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April 2002 - He always asked me at every chance he got, ‘why did you separate?’ The question always resulted in an instigation to an endless argument. His motive was not probably provocation but he wanted to know why we separated ourselves from a joint India. I explained how we were endlessly deprived of our rights and how we were made to go through those tortures that resulted in various traumatised incidents leading to the mass killings of thousands. David still never understood my point. He must have thought I was narrating a one-sided story which in his opinion could be exaggerated to prove a point by a somewhat zealously radical patriot. Well... I didn’t blame him for this. He was only a Canadian-born-Spanish, who knew little about ‘that’ part of the world. David was a fourth year student with International relations as his major. His anxiety was thus justified. We always walked together after our psychology class, I wanting to go home and stretch on that lousy bed of mine and he, always seeking an opportunity to know more about the history. Ergo, we always ended up at Tim Hortons with that hot chocolate drastically acting as a coolant in our audacious course of reasoning. David was so used to my habitual reasoning that at times he used to complete my sentences before me. We always split up to our respective destinations with David saying his usual last line ‘Malhi, quit getting your point along. History books aren’t always a true depiction of facts.’ After this, I myself, used to choose, not to speak. Then came forth the recent tragedy of Ayodhya. ‘Hundreds of Muslims die in Hindu-Muslim riots’ said one Newspaper, ‘Many lose their lives in recent riots’ said another. Today I anxiously waited for my friend to come to the class where our usual discussion always initiated. David walked into the class and I did expect him to know about the recent tragedy as more than anyone else, he was into the new channels. To my surprise, his facial expressions didn’t really seem informed much. I was intensely desirous to know how come he wasn’t aware of the major catastrophe. Before I could wait for the class to end and ask him, it suddenly flashed me, ‘he watches western media channels.’ My uneasiness was terminated by this sudden intuition. I knew the reason for this ill-informed attitude!
The class ended and yes my prediction wasn’t really wrong. He knew but little! I told him how a mosque was being demolished and the construction of a temple was being emphasised by the ever-Muslim-hating, Hindu community of India. Partition of sub-continent in Aug 1947 converted the Muslim community of India into ‘Pakistani Muslims’ and ‘Indian Muslims’. David still didn’t stop. ‘WHY?’ he asked me and there we started walking to our spot again.I began explaining! The partition was a result of the endless atrocities on the Muslims. However, this was a great shock as far as Indian Muslims were concerned. The rulers of Yesterday, now had to live under the ‘Hindu rule’. Fifty five years having passed, the Muslims who opted to stay in India are still getting a raw deal in every sphere of life. They are still drowned in the scourge of poverty and backwardness. They continue fighting the ever-hunting spectra of communal riots and threats to their religious and cultural identity. The sense of insecurity experienced by the Indian Muslims in the post partition period has been compounded in recent years. In terms of numbers, the Muslims are only next to the Hindus, totaling 95.2 million (1991 census) and constituting about 12 percent of the population, yet they are considered by the Hindus even less important than the Jains and Buddhists who are only 0.43 and 0.41 percent of the population respectively (1991 census). A prominent Hindu writer S. Harrison admits that the dominant note in the Hindu attitude towards Muslim today is that, "Hindus have a natural right to rule in modern India as a form of long overdue retribution for the sins of the Mughal overlords. It is not enough that unified state with a Hindu majority, clearly dominant over a Muslim minority now reduced to 12 percent, has been established at long last in the Indian sub-continent. The fulfilment of Indian nationalism requires an assertion of Hindu hegemony over the Muslims of the subcontinent in one form or the other." Apart from being made to suffer a host of disabilities, political, cultural and economic; the Indian Muslims have often been subjected to a campaign of interference with their religion as well. It usually takes the form of slanderous attacks on Islam made in school text books, or in the press, desecration of mosques and shrines, or deliberate incitement of feelings of religious hatred against the Muslims. In most of the Hindu dominated Indian states, Hindu religious beliefs, philosophy and methodology have been introduced into the text books in the name of Indian culture. This is to an extent that a glance through the officially prescribed school text books leaves an impression that those responsible for them regard India (a supposedly multi religious country) as the home of Brahmans and attach value only to their deities, temples, religious customs and practices.Countless incidents can be cited of the desecration of mosques by the Hindu communists during the last few decades. The 16th century historic Babri mosque was razed to ground by thousands of Hindu fanatics in Ayodhya, (UP) on 16th Dec 1992 and the immense loss of human lives that followed was no secret. The irony remains that the title of ‘fanatics’ and 'extremists' only come along with the Muslims. "Don’t ask me ‘why?’ David!’ I said, ‘I wish I had an answer to that.’ By now it seemed he knew what I meant. I got up and I was waiting for his usual line but instead he amazed me with a question that left me stunned for days together. He asked.... "What will this lead to? Another Pakistan?" I had no answer!

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