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Rangeela Rasool, 295A, partition: History threatens to repeat as demands for a special law to punish ‘gustakh-e-rasool’ grows

We would see a time where we would wish we had learnt our lessons from the first partition of India - and that day, we would look at our children and find it onerous to explain why we did nothing when we could stop what appears to be an eventuality today.

Nupur Sharma, the former BJP spokesperson, has been caught in a dangerous storm after she made certain innocuous comments during a TimesNow debate. After Indian Muslims like AltNews’ co-founder Mohammad Zubair dog-whistled against her, she was declared a ‘blasphemer’ and several Islamist outfits, including Taliban and Al Qaeda, are now demanding her head on pike. Amid the death threats, Indian Islamic outfits have come out to demand a law that punishes those who speak ‘against’ Islam.

Darul Uloom Deoband, an Uttar Pradesh-based Islamist outfit, has demanded that Nupur Sharma be punished for her statements against Islam. They said that those who make objectionable statements against the symbols of Islam “to spread hatred in the country” need to be punished severely.

But these are the statements one expects from Islamist outfits. However, the statement by Maulana Mufti Abul Qasim, the VC of Darul Deoband, is a telling sign of the things to come. Qasim issued a statement on Wednesday demanding a special law that strictly punishes those who insult Islam.

Reportedly, Maulana said, “I strongly condemn the insulting remarks against our beloved Prophet. Religious sentiments of the followers of any faith cannot be provoked in the name of freedom of expression. Insulting the Prophet will not be tolerated by Muslims in India or abroad”. According to reports, he further said that the Indian government should enact a special law “to deal with cases where religious symbols of Muslims are targeted”.

The Maulana further spoke about communal harmony while talking about how the Muslim community deserves a special law. He said, “India is a secular country and people here have been living together for centuries. These communal and extremist elements are not only harming the country’s social harmony but also disturbing the nation’s secular fabric and ethos”.

At the very outset, let us marvel at how the Islamist’s hate is also dressed up as harm to the “social fabric” caused by their victim. Essentially, they fracture the harmony and social fabric with arson, rioting, protests, and slogans like “Gustakh-e-Rasool Ki Saza, Sar Tan Se Juda”, and then blame their victim, who they want to behead for hurting their fragile emotions just enough to send them down the path of violence. This sleight of hand is almost amusing as it keeps repeating itself over and over again. They take offence to just about anything, run riots, commit violence and then, blame the person exercising their freedom of speech for fracturing social fabric and harmony. It almost appears as a blackmailing tactic. Do as we please or we will burn your country and blame you for it.

Besides this oft-repeated pattern, what was carefully tucked away in his statement, was the demand for a “special law” meant only to protect the frangible feelings of the Muslim community. While blaming the victim for the violence unleashed by the Islamists, Maulana Mufti Abdul Qasim demanded that the state enact a special law that outlaws hurting the sentiments of Muslims and insulting their religious symbols. The demand has come from several other Islamic quarters as well. In fact, Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah also said that in Islamic nations, the crime of Blasphemy would be punishable by death, however, in India, no action has been taken. While he did not directly ask for a special law or for the death penalty, his insinuations were rather clear – the ‘moderate Muslim’ would be more than happy if a special law was enacted that specifically punished, in the harshest terms, those who hurt feelings of the Muslim community.

The demand for a special law may seem innocuous and an impossibility that we must summarily ignore, however, one has to acknowledge that what is happening now is a dangerous repeat of the events that led to the breaking up of India.

In this regard, it would bode well to remember the case of Mahashay Rajpal, who published Rangeela Rasool and was ultimately assassinated for it. We mostly hear that Mahashay Rajpal was assassinated for publishing satirical work on Prophet Muhammad called Rangeela Rasool, but we seldom hear why he chose to publish the book. In 1923, Muslims published two particularly offensive books to Hindus. “Krishna teri geeta jalani padegi” used derogatory and vulgar language against Shri Krishna and other Hindu deities and “Uniseevi sadi ka maharshi” which contained derogatory remarks on Arya Samaj founder Swami Dayanand Saraswati (incidentally written by an Ahmadi).

We must bear in mind that this was an era before the existence of Section 295A, therefore, thankfully, the conversation around the law cannot be used to skirt the issue of radical Islam and how its street power not only affects change in policy and law, but also has scant regard for the law of the land when they decide to eliminate those who do “gustakhi” against “Rasool”.

In response to this provocation by Islamists, Pandit Chamupati Lal, a close friend of Mahashay Rajpal, wrote a short biography of the Islamic Prophet, Mohammed. “Rangeela Rasool” was a short pamphlet which satirised the life of the Prophet of Islam. Pandit Chamupati made Mahashay Rajpal promise that he would never reveal the name of the author – he knew the consequences of it. Anonymously published under the name “doodh ka doodh aur panee ka panee”, the book enraged Muslims.

Staying true to the values of one-way brotherhood, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi wrote in his pamphlet “Young India”, condemning Rangeela Rasool. While Gandhi ignored the provocation by Muslims, by the end of June 1924, the colonial government banned the book. The Muslim community, partly emboldened by MK Gandhi’s endorsement of their hurt sentiments and whitewashing of the provocation against Hindus, filed multiple cases against the book under 153A. In May 1927, Mahashay Rajpal, who published the book, was acquitted of all charges with the court observing that commentary based on facts on historical figures, including the prophet of Islam, cannot be said to promote enmity between groups. As soon as the verdict was delivered, Muslim mobs went into a frenzy. They rioted and demanded the head of Mahashay Rajpal. They were chants about how the murder of Rajpal was acceptable because, under Sharia, the punishment for blasphemy is death.

With the Muslim mobs going on a rampage, 295A was passed to assuage the feelings of the mobs and in the same year, there were two unsuccessful attempts at Mahashay Rajpal’s life.

On April 6th, 1929 a 19-year-old carpenter named Ilm ud din stabbed Mahashay Rajpal on his chest eight times while he was seated in the outer verandah of his shop. Though he was offered to give up the name of the author, Pandit Chamupati Lal, during the court proceedings, he refused and did not yield. He paid the price for it. He paid the price for publishing that book despite the court acquitting him and the Muslims getting a special law to protect their fragile feelings.

Not too long after India was torn apart by those who were convinced that the Muslim community could be placated. Before the Rangeela Rasool controversy, Hindus saw the Khilafat movement, the support it got from Congress and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and after that, Hindus saw the rise of a Muslim leader like Mohammad Ali Jinnah, leading India’s partition.

While Rangeela Rasool did not cause the partition, there was a common thread – a clear, stark, unmissable thread. Mahashay Rajpal’s murderer was represented in the court of law by Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Iqbal, who is eulogised today by the Left Liberals, wrote a song in his honour. Pakistan gave him the honour of Ghazi.

The partition of India happened on religious lines. It was not because Hindus did not concede to the demands for concessions made by Muslims or because Muslims felt persecuted in syncretic India – it was because the Muslim community came together and proclaimed that they were a nation unto themselves and that they could not coexist with Kafirs, ie Hindus. The idea of Islamic religious nationalism significantly impacted the psyche of the Muslim community where their allegiance to the Ummah, the global Muslim brotherhood, far outweighed their allegiance toward India. The Muslim community asserted that the Muslims of India were a “nation” with their distinct religious, cultural, and political ideology and could not possibly survive with Hindus, who they considered a separate nation, per se.

Did the Two-Nation Theory result from the feeling of persecution and alienation by the Muslim community as so many Left historians would have us believe? Was it first propagated by Veer Savarkar as they claim? Certainly not. Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University said in 1876, “I am convinced now that Hindus and Muslims could never become one nation as their religion and way of life was quite distinct from each other.” Seven years later, he voiced similar sentiments. He said, “Friends, in India, there live two prominent nations which are distinguished by the names of Hindus and Mussalmans…To be a Hindu or a Muslim is a matter of internal faith which has nothing to do with mutual relationships and external conditions…Hence, leave God’s share to God and concern yourself with the share that is yours…India is the home of both of us…By living so long in India, the blood of both have [sic] changed.”

Twelve years later, he stated, “Now, suppose that the English community and the army were to leave India, taking with them all their cannons and their splendid weapons and all else, who then would be the rulers of India?… Is it possible that under these circumstances two nations—the Mohammedans and the Hindus—could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power? Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other. To hope that both could remain equal is to desire the impossible and the inconceivable. But until one nation has conquered the other and made it obedient, peace cannot reign in the land.”

Jinnah had later famously said, “It is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality,” he said. “Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literary traditions. They neither intermarry nor eat together, and indeed they belong to two different civilisations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions.” This was said by Jinnah in 1940 in an address to the Muslim League at the time, only a few years after he represented the killer of Mahashay Rajpal.

The murder of Mahashay Rajpal was the Two-Nation Theory being written with the blood of a man in painful detail. The Muslim community truly believed that Hindus and Muslims were too distinct in their faith and way of life to ever live together peacefully. In the case of Rangeela Rasool, those who had written provocative books about Hindu Devi and Devatas were never harmed. Their initial provocation was glossed over completely by MK Gandhi and the intelligentsia at the time, so much so, that most people don’t even know today that Rangeela Rasool was a response to the Hindu faith being satirised and not a product of blind hate.

In that situation, the Muslim community itself thought that the insult to Hindus was acceptable, naturally, since insulting the faith of the Kafirs is par for the course in the Islamic faith, however, Gustakh-e-Rasool invited a death penalty, whether the law of the land endorsed that punishment or not. The Muslim community wanted to live by Sharia and whether the state granted their wish or not, they were more than willing to snatch it, enforce it, and do what it takes – which meant taking a knife and murdering Mahashay Rajpal.

The fact that Jinnah defended the killer of Rajpal also makes evident that the murder itself was an act of bravery for the Islamic world. He was defended by the very leader who would, a few years later, create a “land of the pure” for the Musalmans because according to their divine law, the death penalty was justified for the Kafir. Koenraad Elst mentions this in his book ‘Decolonising the Hindu Mind’.

Koenraad Elst’s book ‘Decolonising the Hindu Mind’.

Today, when there are demands for a special law to protect the easily-hurt sentiments of the Muslim community as a result of the comments by Nupur Sharma on TimesNow, one must look back and take lessons from history.

Nupur Sharma, who seems to have shaken the foundation of several Islamic nations, not just the Islamists back home, made the comments she did after Muslim panellists on TimesNow and other channels repeatedly mocked the Shivling found in the disputed Gyanvapi structure. There were Maulanas who mocked why Hindus worship a penis, others who pointed to random structures in the middle of the road to tell Hindus to go worship that structure as well, and overall, the painting of the Hindu community as a barbarian cult simply because they wanted their places of worship back, once demolished by Muslim invaders. Much like the Rangeela Rasool controversy, the initial provocation against the Hindu community was forgotten, however, Nupur’s response to the comments was turned into an international rallying point for the Islamic world, with ‘Gustakh-e-Rasool ki saza sar tan se juda’ slogans, enactments of her beheading, her effigies being hung in the middle of the road and more.

The Islamist mobs that took the street have scant regard for the law of the land, much like the mobs that rioted after Rangeela Rasool’s first edition sold out quickly, and they truly believe that their Islamic laws are above the laws of the land – the laws made by Kafirs living in a Kafir state.

If the Rangeela Rasool controversy and the murder of Mahashay Rajpal was the Two-Nation Theory in action, then, the Nupur Sharma incident is its action replay.

Karl Marx, the Father of Communism, stated in 1854, “The Koran and the Mussulman legislation emanating from it reduce the geography and ethnography of the various people to the simple and convenient distinction of two nations and of two countries; those of the Faithful and of the Infidels. The Infidel is “harby,” i.e. the enemy. Islamism proscribes the nation of the Infidels, constituting a state of permanent hostility between the Mussulman and the unbeliever.”

Back then, we had the likes of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who condemned Mahashay Rajpal and not the frenzied Muslim mob. Back then, we had Gandhi embrace the Moplah Muslims and blame the Hindus for their own genocide after he gave his support to the Khilafat movement. Back then, we saw a new law promulgated simply to spare the delicate feelings of the Islamists.

Today, we hear the Liberals condemn Nupur Sharma instead of the frenzied Muslim mob. Today, we have political leaders ousting Nupur Sharma and asserting that she affected our relationship with the Islamic world, resulting in the Muslim mobs taking to the streets and rioting after Jumma Namaz. Today, we have those who deny the very existence of radical Islam and the challenges that India faces and those, who called the Delhi anti-Hindu riots an ‘anti-Muslim pogrom’. Today, we see the demands for a special law to spare the feelings of the Islamists.

Bharat stands at a delicate precipice. We refused to recognise the Two-Nation Theory in action back then and if we choose to close our eyes today, if we choose to repeat the mistake of fixating on the idea of brotherhood, pluralism, syncretic culture and all the other punch words that politicians like to mouth, Maa Bharati will see a time soon, where her very existence would be under threat yet again. We would see a time where we would wish we had learnt our lessons from the first partition of India – and that day, we would look at our children and find it onerous to explain why we did nothing when we could stop what appears to be an eventuality today.

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