A high-powered trade Indian delegation is visiting Pakistan now. There are no Muslims in it. They can be objective, as they say. One of my high-powered saffronite acquaintances – given the number of Islam/Islamist/Pakistan related emails I get from him, I might deem it cross-border terrorism in my inbox – is almost invariably pained by what is happening in that country.Why will he not ask Adi Godrej the following questions he poses to me?
Right now, he is agitated about the plight of Rinkle Kumari - a victim of kidnapping and forced conversion to Islam in Pakistan.
This is what he wrote:
- Where are those who are involved in the various Track II, Track III, etc., diplomacy?
- Where are those who are involved in the People-to-People contact programmes?
- Where are the secularist non-Muslims?
- Where are the 'moderate' Muslims?
- Where is the media, both foreign and Indian?
- Where are those involved in the Aman ki Asha programme?
- I guess for all of them the suffering of the Hindus is of no concern.
In earlier mails, whenever Gujarat or chief minister Narendra Modi was mentioned, he has never expressed any concern for the victims. Instead, it was always Modi as victim of pseudo-seculars.
As I have stated time and again here and in all my pieces and my book, I am against ‘designer peace’ initiatives. The reason I reiterate this is because unless I emphasise it the dense heads won’t get it, and once again they will be dancing between pseudo-secularism and jihad, two identities they have set their minds on.
I am very clear about priorities, and I did not jump into the Rinkle case when it was a hot topic, only because of this. It is when I raised the issue of Zakia Jafri getting the SIT report finally, and how utterly useless it will prove to be for her to get any justice, and the riposte I was faced with was: “What about Rinkle Kumari? Do you know who she is?” that I realised how completely everything about Pakistan is forced down the Indian Muslim throat.We are made answerable.
If Pakistan were to go ballistic about Zakia Jafri, then it would be deemed not only interference, but again Indian Muslims would be called traitors by default.
I have absolutely no discomfiture in saying that I am more qualified to speak about Zakia Jafri; she is the concern of every Indian, whatever be their politics. I am aware that making any individual into a symbol is not good, but she is fighting a battle for long. Right now, when she has seemingly got a reprieve of sorts with the amicus curiae suggesting that there can be a case against Narendra Modi, we cannot deny her the need to hang on to that little thread of hope. Some of us believe that it won’t change a thing.
The riots have been well-documented by several agencies, and there was what is tepidly referred to as “a miscarriage of justice”. This is our business. “But Zakia Jafri is only a victim of one riot, Rinkle Kumari is of the whole of Islam,” I am told. These are wolves wearing the sheep’s clothing of humanitarianism. But is it just that? Why do they not speak up for Bilqees Bano, Zaheera Sheikh, and Zakia Jafri? It is not a quid pro quo: it is a direct question. Why do they shut up about what happens right under their noses? How does Rinkle Kumari become their problem as Indian Hindus?
We stuck it out for Bangladesh, and those who chose refuge here are considered illegal immigrants even decades later.
Hindus and Christians who stayed back in Pakistan are most certainly discriminated against, as are Ahmadis who are Muslim. But, there are organisations for the protection of minorities, there are voices raised by human rights organisations, civil society, and the media. That is how the saffron groups get to know. I wish they would understand this basic fact. If there wasn’t any such expose, the cases would have been muffled. It is not too difficult for kidnappings, rapes and conversions to be hidden. They are not. The flaw lies with the existing laws, and not with humanitarian concern. The latter, unfortunately, brings such cases to light, but does not force a change in the legal provisions, including the blasphemy laws.
Rinkle’s case is about forced conversion, and it is true that one version was that she was not forced to convert and she did it out of her own free will. Did this spin come from the hardliners there? Or was the mainstream media also part of it? There are pictures showing her with hair left loose contrasting with her later in veil. Where did those photographs come from? Think about it. There is access. There is discussion. There is support. Police cases are registered. Press conferences held. Let her be Pakistan’s concern. She is a naturalised citizen, as she is only 18 years old. Certain groups of Indians believe that every Hindu in Pakistan is their concern, and I do not believe it is our business to interfere. Naturally, their small world cannot fathom this – that those are Pakistani Hindus.
I have met them in their homes, in the temples, at work, preparing for festivals and celebrations. There are grievances. These are not the elite. How many of these saffron Samaritans even know about their lives until some such case hits the headlines?
The Express Tribune had reported about a press conference with families of victims of forced conversions who demanded that their girls should be returned to them:
“When a girl is converted, why is she married off immediately?” Amarnath Motumal of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said. “If she has converted for the sake of Islam, then why doesn’t she join a madrassa to educate herself and spread knowledge about the religion?”
No religion should be forced upon anyone. However, many people convert after marriage. I have given the example of my relative who did so after she married a South Indian. I know of Parsis who do, Christians who do. These convert to Hinduism. Even Dalits are sought to be ‘purified’, for political gains.
This is the reason I will not go along with the ‘Speak up for Rinkle’ chant at the superficial, and low, level being indulged in. Example of 'concern' for Rinkle: “Farzana Versey if u hv so much soft corner for your Pakistan,Why not go there and stay with them? Scared of being killed & raped?"
These people live in some Utopian India. They have never heard about khap panchayats, no Noida serial rapes and cannibalism, no Bhagappur, no Delhi, no Mumbai police chowkie. I have posted the comment to display the ignorance, and the attitude where they don't even realise that the person they are supporting has many counterparts here - very young, often uneducated and poor.
The government of Pakistan owes it to Rinkle and many like her. Its judiciary has to step in, and Pakistanis are capable of ensuring that.
Are Indians capable of ensuring that Zakia jafri gets justice? If you tell me to talk about Rinkle, I ask you to talk about Zakia. I am Indian. You are Indian. Where are your priorities? If you are shedding tears for Rinkle, it will freeze in your eyes and just blur your sight to make you see exactly what is in your mind – hatred that is inbuilt. You care for Rinkle Kumari about as much as you care for a high you get from any steroid. The pretence is obvious when it comes from the rightwing who shamelessly ignore and demonise the victims and make heroes out of criminals.
(c) Farzana Versey