HERE ARE THE “PAPERS”
By Promod Puri
As the thought of writing this piece cropped up, I was reminded of an old Hindi film song penned by Sahir Ludhianvi: “jayen toh jayen kahan, samje-ga kaun yahan, dard bare dil ki zuban, jayen toh jayen kahan…”.
Translation: “Where! Where shall we go, who would understand here, the cries from the minds full of pains.”
And that is precisely the plight of Muslims in India. “Go to Pakistan,” “send them to Pakistan,” are the xenophobic cracks that are often being hurled against them by the neo-nationalistic extreme Hindu fanatics. And most of the Hindu population is apathetic to these recurring taunts.
“Jayen toh jayen kahan,” where shall the Indian Muslims go?
From generation to generation, the land of their birth, rooted in the soils of the nation, breathing its air and dust from coast to coast, from the Himalayas to the tip of Kanyakumari, the 138 million-community has been made to feel that they do not belong to India. The very land to which it has contributed immensely over the centuries in every walks of its life. Its feelings and emotions lie in the nation’s struggles and achievements.
“Prove your ancestry here,” and “show your papers” is the coming up legalities Muslims in India would be facing in the corrupt bureaucratic setup fired by the bigoted government of Bhartiya Janata Party. That has substantial backing from the rest of its extended family, aka as “Parivar.”
Yes, they have the “papers” scattered and entrenched all over the country.
Their ‘papers’ are in the words of Kabir, Ghalib, Alma Iqbal, and, more recently, in the poetry of Sahir Ludhianvi and Javed Akhtar. Their ‘papers’ are in the eternal voices of Mohammad Rafi, gazals of Begum Akhtar, and many more. Their papers are in the music of Naushad Ali, Khyamm, and A.R. Rehman, in the Shanai of Bismilla khan, in the classical voice of Bade Ghulam Ali khan, in the Tabla beats of Ustad Zakir Ali khan. They are in the talents and dialogues of Muhammed Yusuf Khan alias Dalip Kumar, Mehboob Khan’s “Mother India” Nargis Dutt, in the versatilities of Shahrukh Khan and Aamir Khan.
The papers reflect in the sword of Tipu Sultan, Param Vir Chakra martyr Havildar Abdul Hamid, flying in the fierce shots of Sania Mirza, and in the philanthropist industrialist Azim Premji.
“You’re asking for papers?” They are framed in the marble beauty of the Taj Mahal, in the sacred shrines of Ajmer Sharif, in the sprawling complex of Jama Masjid.
The ‘papers’ are in the patriotic and intellectual sentiments of ex-presidents of India: Zakir Husain, Fakhruddin Ali Ahamed, and APJ Abdul Kalam.
The certification papers government is demanding are being carried by the students and the faculty on the secular campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University. They are in the mammoth rallies all over the country, and in Shaheen Bagh, the epicenter of peaceful protests. This is where the national Tricolor of India is proudly hosted by Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and others in the spirit of “Hum Hindusthani.”