Last week, when the Chief of Defense Staff, of the Army, Navy and Airforce, Bipin Rawat died in a helicopter crash in the mountainous region of Nilgiris in Tamilnadu, there was a shock and jolt amongst the people of India. People were flabbergasted to know that 13 people of high profile members, including Bipin Rawat were amongst those who lost lives.
Condolences poured from all corners, from across the world too. Indians across the subcontinent paid their homage to those who died. Even a Pakistani Army man Major Adil Raja tweeted and expressed his condolences by saying: “Sir, please accept my heartfelt condolences”.
This was posted when Brigadier R.S Pathania, an Indian veteran, had tweeted, shortly after CDS Rawat died, by saying, “Salute you, Sir. Jai Hind”
The response to Major Adil Raja’s tweet was again interesting, when Brigadier R.S Pathania responded by saying: “Thank you, Adil. That’s what is expected from a soldier. Salute you”.
The former Pakistani Army Man again commented saying: “Of course, Sir, it’s the decent thing to do as a soldier. Again, sorry for your loss, Sir. In our Punjabi folklore, they say, “dushman maray te khushian na manawoo, kadday sajna v mar jaana” Means: “Don’t celebrate the deaths of your enemies as some day friends would also die”.
Now this is the level of dignity and gentility that people show up as the members of civil society. And that shows their standard of sanity and sobriety.
Thousands of Indian Muslims paid their condolences to the dead military men, for having served in the interest of the nation’s safety and security. But then, a cold wave was felt from Kashmir. Many were rejoicing the death of the military men, by saying that they were annoyed at the way that the military dealt with them for the past few years. They summed up all the mishaps of the past, done by some military officials during some random events, and packaged their narrative by saying that they are happy to see the death of the ones who gave them all the trouble.
The point to be noted here is, was it the policy of Indian military to torture the Kashmiris? Did the atrocities done by some officials been the consequence of direction from the head of the Indian army? If one probes into these questions, he will be left without much words to say, since there are no evidences to say in an affirmative. Unless there are proofs on the table, we cannot go on blaming people of any crime. India regards Kashmir as part of Indian territories. If people in Kashmir want to make it an independent state, then they must work through non-violent protests to bring about a political change. But if the Kashmiris choose arms struggle, then the Indian military will be left with no choice but to use force to bring peace in the region. I see the Kashmiris divided in their vision. Some are happy to be part of India, while some want to be part of Pakistan, while many want to have an independent state. Hence we found some paying condolences, while others rejoicing at the death of the army chief.
But the thing that is unfathomable is the smileys and laughter over the social media during anyone’s death. That’s a serious disease of the heart. When a person meets with an accident on the street, and if one was witnessing it, the first reaction must be to save the life of the ones hurt and bleeding. As a doctor, one must not look into religion, colour or creed, and just serve to help people. This is the level of standards that are expected out of noble souls. When combatants face each other in the battle field, then they are expected to fight each other. But when they meet each other as delegations to attend a conference, there they are expected to greet each other with mutual respect. That’s the standards that we as Muslims are to follow. The Prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) stood up to pay respect when a dead body of a Jew passed by. And when one of his companions told him that it was the dead body of a Jew, he said: Isn’t it a soul?
The religion of Islam guides the Muslims to escort the enemies to peaceful place, when they stop to fight in the battle field. The Prophet showed mercy even to war criminals who had killed the Muslims. He released them and set them free. The prisoners of war were ordered to be given good food. He even gave a public amnesty to the people, when he entered the land where the Muslims were tortured and killed for their faith. So if anyone tries to bring in a religious justification for their creepy gestures over the social media, then they are completely wrong.
Hatred to the extent of sending smileys at the death of anyone on earth is diabolic in fact. Your causes may be noble. But your means to achieve that is grungy and awkward. The disgusting part is that, some Muslims of India, who are not from Kashmir too behaved as though a criminal died in the crash. Let’s be very clear on this. The Kashmiris don’t accept the Indian Muslim leadership. Had they accepted it, they would not be asking for a separate nation. And the Indian Muslim leadership don’t call for a separate state. They are proud to be called as Indians. There’s a clear dichotomy here. Under such a scenario, why would a Keralite Muslim want to rejoice at the death of Indian army man? Doesn’t he know that it is the Indian army that defends the Indian borders, including Kerala! Do they think that the neighbouring countries would spare us if we didn’t have military resistance? The former President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam was the nuclear scientist who equipped our nation with nukes and sophisticated war missiles. What for did he and his team work on that? Thousands of Muslims serve in the Indian Army, Navy and Airforce to save our lands from the external attacks. Why do you think they are working there? Because they love to protect all the Indians. The military has extended help during floods and earthquakes across the country. They airlift people and provide aid to save lives. All are helped during then. Where’s the gratitude? Remember, when terrorists attack India, they don’t look at your religion or language. Their aim is only destruction. Hundreds of Muslims have died during Mumbai Terror attack of 2008, orchestrated by the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Kasab and his men killed a total of 175 men, of that nearly half of them were Muslims. Now, tell me, who is your friend and who is your foe? Terror outfits are organisations of criminals. And none of us must condone with them.
There is surely a disease in some of the Indian Muslims of today. And the cure for this disease is in gaining knowledge. Both religious knowledge and worldly knowledge are necessary to live in this world. When people exaggerate and mislead the masses, then the masses will become like an intoxicated animal that is about to invite destruction to all around. We’ve all right to disagree with political views and decisions. But we must not lose our sanity in the meanwhile. I would love to see a peaceful Kashmir, happy Kashmiris, and a peaceful coexistence. We are against all kinds of atrocities that happen in the region. We are against the rapes and sexual abuse done against the Kashmiri women in the past. We don’t support the extrajudicial killings that are reported at times. We are against the encounters that happen without trial. We are against the bombing of military buses, while not at war. We are against the mass expulsion of Kashmiri Pandits who are left without homes to live. In short, we are against all forms of crimes that are reported. Please call for a complete ceasefire and work to engage in dialogues. I’m not here to say who’s right and who’s wrong. I only say: Do what is right, and don’t wrong anyone.
I’ve been critiquing Bipin Rawat for his statements in the past. That’s our level of disagreements. That will remain. But augustness and sublimeness is part of our culture. I’m an Indian Muslim, who loves India and loves Islam. The former is my national identity, and latter is my faith. The grandsons of Tipu Sultan and Marudhanayam will live as their forefathers, and die on our mother land. Jai Hind. Assalaamu’alaikum.
Muhammad Akbar Shariff, AKA Umar Shariff,
President, Discover Islam Education Trust, Bangalore