Abrar Reyaz

Securing the secular crentials of Indian Constitution

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A theological state is necessarily and inevitably a religious state. Any such state is believed to derive force, authority and validity from God.  According to its proponents, the ruler is phantom of God on earth. A theological state has a religion. In contrast and collocation to this, secular state is one having no religion. Secular state is nonaligned and impersonal in matters of religion and reckons only relationship of man with the state and has no concern and vexation with relationship of man with the God.

Indian brand of secularism is a bit different from Western notion of secularism. In India, to be precise, secular state means a state which treats all religions equally or all religions are equal before the state without any discrimination. In short, it is an egalitarian model.

Preamble to the Constitution, Art 14, 15, 16, 25 to 28 and 325 vouch and ensure the secular nature of state. The Supreme Court of India has further reinforced and advanced this argument by declaring secularism ‘basic structure’ of Indian Constitution. The apex court has further declared that the basic structure can’t be changed, amended or altered.  (S.R Bommai Case, Kesvananda Bharati Case)

The concept of Islamic State strictly speaking, revolves around the rules and constitution based on Shariah Law. According to Oxford English Dictionary, Hindutva is an ideology seeking to establish the hegemony of hindus and the hindu way of life. Some people also use the term Ram Rajya, an ideal state which is essentially a hindu state.  Literally, it means Kingdom of Lord Ram.

Both these ideologies per se appear to contradict with Indian secular nature of state, its democracy and constitution of Indian state. In order to protect the essence, gist and worth of the constitution, both ideologies were supposed to be curbed, curtailed and banned as per the procedure of law. Did that happened? The state response towards two ideologies has been dubious, two-fold and slanted.

Any person who is proponent or having any ideological lenience or political orientation towards Islamic state is declared a potential extremist, fundamentalist, terrorist and booked under UAPA, POTA, TADA, fair and square. But then, persons championing and propounding hindutva politics or ideology are treated as good guys and their politics is allowed to amass, conglomerate and given space in Indian mainstream politics. Their presence is considered as battle of ideas. Meanwhile, constitutional values are allowed to lose their essence in this backdrop. Ironically, the current dispensation and those at the helm are affairs derive their ideology from same hindutva which is no different from IS notion of a theocratic and hegemonic state. There have been cases where the false alarm of Islamic extremism was raised and innocent Muslim youth were booked and implicated in different terror incidents.

There are different dimensions associated with the whole debate to properly understand this paradox. Firstly, it is to be understood, there is difference between adopting extreme ideas and committing violence. If a person embraces extreme ideas, it is not necessary that he will commit violence. The sub-dimension associated with this dimension is based on a supposition that Muslim extremists commit violence. It is however, on record that hindu extremist organisations have also carried out terrorist attacks like 2006 Malegaon blasts, Mecca Masjid bombing (Hyderabad), Samjhauta Express bombings and the Ajmer Sharif Dargah blast. Saffron terror is also a reality to which one can’t turn a blind eye. Then, there are agitation terrorists, the lynching mobs, the cow vigilantes who also enjoy free hand in the largest democracy abiding rule of law, one more paradox to the end. Secondly, some people have argued that India is defacto Hindu state while as secularism is only on papers and cards.

Therefore, tackling Muslim extremism and allowing hindutva is part of that pogrom and conspiracy. Then, where lies the difference? If Islamic extremism is crime, how is hindu extremism just a battle of idea and no threat to secular state and its constitutional values? Isn’t Saffron terror also a reality to shed light off? Is India therefore, a defacto hindu state hiding behind the mask, guise and façade of secularism? That still remains a million dollar question.

Author is a Law student at Department of Legal Studies, Central University of Kashmir. He blogs at: http://AbrarReyaz.wordpress.com and can be reached at: [email protected]

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