By Dr Mohammad Sajjad
Of late the India’s security and investigative agencies through the Indian media have started conveying us that there is a “Darbhanga Module” also which is alleged to have carried out some terrorist activities in certain cities of India. There have been few arrests of some educated professionals, some of them working in the Middle East. The real truth will come to us after a long haul of slow-paced judicial trial (even in TADA the conviction rate was as low as below two per cent). There has been allegations against the agencies of procedural lapses in the modes of arrests made thus far (I have dealt with few other aspects of this in my essay in the Rashtriya Sahara, Urdu daily, Sunday Dastaawez, 25 May 2008; for more comprehensive, powerful, and nuanced analysis, see Irfan Ahmad, “The (In)visible Indian Terrorism”, 16 September 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/09/2011912104910716820.html 16 Sept 2011).
Nonetheless, just for the sake of pushing my argument, ahead if we believe, only for a moment, that the allegations against the detained Muslim youths are true, and if this has something to do with “alienation”, and marginalization from the structures and processes of power, and with state discrimination against them in socio-economic uplift then we need to ponder this:
Darbhanga-Madhubani is a region from where among a particular social class of Muslims, relatively speaking, there is fairly good proportion of educated youth. The Constitution’s provision under the Articles 29 and 30 have been made better use of by the Darbhanga Muslims; the educational entrepreneurs among the Darbhanga Muslims have been running minority institutes of teachers’ training (B.Ed.), the Katihar Medical College, etc. In Bihar, during the Laloo-Rabri regime, doors to B. Ed courses were closed except these Muslim minority institutions. It must have been a source of envy for the Maithil Brahmans and other Hindus. Darbhanga has been gifted by the Union Government with the off-campus of a Central University, the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), which offers professional courses like Diploma in Engineering and Technology in Urdu medium to ensure greater inclusion of Muslims. Since long, this region has been sending Muslim MPs in the Lok Sabha, on occasions, simultaneously two MPs).
In 1990-91, Darbhanga’s Muslim MP, Prof. Shakilur Rahman (former VC, Mithila University, Darbhanga, and Bihar University, Muzaffarpur) was the Union Health Minister in 1990-91. He had won the 1989 Lok Sabha against all odds put by the powerful caste group of Darbhanga, and his onslaught against vested interests deeply entrenched into the Mithila University had earned him great popularity which ensured his victory. Darbhanga’s [several times] MP, Mr. Fatmi, an engineer from AMU, was the Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development, 2004-09; the Madhubani’s several times MP, Dr Shakil Ahmad, an MBBS from Muzaffarpur, was the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, 2004-09; earlier he was minister of health in the Bihar Government; his father was the Deputy Speaker, Bihar Assembly. Presently Dr. Shakil is the national spokesperson of the biggest political party, ruling over India and also in large number of provinces, the Congress.
Ghulam Sarwar (1926-2004) represented a segment of Darbhanga in the Bihar Assembly; he was minister of education, 1977-79, then he held several portfolios including Speaker Bihar Assembly during 1990-2004. Abdul Bari, an MLA from Darbhanga, is an important leader of the RJD which ruled over Bihar for 15 years, and throughout this period he has been minister; at the moment he is the leader of opposition in the Bihar Assembly. Among the Muslims qualifying for the Civil Services, there is hardly any list which is not represented by a Darbhanga Muslim.
Secondly, certain fallacies apart, the Indian state and its democratic processes are responsive enough. Once you assert your demand in a concerted and sustained manner, it stands conceded and fulfilled by the state. The National Council for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) has been empowered to do the needful towards educational uplift; it has declared the Jamia Millia Islamia, a Central University, as a Muslim minority institution, reserving fifty per cent of the enrolment intake for the Muslim students. The government/UGC offers certain fund to the Hamdard University. One can multiply such instances. The recent legislative piece of the fundamental right to education is a wonderful revolutionary weapon of uplift and empowerment more particularly for the weaker and oppressed sections. We ought to launch a campaign to make full use of it. Invest in education for a turnaround.
The point I am trying to make is: Among the Muslim educated youth and the middle classes there should not be any feeling of alienation; rather than falling prey to any hard-headed, right-wing, foreign-inspired chauvinistic radicalism (if any), they should organize themselves to pressurize the democratic institutions and processes to press their demands, pertaining to education, employment, health, security of life and property, religio-cultural freedom, and all such things. India’s secular democracy offers a lot to all of us, we must strengthen it. All of us should unitedly force out any hard-headed tendency of resorting to blasts. Meanwhile, the struggle for justice to the detained youths must also continue.
Needless to add, the Muslim youths are neither meant for being hired by any ISI nor are they meant for being fired by their own security agencies. Long Live Secular Democracy of India.