Tragic dengue deaths fail to deter hate mongers

These ongoing dengue-cum-viral deaths of our children are taking place because of poor sanitation and inadequate medical bandobast, yet no lessening of the communal unleash. But who cares?

As  my Abba Jaan rests in his grave in a qabaristan in Uttar Pradesh,  I sit back and thank our Creator that  my father is not here to witness the horrifying communal build-ups in my home state, Uttar Pradesh. What, with today’s ruling lot hell bent on ruining the lives of hundreds and thousands of our fellow citizens.

Instead of paying heed to the dying children of Firozabad and the adjoining areas of the Western Uttar Pradesh belt, the rulers are busy coming up with highly provocative communal jibes. Why? Is it to further the divides or to make the hapless sit all too distracted from the dark realities? Mind you, these ongoing dengue-cum-viral deaths of our children are taking place because of poor sanitation and inadequate medical bandobast, yet no lessening of the communal unleash. Shocking and shameful!  But who cares if many more among us perish, with the deadly combination of viral fever, infections, poverty, malnutrition and a fast crumbling infrastructure.

Not to overlook the fact that Kushinagar, where the Abba Jaan jibes were thrown at the minority community, is the very place where in 2017 a dark reality had emerged: young girls from the minority community  had been kidnapped and forcibly converted and even married into Hindu households. In fact, in January 2017,  journalist Shweta Desai wrote a detailed feature in the DNA, ‘Reverse love jihad surfaces in U.P’, focusing on this alarming trend in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. In fact,  months before this feature was published, several reports had  also focused on kidnappings and forced conversions in that region.

To quote from a report of the fact-finding team of the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, that travelled to Kushinagar district in Eastern Uttar Pradesh and had brought out their report in 2016.  “Reports of large-scale rapes and kidnappings of Muslim girls, sometimes as young as 12 years, are true. These criminal incidents started on a large-scale since 2013. Most of the kidnapped or lured girls remain untraced while some are known to be living as Hindus. According to girls who have managed to flee from the clutches of their kidnappers, it has emerged that they were lured under various pretexts or snatched away from their villages. They were taken to distant places and temples where they were raped, forced to undergo shuddhi (purification) and then married forcibly to Hindu boys. Girls who have managed to return are threatened and attempts are made to kidnap them again. The few who had the courage to go public and lodge complaints with the police, are harassed and threatened with the connivance of the local police and administration which threatens the victims and files counter cases against them under SC/ST and Goonda Acts as a pressure tactic to force the victims to withdraw their complaints and cases. In one such case, Muhammad Haneef of village Dharmauli, father of a victim girl, collapsed and died in the office of the CO due to dire threats and filthy abuses…”

Shocking!  But then nothing really shocks one in the surcharged settings of the day. Hitting the fact that though there were serious criminal cases against several so called top politicians in Uttar Pradesh yet they continue to rule! Continuing to rule over bruised, dying forms!

In fact, threats  unleashed by the Right-Wing  rulers have  reached such lows that a particular minister in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet,  during  one of his tours to the  University  town of Aligarh,  had gone ahead  to say  he will “bury alive” all those protesting against the CAA! Nah, no Aligarh manufactured taala (lock) could lock or seal his mouth from uttering the  obnoxious!

Shock and awe

It seems a rather hopeless scenario. Perhaps, the only possible solution to counter this ongoing communal poisoning is the one which was detailed to me by actor-turned politician, Sunil Dutt. Years back, during the course of an interview when I had asked him what could possibly halt the communal tensions and strife he had said: “Yes, there can be a solution.  Only last night I was going through the latest Time magazine and the photographs of the war- ridden Somalia shocked  me so much that  I couldn’t eat. It was dinner time but couldn’t  touch a  morsel. Just couldn’t …Those horrifying pictures of human beings dying, sitting injured and ill, rendered so frail and weak that many couldn’t even walk. These human disasters because of the ongoing civil strife in Somalia. I am going to  suggest that  those  pictures  be  displayed  all over our  towns and  cities, at all public  places. And  displaced with this caption: See, what internal war or strife or  unrest can do  to  you, to your  country, to your fellow countrymen.”  It gets significant to point out that years back the situation wasn’t so very alarming as it is today. These are indeed dark times!

Just about a hazy ray of hope

Farmers of this country seem the saviours of the day. Yes, seeing their ongoing determination and focus to take on the existing third-class governance, there’s that hope that we might get rid of the rot that has more than intruded into the system, right into those manning the very machinery!

All of us who had given up hope of seeing some respite could sit back somewhat hopeful, after hearing the speeches of the leaders of the ongoing farmer agitation. I have been left particularly impressed with the clarity of thoughts and views and priorities in Yogendra Yadav’s speeches. He speaks out. Emphasizes on the togetherness of communities. He also lays tremendous stress on non-violence and peaceful talks and discussions. Maybe, with the  farmers’ agitation ongoing in that determined way, there could  be a change of scene, a  restoration  of sorts of those  good old  days where we could  live  freely, without constant  threats of  getting  torn apart or threatened with the aftermath!

Renovate responsibly

Whilst on restoration, diverting somewhat. Towards renovations. In the backdrop of the insensitive renovation of the Jallianwala Bagh, where the pain of that massive tragedy seems overshadowed by gaudy strains of the times we are surviving in, one is left wondering at the blatant insensitivity of the renovation-cum-restoration team and the men who had handed them this responsibility. They ought to be questioned. Also, there ought to be some level of accountability cum transparency.

 I’m reminded of at least two other instances – two prominent Sufi dargahs of the Kashmir Valley – where restoration-cum-renovations had been done not along the original format. In fact, right from the  80s I had been visiting the dargah of the patron saint of the  Kashmir Valley, Sheikh Nuruddin Wali Nund Rishi, at Charar-e-Sharif, about  20  miles from the Srinagar city. In the   mid-90s it was burnt down and damaged. After its renovation I had once again visited this dargah and was appalled and dismayed to see that in place of the pagoda styled peaked structure of this dargah, there had come up a huge concrete building which in no way resembled the erstwhile structure. In fact, let me also mention that nearly all the Sufi dargahs of the Valley were originally built in a simple pagoda style, perhaps, in keeping with the lifestyles and lives led by these Sufis.

Also, after the dargah of the Iraqi Sufi Dastgeer Sahib in Srinagar’s down town  Khanyar, was burnt and damaged  in 2012, its restored or renovated form had upset the local Kashmirs, as there wasn’t much of the originality left intact.

Why have today’s administrators–planners-rulers become so insensitive. It’s not that historic structures of significance were not damaged or burnt in those earlier centuries but they were restored with great sensitivity. Here, let me point out that standing prominently on the banks of the Jhelum river in Srinagar city, is the khanqah of Shah-i-Hamdan (the king of Hamdan, a small town in Persia), who left Hamdan to escape the wrath of Timur. Though the Shah-i Hamdan mosque was first built in 1395, it was rebuilt several times, and the present structure dates back to 1732…There  has been one instance after another of structures getting re-built keeping  intact their original patterns and layout.

Getting you back to the present day: There is much apprehension on the upcoming Babri Masjid structure in Ayodhya. Those initial reports relayed that the local population hasn’t been comfortable with the initial designs of the new structure, of the mosque and the general outlying layout. Political designs seem webbed and inter-webbed in these horrifying surcharged times!

Islam arms women with all  rights

If only one were to go by the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, the essence would more than hold out. All possible rights are given to women in Islam.

 In fact, I just re- read, ‘The Sayings of Muhammad’. Compiled by Sir Abdullah Suhrawardy, with the foreword written by Mahatma Gandhi. This book was first published in 1941 by John Murray Publishers (London)  and then re-published in 2002 by Good word Books ( India).

And each one of the Prophet’s sayings stress on compassion and human values. There is also focus on the dignity and respect that ought to be given to women.  To quote Bertram Thomas from this book, “He (Prophet Muhammad) never ceased to champion the cause of woman against the  ill-treatment of his contemporaries. He condemned the practice of inheriting the widow with the rest of an estate as though she were a chattel. She  must not be a despised creature to be ashamed of  and to be ill-treated anymore, but a person to love and cherish and  respect: at  her feet lay the gates of paradise.”

Here are some of Prophet Muhammad’s sayings, mentioned in this book:“Women are the twin-halves of men.”“Whoever doeth good to girls, it will be a curtain to him from hell-fire.”

“Whoever hath a  daughter, and doth not bury her alive, or scold her, or prefer his male children to her, may God  bring him into Paradise.” (this refers to the then  prevalent  practice of female infanticide which Prophet Muhammad abolished ).

“God enjoins you to treat women well, for they are your mothers, daughters and aunts.”

“The rights of women are sacred. See that women are maintained in the rights assigned by them.”“Shall I not point out to you the best of virtues? It is your doing good to your daughter when she is returned to you having  been divorced by her  husband.”

“Do not prevent your women from coming to the mosque.”