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Unfinished Agenda

4. Hindu Muslim Gulf

In their heart of hearts Hindus have grown up to hate Muslims. At the same time, by and large Muslims do not hate but certainly harbour contempt for the Hindus. This mutually antagonistic attitude has reflected the Hindu Muslim equation right through the centuries, until the British began to assume power in Hindustan. Until then, the Muslim was the ruler and the Hindu, the sublect across large tracts of the country. No doubt, there was a phase when the Marathas gained influence in many parts of India, but their domination was neither permanent nor widespread enough to correct the Hindu Muslim imbalance that had grown over the centuries. This imbalance explains why there is no record of communal riots until after 1858 when the British crown directly assumed governance How can there be a riot between a ruler and his fearful subjects? Riots can only take place when there is a semblance of balance.

The advent of the British signalled the defeat of those princes who were in power Much more of India was ruled by Muslim nawabs than by Hindu rajas. The Mughal emperor was the titular head of the country; eventhe Marathas acknowledged him as such. The defeat was complete and formal when the rebellion or Mutiny of 1857 failed. As the British became rulers, Muslims as well as Hindus became subjects. Thus equality between the two communities was established for the first time. For the Hindus, it was a great relief that they had ceased to be either zimmis or jizyah payers. The British rulers were impartial umpires between the two communities.

These are facts. Yet, the myth of divide and rule was created. Evidently, neither British scholars nor rulers were able to nip it in the bud. They certainly could not have relished being accused of such an unscrupulous policy. Which indicates that there is yet another myth: that our history has been written with bias, only because the British had it written while they ruled the country. They did intervene and favoured positions that served British interests. Our own scholars and politicians played their part in arriving at twisted historical conclusions. And here, the major responsibility must lie with anti-Hindus.

Maulana Muhammad Ali, who was the principal lieutenant of Mahatma Gandhi during his satyagraha campaign of 1920-21, refused to join him in the second campaign in 1930. At a meeting of the All India Muslim Conference in Bombay in April 1930, attended by over 20,000 Muslims, he bluntly stated: We refuse to join Mr.Gandhi because his movement is not a movement for the complete independence of India but for making the seventy millions of Indian Musalmans dependents of the Hindu Mahasabha. The Maulana made no secret of the fact that the Muslims, as a whole, were guided by Pan-Islamism. He told members of the Round Table Conference in London that Islam was not confined to India. I belong, said he, to two circles of equal size but which are not concentric. One is India and the other is the Muslim World... We are nationatists but supernationalists. In his address as Congress President in 1923, Maulana Muhammed Ali reminded the audience that extra territorial sympathies were a part of  the equintessence of Islam, as stated by R.C. Majumdar in History of the Freedom Movement in India, Volume III, Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay, Calcutta 1977.

As is well known, Muhammad Ali and his brother Shaukat Ali, were followers of Mahatma Gandhi when he led the Khilafat movement to protect the throne of the Sultan ofTurkey and the caliphate of all Somali Muslims in the world.

They lost all interest in Gandhiji when, in 1924. Kemal Ataturk, the Turkish general, exiled the sultan and abolished the Khilafat.

Now read a few highlights from the Lal Ishtihar or the Red Pamphet written by one Ibrahim Khan of Myrnensingh district in East Bengal early in the both century; refer to page108 of Struggle for Freedom  by R.C.Majumdar, Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, Bombay. 1988.

Ye Musalmans arise awake! Do not read in the same schools with Hindus. Do not buy anything from a Hindu shop. Do not touch any article manufactured by Hindu hands. Do not give any employment to a Hindu. Do not accept any degrading office under a Hindu. You are ignorant, but if you acquire knowledge you can at once send all Hindus to johannum(hell) You form the majority of the population of this province. Among the cultivators also you form the majority. It is agriculture that is the source of wealth. The Hindu has no wealth of his own and has made himself rich only by despoiling you of your wealth. If you become sufficiently enlightened, then the Hindus will starve and soon become Mahomedans.

Hindus are very selfish.. As the progress of Mahomedans is inimical to the self-aggrandisement of HIndus, the latter will always oppose Mahomedan progress for their selfish ends. Be united in boycotting Hindus. What dire mischief have they not done to us! They have robbed us of honour and wealth. They have deprived us of our daily bread. And now they are going to deprive us of our very life.

Evidently, these are not the ravings of a normal person. Yet the depth of emotion is reflective of the deep divide between the two communities. British manipulation to divide Indians could not be compared to such venom, nor any administration responsible for law and order could possibly encourage such emotions. Which does not mean that the British did not take tactical advantage of the differences, in order to sustain their rule. The point that is being made is that the divide was old and deep and the British were the beneficiaries.

Decades have passed since the British left the sub-continent. Yet the tension between the two communities continues. Between Hindustan and Pakistan, between India and Bangadesh and between the Hindus and Muslims. Why ? Because, as Professor S.Abid Husain has lucidly explained in The National Culture of India, National Book Trust, 1972,

like other Indian communities and most Asian peoples, while honouring as sacred' values of patriotism loyalty to the state, Muslims are unanimousin rejecting what western nations explicitly believe in the priority of country or state over religion.

The Hindu confirmation of these Muslim contentions is given by Nirad C. Chaudhuri in his Autobiography of an Unknown Indian, Macmillan & Company Limited. London,1951.

When I see the gigantic, catastrophe of Hindu-Muslim discord of these days I am not surprised, because we as children held the tiny mustard seed in our hands and sowed it very diligently. In fact, this conflict was implicit in the very unfolding of our history, and could hardly be avoided. Heaven preserve me from dishonesty, so general among Indians, of attributing this conflict to British rule, however much the foreign rulers might have profited by it. Indeed they would have been excusable only as gods, and not as man the political animal, had they made no use of the weapon so assiduously manufactured by us, and by us also put into their hands. But even then they did not make use of it to the extent they might easily have done. This, I know, is a very controversial thesis, but I think it can be easily proved if we do not turn a blind eye to the facts of our history.

A British view of the schism between the two communities is provided by Sir Percival Grifflths, ICS in his book The British Impact on India, Macdonald & Company Limited, London, 1952.

India stood sharply divided between Hindus and Muslims.The feelings between them were much what could be expected, since one community had been dominant and the other subject, and often, though not always, oppressed. What is today called communal dissension was thus the permanent and inevitable legacy of centuries of Muslim rule.

Much has been made of the separate electorates as an attempt by the British to divide and rule. Here is what Sir Percival had to say:

Indian politicians have bitterly reproached Britain for introducing the principle of communal electorates in the Morley-Minto reforms. In reality there was no practical alternative. If semi-parliamentary bodies such as the Morley-Minto Councils were to mean anything at all, it was essential that all communities should be genuinely represented in them. The gulf between the Hindus and the Muslims at that time was wide, and nobody with experience of modern India will doubt that under any system of joint electorates the Hindus would haste secured the return of non-representative Muslims. The philosopher might deplore the fact that Hindus and Muslims thought of themselves as separate peoples, but the statesman had to accept it. The fears of the Muslims were real and deep-seated. When the Congress leaders some years later formed a temporary alliance with the Muslims, they too had to recognise those fears; perhaps the greatest justiflcation of the British establishment of communal electorates lies in the fact that they were recognised in 1916 by the Lucknow Pact between the Congress Party and the Muslim League.

Unfinished Agenda
Prafull Goradia
1. Why Transfer Population?
10. Frontiers
11. Financial Resources
12. Armed Forces
13. Pakistan and Communal Peace
14. Redrawing Boundaries
2. Unfinished Agenda of Partition
23. Two Nation Theory
24. Ethnic Cleansing by Pakistan
25. Get Out of Bangladesh
26. Population Transfer Between Greece and Turkey
3. Betrayal
4. Hindu Muslim Gulf
5. Theological Genesis of Separatism
6. Medieval Experience
7. Subcontinental Ummah is One
8. Separate Homeland For All Muslims
9. Ambedhar on Partition

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