It is to point out that V P Singh, popularly known as VP, came to grace the occasion against the advice of his doctors. A frail and weak, VP came out of the car with the help of his admirers and reached the venue with much difficulty. In fact, it was his dedication to the cause of the weaker and marginalized sections and his close association with the AIMC General Secretary Dr Mohammed Manzoor Alam that brought him to the venue of the convention. After making his heart-felt speech, he went directly to Apollo Hospital from the FICCI Auditorium. He had to go on dialysis every alternate day. Today it was the turn for dialysis again. A man of strong determination, he said: “One day for myself, and one day for my people.” For more than half a dozen years he was following this routine.
The 76-year old “crusader for justice” said any country was run on justice. A person could tolerate poverty but not disrespect and indignity. The Government should take measures to diminish the feeling of insecurity among Muslims and give justice to them. He said the Sachar Committee’s recommendations should be implemented to remove their backwardness. Besides, the Srikrishna Commission Report should also be implemented. Muslims also didn’t get their due share under the Mandal Commission. The Government should fix a separate quota for the Muslims out of the 27 per cent reservation given to the backward classes. “The nation can’t progress by keeping any section of the society deprived,” said VP Singh, who didn’t agree to compromise his stand on Babri Masjid and sacrificed the first coalition Government at the Centre in November 1990 following the withdrawal of the BJP’s support.
It is to point out that keeping his ill health in view, V P Singh was requested by the organizers to address soon after the recital of the verses from the Holy Quran by Maulana Sarfaraz Alam Qasmi of the Institute of Objective Studies but even before the welcome addresses, breaking the general tradition. The welcome addresses were delivered by the representatives from three sections of the Indian society: Maulana Abdul Wahab Khilji (Muslim), B S Sidhu (Sikh) and D Prempati (Dalit).
Maulana Abdul Wahab Khilji, Vice President, AIMC, and Joint Convener of the national convention, said that the community had at all not lost faith in the judiciary. Rather, it was the delay in implementing the recommendations of the Sachar Committee and Srikrishna Commission Reports that was worrying. He said when justice seemed elusive a feeling of revenge emerged willingly or unwillingly. “There will be anarchy if there is no justice,” Maulana Khilji, also a renowned scholar, said.
B S Sidhu, a Sikh philosopher, averred that the feeling of insecurity was felt by the Muslims as well as the Sikhs. According to him, to trace the genesis of the problem, one would have to go into the pre-Independence days. He said of the 121 people who were hanged during the Independence struggle, 93 were Sikhs.
Former Delhi University teacher and Dalit ideologue D Prempati spoke of a sense of insecurity among Dalits in the country. He said: “Some say the problem of insecurity is incurable but I didn’t agree with them. We need to come together, recognize our position in the country to solve the problem and live like citizens in a democracy, not like subordinate citizens like we are today.”
L-R: Mohammed Sulaiman, Dr Manzoor Alam, V P Singh, Maulana Abdullah Mughaisi, Maulana Abdul Wahab Khilji and Prof.Manzoor Ahmad
Maulana Hakim Mohammed Abdullah Mughaisi, President, AIMC, in his comprehensive presidential address, said that we the Muslims had decided to live in our country, India, after pondering over with a determination.
In his four-point appeal, he asked the Muslims: i. to be bold to stand in line with the brethren of the country after enhancing the speed of the force to act in all walks of life viz economic, technology, skill, agriculture, business etc with a strong determination; ii. to strive to make their religious and modern educational institutions the exemplary and standard institutions so that they could help presenting a good and transparent society after getting equipped with education of high degree and standard in an age of competition; iii. to get benefited from the rights enshrined in the Constitution of India; and iv. to make an action plan for the community’s security and country’s development and integrity under the country’s system and Constitutional guarantees so that they could spend their lives independently in the country while coming out of the boarders of the feeling of insecurity and atmosphere of terror, with the following Urdu couplet by Allama Iqbal.
Hawa hai gau tez-o-tund lekin chiragh apna jala raha hai
Woh mard darwesh jis ko haq ne diye hain andaaz-e-khusruana
[Although the wind is very fast and strong but is holding his lamp alight
The hermit who has been endowed with the wisdom of Khusro (the legendary king of Persia)]
Syed Shahabuddin, former MP and President, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) said: “The feeling of insecurity surrounds our entire life today. We have to face such atmosphere even 60 years after the Independence and we are deprived of justice. An unnamed terror overtakes us.”
He further said: “There are various types of insecurity among Muslims---economic insecurity, political insecurity, educational insecurity and also cultural insecurity. Economically, we have gone into a deep cave of backwardness and our community has to live in dirty localities. If the feeling of insecurity among Muslims has to go, they will have to be provided with the opportunities of justice and equality. It is pity that Muslims are not being given an appropriate representation in any field.”
Also a former diplomat and founder-editor of the English monthly “Muslim India”, he said: “We are Indian and also Muslim and our being Muslim doesn’t create any obstacle in being Indian or Secular. But today the situation is that the gulf between the country’s Constitution and practice upon it is being widened.”
Member of Parliament Shahid Siddiqui said the feeling of insecurity prevailed even before the Partition, and if there was no feeling of insecurity, Pakistan would have had never come into being.
Referring to different commissions and committees constituted generally after the communal disturbances, he queried: “When a Muslim is killed, why there is made no arrest, and no case is registered? Why commission or committee is constituted?”
Also national secretary of Samajwadi Party and editor of the Urdu daily “Awaam” and weekly “Nai Dunya”, he said the constitution of these commissions and committees following any incidents is a silent conspiracy to shut our tongues, and all are equal in this act.”
He further asked as to who was ruling at the Centre when Babri Masjid was ‘martyred’? And, now who was in power? Why Liberahan Commission’s Report had not been completed so far? And the Nanavati Commission constituted after the violence in Gujarat not submitted till date?
Shahid Siddiqui further said: “We have gained a lot since Independence. But what we have lost is justice. There can’t be progress where there is no justice. It would be difficult to keep united our country without establishing a system based upon justice.
He also said that this convention was a symbol of unity, not only of different schools of thought of Muslims but followers of different religions. Representatives from Hindu, Sikh and Christian communities were also being seen here. He said it seemed that all justice-loving people, including V P Singh, Dr Ranjan Yadav, Digant Oza, Bhushan Oza, Madhu Kishwar (Hindus), B S Sidhu, Paramjit Singh Sarna and Sardar Gurdeep Singh (Sikhs), John Dayal (Christian), D Prempati (Dalit), and of course, Teesta Setalvad (Parsi), were in this fight against the feeling of insecurity.
Member of Parliament and Haj Committee Chairman Iqbal Ahmad Sardagi speaking
Member of Parliament Iqbal Ahmad Sardagi said it was necessary to bring the community out of the feeling of the insecurity. Referring to the historic speeches of late Maulana Abul Kalam Azad soon after the Partition, he said nothing was achieved getting demoralized. Instead, one should keep his morale high. He said the Constitution of India was exemplary. One got courage and inspiration from it. According to him, the Muslims should be provided with the opportunities to progress to bid good bye to the feeling of insecurity from within.
Also the chairman of the Haj Committee of India and hailing from South India, he demanded reservation for the Muslims in the entire country on the pattern of Kerala and Karnataka. He gave a call to the Muslim Parliamentarians to be loyal to their community also while keeping loyalty with their respective party. According to him, they should take interest also in the issues of their own community rising above the political interests.
Quoting data from government and non-government sources, Member of Parliament and former Bihar minister Dr Ranjan Yadav said there was a low representation of this community as a whole everywhere. He stressed the need to set up a national data bank so that correct status should remain known to all.
According to Dr Yadav, to provide computer in the madarsa was not a solution to the problem. Instead, there should be introduction of mathematics and science in the Islamic seminaries.
Aziz Burney, Editor, Urdu Rashtriya Sahara, averred that if the Muslim community was today a victim of the feeling of insecurity, the community and its leaders, not the government was responsible for this. He said so far as the Muslims living at a certain place altogether were concerned, this was a result of the feeling of insecurity, the theme of the convention.
Attracting the attention of the audience with clapping and applauds, Aziz Burney, also a popular orator, said: “You should have a trust and confidence in your representatives. If Mayawati is today the chief minister of the country’s biggest state, that is due to only the people’s trust and confidence in her.”
Welcoming the initiatives of the AIMC, Aziz Burney assured his Urdu Sahara Group’s full cooperation to the movement for the eradication of insecurity among the Muslims.
Journalist and Christian leader John Dayal speaking and Dr Manzoor Alam and Mauji Khan seen in the background
John Dayal, President, Christian Council of India, dwelt in detail the reasons for the backwardness of minorities and concluded that if the mindset was not changed, the condition won’t change, leading to backwardness, and finally, the feeling of lack of security.
A senior journalist, working in the past with the erstwhile English dailies “Patriot” and “Midday”, he said the Muslim community would have to come forward themselves to face all the challenges they were surrounded with.
Throwing light on the situation prevailing in Gujarat Digant Oza, eminent journalist from Ahmedabad (Gujarat) said the incidents of encounters had grown to a great extent during the regime of Narender Modi. Recently the state Government had moved the anti-Conversion Bill. This all brought a threat to the security of other sections of the society, he said.
Social activist and journalist Madhu Kishwar speaking
Ms Madhu Kishwar, Editor of the famous women magazine “Manushi” and well known social activist, said today no body except goonda elements was safe and secure in this country. Even the political leaders and Police were scared of these goondas because the entire system was run through them.
According to her, a democracy that was not in a position to provide security to its minorities couldn’t be called successful. In her view, the criterion of the democracy was that how much the minorities and women were safe and secure in it. She said that the question was not of the feeling of insecurity among Muslims only but the truth was that most of the people were now living under the shadow of the terror. Despite this, the Muslims should try to come out of the feeling of insecurity because the country needed not only one but a number ‘Abul Kalams’, she added.
She also said that A P J Abdul Kalam was nominated being a Muslim but when he left no body said that the country was losing a Muslim President. According to her, he proved his worth so much that the entire country as a whole was worried to see him going.
There was a little hue and cry when she started to speak on the incident at Hyderabad involving Bangladeshi controversial novelist Tasleema Nasreen, now living in exile at Kolkata (West Bengal). Sensing the mood of a section of the audience, she very tactfully dealt with the issue and said she herself or Tasleema might have a different view on any issue, but one should listen to her and shouldn’t use violence to stop her. Because it would give the entire community a bad reputation, she opined.
Renowned Economist Dr Abu Saleh Shariff
Dr Abu Saleh Shariff, a renowned economist, said at a time when the community was seeking different kinds of securities from the Government, it should be clear that if its potentials and values were not protected, it would be also a loss of the nation.
Dr Shariff, who had earned a reputation as a key brain behind the Sachar Report, said it was high time the community should wake up for its own securities in different areas.
Naved Hamid, a member of the National Integration Council (NIC) said the feeling of insecurity was the evidence of the weakness of our democracy. “The mainstream which we are asked to join, is not a mainstream but a stream of communalism. So far as the matter of loving one’s own country is concerned, we are not even three per cent in military, but we sacrificed 14 per cent lives in Kargil,” said Naved Hamid, also Secretary, Movement for Empowerment of Muslim Indians (MOEMIN).
National Integration Council Member Naved Hamid
A well known social activist, Naved Hamid urged that India, a signatory to the 1949 Anti-Genocide Declaration of the United Nations, should enact immediately an anti-genocide law.
Mohammed Sulaiman, President, Indian National League (INL) declared the movement had already started today from the national capital and one was sure it would spread in all parts of the country.
Eminent Islamic scholar and orator Maulana Syed Mustafa Rifai Jeelani Nadvi from Bangalore, Member of Parliament and journalist Shahid Siddiqui (In the front), Digant Oza and Naved Hamid (Back)
Abdul Hameed Nomani, spokes-person, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind said so far as the identity of the Muslims was concerned, it was under a threat always due to the issue of Uniform Civil Code raised time and again. He said he asked even RSS Sarsanghchalak and other ideologues a number of times as to what would be the contents of the Uniform Civil Code, but no appropriate and proper reply came.
Manzoor Ahmad, former Vice Chancellor, Ambedkar University, Agra, averred that the feeling of insecurity was not a new thing. “It is found among Muslims since much before the Partition. As a Police official, I have noticed it time and again in areas I was posted.” He said there were several reasons leading to this feeling of insecurity. “Therefore, in my view, before devising an action plan for the movement, we needed a detailed and thoughtful analysis of the issue,” he emphasized.
Maulana Gulzar Qasmi, President, AIMC Uttar Pradesh, said the AIMC would steer the movement with the help of justice-loving people from all the communities. Talking to this scribe he assured that the area of Meerut that heralded the First War of Independence or “First War against Slavery”, known as “Sepoy Mutiny”, would again be in the forefront of this “First War against Insecurity”.
AIMC General Secretary Dr Manzoor Alam
Dr Manzoor Alam, Convener, National Convention, in his objectives of the Convention “Need for Consensus on Basic National Issues” said: “We know that a Dalit can be killed with impunity, Police can fire on poor people without provocation, a priest can be murdered, events like Ayodhya and Mumbai can be staged without fear of punishment. All this is because we don’t have a consensus on the point that whoever is the victim, he/ she is a citizen of India, and the State has a responsibility of preventing and suppressing such events as well as of punishing the aggressors.”
Raising the question of equal compensation to the victims of the incidents of same nature, he pointed out in his thoughtful document, distributed among the participants: “Victims’ kin are not even compensated for the loss of life or other losses in a standardized format. We have been pleading for making the compensation for 1984 anti-Sikh riots the benchmark for all compensation in similar cases.”
An ideologue-cum-activist, Dr Alam concluded that all this was not good for a society; and justice, fair-play, and rule of law were not luxuries that we could go without.
A view of the audience
The entire convention revolved around the 15-point resolution that was read by Dr Manzoor Alam, Convener, National Convention and passed in the initial moment. The programme was conducted by Abdul Hannan Chandna, a renowned chartered accountant and social activist of Delhi. A vote of thanks was presented by the AIMC treasurer Mauji Khan.
Prominent among those who participated in the national convention included Paramjit Singh Sarna, President, Delhi Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee; Sardar Gurdeep Singh, social activist; Kaukab Hameed, Rashtriya Lok Dal (Ajit Singh) leader and former minister, UP; Bhushan Oza, Advocate, Ahmedabad (Gujarat); Dr N K Afandi, Assistant Secretary, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind; Maulana Umiduzzaman Kairanvi, General Secretary, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (Maulana Salim Qasmi Group); Maulana Syed Mustafa Rifai Jeelani Nadvi, President, Al Islah, and a well known author and orator; and Agha Sultan Ahmad from Bangalore (Karnataka); Maulana Kaka Saeed Umri, Rector, Jamia Darussalam Arabic College, Oomerabad (Tamil Nadu); Dr. Phiroz A Poonawala, a businessman, Pune (Maharashtara); Abdul Qayyum Akhtar and Mujahid Ali Naqvi, both advocates and AIMC leaders from Jaipur, besides Abdul Lateef, Secretary, Milli Technical Institute, Jaipur; Mohammed Shaukat, Secretary, Muslim Musafirkhana, Jaipur; Mohammed Shafi Faruqui, Jodhpur, all from Rajasthan; Jamilur Rahman, President, AIMC Punjab; Pirji Hafiz Mohammed Hussain, patron, AIMC Haryana; Ghulam Mohammed, a renowned businessman and AIMC leader from Kolkata (West Bengal); Prof Mateen Ahmed, Director, Imaarat Technical Institute, Phulwarisharif; and Idrees Parwez, Advocate, Darbhanga, all from Bihar; renowned surgeon Dr Majeed Alam and journalist Wakil Ahmed Rizvi, President and General Secretary of AIMC Jharkhand, respectively; and Qamar Alam, advocate from Etah; Masood Jeelani, journalist, Lucknow; Tarique Shafique, Gorakhpur; Maulana Aquil Ahmad Qasmi, Shekhul Hadees, Jamia Gulzar Husainiya, Ajrara, all from UP; and Dr Syed Farooque, President, AIMC, Delhi; Pervez Miyan and Ms Mamduha Majid, Vice Presidents, AIMC; Mushtaque Ahmed Alig, Advocate, Supreme Court Of India; Hakim Zillur Rahman, social activist; Musharraf Hussain, social activist; Ms Rehana Siddiqui, social activist; Prof Haseena Hashia, Jamia Millia Islamia, and Mohammad Zeyaul Haque, senior journalist all from Delhi.
Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi
The star attraction in absentia was Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s message. In her message, she said: “Only a couple of days ago we celebrated the 60th anniversary of our Independence, a momentous occasion for all of us. We are justifiably proud of our achievements, as we have come a long way from our modest beginnings as an Independent nation state in a relatively short time. However, a lot is still left to be done. Among the areas that need urgent attention is the sense of insecurity among the Muslims. The need of the day is to work towards creation of a perfect society where every individual is equally important and justice is available to everyone. It is important to work on building a consensus on these basic issues and such conventions go a long way in achieving this objective.”