KUDOS to Frontline for the Cover Story (March 10) on Muslims. In the name of Hindu Rashtra, the RSS, through the BJP, is harassing, discriminating against, intimidating, and humiliating Muslims in various ways. Most political parties are afraid of voicing their concerns, fearing a “Hindu backlash”. Muslims are under siege. The need of the hour is the consolidation of all liberal voices. The liberal progressive forces within the majority community have the tremendous responsibility of fighting the majoritarian onslaught against not only the minorities but the secular fabric of the country. Majoritarian communalism strengthens minority communalism.
Liberal forces within the minority community are coming out with courage to fight religious bigotry within and outside it. It is not their fight alone. It is the fight of the entire nation. We must not forget the lessons of history. The first target is the minority community, but nobody will be spared. Frontline has shown courage to highlight this issue.
Purushuttam Roy Barman
IT makes no sense for Hindutva ideologues to consider today’s Muslims children of invaders and ask them to prove their nationalism. Muslims were born in India, live in India, and are going to be buried here, and therefore, they are loyal to India and are nationalists on a par with Hindus. The British mercilessly persecuted or killed the last of the Mughals, so there may be very few of their descendants left. Muslims are not bothered about the renaming of roads, towns, and so on, and the erasing of all traces of Muslim rulers by demolishing the monuments they built because today’s Muslims are not the descendants of Muslim rulers.
Muslims are bothered about being treated with respect as human beings. Mere verbal sloganeering does not make one a true nationalist or patriot. Nationalism means making sacrifices for the country as Gandhiji, Subhas Chandra Bose, and many other unsung heroes did.
Patriotism means a readiness to to die for the country, like Bhagat Singh or Udham Singh or the soldiers who guard India’s borders. How many of today’s votaries of nationalism and patriotism are ready to sacrifice their wealth for the country or serve or allow their children to serve in the armed forces instead of going to foreign universities?
The majority of extremist Muslims have a 7th century mindset; that is their tragedy. The majority of Muslims are, however, liberal and broad-minded and take pride in being called Indian.
KUDOS to Frontline for taking up a difficult issue and judiciously involving liberal Muslims from different walks of life to convey their views. Liberal Hindus are also in a sticky position as they are driven to the wall by the Hindutva adherents in power. The articles covered the whole gamut of the inner sentiments of liberal Indian Muslims and made one think how the less privileged and uneducated suffer because they do not have the means to express their anguish, which would at least have a cathartic effect.
The BJP government picks on certain practices of other religions to gain political mileage. Staunch religiosity is being confused with despicable fundamentalism. Civil society survives with the basic tenet of helping one another. Religious dogmatists and majoritarian chauvinists are increasingly hurting this outlook. The manufactured schisms will strike at the roots of integrated coexistence.
THERE are not enough words to condemn the gruesome murder of Waris Khan in Mewat, Haryana, allegedly by cow vigilantes (“Mewat’s horror”, March 10). This is the latest in a series of premeditated attacks by hooligans masquerading as moral and cultural “vigilantes”. It is clear that the State’s constitution of a cow protection task force has allowed such vigilantes to target their hapless victims with impunity. The functioning of the task force is beginning to produce disastrous consequences as proved by this incident.
The incident shows how calculated attempts are being made by the likes of Monu Manesar to create an atmosphere of hate and vengeance against the minority community, thereby polarising society along religious lines. The administration needs to disband the task force and clamp down on the perpetrators of heinous crimes.
B. Suresh Kumar
Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
ONE wonders why the Assam government suddenly decided to take criminal action against those involved in child marriages, without first issuing a statutory caution notice (“Assam’s sorrow”, March 10). Child marriage has been taking place in India long before Independence, and many of us may be the children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren of such marriages. It is prohibited today but still takes place, with practically nothing being done to either prevent it or take action against those who take part in it.
The voting age was reduced from 21 to 18 years many years ago. Newspapers carry reports about minors being involved not only in theft and killing cases but also in rape cases. This shows the maturity of today’s children. Therefore, the Centre should amend the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act to reflect an appropriately reduced age limit.
OLD is gold, and nolen gur (new jaggery) must be aggressively marketed at exhibitions and trade fairs to prevent it from being replaced with synthetic substitutes (“A tapper’s tale”, March 10). The tapper’s trade should be highlighted and popularised online to prevent it from dying out. Tappers should be provided with mandatory accident and medical insurance and housing facilities, and provisions should be made to keep them employed during the off season. In these ways, one can and must prevent the trade from dying out.
THE languages of ordinary folk are replete with the history of their ancestors and should be preserved for the next generation (“Indigenous language being killed”, March 10). These languages must not be taken away from them. In India, the Great Andamanese languages are being endangered and are gradually dying off. We will not be able to learn about the past glory of our civilisation if we do not preserve indigenous languages.
THE most serious recent episodes of conflict between India and China, in the Galwan Valley in 2020 and in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh in 2022, are testimony to their strained relationship (“A cold peace”, February 24). India has to deal with challenges both at the LAC and the LoC. But it has to be said that India has always acted in a mature way as is expected from a large democratic nation.
China needs to understand that India enjoys great international support.
Anuradha Bhasin’s book on Kashmir and the points raised in the interview with her (“Against the grain” and “Fears of a demographic change valid”, February 24) hover around the idea that the apparent comparative calm in Kashmir is disturbing as it is a gagged silence. If that is so, Article 370 or its abrogation need not loom large as it is in any way useless to wish away its “special status” (the state spending phenomenal amounts on a military presence to maintain peace in the region is itself special).
It is high time India looked inwards to discern what is the essential cause of the chronic constitutional problems of Kashmir that make it unique for the wrong reason: does it want to be a unique State that is, in essence, un-integrated with the sovereign republic of India? Until the essential issue is addressed, peace by force may appeal to the rest of India as a good expedient measure.
Madurai, Tamil Nadu
THIS is in reference to the article “The hills they call home” (February 24). I appreciate the writer for taking the time to write such a lovely piece outlining the value of the land to the people of Tamil Nadu’s Arittapatti and about the local flora and fauna as well. The fact that humans have coexisted with nature for so long is quite wonderful. It should come as no surprise that many people worry that Arittapatti’s biodiversity heritage site tag may restrict their ability to use the forest. The people need to be given guarantees that their rights to use the forest will be protected, not just on paper but also in reality. They should also be made aware of the risks associated with overgrazing.