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Did Kafeel Khan compare Pakistani Hindu refugees to thieves?

Is he saying that religious minorities in Pakistan should see themselves as servants of Pakistani Muslims? And the young people all around him seem to love his analogy and lap it up. Non-believers are servants?

They say Kafeel Khan is a hero. But then they say that about so many other people. As with under all ‘fascist’ regimes, the dissent sector has been thriving in India since 2014. As ambitious Indian parents would certainly have noted: Dissenter ban jaao, bahut scope hai.

But hey, if Kafeel Khan is indeed a hero of tolerance, I wouldn’t want to disrespect him. That would not be fair. So let us find out the kinds of things he said. Here he is addressing a crowd of young people, apparently at Aligarh Muslim University.

Kafeel Khan protesting against CAA

I suggest you listen to the speech in full to get a measure of the man. Kafeel Khan speaks eloquently, keeps his audience engaged, sometimes with shayari, sometimes with slogans, raising and lowering his voice with a natural feel for the enthusiasm of the crowd. He has the flair of a natural born leader. Maybe he really is a hero.

A leader excels at communication by taking complex concepts and breaking them down for the masses in terms that everyone can understand. Here is Kafeel Khan presumably trying to explain the spirit of CAA (and how this law is supposedly a shame for India) by means of an analogy. Listen carefully (from 17:00):

Aapko nahin pata hai, iss law ke laane ki wajah se all over world India ki kitni thoo-thoo ho rahi hai. Aap aise socho, ki aapke padosi ka jo naukar hai usne chori ki hai, wo badtameez hai. Ab wo mere ghar aayega, main usko naukri de doonga.”

For friends who may not speak Hindi, let me translate this:

You don’t know how the whole world is spitting on India because of this law. Think of it this way: your neighbour has a servant who is ill-behaved and a thief. And now I am bringing that thief to my house and giving him a job.

Assuming this is how he wants to explain CAA, let us now dissect this analogy and the mentality behind it. Who is the neighbor here? I suppose it could be Pakistan.

Who is the neighbor’s servant that we are bringing to our house? I suppose that’s the reference to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains and Buddhists in Pakistan. The persecuted religious minorities in Pakistan.


Is he saying that religious minorities in Pakistan should see themselves as servants of Pakistani Muslims? And the young people all around him seem to love his analogy and lap it up. Non-believers are servants?

Not just servants, they are also “badtameez” or ill-behaved. And worst of all, he seems to call them thieves for running away from Pakistan!


What have they stolen? There is all sorts of rhetoric against refugees out there, much of it hateful, but this is a new one: accusing them of stealing from the country that they are fleeing. They are running for their lives with literally nothing. How could they be thieves? How could anyone possibly see a refugee as a thief?


Pakistani Hindu refugees did bring something with them, after all. They brought themselves, their own bodies. In the analogy, the only thing they could have stolen from Pakistan is their own bodies. Is he seeing them as runaway slaves, who have “stolen” themselves from their owners? It would go well with the rest of his analogy, considering that the starting point of the analogy was that Pakistani Hindus are like servants of Pakistani Muslims.

This is 2019, apparently at a major Indian university. Standing in a group of young people, he seems to suggest that Pakistani Hindus are like escaped slaves.

This is hardcore, 1930s style stuff, that you would expect to hear from literal Nazis and Communists. Slavery ended a long time ago. And comparing refugees to ill-behaved servants and then thieves: that’s just not acceptable in this century. Let alone in a crowd of youth at a university.

Is Kafeel Khan suggesting that religious minorities in a country are like slaves of the majority? Or is he suggesting that non-believers should be seen as slaves of the believers? Both are disturbing and quite frankly, disgusting…

Finally, should Kafeel Khan go to jail for saying this? I understand free speech. Liberal friends tell me there is also something called “hate speech.” And apparently there are laws against hate speech in India, which they say is a good thing. Very well then. I’m not sure what hate speech is, but from the nebulous definitions I’ve seen, this one appears to tick all the boxes.

But who am I to decide that? The Honorable High Court says otherwise. And I am sure any kind of contempt of court will cost me more than one rupee. So let me humbly welcome this verdict from the honorable court. Adaalat ki jai ho!

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  

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