Lockdown of the mind

The reason for the silence is fear. Fear of being left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and fear of being called ‘anti-national’.

If Hyderabad goes, all is lost. The Governor of Bombay sent this telegram to the Governor General in Calcutta when India’s first war of independence was taking shape. Hyderabad’s capacity to shape history was tremendous then.

Tragically, Hyderabad has not lived up to its potential. The politically-strong Muslim citizenry shows a collective indifference about India’s only Muslim-majority state. The turmoil in Kashmir has been greeted with a deafening silence. No protest call. No calls for marches or night vigils. Religious bodies too, with the exception of Jamaat-e-Islami-e-Hind, which made token noise all over India did little by way of protest against the suppression of Kashmiris’ civil liberties.

Ironically, the Kashmiri pain is something Hyderabadis can relate to, having felt something similar during the 1948 Police Action, says Aijaz Farruq, retired Air Force officer and religious scholar. He visited Kashmir in September and found the pain palpable.

The reason for the silence is fear. Fear of being left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and fear of being called ‘anti-national’. Dr. Khaled Mubashshir uz Zafar of Jamaat-e-Islami rues the subdued show of solidarity but talks of the fear of a backlash.

Hyderabad’s expression is in lockdown, within the four walls of home. Not one forum or discussion on Kashmir in an otherwise vibrant Hyderabad, whose history speaks of how they have stood up for religious brethren — the last occasion being the Kashmir floods, when Hyderabad contributed liberally for relief. It especially gnaws at the section of society whose gatherings passionately discuss human rights violations in Kashmir.

It’s easier for non- Muslims to be vocal, says Mohammed Shafiq uz Zaman, advocate, but even the well-placed, like the 49 intellectuals hit by a sedition charge, are made to pay. This is also a dampener for the ordinary Muslim.

The thought of Kashmiris being caged for 76 days was bothersome, said Zafar Javeed, honorary secretary of Sultan-ul-uloom Education Society. Kashmiris’ food, medicine and livelihood are at stake; yet the government talks merely of restoring post-paid mobile connections.

Mujtaba Askari of Helping Hand Foundation said: “On one side there is daily government propaganda stating life is normal. On the other the international media is talking of all that is wrong there. The information vacuum is also why people are not as vocal as usual.”

Non-government organisations (NGOs) trying to establish contact want to do it with non-religious groups, for fear of losing the focus on human rights. Any platform is all-Muslim is vulnerable to being branded anti-national.

The threat of NRC has kept NGOs busy ensuring citizens have proper documentation.

“This was the priority,” Askari said.

“The fear of NRC is high in Telengana. Rumours circulate time and again of people to be removed from the list.”

Ali Quadri, an active member of a coalition of religious bodies visited Kashmir to study the ground situation. Some in the Shia community also made a spot assessment. But overall, it’s been a no-show.

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