New Delhi: Mahmood Madani, the general secretary of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, has defended his call for a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), saying while the exercise is meant to target Muslims, it will end up having a positive effect as it will reveal just how exaggerated the claims of “infiltration” are.
In an interview to ThePrint, Madani explained that he was responding to a senior member of the Modi government who wanted “infiltrators to be deported”.
“There is a senior member of the Government of India who stood in Parliament and pointed a finger at ‘infiltrators’ in the country,” Madani told ThePrint. “I have a problem with that finger — because it points towards Mahmood Madani and other Muslims.”
Though Madani didn’t name him, it was Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah who had spoken about the need for a nationwide NRC and said infiltrators in every inch of the country will be deported.
“So in response to that I say, come and conduct NRC. Why only in Assam, conduct it in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana too,” Madani said. “They are pointing one finger towards us but the other three are pointing towards them and their black hearts.”
The Jamiat general secretary further said the fact that only 19 lakh people were excluded in the final NRC list published in August, shows how exaggerated the claims of exclusion were.
“Of the 19 lakh, not even 50 per cent are Muslim,” Madani said. “And even among those excluded, there may be some genuine citizens. The Jamiat is willing to provide legal aid and help to any genuine citizen who was left out of the NRC.”
Madani added that the Jamiat, one of the most influential Muslim bodies in the country, will also send a delegation to Assam soon.
‘Additional burden on Indian Muslims to prove Indianness’
Indian Muslims can have many differences but despite that, they stand by the country and have always stood by it, Madani said.
His statements come in the wake of the controversy he sparked last week when he said that the Jamiat supports the abrogation of Article 370 and that Jammu and Kashmir is a part of India and there can be no compromise on that.
Madani blamed Pakistan for his remarks. “I have no problem if Imran Khan raises issues regarding Kashmir, but why does Pakistan have to portray an incorrect picture of Indian Muslims?” Madani told ThePrint.
He also blamed Pakistan for Indian Muslims having to constantly assert their Indianness. “It’s true that there is an additional burden on Indian Muslims to assert their patriotism and love for the country but it exists because Pakistan constantly exaggerates the differences among Indian Muslims and uses it to target India,” Madani said. “This increases our responsibility to speak up against Pakistan.”
He added that it is his duty to speak up against ‘the extremism of Pakistani elements’. “If Maninderjeet Singh Bitta can speak up against Sikh extremism, why shouldn’t I speak up when Pakistan misuses Islam to spread terrorism?” Madani asked.
Madani had earlier hit out at Pakistan for projecting Indian Muslims as being opposed to the government’s moves.
‘Why do people assume my statements are politically motivated?’
Mahmood Madani’s support for the government scrapping Article 370 came soon after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat met Arshad Madani, the president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind.
Mahmood Madani said he doesn’t know about the details of the interaction between Bhagwat and Arshad Madani, but he supports and encourages dialogue.
“In all modern and civilised societies, there is only one way to minimise differences — and that is through dialogue,” Madani said. “We have never opposed dialogue with the RSS.”
“When Hindus or a Hindu organisation supports the government on certain issues, no one assumes it has a political agenda,” Madani said. “Why do people assume Mahmood Madani is speaking out of pressure? Am I not Indian?”
‘Government must enact an anti-lynching law’
Speaking about the increased incidents of hate crimes against Muslims, Madani said there needs to be a separate law against mob lynching. “Besides the law, we should also have commissions for minority hate crimes, just like the United States and Europe have anti-racism commissions,” Madani said.
He added that societies must be educated to not take the law into their hands. “Organisations like the RSS must educate societies to not take the law into their hands, as has been the case when rumours of child theft have caused mob lynchings,” Madani said.
While Arshad Madani was part of the Ayodhya mediation panel, which submitted its report in August, Mahmood Madani says he will accept whatever final decision that the Supreme Court takes. “I have always maintained that the land should be given to Muslims as the Babri Masjid stood there,” he said. “That said, whatever the Supreme Court decides will be accepted by us.”