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Owaisi hides the roots and Wahabbi(Killer) links of AIMIM for the fear of getting banned.

Owaisi hides the roots and Wahabbi(Killer) links of AIMIM for the fear of getting banned.

Owaisi hides the roots and Wahabbi (Killer)  links of AIMIM for the fear of getting banned.

The party was founded in 1927 for providing a cultural and religious platform to the Muslims living in the principality of the Nizam of Hyderabad. Then known just as MIM, it expanded overnight under Bahadur Yar Jung, a charismatic personality whose speeches drew the masses.

Jung died prematurely in 1944 – some claim he was poisoned ( to repeat both brothers need this from our generation) – and the MIM leadership passed to Qasim Razvi, who headed the Razakars, the dreaded Muslim militia which was constituted to oppose Hyderabad’s merger with India. The Razakars, as is well documented, triggered a wave of murderous attacks on Hindus weekly after Friday prayers, progressive Muslims and Communists, and engaged the Indian security forces in what is called the Police Action of 1948.

Undoubtedly, Razvi was delusional. In his book, October Coup – A Memoir of the Struggle for Hyderabad, Mohammad Hyder narrates his conversation with Razvi.

To Hyder’s question whether it was justified for the Muslims, who were just 20 per cent of the population, to rule over the Hindus, Razvi said, “The Nizams have ruled Hyderabad for over two hundred years in unbroken line… The system must have some good in it if it has lasted two hundred years. Do you agree?… We Muslims rule because we are more fit to rule… We rule and they [Hindus] own! It is a good arrangement and they know it!”

Hyder also quotes Razvi saying, “India is a geographic notion. Hyderabad is a political reality. Are we prepared to sacrifice the reality of Hyderabad for the idea of India?”

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Hyder emerged from his conversations with Razvi with the impression that the Razakar leader believed the Muslims would once again become the rulers of India and the Nizam, the ruler in Delhi.

Following the success of the Police Action, Razvi was arrested – and was released in 1957 subject to the condition that he would migrate to Pakistan. Days before leaving India, Razvi and other MIM leaders met at the residence of a lawyer. In an article in the Deccan Chronicle, historian Mohammed Noorduddin Khan writes, “Abdul Wahed Owaisi (Asaduddin’s grandfather) wasn’t even associated with the Majlis at that time and was just there out of curiosity. He was the youngest among those present at that meeting.”

Khan says Razvi disclosed at the meeting that he was leaving for Pakistan and wondered whether “anyone was interested in taking over the reins of the Majlis. Everyone present there said that they were getting on in age and wanted someone younger to take over. It was then Abdul Wahed Owaisi stepped forward and said he was willing to head the organisation.” Nawab Mir Khader Ali Khan Abul-Ulai proposed Owaisi’s name and Razvi seconded it.

Abdul Wahed added AI, or All-India, to ‘MIM’, which from thereon has remained the family’s fiefdom. There is no denying that the Owaisis feel embarrassed about the party’s provenance and have tried to recast its history through selective omissions.

Yes, the AIMIM’s website traces its “roots” to the late 1920s. Yes, it speaks of Yar Jung and his role in shaping the party. But it completely glosses over the fact that the MIM spawned Razakars, the dubious role of Qasim Razvi in the tumultuous 1940s, and that he handed over the MIM to the Owaisis.

In contrast, the AIMIM says, “After almost a decade of inactivity, the Majlis was revived in 1958 by Maulwi Abdul Wahed Owaisi, a notable lawyer… who was earlier jailed for ten months for his political activities in defending the rights of the people.”

This seems a political spin – Abdul Wahed was arrested under the Preventive Detention Act, 1950 and his “courageous political misadventures” included “rousing or attempting to rouse communal passions and creating or attempting to create panic, resentment or hatred in the minds of the Muslims against the State and the Hindus of Telangana as disclosed by his speeches made by him in public meetings.”

Obviously, the state can misconstrue a courageous action as subversive and communal in nature.

No wonder the rise of the BJP, or the Hindu Right, has also brought into prominence the AIMIM, which represents the Muslim Right. Like Siamese twins, they stalked the country before Independence, and they still continue to do now.

The Hindu Right and the Muslim Right gain from each other, electorally as well as ideologically. Their tactics too are similar. In 2007, the AIMIM cadres sought to assault Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin. In the same vein, the RSS mutants never tire of imposing their idea of morality on the society, often violently.

Obviously, nobody can deny Owaisi the right to propagate his ideas and contest elections. But for the Muslim community its sternest test comes now: Should it rally behind the man who’s known for his erudition and the savoury biryani and kababs he serves to journalists but who, in his public speeches, often begins to resemble the Sakshi Maharaj of the Muslims?

A few months back, a young upwardly mobile Hindu businessman raised some troubling queries to me. The two questions were:

Firstly, why was the rabidly fundamentalist Islamic state in the Middle East drawing such wide support among Muslim youth the world over including India?

Secondly, why was Owaisi becoming popular among Muslims all over India when he was taking resort to communal rhetoric?

I normally avoid discussions which produce more heat and less light. But this time I proceeded to carefully answer both these troubling questions because the questioner was a friend of my son and was earnestly searching for answers.

I took a deep breath and offered a detailed explanation for these vexed questions.

I pointed out that a majority of Muslims the world over, especially in India, were deeply upset by the senseless destruction caused by groups like the Islamic State. After all, ninety percent of the damage was being inflicted on fellow Muslims themselves. Almost half the Muslim world extending from the borders of Turkey right up to Pakistan was aflame with internal strife.

I further explained that following more than a century of Colonial interventions in the Arab world, the youth there was not only bitterly frustrated but was now consumed by an impotent rage against the west. The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 by forcibly ejecting those who had occupied for those lands for centuries something which shook their basic pride as human individuals.

India with nearly twenty crore Muslims was very much on the radar of Muslim fundamentalist groups like the Islamic State. They had still not been able to make any headway not because of any other reason but for the fact that ninety nine percent of Indian Muslims are Deobandis, Barelivis or Shiaites. All these schools of thought are vehemently opposed to the Salafi school of thought which is the ideology of the Islamic State. Ironically, the Salafi – Wahabi school of thought is totally propagated and patronised by the state of Saudi Arabia, the staunchest ally of the USA – Israel Axis.

I however cautioned him by pointing out that if the communally surcharged atmosphere which has been thriving in India for the past couple of years or so is allowed to simmer through the politics of hate then it would provide fodder to the cannon of Islamic fundamentalism.

The second question however is of immediate concern to us.

My answer was very simple. Trace the popularity graph of Owaisi among Muslims and then compare it with the popularity graph of Narendra Modi over the same period. The picture is startlingly similar. Owaisi’s popularity amongst mainland Muslims has risen in direct proportion to the popularity of Narendra Modi amongst Hindus.

The past three years have witnessed a sharp rise in communal polarisation in the country. The communal riots in Assam in 2012 were followed by a spate of violent incidents in Uttar Pradesh culminating in the infamous riots in Muzaffarnagar.

Following the formation of the Bhartiya Janata Party led Government at the centre in June 2014 for a brief span hopes arose that the communal rhetoric which had marked the run up to the 2014 Parliamentary Elections would fade away. However, within weeks all such hopes evaporated and the political discourse took a turn for the worse. The politics of polarisation became sharper.

Beneath the surface calm, another troubling issue was coming to the fore. The confidence of the members of the Muslim community in the justice delivery system was being sharply eroded. Some of the fears of the Muslim Minority may be perceived and exaggerated but the sum and substance of the matter is that they are growing.

These disturbing developments come at a time when the representation of Muslims in Parliament and the state legislatures is at an all time low. In other words the political leadership of the Muslim community is in a pathetic shape. In the nineteen eighties and nineties when the Ayodhya controversy broke out, there were a plethora of Muslim leaders at different ends of the firmament.

All shades of Muslim opinion found resonance in the legislature. If there were hard liners like Ahmad Bukhari at one end then there was an Arif Mohammad Khan at the other end. The community was under stress but it did have a voice at the national level.

In sharp contrast today there is no Muslim voice worth the name to articulate the genuine concerns of the Community.

At this critical juncture enter Barrister Asad uddin Owaisi. Articulate, urbane, western educated and above all with his hands on the pulse of the Muslim community. There is a political vacuum, an empty space and Owaisi is trying to just slide in.

In recent months, whenever the electronic media needs a Muslim face to articulate Muslim viewpoint- who else do they chose to speak up? In short he has been turned into the “sole spokesman”.

If Hindu communalism has pushed Owaisi to the centre stage of Muslim politics, then the secular parties too cannot escape unscathed. Instead of nurturing grass root level politicians from among their Muslim supporters they choose to prop up dummy leaders who can be used as puppets or showpieces. At the national level, can even the great Congress Party pint out a single Muslim leader who not only has a substantive base vote but also carries the courage of conviction to speak out boldly on all issues pertaining to Minorities. If secular parties fail to be build up a strong Muslim leadership which is able to deliver then who is to blame if Owaisi emerges tall?

His rise will only provide a fillip to the politics of identity, from which the Hindu Right and the Muslim orthodoxy will only stand to gain. For the Muslims there is perhaps a lesson to learn from the film Garam Hawa, which shows Balraj Sahni’s family members, one after another, leave for Pakistan, out of their sense of being discriminated against.

In the end, Sahni and his son, Farook Sheikh, too decide to leave India. On their way to the railway station they come across a protest march demanding jobs. Sheikh and, eventually, even Sahni join the march, rescinding their decision to migrate to Pakistan.

Might not the Muslims consider this last scene of Garam Hawa as an option?

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