I have often heard the phrase, “It’s not easy to be a Muslim in India”. Therefore, I set out on a social experiment with just one objective on my mind, to feel the emotions of a Muslim on the streets. The streets of Delhi were my arena and the mindset of the people was my opponent. Even though I did have a preconceived notion about the subject, I was surprised by the result..

The experiment lasted two days in which I travelled via the Delhi Metro and buses in Noida. During these trips, I travelled through areas which were Muslim and Hindu majority respectively. Apart from this I just had a simple Kufi on my head and this skull cap made all the difference.

Deplorable glances, suspicious eyes and a ray of hope, these words define a majority of my experiment. The moment this idea came up on my mind, I was time and again warned about the dangers of doing the same, “What if someone harms you, these are sensitive times. What if people get to know that you are not a Muslim, won’t people be aggravated at you?” Even though these concerns stormed through my head time and again but still I knew that I had to investigate this through.

I started my journey from Jasola Vihar, Shaheen Bagh metro station on the Magenta line. The area is a Muslim majority one and thus didn’t give me any ‘special’ attention. Moving forward I got down at Okhla NSIC and exited the station. As I walked towards the GrubHub café, some glances from here and there started. But nothing too intimidating. I again entered the station and here things were different for me. Travelling via the Delhi metro, one becomes pretty used to the frisking done by the security personnel. But as I walked through the security gate the security took a good view of my Kufi and then did a thorough frisking of me. Checking each and every pocket of mine. To be honest it did feel a bit uncomfortable but I was mentally ready for this.

As I boarded the metro for Botanical Garden Metro station, a girl of around 10 years was siting besides an empty seat and so I, considering myself lucky to find an empty seat in the metro sat there. But my move made the father of the child a bit uneasy and he commanded his child to stand with him. This gentleman also did not let his child get the comfort of sitting just because a man with a kufi was sitting adjacently.

As I got down on Botanical Garden, I boarded a bus to Greater Noida. The same suite followed. Another man preferred to stand rather than sitting beside me. The whole trip was, to my surprise, filled with a lesser number of glances and nudges.

The second day was what I really wanted it to be, perfectly normal. It seemed that people were not at all uncomfortable with my kufi and even the metro security personnel weren’t giving me any preferential treatment.

The whole experiment taught me that even though some people may have preconceived reservations about other minorities, the larger part of the nation looks upon everyone as fellow citizens rather than Hindus, Muslims, Christians, etc. Thereby I can say that even though the darkness of prejudice exists there also exists a ray of hope which fills up our hearts and our nation with not only tolerance but also secularism.

Feature Image Credits: Vistapointe


Aniket Singh Chauhan

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“I am Indian. Then why is the government sending me into Exile?’, ‘Can the world’s largest democracy endure another five years of Modi Government’? A writer puts forth two questions for the world, but perhaps one is the answer to another question itself. 

“A citizen’s right to liberty is sacrosanct and non-negotiable. It is a fundamental right granted under the Constitution and can’t be infringed upon by the state,” as declared by the Supreme Court of India in the Prashant Kanojia case, who was allegedly detained by the UP Police for making remarks against the State’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. 

The aforementioned lines were stated by Justice(s) Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi bench and certainly provides a sacred safeguard to the citizens and their rights, as guaranteed by the Constitution of India against the state that may attempt to vandalise the freedom of expression and establish a ‘fascist’ regime in the country. But perhaps the Government has paved a way for itself to pursue its objectives of a rashtra, suited to their ideas and philosophies by revoking the very status of this ‘citizenship’ itself and abstaining the people of being one in the first place. The National Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is anyway extremely kind towards a specific section of the society, the disavowal of riter Aatish Ali Taseer’s Indian Nationality is more than an extension of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. 

Raised in the national capital by his Sikh mother and acclaimed journalist Tavleen Singh, Taseer rose to prominence with his debut Novel, “Stranger to History: A Son’s Journey Through Islamic Lands” which can be seen as an introspective review of his status as a Muslim. He may even be recalled as the person who hosted Sir Salman Rushdie, when he returned to India after a long exile, but he will mostly be remembered as the author of TIME magazine’s May 2019 cover story that referred to Prime Minister Modi as ‘India’s Divider in Chief’, ahead of the 2019 General Elections. 

Following the release of the story, the entire social media was set ablaze, with responses from both the sides taking stark turns. The Modi Supporters started raising the issue of Taseer’s parenthood, especially with regard to his father who was a Pakistani politician; given our contempt for the country and Aatish’s identity, the claims were preferred by many and was furthered by ensuring that Taseer bewails his acts. But rather Taseer was empowered more than ever challenging the fanatic frenzy. 

According to Taseer, he received a letter from the Home Ministry, Government of India, stating that they are reviewing his Overseas Citizenship of India status in September this year. To this, he duly responded by resisting against the claims made by the Government of India within 24 hours. But it was only on November 7, when the government actually abolished Taseer’s citizenship leaving him in certain ‘exile’. 

What is interesting here is that all these years Taseer has lived in this country without ever being questioned about his citizenship. Although the recent developments in the country have reviewed the idea of nationalism, something of this kind is really concerning and hints towards a state that perhaps cannot accommodate dissent in anyway. 

While the government says that its revoking of Taseer’s status is solely because he did hide the fact that his father was a Pakistani, the father who is being referred here is assassinated Pakistan Governor Salman Taseer, who was nowhere in Aatish’s early life, and is a relation which further receded away because of their distinct nationalities. 

While the government seemed adamant in their stance, Taseer has now been joined by more than 260 writers, journalists and artists, including Margaret Atwood, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, Chimamanda Adichie, Perumal Murugan and Amitav Ghosh, who have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for reviewing its decision to repeal writer Aatish Taseer’s Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) and allow an uninterrupted travel for him in India. This has brought the Government in a screened position, and the revocation will now have larger implications in the academic domain with the status of people of such political sagacity under question. The story has now garnered worldwide support and coverage and hence the Government needs to be extremely meticulous in its decision for the best of Taseer. 

Feature Image Credits: Aatish Taseer via Instagram

Faizan Salik

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A large section of Muslim women in India have been demanding an end to instantaneous triple talaq or talaq-e-bidat which they see as misogynist, unfair and un-Islamic. A number of petitions have been filed against triple talaq, the first one amongst them being the plea filed by Sharyara Bano who challenged triple talaq, polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ as being unconstitutional. Recently the Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) also filed a petition against triple talaq, supported by 50,000 signatures of Muslim women and men.

Twenty two countries around the world have already abolished triple talaq. While some have adopted secure family laws, the others do not recognize a divorce pronounced outside a court of law. In South Asia, Muslim majority countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh don’t follow this practice and Muslim minority country Sri Lanka, doesn’t recognize instant divorce according to its Marriage and Divorce (Muslim) act, 1951.
Funny enough with the State Assembly elections coming up, a spotlight has been thrown on triple talaq; with every party wanting to give its stance either to gather Muslim votes or strengthen their Hindu votes by perusing the topic. While BJP is using triple talaq as an example to push forward the Uniform Civil Code, the opposition like Congress, BSP and Trinamol Congress have decided to take a regressive stance by chortling along religious bodies.

Political parties in the mist of elections and voter bank seem to have forgotten about the Muslim women that this law is affecting. BJP and Congress, both taken as the polarising ends have always politicised this issue. The Rajiv Gandhi government passed the Muslim Women Bill to overturn the Supreme Court ruling in the Sharyara Bano case. Now the Bhartiya Janta Party has taken a  surprisingly progressive stance on an issue which in the end is plagued by ulterior motives.

Regardless of their stand on the issue, the political parties come across as misogynistic entities standing alongside each other trying to gather votes while the Muslim women are fighting their battles, bravely.

Featured image credits: DNA 

Adarsh Yadav

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