The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com ), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has called on Indians across the world, to mark the occasion of India’s 68th Independence Day by finding ways to strengthen pluralism, and to renew communal harmony, in order to defeat the designs of divisive and destructive ideologies.
The fact that Indians professing different faiths, belonging to varied ethnic groups and speaking many different languages, have continued to live together as one nation, is emblematic of the core strength of the idea of India. It is the vast majority of Indians, whose commitment to our cherished tradition of tolerance and whose unflinching loyalty to the nation’s founding principles holds the country together, who should be proud on the occasion of the Independence Day. It is their tenacity in safeguarding India’s secular Constitution that must be saluted on this day.
Yet, the occasion of the Independence Day is also a grim reminder of the profound challenges faced by the nation. Sectarianism, and an insidious, destructive ideology that masquerades as nationalism, have brought the country to a juncture where its very future as a secular nation is at risk. Violence against women, minorities and lower castes and the subversion of secular institutions of the state, threaten to take away from us what we gained through blood and toil over the centuries.
Secular Indians of all faiths and ideological persuasions are particularly anguished by the fact that large sections of India’s population are still struggling to safeguard their civil liberties and religious freedom. The recent spate of inflammatory and hurtful statements, such as those made by RSS Supremo, Mr. Mohan Bhagwat, brings to the fore a deliberate attempt to foster sectarian hate. “The cultural identity of all Indians is Hindutva and the present inhabitants of the country are descendants of this great culture,” Mr. Bhagwat is reported to have said, while speaking at the Golden Jubilee function of an Odia weekly in Cuttack. Such a mis-characterization of Indian culture is no less than a threat to the right of self-identification by the religious minorities.
“India is the product of many faiths, and a crucible of many cultural influences. This is what makes us unique as a nation. This Independence Day, we call on all Indians to renew their commitment to protecting the fruits of the freedom struggle,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “The spirit that brought us freedom from colonialism, can once again defeat the designs of hate ideologies that prey upon our fears and differences, ” added Mr. Khan.
It is alarming that dozens of Muslim youth have been arrested on trumped-up terror charges and continue to languish in prisons, for crimes they had not committed. In some cases, like the infamous Akshardham case and the Surat 1993 blasts case, justice was served after more than a decade, when their innocence was upheld by the Supreme Court.
IAMC takes this opportunity to commemorate the countless freedom fighters, including countless Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis who were killed in the freedom struggle. They offered the ultimate sacrifice, but died believing that their collective identity as Indians was something they wanted to defend with their own lives.
Indian-American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 13 chapters across the nation.
For more information please visit our new website at: http://www.iamc.com