New Delhi, 25 Jan. 2021: Former judges, scholars, legal experts and activists have raised serious concerns over rising communal polarisation in the country and called it a serious threat to India and the democratic and constitutional values. The eminent personalities of the country have expressed their views at a webinar organised by the Forum for Democracy and Communal amity (FDCA) on the ‘Rising communal Polarisation, A threat to India’s Future.
Inaugurating the webinar, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Vice President and FDCA’s national General Secretary Prof. Mohammad Saleem Engineer shed brief light on the forum, the topic. He said that FDCA was established in 1993 in coordination with the personalities like late Justice V.M.Tarkunde, Justice Rajendra Sachar, Kuldeep Nair, Swami Agnivesh and Maulana Shafi Monis. Justice Tarkunde was the first and founding president of the FDCA. “Unfortunately, none of these founders are among us now,” he added.
National President of FDCA Prof. Muchkund Dubey, former ambassador and ex-Foreign Secretary and administrative head of Indian Foreign Service, has presided over the webinar.
Delivering his presidential speech, Prof. Muchkund Dubey said, “now, the communal division in the country has widened conspicuously and it is for anyone to see it and the communal divide is getting wider and wider. So do a large number of foreign countries, governments and agencies, which have interest in our country. The divide is perceptible, mainly in a few forms and one is that the rights of our minority communities, particularly the 200 million Muslims, are being violated in varieties of forms and ways. Secondly, their life and liberty is being put in jeopardy and they are increasingly feeling insecure in their own country. They are also saying that there is an erosion of their religious identity. The law and order authority of the government is being deployed to suppress them when they try to fight against injustice and arbitrariness. This has become quite evident in the manner in which the police is playing its role in the course of the implementation of some of the legislations that have been adopted recently, which encroach the private domains of the minority communities. I am referring to what is happening in UP and MP. One of the recent examples of it is that in the process of collecting donations and mobilizing support for the construction of the Ram temple, there has been a kind of pressure. As a result of the picture, there have been instances of violence even violence taking place. This is not happening at random. This is deliberate, well-planned and concerted and it has been of the agenda of the ruling party for a long time. It is concerted in a sense that there seems to be an understanding between the central government and the state governments of the central ruling party regarding it. There is also some kind of collusion in a section of the media and the think-tanks in the country. So, it is a multipronged, well-planned and concerted efforts. There are two purposes behind it. One is that it is a kind of missionary tool ‘communalism’ being used to come to power and remain in power and consolidate themselves in power. That’s why we hear the slogan of ‘Congress free India’ (Congress Mukt Bharat). Secondly, this is more fundamental and of deeper concern that it is an attempt to realize the ‘tortured’ and apparently ‘untenable dream’ of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ in India. The development is only used by the ruling class as a varnish to brighten the ugly face of communalism. A nation cannot utilise its capacity to the optimum extent, when almost 20% of its population lives under threat to life, liberty, property, its identity and heritage. Here we need concert actions for changing the scenario and promoting communal harmony and unity.” Concluding his remarks, Prof. Muchkund Dubey has maintained that India can never be a prosperous and advanced country with communal polarisation, as well as alienating more than 200 million people and denying the rights of minorities.
Speaking on the occasion, well-known communal harmony activist and president of FDCA Maharashtra Dr. Ram Puniyani has said that there is an atmosphere of polarization in different countries, across the world now. He continued, “the sectarianism and religious communalism that is being promoted in India in the name of Hindu religion has nothing to do with Hinduism. Due to the stereotype thinking , some rightist groups raised issues like Ayodhya and an atmosphere of hatred was created against minorities.” Dr. Puniyani advised the people to counter the hatred which is being created against religious minorities, on all levels. “If you want to save our country and the heritage of the freedom movement we need to come forward, operate at multiple levels to see that India’s future doesn’t go in the dark ,” he added.
Addressing the webinar, FDCA Kerala President and former judge in the high court of Kerala and Mumbai Justice (Rtd.) K Sukumaran said, “people of different cultures and faiths live in our country and no one can be allowed to deny other’s culture. At present, the country is moving towards dangerous religious communalism due to the growing trend of cultural polarization.”
On the occasion, legal scholar Prof. Faizan Mustafa, Vice-Chancellor of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad has said that today such an atmosphere has been created in the country that the slogan of Jai Shri Ram is chanted in the parliament. He said, “religious sloganeering on such occasions should be avoided.” Commenting on politicians, he said, “now it is the job of the politicians to get power and for getting power they do all kinds of things. That’s why democracies are dying in the entire world. What we saw on 6th of Jan. 2021 in the United States, should serve as a very serious warning to all modern democracies that just to have elections doesn’t mean that a democracy is successful.” Prof. Faizan Mustafa has pointed out that democracy is good but majoritarianism and hate for others is not good.
Speaking at the webinar, Justice (Rtd.)Asok Kumar Ganguly, former Chairman of W. Bengal Human Rights Commission and ex-Judge of the Supreme Court has said that communal polarization is a weapon of exploitation. He said, “India is a secular country and everyone here has the right to equality. Hence, nobody can be allowed to exploit the other. But those entrenched in power have taken to exploit people by giving the slogan of Hindu Rashtra. Strongly opposing it, he warned, “when India will become Hindu Rashtra, which is the design of some of the persons who are in power, then it will lose its identity and the democratic credentials.”
RTI activist Mr. Dankesh Oza, the President of FDCA Gujarat said, “the whole India is now polarised, not only communally but in various ways too. Apart from communal polarisation there are also caste and opinion polarisations in the country.”
Activist Mr.Sawai Singh, the president of FDCA Rajasthan said that a situation had been created in the country that indicated that there was no other issue than religious polarization in the country. “This is very dangerous. Farmers are agitating for over two months. There is tension on the borders. There are many other issues. But the government is focused on its agenda of Hindu Rashtra only”, added Mr. Singh.
Giving vote of thanks to the participants and distinguished speakers, Prof. Saleem Engineer has said that we should not lose hope, as we can face and repair the situation and save the country. “In the past also, we had faced such challenges and overcome them like freedom struggle. India has sufficient strength, power, and basic culture of mutual trust, diversity and plurality. We all should play our active role to save the constitutional and democratic values, and plurality of the country and we hope and pray that we will succeed.