“Why was India silent?”

The whole India did cry over the killing of Sarabjit Singh in the Kot Lakhpat jail of Lahore; both the Houses of Parliament rang with the cry; but why was India silent on the killing of a young man named Muhammad Qateel, who was killed in the same condition, in a Pune jail last year?” This question was raised by the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Delhi, Syed Ahmed Bukhari during his Friday sermon at Jama Masjid on 3 May. And this is the question which would have been haunting the mind of Indian Muslims as well as every other conscientious person who would have listened to in the evening of 8 June or read in newspapers on 9 June last year the news of brutal killing of 27-year old Qateel Siddiqui in Yerwada Jail of Pune. Qateel was charged of being a member of “Indian Mujahideen” and of having been involved in the blasts at Delhi, Bangalore and Pune; the charges were not proved till then as they were being heard. Two of his jail inmates slaughtered him brutally in the Pune jail in the morning of 8 June 2012; and he died then and there; there was no use of rushing him to hospital. Qateel was inhabitant of Darbhanga and father of a little girl. Delhi Police had handed him over to Maharashtra ATS.

This is the question of every justice-loving person
This question of Shahi Imam is in fact the question of every justice-loving person in the country. Further, this question is not to the government or any other institution but to the whole country. Shahi Imam has awakened the conscience of the nation by saying that “why was India that raised a mountain out of a molehill on the killing of Sarabjit silent on the killing of Qateel”. Sarabjit, who was a culprit in the eyes of our neighbouring country and the court of law over there, was a terrorist; a sentence was pronounced formally against him. It is yet not clear as to what Sarabjit was, who he was, whether he was a government man and was there on duty. But extending so much extraordinary sympathy to him that he was declared a national hero, his last rites were performed with state honour, great government and political personalities participated therein, wealth and bubbling compassion was showered upon his family members, is alright. We have no objection to this much sympathy shown to him. The fact remains that the way he was attacked in the jail is to us very unfortunate. We too have sympathy with his family members, particularly with his two daughters who have now been orphaned. But the question is why even the one-hundredth rather one-thousandth of this sympathy was not given to Qateel and his family?

And such is the occasion
And such is the occasion whereon state discrimination between citizens and citizens comes to light. Whatever the union and state governments as well as political parties did is understandable because this was the requirement of their politics. All this is in accordance with the tradition of pseudo-nationalists. But what is a matter of concern is that none of the great commentators and those participating in discussions of TV channels made any mention of Qateel, not to say of making any comparison (between the two cases). And this fact also lends credence to the question raised by the Shahi Imam as to why (the conscience of) India was silent? – This question should be a moment of reckoning for the government and the ruling class. If a large chunk of the population in the country starts feeling discrimination, injustice and discriminatory behaviour, what will be its impact on the society? – As for making Sarabjit a national hero, some newspapers have raised question thereon. The Editor of the Indian Express in the 3 and 4 May issues of the paper has discussed this very question as to why Sarabjit was given this status. Although, the Express too has ignored any comparison of the case with Qateel’s, yet the question is vital and the Express wants the government to clarify it.
10/05/2013 khabar-O-Nazar by Parwaaz Rahmani, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Abu Yusuf

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