November 13, 2019
Is India a secular democracy anymore? This question would be swirling in the minds of key intellectuals and prominent political scientists. Because the facts occurring these days in so-called secular India, under the rule of the current rhetoric regime, are no more tallying with the then Constitution of India (1976). The constitution declared that the Indian state would not have an official religion and play the role of a justice implementing centre for all people of colours and religious beliefs.
On the division of the Indian subcontinent into two states, India and Pakistan, the Muslims, along with other minorities, had seen tough situations at the hands of radical Hindus. Pakistan, a land with a majority Muslim population, got independence from India as a result of partition. It was declared a state based on religious ideology, where Islam was the officially declared religion of the state. As like India, the journey of Pakistan to be recalled as the Islamic Republic took decades. The country was prone to a bunch of criticism by the international community and human rights organisations over declaring the followers of Ahmadi faith (Qadianis) as non-Muslims and lack of freedom for minorities. It is still not so dangerous for minorities as India. Although some mishaps have happened to Ahmadis and other minorities due to hatred escalating in the different cores of Pakistani society, the state of Pakistan was not found involved in such misconducts. Rather, the Pakistani government officials apprehended such evil actions every time by open condemnation and public denunciation. While voicing for minority rights, several Pakistani citizens have sacrificed their lives. These sacrifices consisted of losses of human lives of students, teachers, security guards, bus drivers, ordinary citizens and reputed political figures. Late Salman Taseer, the then governor of Punjab province, can be taken as an example. He stood by a Christian girl, Asiya Noreen alias Asiya Bibi, who was accused in a blasphemy case. Mr Taseer was scapegoated on blame that he had supported the girl in finding a safe way from a death sentence, which was decreed by the Lahore High Court. The case was just not limited to this. Later on, it took the life of the Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti.
On the other side remains India, which is about four times bigger than Pakistan in the area and has 1.1 billion population (as compared to Pakistan’s 22 million). Out of its total population, 79.8 per cent is Hindu, 14.2 per cent is Muslim, 2.3 per cent is Christian and 1.7 per cent is Sikh.
Editor’s Note: mistake in Pakistan population (may be 222 million?)
The astonishing factor about India’s secularism is that it has always kept the minorities under the Hindu supremacy. In contrast, Pakistan, which is based on a religious ideology, has never forced minorities on anything may it be the right to practise their religious beliefs. Nor has it vowed the supremacy of Islam; forcing the minorities to withdraw their faiths. The 1973 constitution has clearly defined the duties of citizens and the responsibilities of the state’s machinery for the enactment of Islamic laws. While in secular India, all minorities are faced with difficulties, especially Muslims and Sikhs. Since the Bartia Janata Party (BJP) got the bridle of the country’s affairs, it besieged followers of other faiths from all sides and on every floor. Forceful conversion from other religious faiths to Hinduism is on the rise. Closing businesses of minorities is being tapped in the assemblies of state governments as well as the centre in Delhi-led regime.
No institution has any voice against the tsunami of radical Hindus, who have paralysed every walk of civic and political life in the Indian diaspora under the rule of narcissist Narendra Modi
Muslim and Sikh politicians are stereotyped and mimicked at Lok Saba and Raj Saba sessions. Mosques and temples are targeted by the RSS and Bajrangdal hardcore extremists. Unlike Indian Congress, the BJP has exhibited its pro-genocide extremist stance of promoting Hindutva at the cost of bloodshed and launching violence against the minorities living in India. The November 9, 2019’s historic verdict to hand over the disputed land of Babri Masjid to Hindus to appease their provoking claim of building Ram Mandar in Ayudhia is yet another gruesome example.
The Babri Masjid was demolished by the hardcore Hindu fundamentalists in 1992. The Indian Supreme Court ordered to provide the Muslims with the same amount of land for the mosque-building on an alternative location. Further, the judges said that they would not issue any public statement over this issue because the court had nothing to do with religion. Though the archaeological studies showed that there was no evidence of any structure of the Ram Temple on the location of Babri Masjid. But looking into the facts, it is clearly understood that no institution has any voice against the tsunami of radical Hindus, who have paralysed every walk of civic and political life in the Indian diaspora under the rule of narcissist Narendra Modi. The recent development in the political arena of Indian state shows that the secular paradigm envisioned by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Sardar Patel and other key leaders is no more a reality. The Indian judiciary, political and social spheres have sunk in the deeper sea of hatred and Hindutva.
Contrarily, Pakistan is metaphorically referred to as terror-sponsoring state by India. Some western countries have gone beyond in promoting interfaith harmony and peace in every forum, despite it being a victim of terrorism and war against terror. The recent construction of Kartarpur complex for Sikh worshippers in Pakistani territory inside Punjab, bordering with India, can be quoted as a symbol of the generosity of Pakistani state and its leadership. Though the project was negated by Indian media as a poisonous morsel given to Sikhs by Pakistan, most media channels are being run by Hindu corporates and sponsors of hatred against Muslims and Sikhs.
The radical Indian regime is spreading rumours before the international community and to masses that Pakistan has ambitions to pump up Khalistan movement under the cover of the Kartarpur project. But the reality is quite different because Kartarpur is not a place that has recently been discovered. It has an ancient history that has great importance for the believers of the faith of Sikhism. It was an eternal demand of the Sikh community on both sides of the border to let them be allowed in their sacred place of worship. Yet, due to chaotic terms in over seven decades since partition, no proper attention was given to the matter by both states. The project, which was completed in the record period of ten months, is being highly appreciated by Sikhs across the globe as well as the international community.
The recent move by Pakistan has depicted that Pakistan is far ahead in showing secular values of mutual existence and tolerance than the typically symbolised secular democracy of India.
The writer is an Islamabad-based journalist