Dalit-Pasmanda Muslims Moolnivasi-Bahujan first, Muslims later

[All India United Muslim Morcha (AIUMM) observes the death anniversary of Dr. BR Ambedkar and the anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Patna (Bihar)]

By Ashok Yadav

6 December, 2009, Patna (Bihar): Like the rest of the country, Patna, the capital of Bihar, too witnessed a flurry of programmes and activities to commemorate the death anniversary of Babasaheb Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar and to denounce the demolition of Babri Masjid. It is a strange coincidence that both the passing away of Dr BR Ambedkar in 1956 and the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 share the same date: December 6. All the programmes, at least those organised in Patna, concentrated on either of the events. This writer is not in the know of any other programme that combined together both (i.e. commemoration of Dr Ambedkar on his death anniversary as well as denunciation of the demolition of Babri Mosque demolition) than the one organised by the All India United Muslim Morcha (AIUMM). On this occasion, AIUMM organised a seminar captioned ‘Dalit Muslims: Samasya aur Samadhan (Dalit Muslims: Problems & Solutions)’. The banner of the seminar commenced with: “On the Occasion of Death Anniversary of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar and Anniversary of Babri Mosque Demolition”.

Babri Mosque Demolition: Why on December 6?

It was brought out clearly in the seminar that it was not without reason that Babri mosque was demolished on the day of death anniversary of Dr Ambedkar. One of the speakers was of the view that the demolition was consciously conflated with the date of the death anniversary of Dr Ambedkar, ‘Hindu’ communalism originates from the caste system in the final analysis, and, Dr Ambedkar had been the greatest crusader against caste system and its sanctioning authority--the Hindu religious scriptures--in the twentieth century. So in order to erase the memory of Dr Ambedkar, to put in place a Hindutva symbol in the form of demolition of Babri mosque in parallel to Dr Ambedkar’s legacy, to pollute and defile the memory of Dr Ambedkar on December 6 every year, the choice of date for demolition was made.

Another Mosque Demolition: Not by Sangha Parivar but by Ashraf Muslims

However, the seminar did not remain confined to a discussion on the linkage of Dr Ambedkar’s death anniversary and Babri mosque demolition. It went one step ahead when it discussed the demolition of yet another mosque located in Rampur-Bairiyya village of East Champaran district of Bihar ironically and symbolically in the night of 6 December, 2007. Interestingly, this mosque was almost demolished not by the Saffron brigade but by the upper caste Muslims of the village in their animosity towards their pasmanda (lower caste Muslims) brothers who had erected the mosque because they were being discriminated against in the common mosque of the village. The ashraf Muslims did not like this autonomy of lower caste Muslims in their village. So with a discussion of demolition of the two mosques the whole story of caste system and two variants of communalism were brought out in the open.

Need to grasp the full potential of the Pasmanda Movement

One of the speakers suggested that pasmanda leaders themselves had not realised the great potential of their movement. How the movement can bring about the transformation in the polity of the nation has not been fully grasped by its leadership. By breaking the myth of Muslim society being a homogeneous one, the pasmanda movement gives a body blow to majoritarian ‘Hindu’ communalism. The social awakening that the pasmanda movement brings along with it will also prove counterproductive to Islamic fundamentalism in the long run.

Opposition to Salman Khursheed’s Proposal

There was a news report carried by the newspapers that very day about the Congress leader Salman Khursheed’s declaration that the government was actively considering carving out a separate quota for OBC Muslims in the overall 27% OBC quota. There were animated discussions on this move of the UPA government in the seminar too. When one of the speakers contested this approach of the Congress it was welcomed by clapping of the audience that consisted of district organisers of the AIUMM from all over Bihar. It was pointed out that there was no need for a separate quota within the OBC quota for Muslims as they are already getting it under the common quota. If the government is so serious about giving quota to the Muslims they should first rescind the 1950 central government order that ejected out the depressed castes professing Islam and Christianity from central and state list of scheduled castes, and give reservation to Dalit Muslims not in the name of religion but on the basis of caste occupations.

Feroz Mansoori, the President of the Youth Wing of the organisation, who was conducting the seminar, announced that AIUMM was of the view that the announcement of Salman Khursheed was only a ploy to break the unity of OBCs along religious lines and to not allow the OBC Muslims from joining the mainstream of national life. The central government was doing every bit on the behest of ashraf leaders within the Congress party to suppress caste based social identities of lower caste Muslims from coming onto surface. He also informed the audience that the AIUMM had organised programmes in the past in the memory of social justice icons such as Jotiba Phule, E V Ramasami Naickar Periyar and Martyr Jagdeo Prasad.

Lower Caste Muslims are Bahujan-Moolnivasis First, Muslims later

A dalit activist from BAMCEF told the dalit and pasmanda muslim participants of the seminar that their forefathers had done well to leave the suffocating and discriminatory Hindu fold and embrace Islam. But the Hindu upper castes too embraced Islam to take patronage from Muslim kings and feudal lords. Not only this, the Muslim kings made compromise with Brahmins. So the same caste system engulfed the Indian Muslim community too. But now time has come that lower caste Muslims should realise that they too are moolnivasi bahujans of this country, they should forge caste based unity with their brothers and sisters in ‘majority’ and other ‘minority’ communities. They should declare loud and clear that they are first of all shudras and ati-shudras of this land and that their social maladies and remedies are not any different from that of their brothers and sisters in other religious communities. The BAMCEF activist also made a distinction between our conditions of life and our identity. He stressed upon the fact that the term ‘dalit’ indicated not our identity but conditions of life. When we confuse our conditions of life with our identity we lose desire to bring transformations in our life. He was of the view that being ‘moolnivasi’ was the identity of dalit bahujans of this land. His call was received by the participants with due clapping.

Ashrafiyya Leadership deriving incorrect inferences from the Sacchar Report

Sachhar Committee report was also discussed in the meeting. The seminar contested the common viewpoint being propagated day and night that life conditions of average Muslims were inferior to that of dalits. Sachhar Committee itself says that ashraf, ajlaf and arzal are three social categories in Muslim community in parallel to dwijas, shudra and ati shudras in the majority community. So the seminar declared that the life conditions of ashraf can only be compared with those of dwijas, of ajlaf with those of shudras and of arzal with those of ati-shudras. It was made clear that no government in the country can formulate comprehensive plans for socio-economic development exclusively for a particular community alone. Especially, in a country where everything is decided keeping in view the vote bank politics. Recommendations of Sachhar Committee are such that when implemented it will not benefit the Muslim community alone but the whole socio-economically backward populations. Only two or three recommendations are such that directly concern the Muslim community. So the voice emerged from the seminar that dalit-pasmanda Muslims reject things like recommendations of Sachhar Committee because these are nothing but means to keep Muslims in perpetual state of harbouring false hopes from the state. Why does not the government establish committees to study socio-economic-educational backwardness of other communities such as Sikhs, Christians, Adivasis, Dalits, OBC’s etc.? Why does the government establish committees every now and then to study backwardness of Muslims alone? Is this not because Muslims are the biggest minority block and considered a vote bank? With experiences of sixty years of living in independent India the Muslims of India, particularly dalit and pasmanda, cannot now be deceived by false promises.

On Religious and Linguistic Identity of Muslims

There came some tense moments in the seminar when one of the speakers expressed views that the Muslims should not be particular about keeping distinct identity in the matters regarding language and outward appearances as it hinders in making solidarity with dalit bahujans of majority community. This was contested by Buddha Sharan Hans who presided the meeting. He expressed his views that Muslims must keep their religious and language identities intact. He was of the view that learning Urdu, Arabic and Persian assists them in getting jobs in gulf countries. Buddha Sharan Hans is a noted dalit writer. Before converting to Buddhism he was known as Dalit Paswan. He retold stories of his village which has eight Muslim families of whom three had been Yadavs, three Kushwahas and two Paswans when they converted to Islam hundreds of years ago. So when some dispute broke out between a Paswan and a Muslim family over some village matters and it began to take communal overtones he made peace between the two parties by pointing out their common social origin. He was also of the view that we must not use word ‘Hindustan’ as it has acquired a Hindu religious connotation and instead we should use Bharat or India, the word used in the Constitution of India. Rakesh Priyadarshi, a noted young dalit poet, also recited his revolutionary poem against caste atrocities.

The seminar was addressed by district representatives of the AIUMM. Kamal Ashraf, the working President of the AIUMM, dwelt at length the vision and functioning of the organisation. The main speakers of the seminar included noted Janata Dal (U) leader Nihora Prasad Yadav, Prof Mohammad Sharif, Head of Department, Law College, Patna University, Patna, Prof Ramashis Singh, Editor, Aap Ka Aina magazine, Rakesh Priyadarshi, the noted dalit poet, Umesh Rajak, BAMCEF Pracharak, Ashok Yadav, writer on social justice issues etc. Buddha Sharan Hans presided over the meeting.

The seminar ended by observing one minute silence on the death of Manoj Kumar Majhi. Manoj Kumar Majhi was a dalit youth who was killed on December 2, 2009 in Salempur village of Saran district of Bihar by upper caste feudal elements because he dared to sit in the chair while watching an orchestra in a marriage party.

(Ashok Yadav could be contacted on ashokyadav2007@gmail.com)


Posts a comment

© Indian Dalit Muslims' Voice
Back to top