Protestors waving the Indian flag and carrying photographs of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi
Protestors outside the old Delhi Police Headquarters in ITO | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
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The continuing crisis of conscience of my Left-liberal friends just received four jolts. They are faced with a distressing dilemma: who is the worst enemy—their Islamist buddies or Hindutva opponents?

The latest jolt first. An angry mob of Muslims pelted stones last week at Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, arguably the holiest of Sikh shrines after Harmandir Sahib – the Golden Temple. It is the place where Guru Nanak was born in 1469. The mob was led by men from the family of Mohammad Hassan. Hassan had allegedly abducted and converted Jagjit Kaur, the daughter of the granthi or priest of Nankana Sahib. Jagjit Kaur after her conversion is called Ayesha.

In widely circulated video clips, Hassan’s brother threatens to change the name of Nankana Sahib to Ghulaman-e-Mustafa. Ghulaman means slaves and Mustafa (Arabic: مصطفى), one of the names of Prophet Muhammad, means the chosen or preferred one. You can actually hear the attackers shouting, “No Sikh will remain in Nankana.” This was especially scary because there was a small band of Sikh pilgrims trapped inside the shrine.

The gravity of the situation could be assessed by the fact that Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh personally requested both Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene immediately. His appeal was not only to rescue the trapped pilgrims, but also save the historic gurudwara.

Hassan’s brother claimed that he had been beaten up by the Pakistan police at the behest of the minority minister so that Jagjit Kaur went back to her community: “These Sikhs have been pressuring us to send the girl back to them. But that will never happen because she is a Muslim now.” Ironically, the incident took place just the day after the birthday celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh, the last Sikh guru.

Also read: Pakistan charges main accused in Gurudwara Nankana Sahib vandalism case under blasphemy law

Those who still believe that Hindutva is their enemy are largely ignoring this shocking and live demonstration of Muslim religious violence and intolerance in our neighbourhood, possibly compounded by abduction, conversion, and marriage if not rape. There is an elaborate infrastructure for such activities in Pakistan. Long ago, Los Angeles Times reported on the modus operandi. The victim is usually a poorer Hindu girl, frequently a minor, abducted by a man working for or protected by a powerful religious or feudal boss. Her family is threatened if she does not sign in a court that she is converting willingly. In religious or civil courts, the groom is often frequently accompanied by armed goons so that the rubber-stamping of the abduction, conversion, marriage becomes a foregone conclusion.

What is obvious is that this appears to be the last phase of the ethnic cleansing of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan. After the decline of the non-Muslim population from an estimated 14.2 per cent in undivided Pakistan (includes both East and West) in 1951 to 3.7 per cent in Pakistan (1998) and 10.4 per cent in Bangladesh in 2001. The numerous reports and instances of the abduction and forcible conversion of women, often backed by local authorities, is sure to expedite this process.

Isn’t it strange that throughout the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests, the focus has been rarely on persecuted Hindus in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Pakistan whom it was supposed to benefit, but usually on the plight of Muslims in India which the CAA did not concern directly? The incident at Nankana Sahib should be a wakeup call to those who persistently ignore the facts and lessons of sub-continental and international history.

The third shock was delivered by Taslim Ahmed Rehmani, former chairman of Progressive Front of India (PFI), now secretary of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), who admitted last week on national television that in November 2017 he had said, “All Hindus are not terrorists but all terrorists are Hindus.” For those interested in the genesis and morphing of extremist organisations, the Kerala government in a petition asking for a ban on PFI in 2012, with ISIS and proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) links.

Also read: Liberal, secular opposition to CAA must not allow room for Islamic and Left radicals

The second shock was delivered by former Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Shehla Rashid. On 30 December 2019, she put out a series of tweets endorsing Muslim identity politics. In one, she said, “The mammoth Indian state is turning its machinery fully against Muslims, trampling upon them socially, culturally, economically and physically. If you want to be an ally, let the community lead and don’t call their concerns ‘extremist thoughts’ or ‘conspiracy theories’.” This sounded very familiar, in line with arguments which claimed that “La allah illallah,” the fundamental article of Muslim faith used as a watchword at political rallies was not communal, but a slogan like “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” was. Of course, those who know Rashid to be a soft-Islamist were not taken by surprise even though her Left-liberal supporters were dismayed.

Just a few days earlier, Left-liberals were treated to their first of recent shocks. Ayesha Renna and Ladeeda Farzana, hailed as “sheroes” of Jamia Milia Islamia by the likes of Barkha Dutt, were revealed to be not just soft Islamists as their hijab might have suggested, but as supporters of jihad. Ladeeda had, in fact, invited people to “learn about our ‘Jihad.’”. After being heckled as Muslim radicals, they erased most of the incriminating posts on social media. It is a different matter that Renna had apologised for criticising Pinarayi Vijayan’s Communist-ruled government in Kerala.

Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, made the mistake of thinking that cultural nationalists were the greatest enemies to his idea of India while minority extremism could be managed.

I think the time has come for Left-liberals to draw a line separating themselves from all fanatics, fundamentalists, and extremists, regardless of their religious or ethnic identities. Else partisanship in illiberalism will be the last nail in the coffin of liberals.

The author is a Professor and Director at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. His Twitter handle is @makrandparanspe. Views are personal.

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34 Comments Share Your Views


  1. Republic tv & JLF – both thrive on controversy.
    A cat is not compared to a Lion merely because they belong to the same family.

  2. They arent liberals today liberals have shifted to far left or extreme communism which is same as fascism. And values of far left is same as islam so its natural that all the leftists and islamists have grouped up and there is no difference in their slogans. Also they think they got huge support of majority in india in all their drama of communoislamic violent riots then they are wrong and soon they will see results in UP elections.

  3. Not sure who you mean by left liberal. Not clear on what exactly you’re trying to say either.

    But among the mega jolts to right-illiberals, whose spokesperson you seem to be, there’s one that obviously stands out – the CAA NRC PROTESTS, where Indians of all religions stood up!! Every response, from ABVP violence in JNU, to using sexual lures for a failed missed call campaign has only added to the fiasco!!

    • First – It was not ABVP violence in JNU. Please update yourself.
      Second – To be very honest, you sick muslims are making this country suffer. So please just get get out and go to pakistan.

    • thank you for pointing that out to bhakts. blasphemy rules are also mostly used against Muslims – not religious minorities.

      • One example for you “Asia Noreen” (aka Asia Bibi). And stop trying to use a “hindu sounding” name. We know that “liberals” and Islamists are the same people in India. The Hindus are now rising against 1300 years of Islamic butchery, those who converted opportunistically or out of cowardice into Islam and Christianity will meet their comeuppance for their treachery and greed. Abrahamic bigotry is now more than 2000 years old, and Islam is the most refined in its intolerance and bigotry, the karma of Muslims have always been bad, they and their fellow Abrahamics the Christians will self-destruct, and will take down the soft-Abrahamic who claim to be “liberal” and leftist with them.

        Kukarma and adharma will last only so long, the blowback is coming.

        • you missed the “mostly” – one example changes nothing – and she was not a hindu. And hindu MUST be hindutva? I have a hindu name but that does not mean I can not be rational and humane and that I must lie all the time. unke Chakra main ne pade Mr. Dharma – manusha dharma apnaiye – being a satya-vadi is a virtue in hinduism too.

          • Yeah I agree , with your use of the word “ mostly “ ……. and it shouldn’t surprise anyone given that 97% Pakistani are Muslim…… of proportions ??

  4. The jugalbandi of the liberals with Islamists is very dangerous for the country. This is not just a matter of TV debates or newspapers articles, but of saving the last place on Earth for followers of Dharmic religions.

  5. Stop calling ‘Liberals’ to them. This is totally American term and is not applicable even in Canada or Australia or even Europe. Indian politics has got nothing to do with it. It’s not applicable in Indian politics. Liberals are not leftists in US. There are only Leftists and Ultra leftists in India. Don’t misguide us.

    • Exactly, this whole nonsense of Liberalism is not applicable to eastern civilizations, this is nothing but another xian utopia.

      • by that logic, Nationalism is not applicable to eastern civilizations either – that was definitely imported. Humanism is for all humans though.

  6. Funny thing is that the author, the apologists of hindutva thugs, is concluding that what happened in gurudwara in Pakistan is a jolt for liberals but would not think twice before defending the hindutva thugs forcing Indian muslims conversion through “ghar wapsi” or the recent muslim teacher teaching sanskrit in BHU fiasco. Find me one liberal defending what happened in Pakistan, on the other hand I can find several articles by right wingers defending the thugs of BHU or for that matter love jihad, ghar wapsi etc. And calling out Shehla rashid for using her religious slogan, when you are attacked for your religious identity, what do you think these ppl would use to protest against you? Their religious identity. Period.
    Here, I am defending neither, just trying to balance out the biased article. Im only pointing out that polarisation has happened in both sides. For every Shehla or Ayesha etc. you have ppl like Sadhvi Pragya or Yogi adityanath suppoter asking ppl to rape dead muslim women, or Jayant Sinha garlanding the lyncher of cattle trader.

    • Thugs are you jihadi apologists, what is wrong in ghar wapsi, to be fair India should ban operation of Foreign religions. You cannot compare jihadi Shehla with Yogiji who is Indian.

      • How can you call Shehla a jihadi, when she has not promoted violence or indulged in violence?! Adityanath – he’s no yogi- on the other hand has openly preached violence! UP has seen the most murders of CAA protesters

  7. Neither the liberals not the left have any crisis of conscience – it is the hindutva bhakts who have to ask themselves if they really want to support the dismanteling of India. The resistance today has three strands, the north-east strand, the Muslim strand and the liberal strand. and it is only the last that can provide the glue that unites all. so don’t try to divide with your insinuations.

    • Lol Muslim strand, where is Hindu strand here 80% if country. We don’t owe anything to Islamists after partition of our country. Islamists are enemy of any India, technically anybody associated with green virus creates suspicion.

  8. Waiting for our very prolific reader and commentator to comment. Quite a few sources cited including favourite LA Times and the author is a white man. WOW!!!

      • Best wishes for all your good intentions. Nothing personal, just a bit of a difference of perspectives. There is some convergence as well, though…Nehru, Gandhi, Indira etc. Hopefully better sense will prevail and India was neither Indira, nor it is Modi-Shah.

  9. The author in his moronotic behaviour has forgotten the basics. The Nankana episode is severely condemnable act. And it has been condemned by one and al and the culprit is in jail.. Moreover the issue is from individual guy/family. And not from some ideology based extremist organisation like RSS. His secondly lies – as per his version at the time of partition the Hindu population in undivided Pak was 14.2 and now (10.4+3.7=14.1) is almost same. Thirdly, he is claiming statement from Taslim Ahmed Rehmani. Yes from 1947 onwardin India there has been thousands of riots occurred, lakhs of Muslims massacred and Crores of their properties been destroyed. With no justice till now. Kindly come out of your lies.

    • Riots happen when Islamists targets others, to be fair after partition of 1947, we have nothing to do with Islamists then can go to pak.

    • poor maths 🙂 assuming both Pakistan and Bangladesh are both 100 million population. then the correct maths is (10.4 + 3.7)2 = 14.1/2 = 7.05% .The actual calculation is slightly different 🙂 though!!! SO, poor maths, poor intellect, poor reasoning capabilities ???

  10. Secularism & equality will only lead to peace.
    70 years of government has made secularism & equality un reconcilable.

    If left & liberal support

    1. Religious acts like Madras Hindus religious which is for persecution of Hindus only. Equality is for all, either all religions under that it not. No appeasement.

    2. Acceptance of Hindu minorities in respective states. Kashmir & northeast.

    3. Discuss that Kashmir Pandit exodus events happened due to religious place misuse, no talk of justice yet. No appeasement

    4. Accept that majority is threatened by islamic concept of jihad & Gazwa e hind.

    5. Secular & liberal is not possible. Secular is nothing liberal but everybody same.


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