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A sign of hope — Bengali Muslims are finally protesting Mamata’s appeasement politics

Perhaps now politicians like Mamata Banerjee will learn to see Muslims as more than dairy cows, and as human beings.

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Mamata Banerjee believes Muslim appeasement will bring her votes. She could scarcely have imagined that one day, a cry of protest against such a policy would arise from among the Muslim community itself.

Fifty Muslim residents of Kolkata have written a letter to chief minister Mamata Banerjee, specifically addressing two recent incidents. The first being the assault on the junior doctors of the Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College (NRS) and the other being the attack on ex-Miss India Ushoshi Sengupta in Kolkata.

In both cases the assailants were Muslims. The letter has asked the chief minister to not remain passive because of the communal identity of the assailants.

Also read: Mamata Banerjee’s only Bangla in Bengal won’t get her votes. Left did same & failed

Bearing the brunt

The fact that politicians like to remain in the good graces of the minority for the sake of electoral gains is not a new phenomenon. However, ordinary Muslims have to bear the brunt of this – they have to hear accusations of being pardoned despite having committed a crime or getting opportunities even when they are not qualified enough, apparently all because of their religion.

Since the politicians appeasing Muslim minorities are out of reach, some extremist Hindus have even taken to lynching innocent Muslims instead.

Truth be told, the responsibility of this resurgent violent Hindutva and toxic Islamophobia must squarely be placed on politicians, especially Hindu politicians, and their policies of minority appeasement.

When I was driven out of Bengal many years ago, I, who had never committed a crime, it was done simply to ensure the Muslim votes during the upcoming Panchayat elections in the state.

Where had this progressive Muslim civil society been then?

Also read: Muslims of West Bengal are no longer Mamata Banerjee fans but they have no real option

Dangerous appeasement 

It is the responsibility of the majority to ensure that the minority feel safe and protected.

Yes, it is important. But those who insist on making sure the minority citizens never face the consequences of their crimes are wrong. Just look at West Bengal, for instance.

If the Muslims citizens had chosen to speak out against this much earlier it would perhaps have made the politicians a lot more careful and Islamophobia would not be so rampant.

Now, the question remains, did these self-aware Muslim citizens not know the extent of Mamata Banerjee’s relentless minority appeasement since 2011? She believes her Muslim citizens are ‘dairy cows’; she has gone on record to say she will not punish a cow, which provides her gains.

So, has this self-aware group of individuals taken to criticising her policies only after the results of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections? Because Muslim appeasement now might have an adverse effect. These people are surely aware of Mamata Banerjee’s previous resolution to provide monthly stipends of Rs 2,500 to about 30,000 imams. She had also promised land to imams for them to make houses. Not for once did the CM make any such similar promises for the priests or religious representatives of other communities. In the long run, these promises have done more harm than good to Muslims.

When, despite being a Hindu, Mamata Banerjee was praying like a Muslim, none of these open-minded progressive Muslim individuals had come out and said, “No, you don’t have to play at being a Muslim for our votes. Follow your own religion and consider all citizens of the state as equal, strive for the betterment of all. Behave with us in the same manner as you behave with the rest of the people of this country.”

Has this conscious community ever protested the fate of the Kashmiri Pandits who were driven out of the Valley by Muslims there? I have only seen these Bengali Muslims shed tears when they heard news of oppression of Muslims by non-Muslims. When Islamic terrorist outfits like the ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab slaughter Muslims, when the rich Saudi Arabian Muslims persecute poor, working-class Muslims, these self-aware progressive Muslim citizens do not feel the need to protest.

Also read: Ram temple built by Hindus, Muslims, Christians & Sikhs is Bengal’s answer to BJP politics

A sign of hope

Imam Barkati of the Tipu Sultan mosque had issued a fatwa against me in broad daylight at a public meeting in Dharamtala, in the heart of the city of Kolkata. He had put a price on my head — for anyone who would murder me. There had been many police officers at that meeting that day, but let alone arresting the imam, no one even questioned why he did something that was ostensibly against the laws of the country.

Rather, I remember the police providing him with security and then CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and his ministers showering him with favours. To be honest, politicians have never appeased ordinary Muslims. They have mostly supported the anti-women, anti-modern, uncivilised, uneducated, uncultured fundamentalist Muslims, the ones perennially against human rights.

However, despite their usual silence, it is still a sign of hope that at least a small section of the Muslim community of Bengal do not want this policy of appeasement to continue. Of course, the responsibility of the actions of some rogue elements does not fall on every one belonging to that community. Even then, if some people come forward to shoulder that weight, in order to educate and raise awareness among their fellow people, to make them understand the importance of rising above one’s religious identity and concentrating solely on one’s own achievements, then there is a chance of betterment. And perhaps politicians will then learn to see Muslims as more than dairy cows, they will learn to regard them as human beings.

The author is a writer and commentator. Views are personal.

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  1. What a stupid writer Mr Mandal is . He wasn’t all the solutions to presented in movies and personally do nothing. (And if a movie show a solution than is to idealistic to be real (sarcasm))
    A movie can only raise issue or idea which Article 15 does intensely . How to solve , live your life and rest of things, that only people have to decide for themselves.
    Personally I think just keep trying half form habits of our ancestors ( whether it is caste or other practices ) without completely understanding them is like deciding to be stupid because we feel our forefathers have to be more intelligent than us
    Each next generation more stupider than before , country goes down and down the shit.
    No wonder or golden times was (some far indeterminate time) before.

  2. Muslims apparently are frowning at someone who is trying to appease them, because they want to go and appease someone who is lynching them!

  3. Thanks to the print but first thanks to those human who got courage to take this humble initiative.we,other than Muslim think that society is also a dynamic system ( as we see in Muslim now ),so let not keep on remembering what nasty work done by babar,aurangjeb and others BUT cherish the sweet memory of your neighbor who might be Muslim.there are umpteen incidents.let go ahead

  4. The content of the of the message is really a good thing if Muslim people think that they are the the human being but they never think so as politicians are making them phool and they are being misguided by them.
    If they think that they are the part & parcel of
    of our country i;e natiolist then nobody can misuse their prominence and hope time has come to throw them out for the development of our country. People should not be divided on the caste basis which corrupt politicians are trying to do always.

  5. We’ll written article. The major culprits in dividing people on basis of caste, creed or religion are the politicians. They have done irreparable damage to the harmony and peace of country which many coming generations will bear the burnt. A common man is struck in fulfilling his daily needs . It’s only a handful of people who for their selfish ends hold the entire nation on ransom. Unfortunately people out of ignorance or selfishness fail to punish anti-nationals and continue to pay the price.

  6. Admittedly taslima nasreen had her unfair share of misfortunes, due to her radical thinking and writings. The bias is obvious in this article as well. Good that she didn’t try to hide it.
    However now time has come for her to bring a little more balance in her writings, specially after the waves of, hate speeches and open crimes against minorities, SC,ST, etc.
    She must gather the courage to tell India, that present atmosphere has mainly been created due to the multi headed dragon called RSS, and not by appeasement policies of political parties. Since these policies anyway remain only on paper , to be again dusted off at the time of next election.

    • Are you a hindu.? I don’t think so. Don’t hide behind hindu name. Taslima said what is correct. She has to leave her country due to so called illiterate Mulla and Maulvi and again happen the same in india by these groups. इतना अगर किसी का appeasement ,तुस्टीकरण हित तो आज तक बहुत ऊपर पहुच जाता लेकिन Ex PM के ठीक की कहा था जिसको गटर में रहनव कई आदत है कुछ भी कर लो उसके लिए वो गटर में ही रहना चाहेगा ।

    • Please don’t insult her sacrifices by calling them “misfortunes” and then blame them on “radical thinking”. She faced systematic attacks for her views by Islamic fundamentalists and Marxists. Gone were the liberal pretensions of free speech and opinion. She was hounded from Bengal, a place that was crucial to her intellectually as a writer. It also exposed the hollowness of India’s secularists. Their pious lectures on secularism disappear into thin air when it comes to confronting Muslim communalism.

  7. Very well written. Happy to see some Muslims have come out at long last after digesting and even supporting madness of Indian politicians and indigestion infested and spineless pseudo secularists and gullibles. India and condition of Muslims in India will dramatically improve when Muslims themselves stand up against turning Muslim community as mere vote banks based on religion. Hope more and more voices from within Muslim community comes out against using the community as a religio vote bank.

  8. Muslims are slowly getting entrapped, do they realize it, perhaps not barring a handful of Humanistic Muslims. It’s time to enter into Mainstream Indian ethos and be Indian to the core. Nation first, Religion is Entirely a Private zone, should never be mixed with Partisan, Irrational, Unethical, Inhuman qualms. Observe with neutrality, what’s happening in the so called Islamic community and countries to realize the consequences on the anvil.

  9. exactly Same for Hindus also…but things go unnoticed due to their majortarian tag..To be honest no party has done any good for the respective religion which they appeas.. it’s only the sataments and sentiments that make people think so.

    • Dear dipesh,
      In the present atmosphere of reviving lost glory of our great past, who do you think is going to pay attention to a lone voice like yours.
      Try if you want to, but it’s a uphill battle, against the the propganda machinery of a Hydra monster called RSS( i.e. vhp, Maha Sabha, bajrang dal, sanathan dharm, Jan sangh etc.etc.).

  10. It’s refreshing to see Taslima writing for ThePrint. ThePrint should invite more such writers with independent views rather than leftists with anti-Hindu agenda.

  11. It’s a privilege to read Taslima Nasreen writing here. Her story is living testimony of how our left wing elites pander to Islamists while lecturing us on secularism. We are indebted to her for her sacrifices as she bore the brunt of left wing dishonesty.

  12. After the madness of Partition, felt most painfully in Punjab, with some grim echoes in Bengal as well, the state has seen a long spell of communal harmony. That continued all through Left rule as well. So whoever rules Bengal, one hopes that fine tradition will continue. With modest economic growth, communal polarisation and violence is something Bengal cannot afford.

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