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What it’s like to be a young Muslim in Yogi’s UP after voting for Modi in 2014

The communal Hindu now taunts Muslims for being Muslim with impunity. The secular parties just ignore their existence.

Shivam Vij
Chamanganj | Photo credit: Globalistan Films

Kanpur: Arshad Khan (not his real name), 31, runs a small business in Kanpur. In this interview, he explains why voters in his polling booth have lost interest in elections.

I live in Chamanganj in Kanpur, what you would call a Muslim ghetto. The place has had a history of communal violence, especially when the Babri Masjid was demolished in Ayodhya. I was a toddler then.

I knew of the BJP’s anti-Muslim positions but in 2014, I thought Modi was trying to do something different. He was emphasising development over the BJP’s traditional politics of religion. And so, despite being a Muslim in Chamanganj, I voted for Modi.

That was not all. I voted for the BJP again in 2017. I thought that the Samajwadi Party or the Congress had no solutions. They were not taking us anywhere. What have the SP or the Congress ever done for Chamanganj? These parts remain the city’s most under-developed — stuck in time.

By 2017, one had seen incidents such as the lynching of Akhlaq in Dadri. For me, that was all the more a reason to engage with the BJP. We should vote for them, join them, make ourselves matter to them, I thought, because they’re clearly sweeping election after election.

I even went around telling my friends to vote for the BJP. Some of them said I was mad. Did you know, they asked, BJP will make Yogi Adityanath the chief minister? Come on, I said, don’t be ridiculous. Modi won’t make someone that anti-Muslim the chief minister. I thought Modi wanted to at least keep up the pretence of being moderate. He wants to say he’s doing Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas.

No ink on the index finger

When Yogi Adityanath became CM, we went into a shock. As a result, Muslims in Chamanganj and Kanpur had no interest in the election this year (Kanpur voted on 29 April). Whether it’s thanks to Balakot or Hindutva or EVMs, we know that it is the BJP that will win anyway. Why then should we waste our time voting?

I did go and vote myself this time — and not for the BJP — but the polling booth was nearly empty. I haven’t seen a duller election in Chamanganj. I went around checking people’s index fingers. No ink. They’d rather play cricket or watch TV.

The SP and BSP came together this election but it is the Congress that is strong in Kanpur. The SP gave the ticket to a dummy candidate and SP workers went house to house to tell people to vote for the Congress. The Congress workers from here were busy helping Sriprakash Jaiswal campaign in non-Muslim areas.

Ironically, the BJP candidate, Satyadev Pachauri, came to Chamanganj to ask for our votes. I’m not anti-Muslim, he insisted, don’t believe what people say. The Congress candidate, Sriprakash Jaiswal, didn’t even come here to campaign. We were not surprised. He’s never done a thing for the Muslim areas of Kanpur. He doesn’t feel the need to even talk to us. We are just the vote-bank he thinks he is entitled to by virtue of being in the Congress party.

That he doesn’t even feel the need to ask us our votes makes us feel like dirt. “Hum to gire pade huay log hain (We are a fallen people),” said one friend while explaining Jaiswal’s lack of outreach to us.


Also readAre Muslims nationalists? What is their problem with Modi? 12 FAQs about Muslims answered


How many children do you have?

Something has died inside us in the last few years. Dil mar gaya hai. Muslims here feel more besieged than ever. There has been no violence but the general anti-Muslim sentiment has increased so much, it’s suffocating.

The other day, three Muslim schoolchildren were playing cricket in the Green Park stadium. One of them was wearing a skullcap. A group of adults went up to them and said, why are you playing here? Don’t you support Pakistan? They called them ‘katua’ and asked them to say Bharat Mata Ki Jai. Incidents like this make me ask just one question: Why?

Another such incident was when a skullcap-wearing Muslim was passing by a Hindu religious procession. They dragged him into the crowd and forced him to scream Hindu religious lines. Such incidents didn’t happen earlier. It is after Yogi Adityanath became CM that troublemakers feel empowered. As a result, one is afraid to even go into Hindu-dominated areas.

The worst of this is when we have to deal with government officials. The moment they discover we are Muslim, they turn aggressive and start taunting us. You may have gone to get some papers or make an application for something, and the official will start talking about irrelevant things. “Haan ji, Haji sahab, kitnay bachchey hain aapkey? (Haji sahab, how many children do you have?)”

He won’t take two for an answer. You must have at least two wives and six children, the official will reply. Then he will lecture us against animal sacrifice on Eid, the triple talaq and so on. Finally, he will turn his attention to the work at hand and find an excuse to not do it.

Non-Muslims can get their work done through jugaad, for Muslims, the only way is corruption. Muslims here tend to not be very educated, and this comes in handy to fool them and extract more money out of them. Women in burqa get stared at as though they have come from Mars. If the BJP wins this election, we’ll need to adorn our windows with BJP flags.

Not everyone behaves this way, but the 25 per cent who do have been emboldened. It’s shocking to see even young people talk such language. If there’s a Muslim official, however, he is afraid to not offend a Hindu.

That’s Modiji

In such a situation, I was forced this time to vote for the Congress and not the BJP. I realised my mistake by voting for the BJP twice. I asked some people who did vote, about whom they voted for. Some young women said BJP! I said why are you making the mistake I did. Can’t you see how anti-Muslim the BJP is? They have shut the Muslim-owned industries in Kanpur in the name of pollution but industries owned by non-Muslims continue to pollute Gangaji.

Who isn’t anti-Muslim, they replied. It was hard to defend Jaiswal. These young women who voted for the BJP were not very politically aware. They voted BJP only because they hear Modi’s name the most. Just like my four-year-old son, who will see a Modi poster and say that’s Modiji. He doesn’t know who Rahul Gandhi is.


Also readModi believed Vajpayee’s wooing of Muslims in 2004 was a fruitless exercise


 

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27 COMMENTS

  1. Only Modi can help indian muslims n indian muslims should trust him as the gujarat muslims hve .. … sabka saath sabka vikaass……today gujarat muslims are most progressive and safe amongst others …. shivam vij is know congress agent who has been promised padmashri like rajdeep sagarika n shekahr brkha have got n others are in waiting list but have to wait for congress govt which will never come .. but are hoping to get atleast a coalition govt….! the print is owned by shkar gupta whose name features and is accused in augusta bribery case for having paid by agents to not to report about Congresss scam … same congress which has received donations from Zakir naik and other islamist extremists …..its said that many media agents loike print wuint wire etc have received investments from rich middleast houses to formet trouble in india .. along with the communists…… biased journalism is the way forward for existence of this media presstitutes

  2. There’s no question Yogi Adityanath or bisht is a total disaster – no significant improvements, but much magnified fear mongering and beating up on muslims and he has nothing to offer other than hindu-muslim rants (which is not going to inspire industries to set up in U.P).
    No doubt hindutva bigots are overjoyed , but most of these bigots already have a cushy job behind the computer and anonymous social media accounts – or they are foot soldiers of bigotry who live on cash handouts for doing some shady work in Bajrang dal, etc.

    • Only Modi can help indian muslims n indian muslims should trust him as the gujarat muslims hve .. today gujarat muslims are most progressive and safe amongst others …. shivam vij is know congress agent who has been promised padmashri like rajdeep sagarika n shekahr brkha have got n others are in waiting list but have to wait for congress govt which will never come .. but are hoping to get atleast a coalition govt….! the print is owned by shkar gupta whose name features and is accused in augusta bribery case for having paid by agents to not to report about Congresss scam … same congress which has received donations from Zakir naik and other islamist extremists …..its said that many media agents loike print wuint wire etc have received investments from rich middleast houses to formet trouble in india .. along with the communists…… biased journalism is the way forward for existence of this media presstitutes

  3. If what is written is true {The Print has an agenda}the State Govt must take necessary steps to inspire confidence in Muslims and try to bring them into the main stream.

  4. All news stories happened to this Muslim voter. Great. How low a media house will go far to show Modi as anti-Muslim? No Muslims voted for BJP. All false claims. And when Muslims want to show their different identity, be also prepared for backlash. Assimilate fully. We Hindus are most tolerant or go to Pakistan. There is no dearth of Muslim inhumanity news. But this one-sided secular media house will not talk about it.

  5. What incidents the person is describing are regrettable and should not happen. However thing to also keep in mind is that during election times political leaders across the spectrum try to play on the voters insecurities and fears with their speeches though they are different in real life.

    Its a fact that the majority of the temple administration where Adityanath is a Mahant is in hands in muslims. However his public image is such that he is anti-muslims.

    On the otherside take example of Assauddin Owasi who has an image of being anti-hindu. However for fact I know from my regular visits of Hyderabad and from my relatives who stay there that he is a very soft spoken person and does lot of charity and social work for people of Hyderabad irrespective of their religion.

    However to create loyal vote bases these politicians play the game of polarising people during election times. People should see through these games and avoid infighting.

    These politicians will only stop polarising voters when people stop voting on basis of religion or castes and start voting on basis of the work done on the ground. However unless that happens such things will continue.

    Leaders are actually followers. They are smart at seeing the ground realities and then they magnify and reinforce those things in their speeches to generate public support. Unless the people change leaders will not change. Afterall they are part of us and this society. Its time we should stop blaming the leaders and parties and start blaming our own selves. If we change, leaders will have no choice but to change.

  6. Read a carefully worded column by Ms Saba Naqvi a few days back. About how Muslims will be voting in the general election. Like a rock.

  7. How insightful and completely obviously true… May I also request that the Print print one of my own articles (I used to write film scripts but apparently I can simply call it journalism when it’s too boring to be a film).

    I also interviewed a young Muslim boy (31) who voted for Modi in not just in 2014 but again in 2017 coz apparently 2002 riots never crossed his mind even when Congress could speak of nothing else since then. He too felt Akhlak’s murder was a reason to engage more with BJP… His reasoning was slightly better though (law and order being under the state govt which just happened to be SP… A party with solid Muslim support) but when he saw Yogi with his saffron clothes) he finally saw it – BJP is anti Muslim … What!! There are less riots than under a supposedly secular party but how does it matter when 25% people ( a number I just pulled out out of my ass) are mean to random unverifiable Muslims in UP!!

    Oh! He will certainly not vote for BJP now! No sir!

    And he also feels Congress is not doing anything so you know he is fair minded and nuetral.. just like me!

    Can I talk to Shekharji now? Please?

  8. Dear Author, plesse go to Mallapuram under communist rule and write about your travels. And during this Ramzan month if you find any non-Muslim restaurant or dhaba open during the day, please do write about dining.
    A curfew is enforced so that having food and drink during the day will insult the true believers.

    Likewise go to many parts of Bengal….where there is a silent ban on even people celebrating Durga puja – no puja pandal can be erected (and the feckless Hindus there nicely take it silently – true to character!)

    Of course going to Xinjiang in China would be too much for you in the unlikely event you are permitted to go there. Amazing social experiments are being carried out there i hear.

    Short point is discrimination, alleged or real, is not a one-way street. Get rid of your blinkers….and write about both!!

  9. The muslims seem to complain of the civil code these days, they don’t want to have a uniform one. I remember the times till 90’s when a uniform criminal code did not apply to them. It would take a battalion of policemen to enter a muslim locality to catch a pickpocket.

  10. Mr Viz is allergic to data like most journalist these days. Atal Bihari Vajpayee never got more than a thousand votes from any Muslim dominated area in Lucknow, the so called right wing moderate darling of Muslims, and this man is talking of voting for BJP twice.

  11. The Print with its reporters is always biased against BJP, hence anti Govt, always publishing negative articles to malign the Govt which is not in its favour. Some incidents happening somewhere has been condemned by the leaders, but putting these incidents in a way to alienate muslims from the main stream is Presstituting. Individual incidents can be and are addressed, but reporting them in such a way can be done by Presstitutes only. Reports have to report for the good of the Country and not to favour a particular party.

  12. Thank God Mr Viz did not go to Gujarat riots. Strangely, Mr Viz never writes about gas connection, electric connection, health insurance scheme, Jan dhan yojana, zero balance account etc. By the way all these schemes were neutral to caste, creed and religious orientation of citizens. Apart from criticizing Adhaar virulently, I have never read him say anything good about any move of BJP government. I have seen him blissfully unaware of atrocities minorities commit when they are in majority or when they feel government will work in their favor. Ask a few poor and dispossessed from other communities too Mr Viz.

    • So u mean to say that if u are a beneficiary of above mentioned govt schemes and if some muslim men come to u and ask why u celebrate Holi, diwali; why u worship an animal; why u drink its urine; who many wives and children do u have; why u are an anti-national; why u r a traitor etc etc then being beneficiary of govt schemes, u should not get offended?????
      As far as Minority behaving when they are in majority;; how many times did u hear in ur long life time that two wrongs make a right?? How many times??

      • Moazzam sahab, what you mentioned are certainly cause to be offended. When you have government favorable to you, you do exactly the same things. Just to refresh your memory Kashmiri Pandit eviction happened in independent India. Who is majority in the state. What is the percentage of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh? So let us not be blind. My response was not against minorities. They can vote for whosoever they choose to vote. My response was to the writer who never highlights anything positive about BJP. Peace be with you.

      • Moazzam, what you mean by why u worship an animal; why u drink its urine. People like you are cancer for society. In the entire article nothing has been posted offended on religion. Your words display the level of mentality you have and hatrate. If you have problem with people who worship and drink , nobody is forcing you stay in country. Tum jaise log Gaddar ho and rahoge.

      • wowo apologists making fool of themselves this si proble with arbahamic religious cults .. why u drink camle urine cos it was prescribed by ur leader ? why u cant prevent child marriages .., ? why can u stop pedophilia n trading of women .. n busing them n keeping them under wraps n not letting them educate n settle ? why the religious sanctioned prostiution .. ? minority cant be at the cost of majority ….. this nation has paid the price once …,n this time they will extract a heavy price if minority does not behave .. its global problem n will be dealt with it accordingly …

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