1st letter photo-1-24-20

Preparation of stone blocks and columns for the construction of proposed Ram temple in Ayodhya. (IANS file photo)

I read with interest the subject letter in the Nov. 29, 2019 issue of India-West by former Justice Markandey Katju of the Supreme Court of India and so I respond in total respect to this legal scholar of India who appears to have made the San Francisco Bay Area his residence in his retirement. He comes from an eminent family of legal scholars with his father and uncle having held both judicial and political positions in the Allahabad High Court and the state of UP.

My response to all such viewpoints including Justice Katju of the BJP government tolerating lynching and other discrimination against Muslims is that none of them ever show or back up their claims with any statistical data to prove their points. They all appear to be emotional statements or possibly political statements without any data.

I visit India every three months and do not see anything in the country that makes me feel that there are dark clouds ahead for India. As a former justice, Katju needs to provide some very concrete evidence for his statements which he has failed to do. I do give him credit for recognizing that the other political parties such as the Congress indulged very heavily in vote bank politics for Muslim appeasement. So, he does recognize the fact that prior handling of this type of appeasement under the so-called policy of “secularism” may be producing its backlash. Thus, it may be a short-lived phenomenon, and if the BJP as a party and their RSS supporters are indulging in sustained activities like what Justice Katju is stating, they will suffer electoral losses without creating any dark clouds over India.

Calling the Ram Mandir decision of the Supreme Court a flawed decision is a bit farfetched as it has been a very difficult topic for any court to handle, and coming out with a ruling that the court did is commendable and should be respected by the majority of Indians. From what I have read in the press, that appears to be the sentiment all over India. I must add that this justice’s father Shiv Nath Katju was the president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in the late 1980s and one of the early advocates of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. And so, while his father must be very happy in the heavens with the recent outcome at the Supreme Court, his son appears to have an issue with the court’s decision. That is his personal viewpoint and we cannot criticize him for that opinion. That does not represent any dark cloud at all from a majority perspective for India.

Yes, it is true that Muslims may be unhappy with the disappearance of some of the appeasement politics that they experienced for six decades in independent India, but it may be time for them to recognize that Muslims in India enjoy the most freedom constitutionally of any other Muslims anywhere in the world, and their leadership needs to guide them towards living harmoniously with the society at large without expecting special treatment in making their day to day living within the confines of the law.

Some of their leaders like Mr. Owaisi from Hyderabad appear to be in a constant battle with the government for nonsensical issues rather than work for the betterment of his constituents in collaboration with the government. I have not read about a single attempt on his part for a program for his district’s benefits. Was opposing the Triple Talaq in the best interest of Mr. Owaisi’s female constituents? Are the Muslims better off electing more constructive leaders rather than the ones who are confrontational most of the time in the name of religion?

I think Justice Katju is wrong about his assessment of dark clouds over democracy in India and I see it thriving and the country progressing and prospering with its diversity. People like him are still in denial about accepting the verdict of the overwhelming majority of Indians in the last general elections.

Bipin A. Shah

Lafayette, California

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