Aye Mere Watan ke logon – An open letter to people of my beloved country
I am writing this open letter as an Indian Muslim to all my countrymen, especially to my non-muslim brothers and sisters, so that they can understand what we are feeling today.
For people of my generation, who were born after the emergency, partition was a distant history which we read in the school books. Here, let me tell you that most Muslims from my generation think that partition was a bad idea, but that is a topic for another day. We grew up in time where there were difficulties, but, there was a belief in the Idea of India. There was a belief that there is unity in diversity. We used to love songs like mile sur mera tumhare bane swar hamara and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s golden voice still rings in my ears.
While growing up we always thought of India as our motherland. India is as much our country as of Hindus, Sikhs, Christian etc. As students our ambitions and our desires were the same as students of other religions.
I have lived through difficult times, including dark days of Babri riots, but I never felt like I am feeling today. Then we still had hope in the system. I still remember when Babri masjid fell a lot of Hindus were apologetic. Nobody said that I should go to Pakistan. But after BJP came to power at the center in 2014 things started to change as if poison has been injected into the veins of the nation. I see that lot of my friends suddenly have become communal. They are expressing thoughts and feelings which were perhaps hidden in some dark and deep corner of their heart. I come from a town where Hindus and Muslims are almost equal in population. There was a time when we ( Muslims and Hindus ) used to look forward to each other’s festivals and used to celebrate Diwali and Eid together. I remember my Hindu friends used to look forward to having saevai (sweet vermicelli) at my house on Eid. Some even requested that I ask my mother to prepare Kabab for them . However, since 2014 things slowly started changing . The visits of many close friends have become lesser. On festivals they express their heartfelt wishes via phone calls. Some now restrict themselves to WhatsApp messages. It makes me feel sad.
I see ordinary people celebrating lynching, I see people who have no idea about article 370 thinking that scrapping it is a great idea. They think that curtailing civil liberties is a good idea in Kashmir. I see a lot of Hindus talking about triple talaq though neither does it affect them, nor they know much about it. We are made to feel aliens in our own country.
Let me tell all those who question patriotism of muslims that our ancestors chose a secular India over an Islamic Pakistan. Is there a bigger proof of our secularism and love for our country than this? Remember you did not have a choice, we had a choice and we chose India. In the freedom struggle, along with Gandhiji if there was Pandit Nehru, there was also Maulana Azad , if there was Sardar Patel, there was Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. For every Ram prasad Bismil there was an Ashfaqulla khan and Bhagat singh. We fought the British together.
India is our motherland as it is yours. Please put yourselves in our place and think. Today, the very foundation of our republic is under attack. Our constitution is under attack. It is the duty of every patriotic citizen to stand up to defend the constitution. Stand up and reclaim our beloved country from these anti-constitutional forces. History will never forgive us if today we do not defend the idea of India. Just think what kind of India do we want to give to our future generations. A secular, democratic and prosperous India. Or an India which is ruled by hate and bigotry and whose economy is in shambles? Just think about it
The letter is written by a medical doctor who is also an Indian Muslim.