elements from the Muslim community will not have an overbearing impact on the psyche of Hindu society as well. To prevent this cycle of violence, it is of utmost importance that the state takes these issues extremely seriously. Otherwise, the country is condemned to anarchy and perhaps, even another partition.