People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 35

August 29, 2004

Only One Example Of Harassment

Girish Karnad


THE Anjuman-e-Islam is an educational institution founded in 1905. It runs several schools, colleges and educational institutions. Only a third of its students are Muslim, the rest being mainly from the backward classes. It has a college named after Nehru. On every August 15 and January 26, the national flag is flown and the national anthem sung at all Anjuman institutions (which is more than can be said about the RSS!)


Will the solution of the flag issue make life easier for the Muslims of Hubli-Dharwad?


Since 1984, the Muslim community has stopped celebrating Mohurrums as it invariably led to trouble. (In my childhood, Hindus also participated in the Mohurrums celebration.)


Several times in the past, and again this year, the massive procession on the day of the Id-Milad has been cancelled for fear of disturbances. Playing of music and the bursting of crackers at weddings have been stopped by the Muslim community.


Next to the Idgah Maidan is the Dargah of a Sufi Saint, Raja Bagh Sawar, which used to attract both Hindu and Muslim devotees. This Muslim shrine, which traditionally has had Hindu priests, has now been converted into a Hindu shrine. The saffron flag flies on it. The Urs of the saint is now referred to as the Jatra of Changdev Maharaja. When the Muslims registered a complaint with the police, they were asked to remain calm; the issue, they were told, would be sorted out by the authorities. Of course nothing has been done so far. On the contrary, the converted shrine was quoted to bolster the case against the Anjuman in court documents.


The Muslim community allowed a highway to be built through its graveyard. But when, in order to protect its graves, they began to build a compound wall, a stay order was brought against the construction of the wall, thus preventing them from enclosing their own exclusive property.


The flag-hoisting issue is only one example of the harassment and baiting to which the Muslim community in Karnataka has been continually subjected during the last two decades.