Moment of Truth

Muslims and other religious minorities in India need to introspect their plight. They must get out of the feeling of victimhood and understand the broad political phenomenon in a more realistic manner.

By Dr. Moonis Ahmar | May 2020

The year 2019 was a watershed for the 200 million Muslims of India. First, on August 5, the Indian state revoked articles 370 and 35-A of its Constitution which had given special status to the Muslim majority state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). Second, on December 11, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of India was promulgated which allowed Hindus, Sikhs and other non-Muslim minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to seek Indian citizenship if they had entered India by 2014. These two measures not only generated anger and antagonism among Indian Muslims but also unleashed a country-wide movement against the racist and communal policies of the BJP regime specifically directed against the Indian Muslims.

Indian Muslim’s moment of truth has arrived because, as the largest religious minority of their country, they have lost trust in Indian democracy, secularism and political pluralism. Venom and hatred against the Indian Muslims expressed by the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP and its allies Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal and Sangh Pariwar, have reached the peak since Narendra Modi was re-elected as the Indian Prime Minister after the April-May 2019 general elections. The drive against the Indian Muslims was given a further push when COVID-19 was also linked with an Islamic religious gathering in New Delhi and the Muslim population was blamed for proliferating the infectious virus.

What is the future of the Indian Muslims and how can they deal with government’s overt assault against them? Why is the silent majority of India mum and indifferent to the state’s discriminatory and hostile acts against the Indian Muslims? Is it time for the Indian Muslims to think in terms of striving for a separate state? These are the questions that are being raised in the prevailing hostile environment against the Muslims in India.

When the Indian sub-continent was partitioned by the British in August 1947 on religious grounds, a large number of Muslims living in the minority states of India migrated to Pakistan but a substantial number of them also remained in their country of birth as they thought and also believed that the ruling Congress Party would protect their rights under secular India. Their expectations proved to be wrong because, with the passage of time, communal violence became common in various parts of India. particularly in Utter Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat. While northern India became a centre of communal violence against the Muslims, the southern Indian states were less communal.

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The writer is Meritorious Professor of International Relations and former Dean. Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Karachi. He can be reached at

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