Open letters to Mumbai police, Muslims in peace rallies and myself

These are disparate thoughts based on current events. The best way is to address them to the people concerned. Although they are meant to convey a serious purpose, the tenor might not be so.

To the Mumbai Police Commissioner


I understand that the lone terrorist you have in your custody has been given his last name by your department. You have made him talk about other things – even their psychological training where they make sure the terrorists have no emotional ties. You insist he refused to give out any name. So, you called him Kasab or Kasav. Reports say it means butcher. In which language, sir?

I remember as a child accompanying my mother to one of those mohallas where the zariwalla worked…they had this golden coil-like thread. It was called kasab, and embroidered on dupattas or any other clothing.

As far as I know a butcher is a Kasai. On behalf of these professionals I think it is unfair to use such a term. Butchers slaughter animals that are consumed by people who pay for it; there is a market for the meat. You take away the butchers and most people will wonder what to do with the ghaas-puss. Look, everyone is not into this organic lifestyle. At the most, the style divas will have their meat lightly cooked with healthy herbs. And let me remind you that except for three states in – Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan – the rest of India happily allows kasai-khanas. Even in these states, meat is available.

Therefore, I urge you to kindly rename Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab. Please choose a shuddh Hindi name. How about Julmi? Nah, not zulmi…it has to be Julmi; the recordings crackle with the mispronunciation.

I hope you understand that I am an ordinary citizen and I represent bakras, that too kishtoun pe.

Your shubh chintak

To Muslims at peace rallies

Salam alaikum dear fellowmen and women:

Firstly, stop signing off notes with ‘your brother in Islam’ unless you mean it quite literally. I am a literal person. Besides, to be my brother you need certain qualifications, so just go slow on this, okay?

Now tell me what did you get by walking from CST to the sea-face outside Oberoi-Trident? What did you do? Stand there and shout slogans like “killers of innocents were enemies of Islam’’ and the “enemies of India were enemies of Muslims too’’.

You lifted your hands in prayer. Right? The cameras captured you looking like good Mussalmans, just the way they like it. It looks like you are all out for Eid ki namaaz.

Did any of you insist that the celebrities come dressed like that? Why not? If this is to be seen as standard Islamic dress then why did Javed Akhtar, who was screaming “enough is enough” on the Indian Idol show and then giggling about love-struck stories, not wear the skull cap and join his hands in prayer and ask Allah’s blessings?

Had you even heard about Alyque Padamsee before he decided to start his fatwa nautanki? You sat there and quietly listened as this man started on his nonsense:

“Terrorists are fake Muslims while peace-loving tolerant Muslims are the real Muslims. 99.9% of Indian Muslims believe the Quran, which says the killing of innocents is wrong. Those who don’t believe it are ‘nakli (fake)’ Muslims. Committing suicide is a sin in Islam, so how can a suicide bomber believe he will go to ‘jannat (paradise)’?’’

See, he sat with some maulana in a nice room, had badaam doodh and learned two-three lines which everyone knows. Gosh, even Mr. Advani can say these things. Has anyone ever talked about fake Hindus, fake Christians, fake Jews? Now you have to put up with this item number…he says it is a sin to commit suicide in Islam. You should have hit back with, “It is illegal to commit suicide according to the Indian Constitution.”

That would show him his place and make you rise above this Muslims-are-not-bad trip that you are forced to take.

I know that as per your idea of religion I am not a good Muslim. I agree; if you call me naqli, I will say, to an extent I am. That is the difference. I accept it.

I don’t lecture you on Islam or ask you to join these rallies and herd you like sheep to the kasai-khana where these people hang their consciences.

Your ‘sees’-tah

To myself

Dear FV:

I wish to tell you that you are right about these things, but I want to share with the readers a part from one of the letters I have received. It has shaken me up.

The person has a Hindu name, but the contents seem to reveal deep knowledge about Islam; the tone is of a true secularist. He wrote:

“Please don't make statements like – ‘They are irritated because I do not quote anything from the Quran, but can bring up Shakespeare and Neruda and revel in Urdu poets like Faiz and Faraz.’ So, my question is why are Muslims so defensive about their religion. You really don't have to quote Shakespeare and Neruda - you can go ahead and quote The Holy Quran.

You write in paper and you are a public face (I am not sure whether you are Muslim. Please forgive if it is not the case). Why do you make such apologetic statements?”

If I don’t expose myself now or how I am viewed, I won’t be true to anything. This person is right. In some ways I do sound apologetic to a person who does not know that I really cannot quote from the Quran because of lack of knowledge. I also feel that in a secular democracy religion should be in the private domain. I was taunting those who want me to fall into a set style; I truly don’t. However, I can see how it can be perceived.

I just had to say it here and come clean. I hope the mirror does not crack.

Your shadow…and light…

End note:

CNN-IBN had a show last night commemorating many of those dead. Rajdeep Sardesai was at St. Xavier's College; young people were voicing their views. Rajdeep came up with a shocker of a last line: "So this is the Obama generation saying we want change".

Obama is twice their age. And change, whether somoene asks for it or not, will happen. Like Rajiv Gandhi talked about taking us into the 21st century. It had to happen.

Let us stop bringing the West and America into this. At least learn to have some self-respect and use our own models to get the spine we are now flaunting.


  1. FV,
    Overnight, the market for Molanas has been threatened , everyone seems to have a view on Islam and terrorism, from Shahrukh Khan to my Carpenter....I am still relying on saeed Naqvi , Kamaal Khan and M.J Akbar ..
    Just out of curiosity, how come I never see AMU and Jamia students (in usual student attire) in these protests.......you are right ...

    People like Mr Padamsee should stay out of comments on religion and society , he should restrict his comment to Viagra and models.

    Also, Obama trend is being superimposed like Burger and hollywood movies ...we had done this decades ago , we elected Lalu :)

  2. These people have made bakra of common man.Your comment about suicide is on the mark.I don't blame these Muslims but their leaders.The letter from reader made you think but you are not hypocrite if you face yourself.
    Hope you have a peaceful Id

  3. "I also feel that in a secular democracy religion should be in the private domain."

    Ufff...all this "secular" stuff gives me a headache. How private is private?

    Obama is the most irritating soul on Earth. That he and change should become synonymous is aargh.

  4. Manish:

    Absolutely. Imagine the maulanas being pushed aside by those who script Lakshmi Mittals's sangeet ceremony script...

    Padamsee should have his lips sealed.

    - - -


    Who are the Muslim leaders? Wen did they take on the role? Who do they represent? One cannot have a single body of leaders.

    - - -


    Well, glad only the secular stuff gives you a headache...

    I was referring to the nation as a secular democracy, its provisions as laid down in the Constitution. This is not about fashionable secularism, which i do not subscribe to.

    How private is private? Religion practised in the house and places of worship, not spilling out in the streets. I have said it before.

    We have had terrible experiences...in 1992, in fact, because some people offered namaaz on the roads, groups started maha-artis...this is counterproductive.

  5. Farzana,

    Why do you condemn everybody who participated in the Muslim peace rally?

    I did too, and I had nothing to gain from it. However, I did believe that my faith was being unnecessary maligned, and I had to speak up.

    Yes, Alyque Padamsee and Javed Akhtar may not be the right people to ask for an opinion as the former is an agnostic and the latter an atheist. Yet, people accept them as full fledged Muslims.

    It is not good to be cynical, though. There are people who have genuinely good motives.

  6. Milind:

    Again, I have said in the initial posts that there are people with good motives, but look beyond the trees at the forest. I do not like the idea of a group being herded together to justify itself.

    And I completely disagree with your views on Padamsee because he used the 'fatwa', a real cheap shot, on the earlier occasion.

    This is more than cynicism.


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