‘Hum Dekhenge’ (We Will Witness), But, ‘Hum Kab Tak Dekhenge (Till When We Will Witness)?’ – An Ever Lasting Cry of Muslims in India

Hum Dekhenge is a revolutionary and popular poem written by Faiz Ahmad Faiz in 1979 and since then it has become an iconic anthem of dissent especially after it was performed by legendry singer Iqbal Bano in 1986 as a protest against the then state of Pakistan

 In India dissenters opposing the NRC and Citizenship Amendment Act recited Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s “Hum Dekhenge” at Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi, where police violently attacked students and protestors in the year 2019. 

In solidarity with Jamia, students protests were held across India condemning the atrocity committed by the Delhi Police.

In a row, a protest was also held in IIT-Kanpur in which Faiz’s poem was recited. The Right-winger ecosystem and the university administration termed it as an Anti-National act and also Anti Hindu after which an FIR was lodged against the students.

However, the main question that arises is for how long Muslims in India has to see complete “othering” face discrimination, denied justice and witness Barbarity of Hindutva Terror? The role of the state since independence has been under question whenever it comes to protecting and safeguarding Muslims despite the constitutional provision. No matter who forms the government but state in India has continued to push Muslims to Ghettos and cripple the whole community socially and economically. 

The Union government of India has launched numerous campaigns to terrorize Muslims. There has been numerous genocide and mass murder under the name of ‘riot’ where police have been helping handing in persecuting Muslims. 

Just two years back on February 23rd a clash between Anti and Pro CAA activists turned into a pogrom and spread all over northeast Delhi and continued for the next four days. Fifty people, including a policeman and IB personnel, lost their lives, while hundreds were injured and shops and houses burnt. 

Delhi Police faced criticism for the ineffective handling of the violence. Some reports even suggest that Delhi police facilitated Hindutva goons while committing atrocities against Muslims. 

 “The riots which shook the National Capital of the country in February 2020 evidently did not take place in a spur of the moment, and the conduct of the protesters who are present in the video footage, which has been placed on record by the prosecution visibly portrays that it was a calculated attempt to dislocate the functioning of the government as well as to disrupt the normal life of the people in the city,” the court remarked.

This is one among many unfortunate incidents since post Independence in which Muslims have been forced to witness such barbarity. And here is a compilation of some of the major violence committed against Muslims.

1961 Jabalpur Violence 

The first major-scale riot between Hindus and Muslims in post-Partition India erupted in the city of Jabalpur in the state of Madhya Pradesh 1961; February 4–9. This riot was linked to the emergence of a small class of successful Muslim entrepreneurs who were financially successful which led to economic rivalry between the Hindu and Muslim communities. The immediate cause of the violence, however, remains unknown. Two versions exist.

According to the Justice Shiv DayalShrivastava Commission of Inquiry report, the suicide of a young Hindu girl after her rape by two Muslim men on February 3 triggered communal tensions. With the support of the ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi had, All India Students Forum, a Hindu nationalist student union), students conducted a peaceful procession on February 4 to condemn the rape. Trouble started when some of them stopped near the Anjuman Islamia School and forced Muslim students to join the procession. Stones were thrown and violence erupted. As the procession was mainly Hindu and the students of the school were predominantly Muslim, the incident acquired a communal feeling.

Other reports considered that the riot was sparked by the elopement of the daughter of a prominent Hindu businessman of the bidi industry (small cigarettes) with the son of his Muslim rival. The Hindu press described the elopement as a rape attempt. The Hindu–Muslim rivalry in the bidi industry polarized the situation even more.

The army was called in on February 5 to control the situation. But when it left on February 7, Hindu activists attacked and looted Muslim properties (while carefully sparing Hindu houses). Fifty-five people died according to official reports, but unofficial accounts put the death toll at more than 200. Violence propagated to nearby villages causing six deaths in Sagar on February 8 and 9, and two deaths in Narsimhapur on February 8. The Urdu press reported many stories of police atrocities. 

1962 Violence of Aligarh

After the Jabalpur riots, which badly shook the Indian leadership and the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, further violence flared up in Aligarh (Uttar Pradesh), just before the 1962 general elections. The city is famously known for the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in which a significant number of students are Muslim. 

During the student-union elections of October 1961, not a single Hindu student was elected in the union. Muslims held a victory procession, provoking counter-demonstrations by activists from the BJS (Bharatiya Jan Sangh, Indian People’s Alliance) and the ABVP. A clash subsequently broke out between Muslim and Hindu students in a university hostel. A rumour that a Hindu student had been killed on campus sparked off violence in the city on 1961, October 3. University employees were assaulted by students from the town’s Hindu colleges. The riot claimed 14 lives, mostly Muslims. 

1961 Meerut Violence

Troubles also erupted in Meerut (Uttar Pradesh) 1961, October 5–8: after one Hindu student, a native of the town was severely beaten by Muslim boys during clashes at the Aligarh Muslim University. Back in his hometown with the support of the victim’s father who happened to be a police officer, led a procession of 150 supporters who targeted an old Muslim college and some Muslim-owned shops. Prominent members of the administration were present in the crowd and the police did nothing to intervene. 

The following day, an even larger Hindu procession gathered, threatening to enter a Muslim locality. Muslim residents rushed out of their houses, armed with lathis (sticks) – ready to defend their community. Instead of dispersing both the crowds, the police charged into the Muslim crowd. As a consequence, rioting broke out in several parts of the city. The violence lasted several days, claiming between 13 and 17 lives. 

1964 Violence of Hatia and Ranchi

Troubles erupted between Hindus and Muslims in the towns of Hatia and Ranchi (Bihar). Rioting had already occurred in the district in 1964, following anti-Hindu violence in East Pakistan. The Raghubar Dayal Commission of Inquiry established that communal tensions (regarding the organization of the Hindu Ram Navami festival) had been rising since April 1964. The 1965 conflict with Pakistan had also reinforced suspicions about Indian Muslims. 

During March 1967 general elections, the situation further degenerated because of the debate over the Urdu issue. A proposal to declare Urdu the second official language of Bihar weakened the ruling coalition and led to state-wide, anti-Urdu agitation on the part of the BJS, the RSS, and an organization called the Bihar Hindi Sahitya Sammelan. Trouble erupted in Ranchi in 1967; August 22–29 after the brick-batting of an anti-Urdu student procession near Muslim Azad High School. The school was attacked and one Hindu was killed in retaliation. The Raghubar Dayal Commission of Inquiry reported 184 deaths in Ranchi – among them 164 Muslims and 19 Hindus. Violence spread, leading to arson, looting, stabbings, and large-scale rioting in the city itself as well as in nearby industrial towns, particularly Hatia, where 26 persons died (25 Muslims and one Hindu).

1974 Sadar Bazar Violence

Troubles erupted in Delhi in the locality of Sadar Bazar 1974; on May 5 where Hindus and Muslims live side by side. The incidents were triggered by a minor quarrel between two Muslim youths and a Hindu boy. As each of them subsequently called his friends, among whom there were petty criminals, the small dispute turned into a serious Hindu-Muslim confrontation. Arson, heavy brick-batting and weapons firing took place. The police were targeted by rioters and were unable to maintain control of the situation. The Muslim community suffered particularly. Eleven persons lost their lives in these riots, after which a curfew was imposed on the locality for 45 days.

1980 Moradabad Violence 

Moradabad (Uttar Pradesh), a then Muslim-majority town, experienced a gruesome riot in 1980; August 13–14, the day of the Muslim festival of Id-ul-Fitr. The rising prosperity of the Muslim population within the brassware industry (because of its exports to the Middle East) had created deep resentment among Hindu middlemen, particularly those who were refugees from East Pakistan. 

Tensions also increased between Valmikis (a sub-caste of Dalits) and Muslims after the kidnapping of a young Dalit girl during a marriage ceremony by four Muslim youths in March 1980. On August 13, eighty thousand Muslims had gathered at the city’s Idgah to offer prayers. A pig disrupted the ceremony, an incident in which the police refused to intervene, leading the Muslims to think that the police had deliberately sent the pig. Stones were thrown and the police reacted by firing indiscriminately, killing several people during their prayers. A riot followed in which 50 persons lost their lives, including young children. 

The same evening, a Muslim crowd attacked a police station, killing two policemen and setting fire to the building. On August 14, a rumour circulated that the Muslims had attacked an entire police platoon. The Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) retaliated by beating ten men to death. A curfew was imposed from August 13 to September 10. Muslims suffered from intimidation by the police and the PAC (which colluded with Hindu goondas). Due to local-police involvement in the violence, paramilitary forces had to be deployed. The local administration proved inefficient and irresponsible. The death tally from this riot is still debated, but the Government recognized and paid compensation for 400 deaths. A Muslim group put the death toll at 2,500 while other sources estimated that 1,500 to 2,000 persons had lost their lives in the violence. 

A further riot broke out at the end of October, in which 14 persons died. After much hesitation, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi eventually visited the town in October to appease the Muslim population. Following the Moradabad riot, violence between the PAC and Muslims also flared up in Allahabad, in August, claiming around ten lives.

1987 Hashimpura Massacre 

Hashimpura massacre happened on 22 May 1987, during the Hindu-Muslim riots in Meerut city in Uttar Pradesh state, India, when 19 personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) allegedly rounded up 42 Muslim youth from the Hashimpura mohalla (locality) of the city, took them in a truck to the outskirts, near Murad Nagar, in Ghaziabad district, where they were shot and their bodies were dumped in water canals. A few days later dead bodies were found floating in the canals. 

In May 2000, 16 of the 19 accused surrendered and were later released on bail, while 3 were already dead. The trial of the case was transferred by the Supreme Court of India in 2002 from Ghaziabad to a Sessions Court at the Tis Hazari complex in Delhi, where it was the oldest pending case. On 21 March 2015, all 16 men accused in the Hashimpura massacre case of 1987 were acquitted by Tis Hazari Court due to insufficient evidence. The Court emphasized that the survivors could not recognize any of the accused PAC personnel. On 31 October 2018, the Delhi High Court convicted the 16 personnel of the PAC and sentenced them to life imprisonment, overturning the trial courts verdict.

1989 Bhagalpur Violence

On 24 October 1989 in the Bhagalpur district of Bihar, the violent incidents happened for over 2 months. The violence affected Bhagalpur city and 250 surrounding villages. Over 1,000 people were killed, and another 50,000 were displaced as a result of the violence. It was among the worst Hindu-Muslim violence in independent India at the time.

1992 Post Babri Mosque Destruction

The destruction of the Babri Mosque by Hindu nationalists led directly to the 1992 Bombay riots. According to an article published in The Hindu’s Frontline magazine, titled Gory Winter, “officially, 900 people were killed in mob rioting and firing by the police, 2,036 injured and thousands internally displaced.” BBC correspondent Toral Varia called the riots “a pre-planned pogrom,” that had been in the making since 1990, and stated that the destruction of the mosque was “the final provocation”.

Several scholars have likewise concluded that the riots have been pre-planned and that Hindutva rioters had access to information about the locations of Muslim homes and businesses spaces that were targeted and looted. 

This violence is widely reported as having been orchestrated by Shiv Sena, a Hindu nationalist group led by Bal Thackeray. A high-ranking member of the special branch, V. Deshmukh, gave evidence to the commission tasked with probing the riots. He said the failures in intelligence and prevention had been due to political assurances that the mosque in Ayodhya would be protected, that the police were fully aware of the Shiv Sena’s capabilities to commit acts of violence, and that they had incited hate against the minority communities.

2002 Gujarat Massacre 

In 2002, in an incident described as an act of “fascistic state terror,” Hindutva extremists carried out acts of violence against the Muslim minority population.

The starting point for the incident was the Godhra train burning which was allegedly done by Muslims. During the 2002 Massacre young Muslim girls were sexually assaulted, burned and hacked to death. These rapes were condoned by the ruling BJP, whose refusal to intervene led to the displacement of 200,000. Death toll figures range from the official estimate of 254 Hindus and 790 to 2,000 Muslims killed

The Chief Minister of Gujarat at that time, Narendra Modi, was accused of initiating and condoning the violence, as were police and government officials who allegedly directed the rioters and gave lists of Muslim-owned properties to them.

In 2012, Modi was given a clean chit concerning the violence by Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court. The SIT also rejected claims that the state government had not done enough to prevent the riots. In July 2013 allegations were made that the SIT had suppressed evidence.

The same year December, an Indian court upheld the earlier SIT report and rejected a petition seeking Modi’s prosecution. In April 2014, the Supreme Court expressed satisfaction over the SIT’s investigations in nine cases related to the violence and rejected as “baseless” a plea contesting the SIT report.

2013 Muzaffarnagar Violence

In the year 2013 between August to September, conflicts between the two major religious communities Hindu and Muslims happened in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh state. These riots resulted in at least 62 deaths including 42 Muslims and 20 Hindus and injured 200 and left more than 50,000 displaced.

 

More Incidents Post 2014

Communal violence has been a persistent and unfortunate reality in colonial and post-Partition India. There is no escaping the fact that attacks and incidents of hate crimes against the Muslims by the hands of Hindutva groups are driven by extreme hate and gruesomely executed

The violence against Muslims never stopped but since Narendra Modi led BJP came to power in 2014, the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – is the back of a Hindu nationalist agenda, in which anti-Muslim animosity and discrimination are incorporated into mainstream political discourse and government policy.

 • On 16 April 2018 at Rasana village near Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, an 8-year-old girl Asifa Bano was abducted, gang-raped, and murdered. The leaders of BJP led a procession in support of the rapist.

 • On 18 June 2019 at Dhatkidih village of Jharkhand’s SeraikelaKharsawan district, a 22-year-old Tabrez Ansari, was lynched. In the video which captured the lynching, Tabrez was seen pleading mob and was forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”.

 • In Feb 2020, during the Delhi pogrom, 9 Muslims were forced to chant Jai Shri Ram and later killed.

 • On 15 June 2020, in Mangalore, in Karnataka, a tempo driver MohdHanif was brutally beaten up by the cow vigilante and lynched. Reportedly, the attackers belonged to Bajrang Dal.

 • On 8 August 2020 at Sikar district in Rajasthan, a 52-year-old Gaffar Ahmed was brutally beaten up and forced to chant “Jai Shree Ram” and “Modi Zindabad”. The attackers allegedly pulled the driver’s beard, punched his tooth out, and asked him to go to Pakistan.

 • On 16 August 2020 at Reasi in Jammu and Kashmir, Muhammad Asgar (40) and his nephew Javid Ahmad (26) were beaten with sticks, punches and kicks with “Desh Ke Gaddron Ko, Goli Maaro Salon Ko” (Shoot the traitors) and “Bharat Mata ki Jai” chants.

 • On 23 August 2020 at Panipat in Haryana, a 28-year-old AkhlaqSalmani was beaten with bricks and clubs and his right arm carrying ‘786’ (Numerology based Muslim believers consider it Holy) was cut off with a chainsaw.

 • On 3 September 2020 at Karnal, Haryana, an Imam of a masjid Mohammad Ahsan was beaten with sharp-edged swords, rods and batons with heavy injuries to the victim’s head.

 • On 6 September 2020 at NCR, Aftab Alam was lynched and forced to say “Jai Sri Ram”.

 • Muslim man assaulted in front of his 6 years old daughter, forced to chant Jai Shri Ram in Kanpur.

 • In March 2021 a 14-year-old boy was brutally assaulted for entering the temple to drink water in Ghaziabad.

 • On May 16 2021, Asif Siddiqui, a resident of KheraKhalilpur village in the Nuh district of Haryana, was murdered. He was attacked by a group of men while on his way home. Several Mahapanchayats Held to Support those arrested for ‘Lynching’ Asif. 

In one among many the largest Mahapanchayat, in Indri village, about 50,000 people were reportedly present despite the ongoing lockdown in the state.

 • On June 7’2021, Masjid Imam Nasir Mohammad was brutally beaten by a group of Mobs inside the masjid in Rampur Majra village, Dankaur, Greater Noida.

• In July’2021 dozens of Muslim women in India found they had been put up for sale online. The app pretended to offer users the chance to buy a “Sulli” – a derogatory slang term used by right-wing Hindu trolls for Muslim women. There was no real sale of any kind – the purpose of the app was just to degrade and humiliate.

 • On August 22’2021, Tasleem was assaulted by a Hindu mob in Banganga’s Govind Nagar area in Indore of Madhya Pradesh purportedly for his Muslim identity. He was then illicitly made accused and cases were levied on him arbitrarily. He got bail after spending more than 100 days in jail.

 • In a case of alleged custodial death in Uttar Pradesh, a Muslim youth arrested by the state police on suspicion of eloping with a Hindu woman allegedly died in the Sadar police station in Kasganj district in November 8’2021.

 • Dharma Sansad’ held at Haridwar from 17-19 December 2021. These included calls to arms to protect the “dharma” and statements calling for Muslims to be killed “if needed”. One priest said he had got “10 Muslims” booked under false SC/ST Act charges, while Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati claimed he would provide “Rs 1 crore to those young sanyasis willing to follow the path of the likes of former LTTE chief Prabhakaran”.

 Yet another priest said he would have shot PM Manmohan Singh for his statement that minorities had the first right on India’s resources. An associate of Yati Narsinghanand — Pandit Adheer Kaushik, head of the Haridwar-based Parashuram Akhara — defended the speeches made at the event, saying “nothing wrong was said”. AnandSwaroop, head of a body named the Shankaracharya Parishad, said the “demand (for Hindu Rashtra) raised by the Hindu Mahasabha in 1915 is relevant even today and every democratically elected government in Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and other states will have to abide by the final resolution of the Dharma Sansad”.

 “If not, they will have to face opposition stronger than the 1857 war of Independence.”

 Another priest, one Swami Amrita Nand said, “Dharma cannot be protected without arms”.

 “You may have Rs 5,000 mobile phone but must possess arms worth not less than Rs 1 lakh. Only retribution can keep one alive. Keep swords in the house and if anyone questions say it’s for puja,” he added.

 Sindhu Sagar called on “rich Hindu villagers” to “buy all Muslim properties and keep the village free of the minority population”. “Harass them to the extent that they are forced to sell off their houses. I have arrested more than 10 Muslims on false charges under the SC/ST Act.”

 • On Dec 26’2021, a 17-year-old boy Mohammad Shaukat was lynched and stabbed to death over abuse on social media in the Indian Capital. 

• On the New Year 2022, the day started with a horrible abuse of Muslim women in India. Months after a now-defunct website called ‘Sulli Deals’ put up photographs of Indian Muslim women, listing them for “sale”, a similar website and app by the name of ‘Bulli Bai’ triggered outrage. Complaints about hundreds of Muslim women listed for “auction” on a dodgy app with photographs sourced without permission for the second time in less than a year.

Muslims in India continued to suffer and their testimonies never reached up to the level of the alleged guardians of peace sitting on larger forums in and out of the Indian state. The rest of the world has overwhelmingly stayed silent when it comes to the radical religious transformation in India, presumably since it is a “rising power,” “democracy” and “market.” Every single cry that comes out of the oppressed heart says ‘Hum Dekhenge (We Will Witness), but a pertinent question that every single cry asks ‘Hum KabTakDekhenge (Till When We Will Witness)?’ 

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