A Study in Contrasts
By Dr Atta-ur-Rahman
The Two-Nation Theory emanated from the frustrations of the Muslim community in India under the British Raj owing to the highly-biased attitude of the British rulers towards them.
It was first proposed by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in his letter to the governor of Banaras in 1868. It was then widely promoted by our national poet Allama Iqbal in his writings. In his presidential address to the Muslim League on December 29, 1930, Muhammed Ali Jinnah forcefully stated that Muslims and Hindus could not live as one nation. In his presidential address on March 22, 1940 to the All-India Muslim League, Jinnah called for a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. As a result of the Independence Movement and the sacrifices of thousands of Muslims, we were finally blessed with Pakistan on August 14, 1947.
After 70 years of our existence, when we look back at where the Muslims in India stand today, we find that the Muslims in Pakistan are far more economically strong. The per capita income of Muslims in Pakistan is about $1,460 while the per capita income of Muslims in India is only about $400 – less than one-fourth of the country’s national GDP. About 52.3 percent of Muslims in India live below the poverty line, with an average monthly income of $5 or less. Muslims constitute about 14.5 percent of the total Indian population. However, only between two percent and three percent of them pass the civil services examinations.
The percentage of the Muslim population that is posted in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is miniscule – between 0.5 percent and 0.7 percent of the total number of people employed each year. Around 99.4 percent of the IAS postings are for Hindus, Sikhs and Christians. According to the data provided by IndiaTomorrow.net, only about 23.7 percent of the three percent (0.71 percent) of Muslims who pass the IAS exams obtain IAS postings between 2009 and 2013.
The literacy level of Muslims in India is also much lower than the national average. Only about four percent (one in 25) of Indians who receive education up to the high school level are Muslims, while only 1.7 percent (one in 60) of college graduates in India are Muslims. When we consider that one in seven people in India is a Muslim, these figures bring out the stark disparities that exist in India between Hindus and Muslims. In his book, ‘India’s Muslim Problem’, V T Rajshekar states that Muslims “are in many ways worse than untouchables and in recent years they are facing dangers of mass annihilation”.
The mass killings of Muslims in Indian towns and cities also add strength to the Two-Nation Theory. About 630 Muslims lost their lives during the 1969 Gujarat riots. This was followed by anti-Muslim violence in the Indian towns of Bhiwandi, Jalgaon and Mahad in 1970 when a large number of properties of Muslims were burnt and many Muslims killed. During anti-Muslim violence in Moradabad in 1980, about 2,500 Muslims were killed by extremist Hindu elements. Another 1,800 Muslims were slaughtered in the state of Assam in 1983 in a village called Nellie. The official 600-page Tiwari Commission Report on the Nellie massacre has remained a closely guarded secret since 1984.
The destruction of Babri Masjid in December 1992 by Hindu nationalists led to the Bombay Riots. BBC correspondent Toral Varia concluded that the riots were “a pre-planned pogrom” that had been in the making since 1990. According to many independent scholars, extremist Hindu rioters had been given access to information about the locations of Muslim homes and businesses through confidential government sources. This violence was planned and executed by Shiv Sena, a Hindu nationalist group led by Bal Thackeray.
The anti-Muslim riots that occurred in Bombay in January 1993 following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, were reported in the following manner by international and Indian newspapers:
“Bombay: Day after day after day, for nine days and nights beginning on January 6, mobs of Hindus rampaged through this city, killing and burning people only because they were Muslims. No Muslim was safe – not in the slums, not in high-rise apartments, not in the city’s bustling offices – in an orgy of violence that left 600 people dead and 2,000 injured...Interviews have suggested, moreover, that the killing, arson and looting were far from random. In fact, they were organized by Hindu gangs, abetted by the Bombay police, and directed at Muslim families and businesses. The extent of police cooperation with the Hindu mobs appears to have spread through the entire police force, excluding only the most senior officers...neither the Maharashtra authorities nor the central government in New Delhi made any effort to stanch the flow of blood.” (The New York Times, February 4, 1993)
“Tragedy has struck Surat (Muslim) women… for them, it was hell let loose... While men were thrown into bonfires, torched alive or had burning tyres put around their necks, women were stripped of all their clothes and ordered to ‘run till they can’t… run”. (The Times of India, December 22, 1992).
Gujarat has been a constant venue of repeated anti-Muslim riots since 1947. About 2,000 Muslims lost their lives in 2002. The then chief minister, Narendra Modi, was accused of initiating and condoning the violence in connivance with the local police and government officials, who participated in the mass killings and conveyed information about Muslim-owned properties to the extremists. According to independent observers, the evidence available pointed to a methodical massacre which was carried out with “exceptional brutality and was highly coordinated”.
However, the most brutal of all these acts has been the massacres of Muslims in Kashmir where about 100,000 men, women and children have been killed. In a 1993 report, Human Rights Watch stated that the Indian security forces “assaulted civilians during search operations, tortured and summarily executed detainees in custody and murdered civilians in reprisal attacks”. A US State Department report issued in 2010 stated that the Indian Army in Jammu and Kashmir had carried out the extrajudicial killing of civilians.
The plight of Muslims in India, their abject poverty and illiteracy as well as the systematic slaughter by extremist right-wing parties – who have been aided and abetted by the Indian government – prove beyond a shade of doubt that the Two-Nation theory was correct. The Muslims of Pakistan should be grateful for having a country that they can call their own.
We should cherish this country that was acquired after thousands of people lost their lives and work devotedly to protect it and take it to great heights.
(The writer is chairman of UN ESCAP Committee on Science Technology & Innovation and former chairman of the HEC. The News International)