For Mother, Father, Margie, Yasu and Yanuar



Chapter I INTRODUCTION Discrimination and Equality


Chapter II Religious Discrimination against Indian Muslims resulting Backwards, Violence and Segregation


Chapter III Perceptions of Indian Muslims on Religious Discrimination Analysis and Conclusion Reconciliation- A Way out Bibliography


49 57 61



The successful completion of this book would not be possible without the guidance and support of several groups and individuals. First and foremost, I offer my deepest gratitude to Ms. Margie Gianan of Philippines, who took painful work of editing this book and have provided valuable suggestions. Sincere thanks are conveyed to Dr. Lenin Reghuvansi of People Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, India. His precious suggestion has helped me in shaping up ideas during the early phase of my writing. Utmost gratitude is expressed to PVCHR-Dignityi Initiative “Healing and empowering marginalized communities in India”, for providing generous research grant to realize this project. I sincerely acknowledge deep insight shared by Fahad Ahmed of UNDP, New Delhi. Special thanks are conveyed to Irshad Ahmad and Arshad Alam, who unselfishly gave effort and time in assisting me conducting field interviews in Varanasi. My mother, Smt. Vijay Laxmi Singh has been source of inspiration and strength for this endeavourer and deserves to be gratefully acknowledged. Lastly, I thank my father for his moral support needed to complete this book.

Amit Kumar Singh



Mounting Discrimination Declining Hope- Dilemma of an Indian Muslim

Concern Persistent decline in the social, political, and economic status of many Muslim minorities in Asian countries such as China, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, and India is significantly noted by scholars and, more recently, acknowledged in the official reports of some countries (as Sachachar committee in India). The combination of socio-economic decline, often accompanied by political marginalization and physical ghettoization, has been devastating for the Muslim communities in these countries, particularly in India. The net result is a peculiar social and cultural stasis, lack of social mobility and religious discrimination against majority of Muslims at a time when social structures, cultural conventions, and established hierarchies are being overturned at an unprecedented rate by Asia’s continuing economic growth (Shorenstein APARC, 2012). However, in present context, India presents a paradoxical situation. With its one hundred sixty million Muslim populations, India- the world’s largest democracy, presently, is a nation where religious discrimination effectively has hindered Indian Muslim’s access to public and private sectors and services. Rapidly constricting Muslim’s religious identity signals that India’s cherished multiculturalism is gravely under peril. Religious discrimination not only has made Muslim being downgraded to second class citizen but also, stigmatizes whole Indian Muslim community putting questions on their loyalty to India. Discrimination practiced against Muslims has severely harmed equity, and contributed to insecurity in the Indian Muslim communityii. This book highlight, debate and discuss the growing trend and pattern of discrimination against Indian Muslims affecting their overall progress ranging from socio-economic sector to political participation. For better understanding of the 5

discussed topic, this book is divided in three sections. In first chapter, concept of discrimination, standards in international law, religious discrimination and state’s obligations has been discussed. In addition, domestic laws related to discrimination and protection of religious minorities has been discussed. In second chapter, situation of Indian Muslim in the context of religious discrimination, backwardness, and state apathy have been analyzed. Growing phenomenon of Muslim ghettoisation and Communal violence is discussed in the framework of discrimination against Muslim. Third and Last chapter contains the narratives of Muslims in the context of religious discrimination. An analysis and conclusion is presented in the last section. Book concludes with recommendation to initiate the process of reconciliation between Hindu-Muslim. Intent of writing this book is to ignite and pushes the debate on the discrimination against Indian Muslim which has been sidelined by mainstream debate. To Quote We think of 1947…as the year of independence from British rule but that is not quite how the future will look upon it…Unless I am greatly mis taken, our descendents will regards the transfer of power as less significant that the inhumanity to which many Hindus, Muslims and Sikh allowed to sink that year. It is [1947] year of our shame, not a year of our achievement… Rajmohan Gandhi (Understanding the Muslim Minds) “Discrimination and exclusion of certain groups due to their identity based on social origin, ethnic and religious background, race, colour, gender and nationality are common to several societies. It is well illustrated that the nature and forms of discrimination and social exclusion have undergone changes over time and space. While it has changed to fluid forms, practices of discrimination overwhelmingly exist in the social, economic, political and cultural spheres of every society, irrespective of the existence of legal safeguards and equal opportunity policies. This seeks to extend discussions to the changing nature and forms of discrimination and social exclusion… ….Discrimination has multiple ramifications related to exclusion from economic entitlements, basic services and opportunities on one hand and 6

humiliation, subordination, exploitation and denial of citizenship rights on the other. It is well entrenched that discrimination and social exclusion leads to widening of income inequalities, degree of poverty and deprivation by denying equal opportunities and access to resources and services… …. It is a well known fact that in India religion plays an important role. It cross the entire framework and enters into the personal discourse of each and every individuals of the society. Each and every religion mainly in Indian context is an important source to gets its dominating nature with all forms of exploitation and exclusion (Prasad, 2009).


Introduction Discrimination in various forms has continued against Indian Muslims before partition of India. However, Babari Masjid demolition (1992) and Godhera riots (2002) seriously created an increasingly hostile social and political climate against Indian Muslims. Subsequent incidence such as Bombay serial blasts (1993) Taj hotel bombing (2008) further exacerbated religious discrimination against Muslims and fuelled more incidents in form of minor riots in northern India such as Moradabad, Meerut and Aligarh. Heat and hatred generated during the HinduMuslim conflict lingers over the time and permeate the system and society, has condensed as a discrimination against India’s largest minority population. Embedded structural discrimination has apparently manifested during Hindu Muslim riots when police clearly stood by the Hindu rioter and paid no heed on protection request by Muslims. In such situation Police often shamelessly have derelict their duty to safeguard Muslim’s lives and discriminating Muslims by not lodging their complaints, and fabricating cases of terrorism against Muslim youth. Many of incidence of riots started (such as Rudraparya, Muradabad) merely when police ignored complaint of Muslim minority at first hand thus leaving no option for aggrieved partyiii. Cases of religious discrimination are evident (after Hindu-Muslim riots) even in delivery of food aid. It’s worth mentioning deaths of thirty two children died in riot relief camp due to malnutrition (due to government’s apathy) is a point in this case (Muzafarnagar riot 2013). Similar incidences of religious discrimination against Muslims (in aid delivery) have occurred when Tsunami struck costal part of India. Such religious discrimination against Muslim gets flare up due to election polarization (whether state or national level election) where Muslims is often a victim of electoral engineering by regional and national political parties. There are strong evidences suggesting that Indian Muslims are indeed being discriminated at various levels; which has resulted in the extremely backward situation of Muslims. Beautifully crafted and diligently reasoned Sacher committee


report (2006) has established that ‘extreme deprivation of Muslims in India and the demeaning status that the community had been reduced to, laboring under numerous exclusionary situations of violence, insecurity, identity crisis, discrimination in the public sphere…, suspicion from other communities, of being ‘unpatrioticiv’. Committee’s sobering conclusion was that the community ‘exhibits deficits and deprivation in practically all aspects of development’ (2006:237). Therefore, one of the core reasons of Muslim’s community backwardness is the ‘discrimination’ being practiced against them at socio -economic and political level. Discrimination, which is deeply imbedded in governmental structure, is severely affecting access and equity of Indian Muslim to public resources. On the top, general population (Majority Hindu) at large has hindered Indian Muslims from integrating into mainstream society which has resulted in segregation and ghettoization of Muslim population. Discrimination and Equality Principle of equality and non-discrimination is the corner stone of humanity, human rights and essential for human dignity. Together with equality before the law and equal protection of the law without any discrimination, nondiscrimination provides the foundation for the enjoyment of human rights (Weiwei 2004). Word ‘exclusion’ is also stand close to ‘discrimination.’ While both exclusion and discrimination is inter-exchangeable in most cases, but they are distinct in meaning. Lee and Thorat (2008) describe this as ‘exclusion’ means prohibition from participation whereas ‘discrimination’ is participation with negative distinction. The principle of equality and non-discrimination guarantees that those in equal circumstances are dealt with equally in law and practice. However, it is important to stress that not every distinction or difference in treatment will amount to discrimination. In general international law, a violation of the principle of non-

discrimination arises if: a) equal cases are treated in a different manner; b) a difference in treatment does not have an objective and reasonable justification; or c) if there is no proportionality between the aim sought and the means employed. These requirements have been expressly set out by international human rights supervisory bodies, including the European Court (see, e.g., Marckx v. Belgium), the Inter-American Court (cited in Weiwei, 2004- see, e.g,. Advisory Opinion No. 4,


para. 57) and the Human Rights Committee (see, e.g., General Comment 18, para. 13 and Jacobs v. Belgium). Discrimination is frequently encountered in families, workplaces, and other sectors of society. For example, actors in the private housing sector (e.g. private landlords, credit providers and public housing providers) may directly or indirectly deny access to housing or mortgages on the basis of ethnicity, marital status, disability or sexual orientation while some families may refuse to send girl children to school. States parties (to the International UN Conventions and treaties) must therefore adopt measures, which should include legislation to ensure that individuals and entities in the private sphere do not discriminate on prohibited grounds (General Comment 20, Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights). Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in its General Comment No. 20 noted that “discrimination constitutes any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference or other differential treatment that is directly or indirectly based on the prohibited grounds of discrimination and which has the intention or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of Covenant rights (International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights). Discrimination also includes incitement to discriminate and harassment.” Provisions against Discrimination in International Law The International Labour Organization in Article 1 of the discrimination (employment and occupation) convention no. 111 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion in employment or occupation. Article 1(1) ILO 111, which provides that discrimination includes: ‘Any distinction, exclusion or preference made on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin, which has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment in the employment or occupation [?].’ Thus, the right to equal treatment requires that all persons be treated equally before the law, without discrimination.’ The principle of equality in certain circumstances requires a state to take affirmative action in order to diminish or eliminate conditions that cause or help to perpetuate discrimination. The Human Rights Committee has clearly stated this obligation in General Comment 18, and the Committee on Economic, Social and 10

Cultural Rights frequently refers to the duty to take affirmative action in its Concluding Observations. Provision against discrimination has found expression in The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in Articles 2: “Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” In addition Article 26 of the ICCPR prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion. “All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” The non-discrimination provisions of the International Covenant on

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) Articles 2(2) and is similar to Article 2(1) and of the ICCPR and was intended in relevant part to have the same meaning. “The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee that the rights enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on grounds of religion. However, in many instances, discrimination on grounds of race, ethnic or national origin may also constitute discrimination on grounds of religion, or racial discrimination may arise together with discrimination on grounds of religion, such as in case of multiple discriminations.


The Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 2(1) of the CRC prohibits discrimination against any child on the grounds of religion. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Preamble paragraph states that states Parties are concerned about the difficult conditions faced by persons with disabilities that are subject to multiple or aggravated forms of discrimination on the basis of several grounds, including religion. Accordingly, Article (2) includes a reference to the prohibition of all discrimination on the basis of disability and to guarantee persons with disabilities equal and effective legal protection against such discrimination on all grounds. The European Convention on Human Rights Article 1 of the ECHR prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion in the enjoyment of the rights under the convention. According to the UNESCO Convention Against Discrimination in Education (1966), the term ‘discrimination’ includes distinction, exclusion, limitation or preference which being based on race colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic condition or birth, has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing equality of treatment in education. There are a number of types of conduct that are prohibited under international discrimination law. • Direct discrimination is based on the idea of formal equality. It may be defined as less favorable or detrimental treatment of an individual or group of individuals on the basis of a prohibited characteristic or ground such as race, sex, religion or disability. • Indirect discrimination occurs when a practice, rule, requirement or condition is neutral on its face but impacts disproportionately upon particular groups, unless that practice, rule, requirement or condition is justified. Prohibitions of indirect discrimination require a state to take account of relevant differences between groups. • Harassment may be defined as occurring where unwanted conduct takes place with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. •Victimization may be defined as any adverse measure taken by an organization or an individual in retaliation for efforts to enforce legal principles, including those of equality and non-discrimination. 12

Under international discrimination law, a state may also be required (or permitted) to take measures to ensure the ‘equality in fact’ or substantive equali ty of protected groups. • Positive action or affirmative measures (also known as ‘special measures’) are proactive measures taken by a government or private institution to remedy the effects of past and present discrimination by instituting preferences that favor members of previously disadvantaged societal groups. Such preferential treatment runs counter to the strictly formal notion of equality but may be essential to ensure substantive equality. Many international instruments explicitly permit positive action without imposing an obligation on states to take such measures. • Reasonable accommodation- this concept was initially developed in the context of employment conditions and referred to any adjustment to a job, employment practice, work environment, or the manner or circumstances under which a position is held or customarily performed, which makes it possible for a qualified individual to apply for, perform the essential functions of and enjoy the equal benefits and privileges of employment. Obligations of State India has signed and ratified various UN conventions and treaties thus are legally accountable to protect, promote and fulfill its human rights obligation in this case protecting Indian Muslims against discrimination. Indian Constitution in Part IV: Directive Principles of State Policy, under Article 51(c) has mentioned that, “The State shall endeavor to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in the dealings of organized people with one another.” provisions to safeguard Indian Muslim’s interests. In this connection (about obligation of states to fulfill obligations), Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights illustrates, ‘In order to eliminate substantive discrimination, States parties may be, and in some cases are, under an obligation to adopt special measures to attenuate or suppress conditions that perpetuate discrimination. Such measures are legitimate to the extent that they represent reasonable, objective and proportional means to redress de facto discrimination and are discontinued when substantive equality has been sustainably achieved (General Comment 20). 13 Thus, it is imperative for India to respect not only its treaty obligations but also constitutional

However, there are two kinds of state obligation, negative and positive.

1. Negative Obligations of the State International non-discrimination law is primarily addressed to States and refers to this protection as the ‘negative obligation’ of the State. In the context of discrimination, States must fulfill the obligations laid down by international human rights treaties and they are liable if those legal obligations are breached. Consequently, international human rights bodies have largely focused on cases involving discrimination by the State itself or agencies and individuals that act on its behalf. This negative obligation not to discriminate also applies to the introduction of legislation or the application of such legislation. In its General Comment No. 18, the Human Rights Committee (HRC) stated that, ‘Article 26 [of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)] is… concerned with the obligation imposed on States parties in regard to their legislation and the application thereof. Thus, when legislation is adopted by a State party, it must comply with the requirement of Article 26 that its content not be discriminatory. A public authority may also be responsible for any discrimination that occurs when its functions are delegated or sub-contracted to a private entity or individual.’ In B.d.b. v the Netherlands (cited in Weiwei 2004, No. 273/1988, ICCPR), the HRC said that a State is ‘not relieved of obligations under the Covenant when some of its functions are delegated to other autonomous organs.’ 2. Positive Obligations of the State Equality cannot be achieved if only public authorities are subject to rules on nondiscrimination. Efforts by States to further the equality of vulnerable groups may be limited if society in general discriminates against them as in case of Indian Muslims and Dalits. Therefore, case law from some international bodies has looked at the obligations of the State not only to comply with non-discrimination principles


itself, but also to ensure that those principles are implemented within the State between private actors. Positive obligations of the State under international instruments may include obligations to implement, to guarantee or to respect rights. These obligations are rarely explicitly set out in such instruments. Nevertheless, international tribunals have been active in developing positive obligations in cases where there would be no practical and effective guarantee of rights or remedy if they did not exist. In order to do this, they have relied on provisions such as Article 2 of the ICCPR, which obliges each State party to ‘respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction’ the rights in the Covenant. On national implementation, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (General Comments 20) specifies, “In addition to refraining from discriminatory actions, States parties should take concrete, deliberate and targeted measures to ensure that discrimination in the exercise of Covenant rights is eliminated. Individuals and groups of individuals, who may be distinguished by one or more of the prohibited grounds [including Religion], should be ensured the right to participate in decision-making processes over the selection of such measures. States parties should regularly assess whether the measures chosen are effective in practice.” Thus, a states obligation is not just limited to forming laws but also its strict implementation on every level particularly elimination of systemic discrimination. Further instructing state parties Committee express, ‘States parties must adopt an active approach to eliminating systemic discrimination and segregation in practice. Tackling such discrimination will usually require a comprehensive approach with a range of laws, policies and programmes, including temporary special measures. States parties should consider using incentives to encourage public and private actors to change their attitudes and behavior in relation to individuals and groups of individuals facing systemic discrimination, or penalize them in case of non-compliance… … Public leadership and programmes to raise awareness about systemic discrimination and the adoption of strict measures against incitement to discrimination are often necessary... Eliminating systemic discrimination will 15

frequently require devoting greater resources to traditionally neglected groups. Given the persistent hostility towards some groups, particular attention will need to be given to ensuring that laws and policies are implemented by officials and others in practice. (Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights General Comments 20) On providing remedies and accountability of the member states Committee in para 40.30 instruct, “National legislation, strategies, policies and plans should prov ide for mechanisms and institutions that effectively address the individual and structural nature of the harm caused by discrimination in the field of economic, social and cultural rights. Institutions dealing with allegations of discrimination customarily include courts and tribunals, administrative authorities, national human rights institutions and/or ombudspersons, which should be accessible to everyone without discrimination… Domestic legal guarantees of equality and non discrimination should be interpreted by these institutions in ways which facilitate and promote the full protection of economic, social and cultural rights.” Discrimination on the grounds of Religion Religious discrimination refers to a disadvantageous consideration or distinction of people on the basis of their religious affiliation, their personal belief (or non-belief), their faith-based appearance or behavior or their assumed religious affiliation. Unfair treatment and hostility related to personal beliefs are unfortunately quite common in India and they are often aggravated by deep rooted prejudice, especially towards religious minorities particularly Muslims. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in General Comments No. 20 illustrates, “This prohibited ground of discrimination covers the profession of religion or belief of one’s choice (including the non -profession of any religion or belief), that may be publicly or privately manifested in worship, observance, practice and teaching. For instance, discrimination arises when persons belonging to a religious minority are denied equal access to universities, employment, or health services on the basis of their religion.” Many international Covenants and treaty cover discrimination against religion under the freedom of religion. Some of them are listed below.


The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 1 of the ICCPR provides that: ‘Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.” In addition, The European Convention on Human Rights, Article 1 of the ECHR prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion in the enjoyment of the rights under the convention. Article 9 on freedom of religion provides as follows: 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance. 2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. Religious Discrimination may happen in a range of situation, such as in employment, work place, education, social life, and in performing religious activities in direct or indirect ways. Thus, there are international standards that specifically cover those violations originating from particular discriminatory acts. Some of them are listed below. Non-discrimination and Equality in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in General Comments no. 20 suggested as how discrimination is affecting socio-economic and cultural rights of people all over the world. ‘Discrimination undermines the fulfilment of economic, social and cultural rights for a significant proportion of the world’s population. Economic growth has not, in itself, led to sustainable development and individuals and groups of individuals continue to face socio-economic inequality, often because of entrenched historical and contemporary forms of discrimination. Non-discrimination and 17

equality are fundamental components of international human rights law and essential to the exercise and enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. The principles of non-discrimination and equality are recognized throughout the Covenant (ICESCR) stresses the “equal and inalienable rights of all” and the Covenant expressly recognizes the rights of “everyone” to the various Covenant rights such as, inter alia, the right to work, just and favorable conditions of work, trade union freedoms, social security, an adequate standard of living, health and education and participation in cultural life.” In Chapter II and III of this book, various instances related to religious discrimination against Indian Muslim, rampant in realm of socio-economic and political sphere, are analyzed. Discrimination related to Religion or belief (Related to Employment and Work place) Discrimination is most likely to occur in matter of employment or in work place and could deeply influence one’s right to not to be discriminated. Broadly, there could be four types of discrimination can happen related to employment. (a) Direct discrimination It is direct discrimination to treat a person less favourably (or differently) due to his/her religion or philosophical belief or that of someone else, or because of lack of religion or belief. For example, an employer refuses to employ a worker because s/he is Muslim; an employer sacks a worker on finding out that s/he has Muslim friends. However, it is not unlawful for the discriminator to treat a worker less favourably because of the discriminator’s own religion/belief or lack of religion/belief. This may not be a problem if such discrimination can also be described as on grounds of the worker’s religion or belief. The employer's motive is irrelevant and apart from some specific exceptions (for genuine and determining occupational requirements and limited positive action), there is no defence (Lewis, date?). (b)Indirect discrimination


Indirect discrimination occurs where an employer applies a provision, criterion or practice which puts people of a certain religion or belief at a particular disadvantage. The employer may justify the provision, criterion or practice if s/he can show it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. For example, an employer requires a post-holder to work late on Friday. This would indirectly discriminate against observant Muslim workers who cannot offer prayer on Friday. (c) Victimisation is where the worker is treated less favourably because s/he has complained in some way of discrimination related to religion. There is no protection if the worker made a false allegation in bad faith. For example, if an employer denied an employee official promotion or perks just because one is Muslim. (d) Harassment is where, on grounds of / for reasons related to race, sex, religion, etc the harasser engages in unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating the worker’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment for the worker. Such as, passing religion centred remarks on employee at work place either by employer or by colleagues.

Next section will briefly highlight legal provisions against discrimination in the Constitution of India. Indian legal safeguard against discrimination and equality The makers of India's Constitution sought to shape an overarching Indian identity even as they acknowledged the reality of pluralism by guaranteeing fundamental rights, in some cases through specific provisions for the protection of minorities. These include freedom of religion (Articles 25-28); the right of any section of citizens to use and conserve their "distinct language, script or culture" (Article 29); and the right of "all minorities, whether based on religion or language," to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice (Article 30). Domestic law covers broad ranges of discrimination including religious against discrimination. Indian laws given below are directly or indirectly provide legal safeguard against discrimination on various grounds including religion. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution states that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the law within the


territory of India whereas Article 15 stress prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. In addition Article 16 refers equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. Article 16 (1) states, there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State while clause (2) expresses, ‘No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office under the State.’ In addition, the Constitution of India (Part III: Fundamental Rights) grants every Indian citizen Right to Freedom of Religion, Cultural and Educational Rights and the Right to Constitutional Remedies for the enforcement of the aforesaid rights. Article 29 (2) is related to the protection of interests of minorities states, ‘No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.’ Under Part IV : Directive Principles of State Policy, Article 38(2) instruct

that, ‘The State shall, in particular, strive to minimize the inequalities in income, and endeavor to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities, not only amongst individuals but also amongst groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations.” Above section on domestic and International laws including case law, have provided a strong legal basis to fight against discrimination. International standards on Non-discrimination and equality are employed to measure the member’s states compliance with its legal obligation to International treaties such as United Nations Conventions. Domestic protection through Constitutional provisions is mainly used by civil society members and victims to safeguard the right to be not discriminated on the basis of religion and identity. However, if a Country ignore or failed to protect the human rights of its citizen, one can seek redress through International mechanisms such as Human Rights Council though in a limited manner. This chapter has provided an overview of the current situation of Indian Muslims in relation to the religious discrimination. International law and State’s legal obligations is discussed. In addition, briefly highlighted the salient feature of 20

Indian Constitution related to legal safeguard against discrimination which protects and promotes equality.

ii iii

the Danish Institute against Torture, Denmark

(India America Today, May 2006) Social, Economic and Political Status of Muslim Indian- The Role of India’s National Commission of Minorities- Wajahat Habibulla iv Sacher Committee Report 2006

Chapter II Religious Discrimination against Indian Muslim resulting in backwardness, violence and segregation
Constituting 13.4 % of Indian population, narratives of Indian Muslims bear the stigma of the past. The lost children of India’s partition (as Gayer and Jaffrelot (2012) refer them) still perceived as the main culprits in the ‘Vivisection of India’, and their loyalty has been continuously questioned by sections of media and of the society at large. They are suspected of Pan-Islamic leanings by Hindu nationalists who are accountable to wage violence against Indian Muslims. Unfortunate incidence of 9/11 has made Muslims all over the world more vulnerable and susceptible to religious discrimination and racial abuses. All these overt and covert antiMuslim sentiments have resulted in religious discrimination against Indian Muslim. Sheer magnitude of governmental and public apathy towards Indian Muslims is reflected in their (Muslims) pitiable situation in socio-economic and politico sphere. That’s why world community needs to focus their attention on this matter. In particular, Indian government needs to take some considerable measures to protect is largest minority. Cumulative impact of discrimination on Muslims community has been resulted in their abysmal condition on socio-economic and political front. Suicide by poor Muslim weaver in Varanasi or segregated Muslim ghettos in Ahmadabad, is not isolated events but, is the consequence of religious discrimination practiced by state agencies and public at large. Interviews conducted by this author have confirmed assumption that religious discrimination is partly responsible for the deplorable condition of Muslims in socio-


economic and political front (See, chapter III). Pervasive discrimination in governmental sector amplified with entrenched biases in society against Muslim, is eroding their faith in rule of law and Indian’ style of democracy. Poor representation of Muslim youths in government sector, official apathy, discriminatory attitude while implementing welfare policies in Muslim areas; and denial of justice (delayed justice, no compensation), if a Muslim wrongfully implicated in terrorist cases, have been highlighted in variety of governmental and individual reports. The Indian Muslims tend to be excluded from power structure such as judiciary, administration and the police. In 2002 they represented only 6.26% of the 479 High Court judges of India, 2.95% of the 5,018 Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers and 4.025 of the 3,236 IPS officers (ANHAD, 2007, pp.65-67). This marginalization in the police forces and the judiciary has aggravated the Muslims’ vulnerability of anti-terrorist measures (Gayer and Jaffrelot, 2012). In this connection, heart-rending cases of suicide of Banarasi Sari weavers (mainly Muslims) and, significantly increasing incidences of torture of innocent Muslim youths in police custody are matter of grave concern (Nagvanshi, 2013). In some instances, Muslim weavers complain that for taking loans banks conduct rigorous investigations, often maliciously, as a result of which they fail to receive loans or else have to pay hefty sums as bribes, making it difficult to repay them. Even to get loans from the Prime Minister Employment Scheme Muslim weavers face considerable discrimination (Ali and Sikand, 2006). Even national human rights mechanism takes sides on the lines of religion and has given preference to Hindu complainants over Muslims (Raghuvanshi, 2013). In addition, situation of Muslims has worsened due to organized violence and police indifference towards them. A publication of People Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, (Repression, Despair and Hope, 2013) has well documented such cases of polices torture (police colluding with perpetrator in Hindu-Muslim riots) practiced against Muslims in four districts of Utter Pradesh namely Aligarh, Meerut, Moradabad and Varanasi. Interestingly, after Mujjafarnagar riots (2013) some Muslims were coerced to withdraw their complaints who were victims of the riots (Times of India, 3 Dec. 2013). In, after riots scenarios- discrimination into supply of government relief aid has been observed. In such times Muslim youths are prone to be

implicated in terrorism cases and criminal activities (PVCHR 2012). In strict legal parlance, these cases may not fall in the category of religious discrimination, but definitely is the final consequence of structural discrimination targeted towards Muslim minorities. Direct and indirect effects of discrimination are apparent in backwardness of Muslim (to some extent) confirmed by governmental reports. India’s Human Development Report 2011 cites only a little improvement in the socio-economic status of Muslims in India compared with other excluded groups. Compared to Schedule Cast/Schedule Tribe and other social and religious groups, urban poverty is highest amongst Muslims, and rural poverty amongst Muslims is also higher than that of other religious groups and other backward classes (OBCs). Sachar Committee report (2006) gave a detailed report about the deplorable conditions of Indian Muslim the second highest incidence of poverty, with 31% of people below the poverty line. Not only was the literacy rate for Muslims far below the national average in 2001 but the rate of decline in illiteracy has also been much lower than among Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. In no state of the country is the level of Muslim employment proportionate to their percentage in the population, not even in the State of Jammu & Kashmir with a 66% Muslim population. Even in supposedly Muslim friendly state such as West Bengal- the anti-Muslim bias displayed by government and private recruitment agencies, accounted for in process of social marginalization have translated into spatial segregation of Muslim (Gayer and Jaffrelot 2012). West Bengal, where Muslims constitute 25% of the population, their representation in government jobs is as low as 4%. Muslims have considerably lower representation in government jobs, including in public sector undertakings, compared to other excluded groups. Muslim participation in professional and management cadres in the private sector is also low. Their participation in security-related activities (for example in the police department) is considerably lower than their population share, standing at 4% overall. Other figures on Muslim representation in civil services, state public service commissions, railways, and the department of education, are equally discouraging (Sachar Committee report 2006). However, despite this, discrimination, social stagnation and educational marginalization cumulatively resulted in growing economic backwardness of the Muslims in large parts of the

country. Altogether, economic and educational deprivation reduced the community's ability to seek relief from government development schemes (Ali and Sikand, 2006). However, what is alarming here is the extent the discrimination has seeped into the government machinery and restricting access to resources to Muslim community. Sachar committee has recommended in its report, “While equity in the implementation of programs and better participation of the Community in the development process would gradually eliminate the perception of discrimination, there is a need to strengthen the legal provisions to eliminate such cases. It is imperative that if the minorities have certain perceptions of being aggrieved, all efforts should be made by the State to find a mechanism by which these complaints could be attended to expeditiously.” In above statement committee has clearly recognized the gravity and severity of the issue that Muslims are being victimized, and the discrimination is definitely one of the stumbling blocks in their path of development and it must be dealt immediately. (Similar views have been shared by Muslim respondents who have participated in the personal interviews conducted by the author). A subsequent report by the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission (2007), which has examined the conditions of all minorities, further emphasized the deplorable condition of Muslims on socio-economic indicators and endorsed the findings, arguments and recommendations of the Sachar Committee report. These governmental reports obliviously show that Muslims have been excluded from development process (evident from poverty and discrimination indicators), have been denied fair and equal access to justice in the case of both targeted violence during communal riots as well as day-to-day, and identity-based discriminatory practices in accessing rights and entitlements. In highlighting communal biases and discrimination against Indian Muslims, the US international report on religious freedom (USCIRF 2013), has highlighted, ‘Since July and September 2011 terrorist attacks in Mumbai and New Delhi respectively, there have been reports of increased police harassment and detentions of Muslims on unfounded allegations of terrorist activities and membership in terrorist groups.’ In July 2012 report, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) found that 96% of Muslims in jails in the state of Maharashtra are not linked to criminal gangs or terrorist

groups, despite being detained on those allegations. Additionally, the report noted that 25% of those Muslims in jail do not have lawyers. The report also found that most prisoners were detained by police with just mere allegations of criminal or terrorist activities, and that evidence was not required. A Council on Foreign Relations background document of 22 June 2007, stated, ‘India‘s booming economy has left the nation‘s largest minority group lagging behind. Muslims experience low literacy and high poverty rates, and Hindu-Muslim violence has claimed a disproportionate number of Muslim lives… Yet Muslims can impact elections, using their power as a voting bloc to gain concessions from candidates who court them.’

Finally, based on above reports it can be confirmed that up to some extent, backwardness of Indian Muslims is partly due to the discrimination they face on daily basis at various levels in range of field. Reports governmental, private and individuals are replete with the instances of discrimination against Muslims. Centre for Equity Studies (2011), which assessed ‘flagship programmes’ for minority (15 points Prime Minister Program) found that the programmes selected were neither located in nor benefited Muslim populations. Further, discrimination on the part of the government was highlighted when, in 2010, on the basis of reports and complaints received from the 90 minority-concentrated districts on ineffective implementation and the biased attitude of government officials, the central government appointed 90 national-level monitors to monitor implementation; they could find only seven Muslim monitors out of the 90 (cited in The report shows that up to the matriculation level in education, Hindu OBCs trail behind the national average by 5%, while the figure for Muslims in general and OBC Muslims is 20% and 40% respectively. In the field of employment in formal sectors, general and OBC Muslims trail behind the national average by a staggering 60% and 80% respectively. Even in landholdings, Muslims are far below the national average: general Muslims: 40% and Muslim OBCs: 60%, whereas Hindu OBCs is approximately 20% below the national average (


Overall discrimination and violence have intensified the processes of segregation of Indian Muslims particularly in urban areas resulting in their backwardness. In many cases State sanctioned discrimination and persecution of Muslims (Juhapuara, Gujrat) have forced Muslims to relocate themselves in the fringes of the city where they have to live in inhumane and undignified condition often with limited basic amenities and access to the means of livelihood. A diligent and scientific study of eleven Indian cities, conducted by Gayer and Jaffrelot (2012) is captured this phenomenon (segregation/ghettoization) which is partially originating from discrimination and negligence of the Muslim community by the government and the majority Hindu. Loic wacquant (2008, cited in Gayer and Jaffrelot 2012) has referred such areas as a ‘neighborhood of exile’ and has been called Mini-Pakistan by Indian critiques, highlighting the stigma and hatred heaped on such Muslim neighborhood, which is partially responsible to their backwardness and segregation from mainstream society. The case study presented by Gayer and Jaffrelot (2012) depicts the insecurity faced by Muslim in Indian cities. Violence induced feeling of insecurity have culminated into the Selfsegregation and ghettoisation of Muslim (See section- Increasing Ghettoes- sign of growing religion discrimination). As Gayer and Jaffrelot remarked, ‘the ongoing ghettoisation of Indian Muslims in Indian cities, at least in its most blatant form, is primarily the outcome of organized violence- be it communal or, more rarely, sectarian [shia-sunni riot]- and only secondly of economic marginalization or discrimination in the housing market.’

In above section current situation of Muslim in relations to their backwardness and discrimination has been portrayed. Following section will throw the light on specific incidences of discrimination against Indian Muslims.

Rising concern- declining hope
The chairperson of the National Commission on Minority Wazahat Habbibula writes in anguish, “Government and civil society at large have tended to overlook the need to address day-to-day discrimination, practices of exclusion, and insecurity faced by members

of the Muslim community. The Muslim minority is clueless about how to deal with open or subtle discrimination when they attempt to access services and infrastructure such as banking; when they are denied access to mainstream society’s spaces and public spaces like housing, space for shops or businesses, etc… He further writes, ‘when they [Muslims] are labeled terrorists or supporters of fundamentalism, or even Pakistan supporters; when they are denied justice, such as the police refusing to file cases, failure to punish perpetrators or being detained on false charges of terrorism, etc.” Above statement by the Chairmen of the National Commission on Minority demonstrate hopelessness and desperation experienced by the largest minority of the country. Among Muslims sense of being discriminated is high and there is nothing concrete being to redress their grievances. Identical concern was echoed in report named ‘Indian Muslims- Struggle for Inclusion,’ “Yet, despite individual successes, Muslims as a group have not prospered in independent India. Recently, both in India and outside it, there has emerged an inchoate concern that the existence of a large population of economically, socially, and culturally marginalized citizens is an Achilles heel of national unity, as well as a source of potential political and social instability… Report further elaborate, ‘Some have feared that burgeoning anti-state pan-Islamist ideologies based on a sense of grievance, and the violent groups inspired by those ideologies, will also in the future seek to recruit dissatisfied Muslim Indians.’ Amit Pandaya (2010) poignantly remarked, ‘Even though the Muslim Indian population (160 million) is almost as large as the entire population of Pakistan (180 million)…Muslim Indians remain relatively ill understood and understudied. Their preoccupations and predicament are little known among non-Muslim Indians, let alone nonIndians.’ Variety of available literature concerns on the growing cases of discrimination against Muslims. Such incidence often finds spot in local news paper and passes unnoticed by majority of the reader. In addition ineffective mechanism to claim the damage done by discriminatory act or attitude lack of awareness on constitutional rights worsens the victim’s

situation. Needless to mention official apathy to file complaint in cases of religious discrimination obviously discourages victim. However, it would be relevant to know specific cases of discrimination faced by Muslim in different walks of life.

Religious discrimination against Muslims- factors and incidences
Some of instances below may not be discriminatory in legal sense, but constitute substantial elements of religious discrimination.

Division of Indian history on the lines of ancient, medieval and modern is discriminatory. Ancient Indian history is revered as a golden period (where Hindu were dominant rulers) and medieval age is dubbed as a dark age of Indian history because of Muslim rule. Biased division of history has done an irreparable damage to Muslim welfare in India. This factor has pushed animosity and discrimination (to its limits) against Indian Muslim in later period.

Significantly rising residential segregation and ghettos of Muslim community on the fringes of Indian cities is outcome of religious discrimination (Gayer and Jefferlot, 2012).

Muslim women in burqa complain of impolite treatment in the market, in hospitals, in schools, in accessing public facilities such as public transport, and so on.

Apart from the reluctance of owners to rent/sell property to Muslims, several housing societies in ‘non-Muslim’ localities ‘dissuade’ Muslims from locating there. This has also confirmed by interviewed respondents (See chapter III).

Incidence of Godhra riot (2002) is extreme emergence of officially sanctioned antiMuslim discrimination, sustained by several related developments in the state of Gujrat.


Less than two months after Godhra, the number of displaced Muslims in camps was 150,000. The long-term trend has been an extreme form of residential segregation, with even well-to-do Muslims who had been living in mixed neighborhoods moving to exclusively Muslim communities. The already substantial disabilities suffered by poor Muslim neighborhoods in the form of “redlining” (lack of accessible public services such as banks, public transport, and schools) have been compounded as a result of this intensified residential segregation (Gayer and Jefferlot, 2012).

Justice Srikrishna (Commission report of 1998) found that in Mumbai individual policemen had participated in the attacks on Muslims, and that there was evidence of anti- Muslim bias in the police force, which led to reluctance to take firm measures against violence, looting, and arson as similar was the case in Godhera riots.

Muslim minority is helpless to tackle with such overt and covert form of discrimination when they attempt to access services and infrastructure such as banking; when they are denied access to mainstream society’s spaces and public spaces like housing, space for shops or businesses, etc; when they are labeled terrorists or supporters of fundamentalism, Pakistan supporters, etc; when they are denied justice, such as the police refusing to file cases, failure to punish perpetrators or being detained on false charges of terrorism, etc. (Sacher committee 2006). The Sachar Committee report highlights how Muslims are constantly looked upon with suspicion not only by certain sections of society but also by public institutions and governance structures.

Report mentions identity-related discrimination against Muslim. It highlights how Muslims are constantly looked upon with suspicion not only by certain sections of society but also by public institutions and governance structures. A very important aspect brought out by the data is the clear discrimination against Muslims in the sphere of state provision of public services of all kinds. Mulling over pitiable situation


on Indian Muslim in the light of Sachar Committee, Rowena Robinson (2007) remarked, ‘There is urgent need to rectify this imbalance.’ 

A recent study, finds that getting a call for interview can be reduced to as much as 33% for a candidate with Muslim names compared to an equivalent-qualified candidate with high caste Hindu name. The researchers concluded that “[h]aving a high-caste name considerably improves a job applicant’s chances of a positive outcome” adding that “on average, college-educated lower-caste and Muslim job applicants fare less well than equivalently- qualified applicants with high caste names, when applying by mail for employment with the modern private-enterprise sector.”

A study conclusively proves that there is discrimination in corporate India against Dalits and Muslims, with Muslims suffering the most (Thorat and Attewell 2007, Economic and Political Weekly).

There is numerous case of discrimination against Muslims in rehabilitation process after riots and natural disaster.

Muslims are more likely to live in villages without schools or medical facilities, as Sachar Committee report found in 2006 and less likely to qualify for bank loans.

Recently on Property portal, a discriminatory advertisement was posted. A broker-posted advertisement on the site for a Mumbai apartment with a ‘No Muslims’ clause. Such discriminatory advertisement exclude prospective Muslims buyer/occupant from property signifies growing and hidden biases against Muslims.

Facing religious discrimination in the Hindu-dominated job market, many young Muslims are forced to assume fake identities.

Muslims posing as Hindus are mostly found in menial jobs in the unorganized sector where worker's identity documents are not usually sought. Some placement agencies across the country are helping Muslims find jobs in Hindu workplaces by introducing them as Hindus ( ). "The discrimination - which is nothing but religious

identity-based exclusion - exists in organized government sectors too (A respond to Al Jazeera news). 

"Workplace discrimination forces Muslims to adopt fake Hindu identities. Because of this discrimination, most Muslims are unable to upgrade their standard of living." Widespread prejudice against Muslims also keeps them from living in urban India, (Ayasha Pervez, social worker in an interview to Al Jazeera).

“It is dangerous to ignore the role of official discrimination or neglect in the denial of equal educational opportunity to Muslims, it is also important to recognize all significant sources of their disadvantage (Panday 2010).

The National Commission of Minority (NCM) does not address the critical issues of socio-economic exclusion and discrimination suffered by Muslims in India as evident from the proceedings of meetings or action taken by the NCM (

Minority-related schemes like the Prime Minister’s 15-Point Programme covering issues of education, employment, housing and credit have also failed to address Muslim deprivation (

Many instances of discriminatory and deferential treatment by police during riots and minor Hindu-Muslim conflicts in Faizabad (2012), Ambderkernagar (2013) is documented and highlighted (Grassroots Reality of Communal Violence, 2013). PVCHR’s fact finding committee has noted a variety of cases where police in HinduMuslim conflicts (Bajardeeha riot, 2009) has taken one sided action against Muslims (Ibid). Above points depict that Muslims are among the most deprived of India’s social

groups and communities and their social, occupational and economic profile is appalling. As Rowena Robins (2007) correctly remarked, “marginalization, discrimination, violence and social exclusion have further depressed Muslim aspirations and pushed down levels of achievement.” Even National Human Rights Commission National Commission of Minority has failed to redress the grievances of Indian Muslims.


However, the cable, originated from American embassy in New Delhi (leaked by WikiLeaks, 2010), says that majority of the Muslims live in a very poor condition despite some of the millionaires from the community, like Azim Premji, influence Indian market. It says: "Iconic celebrities such as Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan attract legions of fans, while millions of Muslims languish in poverty. Since Independence, three Muslims have been appointed as President, but Muslims are grossly under-represented in Parliament and other elected bodies". "These seeming contradictions reflect overall socioeconomic trends in India: a tiny percentage of Muslims thrive, while the vast majority struggles to support themselves". The cable, however, noted that Indian Muslims are eager to catch up to their compatriots. "Their Sufi heritage, promoting pluralism and tolerance, should leave them well-equipped to compete in secular India. However, lingering resentment from the partition and external influences threaten to divide the community".

Next section discuss the issues of Muslim ghettoes, followed by discussion on Hindu-Muslim violence as author believe these two issues are entwined and consequence of deep rooted discrimination against Muslims in Indian society.







Increased polarization of Hindu-Muslim identity after Babri Masjid Demolition in 1992 has led to the increased ghettoization of Muslim community. Events such as Godhera riots (2002) resulted in polarization of Hindu-Muslim identity and subsequently ‘othering’ of the Muslim community. This notion of “othering” has a negative connotation attached to it and it compels a series of discriminatory attitudes and behaviors towards them by the majority group (Rani 2013). In the context of the marginalized and excluded people like the Muslims in India, Bauman explicitly stated that, ‘The other end are crowded those whose access to identity choice has been barred, people who are given no say in deciding their preferences and who in the end are burdened with identities enforced and imposed by others; identities which they themselves resent but are not allowed to shed and cannot manage to get rid of. Stereotyping, humiliating, dehumanizing, stigmatizing identities…(Bauman, cited in Rani 2013)’.

This continuous process of ‘othering’ involves subtle nature of structural violence which further resulted in social marginalization, spatial ghettoisation and thus social exclusion of the Muslims (Rani, 2013). Experience has shown that biases act on and thrive in the face of such blurred and indistinguishable planning in the context where inequality has its grounding in identity politics.

Muslims Ghettoes, is a form of underprivileged localities is partially outcome of the Hindi-Muslims violence, social exclusion and a living symbol of religious discrimination against Muslim. Gayer and Jaffrelot, (2012) had diligently researched on such Muslim ghettoes and Muslim ethnic enclaves. The main distinction between the two categories is that of choice, with ghettoes marked by the forced exclusion of a particular group versus ethnic enclaves the product of an elected choice amongst members of a community.

While places such as Juhapura in Ahmedabad and Shivaji Nagar in Mumbai can quite easily be categorized as ‘ghettoes’ in that they are the direct result of communal violence, most Muslim localities are more difficult to identify.

Gayer, in his study of Abul Fazal Enclave in Delhi has highlighted the ambiguity of choice—the ‘choiceless’ nature of choice—in situations where individuals are bound by multiple constraints when making their housing decisions. New Seelampur in the north-east part of Delhi is such example. Juhapur (Ahmedabad) is the largest Muslim ghetto in Asia where before Godhera riots (2002) 250000 Muslims used to live. After riots, population of Muslim significantly reached to 400000. News paper The Hindu writes about Juhapur ghetto. ‘These ghettos present a picture of filth, slush and puddle of dirty water. They swarm with flies and mosquito. There are no sewerage lines. A foul smell permeates the air. There is no water supply. Further, Hindu writes, ‘Just adjacent to Muslim enclave affluent Hindu neighborhood exist.’ Muslim residents of Juhapur complained of increasing discrimination and official neglect (


In fact, a huge wall has been erected to divide (a demarcation of discrimination) between Muslim ghetto and affluent Hindu society of Jhupura. Such ghettos are visible (increasing) in all most all Indian cities include Varanasi (Bajardeha and Lohta), Mumbai (Shivajii Nagar), and Ramganj in Jaipur.

A Muslim ghetto represents the deliberate marginalization by the state. Official hardly bother to implement government schemes in ghettos. In addition, discrimination and security imperatives are mutually reinforcing factors in the making of Muslim enclaves and ghettos (Jaffrelot and Thomas 2012). Besides, self-segregation is amplified by unequal access to housing market and by feeling of insecurity to create Muslims ghettos.

Muslim ghettos did not come up suddenly. In most cases, they are made up from those Muslims who were pushed to ‘safe area’ by communal violence. In some cases poor urban Muslim regrouped themselves (Self-segregation) in backward Muslim dominated slums (Ibid). However, in Juhapura (BJP- ruled Gujrat) resident did not choose to relocate there but constrained to do so by the security question, a product of the state sanctioned discrimination and persecution of the Muslim population.

Social activist Ram Puniyani expresses his dismay over escalating tension between Hindu and Muslims due the ghettoisation of Muslims, “Such ghettoisation of Muslims in cities like Mumbai and Ahmadabad clearly shows how the mutual trust among communities has vanished. And so the socio-economic enhancement of the minority community has stalled."

Most ghettos come up on the fringes of the city and away from Hindu mainstream and lack basic amenities. Muslim usually after large scale riots gradually concentrates in ghettos. Gayer has highlighted that spatial segregation/religious discrimination through subtle and not-so-subtle forms of housing discrimination is becoming increasingly prevalent in urban centers of India (Ibid).

Needless to say, ghettos and Muslim enclaves, upto some extent, are symbol of fear, insecurity and discrimination faced by India’s biggest minority. (In some cases ghettos and ethnic enclaves are occupation and caste baste).This phenomenon also suggest that Indian

society is in the process of disintegration, where a large numbers of people are excluded due to their religious faith, thus policy makers and majority (read Hindus) have clearly failed to respect the essence of Indian Constitution which assert equality and nondiscrimination.

Communal Violence
Partition of India (1947) started a vicious circle of Hindu-Muslim conflict all over the country. Since then animosity and hatred between Hindu-Muslim have found expression in sporadic event of communal violence often known as Hindu-Muslim riots. According to Zoya Hasan, “the incidence of communal violence has increased over the last two decades with a six fold increase being registered between 1954 and 1985. Hindu-Muslim conflicts, in which Muslims is often a worst sufferer, led pervasive fear and insecurity among Muslims, resulting in their Self-segregation/ghettoisation, physical and social distance from Hindu society and neighborhood.

The increasing communal polarization and broadening of the Hindutva fascist ideological base is being intensely felt by the Muslim community in the country. The trend is dangerous…it could cause further religious polarization, leading to further social and economic marginalization of the community... because of the growing influence of Hindutva forces, of both the 'soft' and 'hard' variety, many Muslims feel their identity is under threat (Ali and Sikyand 2006). Robinson (2005) echoed same concern, ‘immense fragility of Muslim participation further intensifies their vulnerability to the displacements, physical and economic, caused by situations of continual communal strife.’ Communal tension (including minor daily tension between Hind-Muslim) usually decrease the opportunity for social interaction between the two group, feeds on and nurture stereotypes about the ‘other’ which are then manifested as problems arising from a growing population and spatial concentration of the Muslim population (Rathor in Gayer and Jaffrelot 2012).


In this connection, Muslim narratives, (Gayer and Jaffrelot, 2012) project the community as a victim not only of Hindu conspiracies but also of international campaigns of vilification in the aftermath of 9/11. Cumulative effect of Hindu-Muslim violence have resulted in amplified suspicion and mistrust among both communities leading to the targeted practice of discrimination against Muslims, deeply affecting the core of their (Muslim) lives.

In Hindu-Muslim riots there is a trend of police complicity wherein police colluded not only with the dominant community but also with right-wing groups to perpetrate violence against the Muslim minority. The denial of justice by police to Muslims reflects the communal bias entrenched in Indian police machinery. This kind of bias, if unchecked and left unaccounted, increases the level of mistrust felt by the minority towards the justice mechanism, and results in deep skepticism about the state’s protection and justice machinery (Habibbulla). Police repression often in active collaboration and instigation by state authorities during communal riots further demoralized Muslims, caused loss of confidence in secular forces and resulted in withdrawal symptoms and a siege mentality (Ali and Sikand 2006).

A variety of such examples presented in this book has confirmed the discriminatory treatment of government officials during and after Hindu-Muslim riots. While communal violence may not be a cause for Muslim backwardness, however, increased instances of discrimination against Muslims has been one of its major outcome, where Muslim’s religious identity is targeted selectively. In addition, there is some evidence to argue that the expectation of recurring violence may play a very important role in depressing fortunes, fostering insecurity and increasing social and economic vulnerability [Robinson 2005, Interviews conducted by the author, 2013].

However, whole Muslim community is struggling on the basis of their identity. This process of structural violence has both physical and psychological impact on the lives of the Muslims (Rani, 2013). This cultural domination vis-à-vis religion termed as a cultural violence by Galtung, is structurally and culturally embedded in Indian society and thus seems normal in everyday life. In this context, Galtung (1966) remarked, “Cultural violence makes direct and structural violence look, even feel, right - or at least not wrong”.

Structural and cultural violence together strengthen the oppressive elements within the structure and aim to avert the awakening and mobilization of critical consciousness of the exploited, which could fight the violent conditions.

In addition, cultural nationalism has also been given as a reason for instances of violence carried out by Shiv Sena, a fascist political party. They initially claimed to speak for the people of Maharashtra, but their rhetoric quickly turned to inciting violence against Muslims. According to Sudipta Kaviraj the VHP are still engaged in the religious conflicts which began in medieval times (wikipidia). Ironically, this Hindu hate campaign is contrary to the Hindu philosophy which stressed upon the unity of the world as a single family. The concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (Vasudha- the earth, iva- is, kutumbakam-family) originates in the Vedic scripture Maha Upanishad (Chapter 6, Verses 72, clearly profess that “for the noble heart, however, the entire earth is but one family.’

Legal response to combat Communal conflict
After Godhera riots in 2002, the Indian parliament introduced the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill in 2005. The bill (pending in parliament) - holds public servants accountable for their negligent behavior or willful failure in controlling riots. This includes witness protection, relief, reparation; restitution and compensation become the right of every victim of communal and targeted violence. Although it’s clear that a specific bill to address communal violence is the need of the hour, whether this one will be translated into a reality is debatable. Any new bill or progressive piece of legislation will have to be executed by the same government and police machinery, institutions and actors that have a deeply entrenched bias against Muslims. It will be a challenge to make the bill effective in the given scenario (Habibbulla). This chapter drew attention on gross to subtle incidences of discrimination against Indian Muslim. Not only governmental reports, NGOs fact finding committees and International watchdog have emphasized imminent need to protect Indian Muslims from

discrimination, but also have underlined the growing intolerance of Hindu majority resulting in communal violence and forced and Self-segregation of Muslim. However, Indian government is not doing enough to protect its Muslim citizen from social and political exclusion. Feeble attempt of Indian government to protect Muslim is apparent in its failure to pass Communal violence bill so far, and not to mention sheer negligence of officials to implement Constitutional law at the grass root level.

Chapter III

Perceptions Discrimination






This chapter presents information gathered from interviews. Discussion and analysis are outlined integrating the data gathered from various stakeholders’ point of view. This study emphasizes need to initiate and speed up the process of reconciliation to eliminate religious discrimination.

This study has employed qualitative research methodologies tools such as interviews, semi-structured interviews in order to fully understand the scope of understanding among Indian Muslim’s world views, thoughts regarding

discrimination they face. Most of the respondents are from urban area of Varanasi. Sample size is small (7 respondents). Open ended questions were asked.

Interviewed Muslim respondents represent diverse background and profession; have expressed their experiences of discrimination in different walks of life. Throughout interview similar concerns on; exclusion from development process, barring of Muslim youths in education, employment, and exclusion in decision making and exploitation from political process and seclusion from mainstream Indian society have been echoed.


While borrowing money from Bank get increasingly difficult for Muslims, feeling of insecurity among Indian Muslims is intensified by Hindu communal forces and increasing economic challenges. Most of the respondents complained that history being used as tool to discriminate and incite violence and hatred against Muslims community. In most cases (collected primary and secondary data) police, either, was mute spectator or were hands in gloves with perpetrator.

Naiem, (41) Industrialist, Pune Mind of a Hindu child [since childhood] is defiled through communal education against Muslims. Muslims are portrayed as violent, ruthless, invaders, and meat eaters. Thus young mind easily gets influenced and corrupted. I was once denied flat in a housing society due to my religion… I think in govt. jobs Muslim youths are being discriminated. Interview panel have biases against Muslims applicants and since selector are usually from Hindu community they prefer Hindu candidate. However, private company doesn’t discriminate against Muslims thus many of Muslim youths are employed in private sector… …Religious discrimination at various levels in government is affecting Muslim youth. Court and police system is also biased against Muslim. They take side. They support Hindu. They work on the lines of religion and they don’t trust on Muslims. …Though there are plenty of laws and regulations to protect Muslims but there is no implementation. And implementation is not possible because Hindu official are creating stumbling block in execution of policy meant for the benefit of Muslims… …Clearly they discriminate Muslims. Officials must be made accountable for their misdeeds. There should be monitoring mechanism to monitor the


implementation of the law and institutions. We need political leadership who are secular and inclusive…Some sector of Media is biased against Muslims portraying them anti-national, Media broadcast selected news to show Muslims in poor light. Private media is driven by profit... …Education must be improved. Quality education must be delivered to people. Distorted history, discriminatory statements from school text book must be removed. In addition, contribution of Indian Muslims rulers must be acknowledged particularly in the field of architecture, art and literature, social welfare. Portrayal of Muslim rulers in text books should be in correct manner. [Respondent believes people who practice discrimination do not have quality education].

Maulana Batin, (52) Mufti a Banaras (Religious leader and preacher), Varanasi

Religious discrimination can be seen in economic and political area. In Economic area, systematic deprivation has been destroyed (by governmental negligence, corruption and discrimination) handicrafts industry, where most Muslims are employed, such as lock industry of Aligarh and brass industry of Muradabad. Pitiable situation of weavers of Varanasi is a point in the case… …Government’s loan schemes are not serving its purpose and hitting on badly small scale industries. Even those who are implementing polices on ground level are biased against Muslims…officials have discriminatory attitude towards Muslims. Many [government] schemes meant for weaver are not advertised in local news papers. Official have tried to restrict information of welfare schemes meant to improve condition of weaver… …Muslims are being used a vote bank. Muslim’s representations in political party have been abysmally low… Mainstream political parties are clearly biased towards Muslims and give preferences to their political motives rather Muslim’s welfare and representation. Bureaucracy and political leader work hand in hand together against the benefits of the Muslim community…

…Innocent Muslims are being targeted on the pretext of terrorism control… Their [youth in false cases] case is being delayed in court. Current situation is hopeless, bleak and justice seems illusive [for imprisoned Muslim youth]… ….There is one incidence of religious discrimination I faced. In 2006, I wasn’t allowed to enter into Gyanvapi Mosque because I refused to go through the police check. As a Muslim Imam (religious leader) I was exempted from security check, thus I resisted. But, police kept on insisting and later there was conflict and protest from our community… Later police files cases against us. Though, chief minister of this state [Utter Pradesh] ordered police to remove cases against us but police official paid no heed. I think this whole case was religiously motivated [case of religious discrimination]… we have not got justice yet… …During 1991 riots in Madanpura [Varanasi], police took side of perpetrator… Police filed many false cases against Muslim youths. Here police has supported one side [taken favor]… …Muslims’ populated area such as Bajardeha [Muslim ghetto], is not provided basic amenities such as light, clean drinking water and sewerage. Official’s practices religious discrimination against Muslims in providing public services... …There are many welfare schemes for Muslims, but does exist on paper… Officer is selective in implementing government policies… …Only by transforming mind-set of majority [Hindu] discrimination can be eliminated… Those who are responsible for practicing discrimination must be held accountable... Muslims need to be more aware about their rights and should know how to use law for their help. Situation must change... Everyone is equal and this legal equality is must be realized. We must get what we deserve. Muslims are backward because of lack of modern education. Our community is fragmented. We have lost hope in current political system…


…Media have biased opinion towards Muslim community… They work against us…Muslims are discriminated due to his religion and due to his [their] disadvantage position in socio-economic and political field…Equality is a right of every individual. Everyone must be treated equally and must have equal rights... … Good education is most important, and is able to raise awareness about the community. Lack of awareness about rights and proper education is cause of backwardness.

Nasim Ahmad Siddiqi (55) Director, Junior High School, Varanasi Selectors in government-job discriminates against Muslims youths, one can’t get job in teaching sectors without paying bribe to officials… And Muslims don’t have enough money to grease the palm of officials. Officials asks higher amount of money (bribe) from Muslims comparatively to Hindu... Muslims children usually after class 8 drop out since their families can’t pay school fees…These kids can get a job as an assistance at garment shop on 3000 INR per month… Government scholarship is not enough to cover these kids’ expenses. They [government] provide meager amount of 300 INR per year [as a scholarship]... ...Most of schemes for Muslim students exist on paper only... Muslim youth’s life could have miserable if they were not for private jobs…The Minoritiy Commission of India have provided scholarship to Muslim students. A sum of 63000 INR was allocated to our school…But, due to corruption and official’s discrimination, we could hardly get that money... This was [scholarship] for class 8th children… …Religious discrimination coupled with corruption has aggravated our situation. The local official of Minority commission in Varanasi discriminates in sanctioning scholarship to Muslims children… …After every riot there is great loss of lives, especially Muslim suffers a great deal… Due to burning and looting of Muslims shops, Muslims also slides into


backwardness. It takes years to rebuilds lives after riots. In most cases politicians are involved in inciting hatred against Muslims… …Hindu groups such as Janis, Guajarati’s and Marwari are more conservative... They have limited social contacts with Muslims. In their social life they usually discriminate against us… They (Jains) can be very oppressive and discriminatory. Their attitude towards Muslims is not suitable for communal harmony…. …Muslims participation in politics is very limited. Political parties do not prioritize Muslims in their agenda…They are not serious about promoting welfare of community. Parties such as BJP sometimes have created hurdles in winning Muslims candidates by filling dummy candidates against Muslims candidature. Some parties make sure that Muslims should not enter into parliament… …Majority [Hindu] is still hostile towards Muslims. Government intentionally creates such a situation where Muslims find themselves fragmented on political issues…Cause of Muslim’s backwardness is their lack of unity. Muslims need to understand the importance of education as well… …There is sewerage overflowing in front of our school, after several requests to fix the problem, official won’t take care of it… They won’t pay heed. Most of Muslim inhabited areas [ethnic enclaves] have limited and restricted public amenities. Overflowing sewerages, supply of clean drinking water are common problem in Muslims areas… Lives of Muslims have been more complicated due to unsuitable government policies…. …There should be faire political representation of Muslims in politics. Riots must be prevented. Muslims youths must be provided fair representation in government and private jobs… Loan must be given on flexible term. Educational uplifting of Muslims must be prioritized [by policy makers].

Saukhrala Khan (72) Manager, Muslim School, Varanasi

Those who implement government policy are not accountable to their duty. They should not discriminate. Even government sometimes discriminates… Leaders promise to community but never fulfill. In order to combat religious discrimination policy change is must… Lack of education and unawareness about their rights makes Muslims susceptible target of discrimination… …In diverse society like India, toleration against Muslim is reducing, and so the respect for URDU [Muslim language]. One of the reasons of our backwardness is, after partition, most of educated Muslims went to Pakistan leaving Indian Muslims society without any able leadership… …Police discriminates on the lines of religions. After Hindu-Muslim riot this phenomenon [discrimination] is very apparent… Muslim community feels insecure after riot. Ghettos [Muslim] have emerged after riots, these [Ghettos] do not have access to clean drinking water, and electricity and inhabitants technically lives on garbage dumps… …To prevent discrimination, a total change of mind set in police department needed from top to bottom… No religion supports terrorism. But, Muslims are blamed for it. Good and Bad people are everywhere. However, majority of people [Hindu] have secular outlook…though government has failed to check religious discrimination... …Mainstream political parties are responsible for not accommodating Muslims thus Muslims are not well represented in Indian politics...Most of the parties exploit Muslims as a vote bank…Majority needs to change their mind set towards minority community. Political leader divide Hindu-Muslim… We need to live in harmony. Many people in my neighborhood take water [drinking] from my home. We share our lives. Corruption aggravates situation.

Shekh Pervaze, 27, Professional, Varanasi


I was stopped by traffic police since I was not wearing helmet [consider normal in Varanasi]. When I request them to let me go since I was late for Friday prayer. They did not do allow me to go, whereas others [presumably Hindus] allowed to go. Police intentionally kept holding me…Many of my friends were stopped by traffic police because they are Muslim… … Now many of my co-religionist is using Hindu names to avoid police harassment. Some of them are using Hindu names to get the job and avoid discrimination by police... …I do not know why we have to hide our identity? Police kept bothering us. We have to use fake names! Once I have faced religious discrimination while applying for job. Interview board have discriminatory attitude towards Muslim candidates… … Officials who came from Delhi to interview us, made a sarcastic remark on my friend who have long beard. Felt humiliated because of his appearance, my friend was clearly discriminated due to his religion…You can see we are not being accepted in mainstream society… In college, our fellow students call us Pakistani…They ask as, ‘why we always support Pakistan during cricket match [a popular game]? We are looked upon with suspicion and distrust by others… …I heard during riots in Varanasi, police claimed to throw a Muslim doctor from rooftop since police considered this doctor dangerous… Why police discriminate against us? Why do not they allow us to live in peace? …Condition of Muslim weaver is pathetic. Rich people exploit them. They are being exploited and some of them have committed suicide… Poor weavers are unwilling to register their names to get identity cards, because they are afraid to give all information to government… They think this information can be used against them especially during the riots. (In prior riots such information was used to attack on Muslims community in Gujarat and Maharashtra). They are afraid that Police may harass them. That’s why many Muslims weavers do not have voter’s identity cards…


…We don’t want government to know about our situation and location. They did not provide us Adhar card [to get welfare benefits] yet…Police can’t change their mind set [against Muslim] thus we don’t want to register our names for voter Identity card... …Muslims are legging being in education thus they are backward. But, they have improved compare to earlier times... Must Muslim youths believe that they would be discriminated in job (government job) thus they are discouraged to pursue higher study… They prefer private job… Muslims are fragmented in various groups such as Devbandi and Baralvi, they do not have unity so they cannot fight together for their upliftment.

Dr. Shefiq Ulhaque, 39, Industrialist, Varanasi

Education is the cause of our backwardness. But, what will we do after study? Where will we go after study? (Referring to discrimination in govt. job). Even after Saccahr committee report, we are ignored! Arrival of many private companies brought us hope and many Muslim youths are employed in private companies… but after several incidences where Muslim professional were targeted for terrorismyouths are increasingly losing hope in private sector... ….After class 12th, Muslim youth often do not pursue education. Since they do not see job prospect in government department thus they are inclined to [do] business… In Mujjafarnagar riots- we did not get justice… There were [incidences of] rape and looting during the riots…more attention was paid to Hindu victims but not to Muslims. There was discrimination in delivering relief material. Political leaders just paid lip service by visiting riots relief camps. They (leaders) are forcing riots victims to go their home (where situation is still volatile, Mujjafarnagar riots 2012)… We are being victimized in the name of terrorism… …Hindu hardly votes for Muslim candidates. We cannot win by ourselves (lack of majority) but our vote can be a deciding factor in election… We support

political party who could provide us protection. There are few seats where we can win by Muslim vote... …Police are biased because they are Hindu. Due to less numbers of Muslims in police force, Muslims don’t feel safe… Police have discriminatory attitude towards Muslims. Police atrocities are pervasive. Police tend to fire on Muslim’s procession even in small matters whilst ignore other religious minorities’ mistakes. They seek opportunities to incite violence against us… …Once I went to enquire about flat to rent. First, owner agreed to rent me his flat. After, knowing my name his mind changed, he refused to give me flat…Riots should not happen. We need to be represented in all government jobs. We need reservations in job otherwise we are sliding in backwardness day by day. Orthodox Muslims are to be blamed for current situation [referring to extremism].

Sonu Shekh, 27, entrepreneur, Mirzapur

I feel and see discrimination in our society on daily basis. In our village Hindu family ignore us. They want to talk to us. They think by drinking water and eating food at Muslim’s home Hindu can be polluted. Religious discrimination is more pervasive in rural area then city. In coaching center where I have studied, Hindu students make sarcastic remarks on us. They call us ‘Pakistani’ and treat us like a second class citizen. I feel that we are not being treated an Indian. Even teachers at our center have discriminatory attitude towards Muslim… …. It’s difficult for a Muslim to get job in government and private sectors. Discrimination at the workplace is common. Traffic police is also biased towards us. They are strict with us. They do not care if a Hindu do not follow traffic rule but Muslims are served with heavy penalty and sometime police are abusive[to Muslims]…They show open disrespect to Muslims…Some Hindu are hostile to us but some are good…


…I think, without changing the mindset of people, religious discrimination cannot be eliminated. Even there are so many rules but their implementation is zero. Government institutions won’t do anything to save us from discrimination… …Muslims are weak due to lack of unity. There is lack of able Muslim leadership. Conservative Muslims are creating problem. Our religious leaders Ulema have narrow outlook towards society. They don’t represent us in true sense.

Analysis and Conclusion
Though respondents were small in numbers but the themes emerged from their interviews, confirmed the assumption of discrimination of Indian Muslim. Most respondents felt that discrimination against Muslims is certainly prevalent at various levels of the society especially in government sector and, this has been deterrent to Muslim youths who want to pursue higher education. Some of them blamed ‘discrimination’ is the cause of their backwardness.

Due to discrimination in government job, Muslim youths are less inclined towards education. Indeed, the fact that Muslims cannot get jobs requiring education because of discrimination is factor put forward by some scholars to explain the lower literacy and higher drop-out rates of Muslims (Gayer and Jafferlot 2012). Discrimination in job market is evident from most of the studies available (from interviews as well).

Some studies have demonstrated that Muslim applicants to jobs in the private sector were even more affected by selective discrimination than Dalits (Ibid). Some respondents believe, they are lagging behind due to structural discrimination against Muslims. Even governmental, individual and some scholarly report provide evidential data which validates the narrative of respondents.

Most of respondents have highlighted deliberated marginalization of the Muslims by the State, be it government job or their representation in Indian politics.

In this connection it is relevant to know that Hindu traditionalist who ruled over North India- the Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh-never implemented the polices had been designed by the government, such as the promotion of Urdu, the impact of discrimination by the state is well reflected in the minimal presence of Muslims among the salary earners of the public sector and within the civil service (Gayer and Jaffrelot, 2012).

This alleged discrimination is deeply resented by Indian Muslims (as reflected in interviews) and immediate impact of this feeling of discrimination has been amplified by a form a self censorship, like withdrawing into their shell (Ibid).

Another themes emerged from interviews is the marginalization or discriminatory treatment of Muslim by Indian politicians. Most of respondents blamed politician to exploit them as vote bank. In same breath they also blamed Ulema for poorly representing them in political area. Secondary data (available literature, reports) also confirmed this fact.

In terms of representation in elective bodies, Muslims are pushed to the periphery of the political system in many ways. Currently Muslim MPs represents 5.1 of the Lok Sabha MPs, but Muslim represents 13.4 % of the population (2001 Census). In states of Gujrat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Delhi, Rajasthan and in Maharastra-there is not a single sitting Muslim MP (Jaffrelot, Dutoya, Kanchana and Gayatri, 2009). Muslims are also under-represented in the state assemblies (Gayer and Jaffrelot, 2012). In Marxist Historian Ram Chandra Guha words, “India’s national party has never really treated them [Muslims] as full-fledged citizens of the land. For the members and fellow travelers of the BJP, the Parsi is to be tolerated, the Christian distrusted, and the Muslim detested. One form this detestation takes is verbal—the circulation of innuendos, gossip and abuse... Another form is physical—thus, the hand of the RSS and the VHP lies behind some of the worst communal riots in independent India, for example Bhagalpur in 1989, Bombay in 1992, and Gujarat in 2002, when, in all cases, an overwhelming majority of the victims were Muslims.”

In addition, Indian Muslims have generally been reluctant to form their own political parties, fearing that their political mobilization on a communal basis would reinforce religious polarization in the country (Gayer and Jeffrelot, 2012). The feelings of insecurity of Indian Muslims have nurtured a minority complex which helps to explain the political inhibition of Muslims and its support for traditional support for religious elites (Ulama) until 1990s. These ulama have been more concerned with the cultivation of Indian Muslims’ socio-religious particularism than with uplifting of the community (Ibid).

Communal violence and discriminatory treatment of police is one of the most discussed and flagrant issue coming out of interviews. All respondents were of opinion that police is often in the hands of gloves with perpetrator, especially during the riots. The manner in which Muslims have felt besieged and withdrawn into their shell can also be attributed to the increasingly large number of communal riots that affected in Indian cities- as evident from the number of casualties from this community (Grassroots Reality of Communal Violence, PVCHR, 2012). In fact, respondent’s claim completely have confirmed evidences gathered by People Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (Varanasi based NGO) publication, in which (in PVCHR doc, 2012) a nexus between police and communal forces has been exposed, many incidences of Utter Pradesh police’ discriminatory treatment during communal violence has been documented, highlighted and presented to the human rights bodies of India.

Some respondents showed serious concern about Muslim youths being implicated in false cases under the name of counter-terrorism by the State. In fact scores of such incidences have been documented by All India Milli Council (Scapegoats 2012) and PVCHR, where Muslims youths were targeted and killed in fake police encounters (Batala House and Ishrat Jahan Encounter amongst them) whereas, Hindu militants responsible for attacks on Mosque (Mecca Masjid, Nanded Blast) were treated differently (Scapegoats, 2012).


Some Muslim youth respondents felt discriminated at public spaces, especially by local traffic police (Varanasi) who practice double standards while implementing traffic rules. It has been observed that police ignore traffic rules violations by a Hindu whereas Muslim can’t be spared for the same minor offense. In addition, few respondents claimed that they have faced discrimination in Hindu dominated housing society, restricting Muslims to buy the property.

One respondents (from rural area) talked about the deep rooted hatred and discrimination prevailing in local villages where Hindu maintain strict distance from their Muslim neighbor. ‘They don’t drink or eat food at our home’, a respondent lamented.

Some respondents complained about the projection of Muslim religion as a violent and cruel religion among Hindu’s children due to communal education cultivating a biased attitude towards Muslim and Islam. They were also concerned about the manipulation of Indian History to project Muslims as invaders who tried to destroy every beautiful thing including Hindu’s temple and Indian religion by forcefully converting Hindu into Muslim. Few respondents lamented that the contribution of Muslim ruler were completely forgotten and intentionally ignored.

Essence of above paragraph matched with the findings of Sachar Committee which has highlighted cases of identity-related discrimination. It highlights how Muslims are constantly looked upon with suspicion not only by certain sections of society but also by public institutions and governance structures. Indeed, report has reiterated the bias and discrimination Muslims face on a regular basis. Sachar report also mentioned about several housing societies in ‘non-Muslim’ localities ‘dissuade’ Muslims from locating there. Muslims say they feel inferior as “every bearded man is considered an ISI agent”; “whenever any incident occurs, Muslim boys are picked up by the police” and fake encounters are common (Sachar report).


Most of respondents asserted that they are being treated as a second class citizen and their patriotism is questioned on daily basis. In fact perception among Muslim community of neglect by society and apathy on the part of the government has instilled a deep mistrust about ever realizing rights and entitlements. Muslims in their daily lives have to prove their identity as patriotic Indian who must support Indian cricket team; otherwise one is running the risk of being labeled as a ‘Pakistani ‘or unpatriotic.

Many respondents blamed the pitiable situation of handicraft industries (where majority of Muslims involved) to corruption and on religious discrimination against Muslim weavers and small scale industry owners. Many incidences of Muslim weavers (Suicide, starvation deaths due to government’s negligence) have been documented by Varanasi based PVCHR (PVCHR, 2012).

Government policy for uplifting the condition of small scale entrepreneur quite often manipulated by local (implementing) officials, who sometimes have religious motivation (confirmed in interviews), though corruption and inefficacy of government officials are also responsible for deteriorating condition of Muslim weavers. Aligarh lock industry almost witnessing the same situation. Traditionally dominated by Muslims, Aligarh lock industry, currently have just one high profile Muslim business men (Gayer and Jafferlot 2012).

Situation of Carpet wavers in Bhadohi is also pitiable. Though, there is no direct discrimination involved. But, current deplorable situation of Muslim worker/owners in their traditional industries is just a reflection of government’s failed policy, apathy and biases towards Muslims.

Few respondents reflected on the severity of Hindu-Muslim riots on their lives. In such riots Muslim always have bear the brunt. Neglected by government and society, Muslim often has to face wrath and discriminatory treatment of police during such events. Reality of Grassroots Communal Violence, a PVCHR, publication have efficiently have covered many such incidences of police brutality on Muslim community. ‘It takes years to rebuilds life after riots,’ one respondent commented

whereas other said, ‘police seek opportunity to incite violence against Muslims even on trivial issues.

Another issue raised by respondents was impunity of the perpetrators whether government official or ordinary Hindu folk. Evidences prove that Hindu rioters in most cases are treated differently. Police hardly gets punishment for their involvement in riots unless highlighted by media and NGOs (PVCHR, 2012).

However, few respondents lamented that few Hindu sects such as Jain, Marwari and Gujrati’s are more communal and openly practice discrimination in their daily lives against Muslim community. These Hindu communities, respondent said, “prefer to do business among their ethnic groups, and do not share their community life if their neighbor happened to be Muslims. They (Hindu community) consider Muslim impure and violent thus have limited social interaction with Muslim. Their social behavior towards Muslim reflects their discriminatory tendencies.”

In fact, the slaughter houses in Muslim areas and its association with nonvegetarian food cultures of Muslims- and more specifically the consumption of beeffeeds into its negative image as an undesirable cultural space, peripheral to the mainstream (Gayer and Jaffrelot, 2012). Muslim neighborhood carries the notion of being a forbidden territory associated with all that is foul and desirable. These factors to some extent have aggravated Muslim’s social exclusion by the orthodox Hindu communities and hindered their entry into mainstream society. Muslim society is helpless when they are denied access to mainstream society’s spaces as they do not know how to deal with it.

Some young Muslim respondent complained that in order to avoid daily discrimination they are using Hindu names. By using Hindu names police do not trouble them and they are easily accepted in mainstream society. Similar incidences are reported from other sources. In an interview to Alzaeera ( many Muslims complained that they face religious discrimination in the country's Hindudominated job market.

Muslims who have secured jobs pretending to be Hindus are fiercely secretive about their place of work. Noorjahan Khatoon, 42, who lives in a suburban slum and works as a domestic cook in a Hindu household in a posh Kolkata neighborhood says none, not even her close relatives know where exactly she is employed. Muslims posing as Hindus are mostly found in menial jobs in the unorganized sector where worker's identity documents are not usually sought. Some placement agencies across the country are helping Muslims find jobs in Hindu workplaces by introducing them as Hindus (

Above examples shows an ongoing process of identity struggle (between Hindu-Muslim) where having a Hindu identity is rewarded in form of job and feeling of security whilst a Muslim identity could led to the denial and insecurity. Even in many instances public display of religious identity (in forms of processions, festivals) had been the cause of Hindu-Muslim riots. These are indeed an embarrassing example from a multicultural Indian society depicting diminishing toleration of majority Hindu to minority Muslim.

Finally, few respondents blamed local municipality (Varanasi) for discriminating Muslim locality for not proving basic amenities such as road, drinking water, waste disposal facility and electricity. Most of Muslim locality, even located in the center of the city, is neglected by the civic authority, let apart Muslim ghettos at the periphery of the city. Those Muslims living peripheral existence are neglected by government authorities, too.

Neglect of Muslim localities by state authorities, translating into a lack of infrastructure, educational facilities; the estrangement of the locality and its residents from the rest of the city due to lack of transportation as well as limited job opportunities, are a significantly rising social phenomenon among Muslim community have well documented by Gayer and Jafferlot (2012), and confirmed the respondents perception of neglect and discrimination. Limited access to these Muslim localities, forcing its inhabitants to live in an inhumane condition qualifies to the breach of


international human rights treaties to which India is a party and has legal obligation to implement the treaty laws.

This study compiles perceptions and individual experiences of Indian Muslims. It is thus a valuable overview of feelings, fears and frustrations of Indian Muslims. Islamophobic incidents and discourse which can be found increasingly in the public and political domain, have translated into discrimination against Indian affecting every aspect of their lives. Narratives of Muslims, governmental reports and civil society confirmed the facts that religious discrimination is indeed hindering the access of Muslims to public and private services thus they are forced to live a life of second class citizen.

Distorted and divisive history has employed as a tool to incite hatred in young minds of a Hindu child. Interestingly, in a study conducted by Ali and Sikyand (2006) several Muslim respondents, (in Uttar Pradesh) also lamented what they referred to as the government's consistent discriminatory policies vis-à-vis the Urdu language. Thus effectively marginalizing Urdu and by de-linking Urdu from employment opportunities the state had, they insisted, only further exacerbated the problem of Muslim educational marginalization.

They further pointed out; government-approved textbooks often contain negative portrayals of Islam and Muslims and are heavily laced with stories from Hindu religious texts. The sort of nationalism that is sought to be inculcated in the students through textbooks and school activities, such as compulsory prayers etc., are also heavily Hinduised. Many respondents were critical of this, and expressed the suspicion that this was part of a carefully calculated effort to 'de-Islamise' Muslim children, to 'Hinduise' them as well as to promote anti-Muslim feelings among nonMuslim students. Because of this, they said, some Muslim parents were reluctant to send their children to school to study.

However, needless to say, above mention polices and extremist Hindu groups have made life more challenging to a common Muslim as narratives of Muslims reflected. Nonetheless, government mechanisms failed to redress their grievances.

Overall Muslim has been seen as threat to Hindu India. Not only Islam phobic prejudice has constrained Muslim’s participation and representation in society and politics, but also Media biases against Muslim is reinforcing their ‘existing stereotyping.’

In order to uplift Indian Muslim education seems only saving grace of the situation. If law has to work, it must be implemented in an unbiased manner, otherwise, their faith in judiciary is corroding and at the moment justice seem illusive to Indian Muslim. To reestablish their faith, India needs to be serious in its effort to give their due rights. By violating several human rights of Muslims (either directly of by the third party), India, is in breach of its International human rights obligations thus can be dragged into the Human Rights Council.

In fact, degenerating status of Muslims is in stark contrast of rights Indian Constitution has provided them. Though there is lack of specific law on protection of Muslims against discrimination. However, in reality, no law can change the hearts of people; only by changing hearts substantial societal change can bought, as some respondents expressed that only by changing the mindset and attitudinal behavior towards Muslims, religious discrimination can be eliminated from Indian society.

Reconciliation- A way out
Reconciliation is the most difficult thing, in politics as in life. However it goes beyond forgiving and forgetting, or simply turning the page (The European Union President Van Rompuy in his Nobel lecture, 2012). Now peace in Europe is evident and war seems ‘inconceivable that’s what makes it ‘reconciliation’ so special. However, so far ‘reconciliation seems illusive in the context of Hindu-Muslim tension in Indian sub-continent.

In Revenge and Reconciliation Rajmohan Gandhi has acknowledges that ‘the heterodoxy of reconciliation [has] not become a dominant Indian or South Asian trait’ while expressing his views on Hindu-Muslim conflict. History will not dissolve

resentments and suspicious. Selective history will in fact harden them.’ But he seems hopeful, as he writes, ‘yet a frank and, as far as possible, non-partisan look at the past can least tell us of blocks to Hindu-Muslim partnership and tell us, too, of what went wrong, and why, in the efforts to remove them.’

If reconciliation is a pre-condition for Hindu-Muslim partnership and amity then Muslim require understanding the Hindu mind, and Hindus the Muslim mind. For reconciliation to work, both side need to be open hearted and forgiving. As Rajmohhan Gandhi said, ‘listening with the heart as well as the ear, to what is said and also to what is unsaid.’ Nonetheless, He has underlined the need for exploring the strategies of reconciliation to diffuse the lingering tension between both communities.

For reconciliation to be effective a social and political dialogues must be initiated at various levels in local, state and national forums. In such forums awareness about Indian Muslim’s contribution to Indian history- to economy, cultural heritage, education, unity and national freedom can be highlighted. Public and private initiative to forge friendship and bridge the trust gap between Hindu and Muslims can be promoted. To win the trust of minorities they must be included (it’s their human rights) in decision making process affecting their lives.

In an attempt to bring Hindu-Muslims reconciliation an Interface Meeting with Parliamentarians and Different Political Parties Leaders (2013) was a significant events organized by PVCHR and Human Rights Law Network (NGOs). Issue of minority Muslims such as police atrocities and discrimination against Muslims, Hindu-Muslim riots, effects of communal politics was discussed and highlighted with various political parties and civil society members.

Certainly there is a need for more dialogue, social inclusion and non-discrimination policies in support and protection of the largest minority groups of India, which will ultimately have benefits for the entire society. It is essential to send the message that discrimination against Muslims and Islamophobia are entirely incompatible with Indian values, and to urge Indian society to implement fully and effectively current International and domestic laws against religious discrimination.

The question of religious discrimination is not limited to the Indian Muslims but to extend to the pitiable situation of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh, whose lives are tormented by the extremist elements in Pakistani society. However, in contemporary Indian subcontinent reconciliation seems least prioritized agenda in political sphere. And Pakistan is not different too.

As I write these lines in the winter of 2014, the tension between India-Pakistan is running high. Provocative remarks by the both side of political leaders and army chief continued unabated. Thus, it may be needed more than ever, but mutual understanding does not seem to be what mainstream Indian or Pakistanis, or Hindu and Muslims, are yearning for.

Nonetheless, in distant past some steps were taken by Indian leadership and political processes were initiated to start for reconciliation between India-Pakistan. Ex-premier, India, Atal Behari Vajpayee correctly remarked during his trip to Lahor (Pakistan):

I regret that we have spent so much time in mutual bitterness. It is unworthy of two nations the size of India and Pakistan to have wasted so much time in mutual ill will…the future demands upon us to think of the welfare of our children and their children…We have had enough of enmity, let us live in amity…(cited in Gandhi, 2000).

Indo-Pak relation is not distinct from the issue of Hindu-Muslim relations as Pakistan was part of India before 1947 and India has more Muslims then Pakistan (Gandhi 2000). Thus, I infer that amicable relation between both countries has potential to improve the situation of Muslim minority in India and Hindu minority in Pakistan resulting improved treatment/relations between minority and majority population in India and Pakistan. A definite outcome of this hypothetical situation would be remarkably reduced religious discrimination in both countries against its minorities, thus reconciliation is one steps towards combating discrimination.


We have laws to combat religious discrimination but in a real world, no law and regulation is able to eliminate ‘societal discrimination’ from the minds of the people. Only change of the heart can bring the needed social inclusiveness and mainstreaming of the Muslim minority in India and Hindu minority in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Summary of the Book
In first Chapter of this book, an overview of the contemporary situation of Indian Muslims has been provided. ‘Discrimination’ and ‘Equality’ is analyzed at theoretical level. Provision against discrimination in International law and Obligations of a member States is analyzed. Position against religious discrimination, particularly on economic, social and cultural, in International laws and tribunals is discussed. Types of discrimination are underlined. A brief section is given on Indian Constitution related to discrimination and equality has been laid out. This Chapter concludes by elucidating the significance of legal provisions, at domestic and International level. Chapter II drew attention on the current situation of religious discrimination against Indian Muslim and their consequence which is crystallized into backwardness, communal violence and forced segregation of Muslim. Further, opinion of NGO and governmental committees on the current state of Indian Muslim is underlined. Chapter also threw the light specifically on increasing phenomenon of Hindu-Muslim conflicts, growing social distance resulting in ghettoism and self-segregation among Muslim. Half-hearted attempt of Indian government to pass the Communal Violence Bill is also discussed. Chapter III provided narratives of Muslim in regard to their experience of religious discrimination. Further, an analysis and conclusion is laid out. In last section, an imperative of reconciliation and efforts are underscored.


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63 Author BioAmit Singh is an India based Independent researcher writes mainly on the issues of human rights particularly on discrimination, dalits and refugees. Amit holds three master degrees including human rights and world history. In past Amit has worked with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, the National Human Rights Commission and The United Nations Development Project including NGO working on the ground level in India and Thailand. His research on the ‘Pakistani Ahmadi Muslim Refugees in Thailand’ was first on this subject and was able to draw attention of the world community. Amit has been invited to present his paper in various national and international forums including University of Massachusetts, Boston, York University, and at the International Association on the Study of Forced Migration. Amit attempt to ignite the mind and heart of people and governments, by his thought provoking articles and research on human rights issues.