Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Subject: Don’t blame Pakistan, look withIN

Am I the only one disturbed by a minister in Mulayam Singh Yadav's government asking for a Muslim Pradesh in western Uttar Pradesh? Is there nobody in Dr Manmohan Singh's Cabinet who thinks this a worrying development? It seems that way. Two days after The Times of India reported Azam Khan's demand, Dr Manmohan Singh and his Cabinet met and discussed the following subjects. The Sixth Pay Commission, cultural cooperation with Ireland, ties with Fiji, the protection of tigers and amendments to the Right to Information Act. Not one word about the dangerously divisive demand by one of Mulayam's senior colleagues. Do we have a government in Delhi or not? Do we have a Prime Minister?
As someone who was in Mumbai on the day the bombs went off and has been here ever since, I ask these questions not just on my own behalf but on behalf of the people I meet every day in this city. Like them I am beginning to worry about whether Dr Manmohan Singh's government is capable of defending us against the ''jehad'' that is being waged against us so successfully that if it continues unchecked, it could cause a civil war and worse.
Nearly 200 people were killed in the carnage on Mumbai's trains and the only response we have seen from the Government of India is a ludicrous attempt to censor the Internet and vague allegations against Pakistan. For a start this has to stop. Next time an Indian government wants to blame Pakistan for terrorism it should do so when it can provide us with evidence. Or we end up helping Pakistan instead of nailing it and, more importantly, we mislead Indians into believing that the problem we face is entirely the creation of a ubiquitous ''foreign hand''.
It is not. It is indigenous. It is a jehad being fought by homegrown terrorists and the sooner we come to terms with this the easier it will be to fight it. Having said this I have to sadly add that there is little chance of us winning if we continue to rely on governments in Delhi that have neither the understanding of how serious the problem is nor the courage to admit that Indian Muslims are becoming frighteningly influenced by the worldwide jehad and the sense that Islam has become the target of some international conspiracy.
Let me give you an example from Mumbai. When President Bush came to India, thousands and thousands of Mumbai's Muslims took to the streets to protest against his visit. Now, whatever objections we might have to the American President's role in West Asia, from an Indian viewpoint he has been terrific. In any case, what is interesting is why it is so easy to get hundreds of thousands of Muslims on to the streets against cartoons they have never seen and an American president, and so hard to get them out when 200 citizens of their city are killed for nothing.
Could it be an identification with the worldwide jehad? My fear is that it is and that it is being fuelled by our own politicians, who are mentally stuck in a time in which all that mattered was the Muslim vote. If they understood today's realities the Prime Minister would not have set up that commission under Justice Rajinder Sachar that is now asking courts to count the number of Muslim judges they have. It is the sort of commission that serves mainly to heighten the Muslim sense of alienation.
Why is the Prime Minister so keen on this kind of exercise? We have a right to know. Just as we have a right to know why his government does not realise how much it weakens India to view it constantly as a collection of castes and creeds instead of as a nation. One of our greatest achievements has been that in the past 20 years or so we have softened the boundaries of caste and creed and come together strongly as one people, one country. Dr Manmohan Singh's government seems determined to undo this.
The bombings in Mumbai are proof that we cannot any more run away from the reality of an indigenous jehad. At such a time, for a minister to demand a Muslim Pradesh is not just sick, it is an act of treason. What does the Prime Minister intend to do about this?