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India's Problems Lie Within

India's Problems Lie Within

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India's problems lie within
The country's biggest threat to peace is its treatment of Indian Muslims Comments (156)

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Suhail Haleem guardian.co.uk, Thursday 18 December 2008 09.00 GMT Article history

When the emotionally-charged stand-off between India and Pakistan eases, and the dust settles on the Mumbai attacks, perhaps it would be wise for India's political leadership to do a bit of soul-searching. Terror groups based in Pakistan may have been involved in this attack on India's commercial capital, and for all we know, Pakistan's notorious Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) may have trained them or provided logistical support, but it would be little more than political expediency to blame Islamabad for all that is not well within India's borders. It does not require great military acumen to see that India is at war with itself. Kashmir has been on the boil for two decades and India's north-eastern states for many more, but it is the treatment of its minorities that lies at the heart of some of India's most dangerous problems. India is many nations rolled into one, among them its Muslim population which is second only to Indonesia in size. Most are illiterate and poor, but miraculously the Indian Muslim has largely remained insulated from the kind of post-al-Qaida radicalisation witnessed in Muslim societies across the world. It may come as a surprise to some that Indian Muslims, by and large, do not sympathise with the Kashmiri separatist movement. The reasons are many. Some do not agree with the case for an independent Kashmir, others think it would not be politically stable or economically viable, but the view most widely held is that Kashmir would be much worse-off with Pakistan than it is with India. This is a paradigm shift in the way Indian Muslims relate to Pakistan. Not too long ago they looked to Pakistan to win their battles for them. Interestingly, all but three (the IndoPak wars in 1965 and 1971 and the tribal incursion into Kashmir in 1948) were fought on

Varanasi. In 2002. and the evidence would be difficult to miss in Muslim-dominated areas across the country. Bangalore have all suffered. The treatment meted out to the perpetrators of the two atrocities is a study in contrast. and the coming of age in India of a generation unscarred by the wounds of partition. And now they have begun to surface. the rest fall by the wayside. the dynamics have changed dramatically. and in the civil and police services remains. and feeds the hatred that burns in the hearts of those already smarting from a sense of second class citizenry. and unwilling to take lying down the injustices and inequalities they face. Those who manage to slip through the net find roadblocks at every step of the way in their journey to the top. The young Muslim generation is unwilling to feel apologetic for a partition they never sought. Muslim representation in the military. Three months later Mumbai was hit by a series of bomb blasts killing more than 250. educational and economic parameters. most of them Muslims. With increasing fears of Pakistan's decline into anarchy. Hyderabad. Again. or abetted the perpetrators. This would always spark wild celebrations. The accused in the serial blasts cases spent a decade and a half languishing in jail and have now been handed tough sentences while most riot-related cases never even made it to the courts. Ahmedabad. and educational facilities continue to be sparse. in the low single digit (the highest at 4% being in the Indian Police Service). and the recently-heard-of Indian Mujahideen have been implicated. mostly Hindus. the western state of Gujarat descended into communal orgy. even when mosques and "dargahs" (mausoleums) were targeted. Ajmer. This combined with the belligerence of Hindu nationalists adds to the sense of injustice and makes for a fertile breeding ground for home-grown terrorists. Only the exceptionally talented and the resilient make it.the cricket field and most ended in India's humiliation. there have been terror attacks across India . A recent extensive government inquiry by the Sachar committee into the status of India's Muslims found that they lagged way behind the Hindu majority on all social. But not any longer. The religious riots that followed left well more than a thousand dead. And in each one of them radical Muslim organisations such as the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Jaipur. More than a thousand Muslims were killed while by most accounts the police watched.Delhi. Over the last couple of years. It is 16 years now almost to the day when Hindu zealots razed to the ground the 16thcentury Babari mosque in northern India. percentage-wise. the wait for justice continues. .

of which Mumbai is the capital. We live in dangerous times. Their question is simple: why would Islamic terrorists target their own places of worship? But very recently an alleged "Hindu terror" network was unearthed by the police in Maharashtra state. wives. (This case was being investigated by Hemant Karkare. the anti-terror police chief gunned down in the Mumbai attacks. Unlike revenge.Those who have little faith in India's law-enforcing and investigating agencies cite this as evidence that the community is being unfairly targeted and its reputation tarnished. the more their ranks will grow. The opportunity to reclaim the moral high ground from those who have their own perverted sense of justice runs out with every such attack. the Gujarat and the post-Babari riots have still not faded from memory. the greater the risk India runs of alienating further nearly a fifth of its population. But equally importantly. A serving colonel of the Indian army along with a couple of retired officers and some ultra-nationalist Hindus are under the scanner.) This presents a small window of opportunity. sisters and daughters grieving for their loved ones and waiting for justice. That is a frightening prospect indeed. The more it is delayed. a beginning will have been made in dismantling the case of ham-handed justice. . It is great to focus on economic and social disparities. If the investigation is followed through transparently. justice is not a dish best served cold. The more spectacular their strike. but there are still families.

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