This is the election time. A lot has been written about Narendra Modi and the BJP. A lot has also been said about the Congress and other secular parties.
From the point of view of Muslims, both parties have been painted in black and white terms.
Modi, if he becomes the next Prime Minister of India, will turn the country into Gujarat subjugating Muslims. Then Congress and other secular parties, being protector, will emancipate them from the devil.
Thus, Muslims seem confused and are dangling like pendulum from fear to hope and so on.
I do not endorse a particular party. Let it be upon Muslim voters to decide. However, I would like to narrate my direct experience with the RSS and its affiliate institutions.
I grew up in the background of communal violence. Being a Muslim, I used to feel that I am being targeted for my religion in India.
Media further accentuated my fear by bringing live the violence against Muslims to me…Bhagalpur, Mumbai, Gujarat, Muzaffarnagar…endless, to name a few.
The fear multiplied many folds within me. I began to view all those individuals and organizations responsible for engineering riots as hunters seeing me as their next prey.
Truly, I began to view “instigators” of violence differently…being killers and only killers. I had no option but to live in India. I could not fly. I could not escape. I accepted fear as my destiny.
The time passed by.
One evening, I received a letter of appointment from Durga Prasad Baljeet Singh College in the district of Bulandshahar. I had applied for a job at various places after having qualified the National Eligibility Test (NET) for lectureship.
My joy knew no bound. I always looked forward to future.
The next day, I visited the college. The campus truly impressed me: the physical facilities, the ambience and overall discipline were up to the mark. I decided to join, though I hesitated initially.
The college was situated on the bank of the river Ganga, in a town known as Anoopshaher. The location of the institution was symbolic – to provide modern education in the environment of spiritual liveliness.
I began to work hard. At the same time, I also carried the fear of insecurity as I was the only Muslim in the institution. Moreover, the management belonged to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the organization about which I had heard that it was anti-Muslim.
I was given free accommodation in the college campus. Every night I slept, I thought if any communal violence would start, I would be the first to be targeted, yet I lived.
Soon, I befriended many. The most notable ones among them were Shri Acharyaji, a lecturer of Sanskrit and a scholar in Hinduism and KC Gaur, a lecturer in Education.
We often shared the same dining hall, the same food, the same joke and the same laughter. We often played together, watched movie and had innumerable interactions every day.
The fear which I had carried for so long about certain organizations and certain individuals being ‘killers’ began to evaporate.
The principal of the college, Dr Dhal, after having seen my performance, said: “Mr Azeem, you have a good future here”.
Within weeks, my perception about people coming from other communities changed. None of what I had feared all along ever nagged or troubled me. In fact, I began to feel more secure both physically and financially. I felt I had a rebirth.
Soon, I was elevated to be a member of the management in allotment of flats to the teachers in the college. Next my family joined me, and I began to live happily.
That was truly my first interaction with the majority community. For the first time, I realized how brotherly feeling they carried toward their fellow-workers. My religion never came in my way to ever obstruct communications with them. Surprisingly, it became an advantage to me. Being the only one from the minority community, I was shown much affection and care compared to others.
For better financial opportunities, I travelled to Libya on leave from the college. I still miss the college, the campus and the people there. I wish I have that life back to me.
Much of what creates ‘fear’ in individuals results from gap in communication between the two individuals and between the two communities.
We should rely on our first-hand experience before coming to a conclusion about certain individuals or organizations. My impression to paint everyone as a ‘killer’ was absolutely wrong.
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