Warning of rising Muslim anger over discrimination

By Zakir Hussain 


MONDAY'S bomb blasts in Mumbai are the latest in a
series of flashpoints that have contributed to
friction between Hindus and Muslims in India, which
has been mounting over the past decade.
Early this month, Time magazine eerily forewarned that
mounting fury over religious discrimination by the
Hindu majority was triggering an increasingly violent
Muslim backlash.

The article noted that the war on terror and the 1998
election of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on a
Hindu-nationalist agenda had lent a veil of legitimacy
to lurking anti-Muslim prejudice.

Although Indian Muslims had their high achievers, such
as President Abdul Kalam, India's richest man Azim
Premji and a host of Bollywood stars, it said, the
largely poorer and marginalised Muslims were more
likely than Hindus to be victims of violent attacks.

This has fuelled a sense of alienation and resentment
among many Muslims, who felt that communal riots in
Gujarat last year showed how inhospitable India had
become to them.

In those riots which left some 2,000 dead, 85 per cent
of those who died and the properties destroyed were
Muslim, reported Time. Human rights groups accused the
ruling BJP in Gujarat of standing idly by during
violence against Muslims.

Mr Chhagan Bhujbal, deputy chief minister of
Maharashtra state of which Mumbai is the capital, told
New Delhi Television 'there is no doubt' Monday's
attacks were linked to those riots. 

They started after Muslims attacked a train carrying a
group of Hindu activists returning from Ayodhya,
killing 59 people.

Mr Aakar Patel, editor of Bombay's largest tabloid
Mid-Day, told UPI: 'Hindu-Muslim relations, already
low since the riots in Gujarat, will worsen,
especially since at least one of these blasts is seen
as being targeted at Mumbai's Gujarati migrants.'

A senior Muslim militant, whose group was made up of
former members of the banned Student Islamic Movement
of India, told Time that Gujarat was a breaking point,
and 'if the government continues on this path, we will
go to any extreme'.

Many regard the destruction of the Babri mosque in
Ayodhya by Hindu zealots in 1992 as the point when
Hindu-Muslim relations in India went sharply downhill.

That incident led to communal riots across India. It
also saw a series of bomb blasts in Mumbai in March
1993 that killed some 300 people and injured more than

Monday's blasts are certain to adversely affect
Hindu-Muslim relations.

Prominent historian Ramachandra Guha told The
Guardian: 'This will strengthen the hand of hardliners
within the BJP who want to fight the next election on
an anti-Muslim platform.'


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