Modi’s eerie silence over Pune murder
By : Nilofar Suhrawardy
It is indeed surprising that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has drawn attention to only one problem faced by Indian minorities, which is poverty. His government is “committed,” as expressed in President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to the Parliament earlier this week (June 9), to make “minorities equal partners in India’s progress.”
Referring to Muslims, without mentioning them, the president stated that this government “will especially strengthen measures to spread modern and technical education among minority communities and a National Madarsa Modernization Program will be initiated.”
With due respect to Modi’s “secular” intentions, it is surprising that his government has not officially made any statement on its approach against communal elements. This point would not have had any specific relevance if at present Muslims across the country were not deliberating over communal threat posed to them from extremist elements linked with the saffron brigade. Yes, this refers to the brutal murder of Mohsin Sadiq Sheikh in Pune (Maharashtra), followed by aggressive rioters targeting several shops owned by Muslims. To date, there have been no reports of Modi having condemned this incident.
During his address to Lok Sabha, Modi briefly mentioned the Pune incident along with other incidents (June 11). “The recent events in Pune” and other places, he said, “must force all of us to introspect and corrective measures must be taken. The country will not wait for long – our conscience too will not forgive us if we do not act.”
He is correct; the country is not likely to wait for long. Since he has mentioned the need for corrective measures, what is he suggesting?
Why hasn’t Modi expressed his sympathy and support for Indian Muslims with the same “secular” thrust that he used during his campaigning to convince them of his “secularism” and to win their votes? Or does putting forward a “secular” face is of little importance for Modi now? Considering the hype that he raised about his “secular” intentions and that Muslims in Gujarat are better off than they are in other states, now it is Modi’s responsibility to ensure them at least security in the country. Mohsin Sheikh was not a victim of any communal riot but was brutally killed by Hindu, communal extremists, who should be labeled as terrorists. This naturally raises the question that have communal extremists associated with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Sangh Parivar (saffron brigade) decided to display their anti-Muslim sentiments more brutally simply because now Modi heads the government? Well, it is high time that Modi outlined a “secular” agenda for them and all communal, extremist elements.
Whatever be the vision of Modi’s development agenda, it bears little importance for common Indians if it is going to spell communal tension, disturbance, aggravated by communal designs of extremist groups. Undeniably, Mohsin Sheikh’s murder has prompted Muslims across the country and world to wonder on what could be the plans of communal activists linked with saffron brigade. Shaikh’s murder carries a horrific message. The murder did not take place spontaneously over a sudden fight between two individuals or groups of different communities. A group of communal elements together targeted Mohsin Sheikh. In other words, it was backed by certain their key leaders. They “celebrated” his murder by saying that first wicket had fallen. So what is their message? And what is Modi’s message for them?
On one hand, Modi has charted out lofty visions to change the country within 100 days. His first month in office has been marked by sparking of anti-Muslim violence, without any immediate note from Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) condemning it. Besides, on a smaller scale, for the past two weeks, residents of Delhi, India’s capital city have faced severe prolonged power cuts. And this raises the question, despite media headlines and some demonstrators shrieking about power crisis affecting people, why hasn’t Modi taken any action? It is indeed a shame that despite Modi carrying with him the image of a doer, the first and second weeks of June have send a totally different message to the residents of Delhi. Not surprisingly, common Indians are questioning that can’t Modi handle such a minor problem? If he cannot assure adequate power supply to residents of the capital city, what can be expected of him?
Let us not forget that Modi has entered power riding atop a major political wave favoring him. Surely, a dynamic approach is expected from this premier against anti-Muslim communal elements and also in addressing power crisis troubling Delhi residents. It is an irony that Modi has yet to display his dynamism in handling crises such as these. To prove himself as a successful premier, Modi must start taking necessary action to tackle these problems.