Gau Rakshaks & Anti-Romeo Squads: Treating Muslims as the ‘Other’

Violence in the name of cow vigilantism and anti-Romeo squads will result in fearmongering among the minorities.

3 min read
Hindi Female
Violence in the name of cow vigilantism and anti-Romeo squads will result in fearmongering among the minorities.
Najeeb is a Muslim student. He is both a Muslim and a student. The latter is as important as the former. Both define Najeeb.
Nitheesh Narayanan, SFI Central Executive Committee Member
I don’t agree with reducing Najeeb’s identity merely to being a Muslim. 
Muhammad Muhsin, CPI

These comments are sufficient to understand dilemmas among secular liberals as far as the Muslims in India are concerned. Similar apprehensions are evident even in the discourse among the liberal Left and so-called seculars in public sphere.


Marginalisation of Muslims

After 1947, the trauma inflicted on Muslims in India was a collective attempt at marginalisation as the ‘other’.

This segregation was imposed even earlier on the basis of historical narratives of binaries – ‘indigenous’ (Indic) and ‘external’ (non-Indic). Here, Muslims come in the category of the ‘external other’ in the national imagination even after their epoch-long naturalisation in this land.

In post-independence India, the presence of this ‘Muslim other’ used to be a tool for the unification of diverse castes under the ambit of a larger Hindu superset.

Targeting the Minorities

The current scenario in our country is overwhelmingly frightening, with violent attacks on Muslims through various means.

The presence of certain draconian laws such as MCOCA facilitates some investigative agencies to target Muslim youth. There needs to be a thorough analysis of the efficacy of these laws and their biased implementation.

While Swami Aseemanand is acquitted in the 2007 Ajmer blasts case, a different narrative follows if when it comes to the fake encounter of eight Muslim undertrials in Bhopal last year.

Taking Law Into Their Hands

In the name of protecting Indian culture and Hindutva values, mobs of gau rakshaks and anti-Romeo squads are active in our neighbourhoods. These extra-constitutional bodies have taken it upon themselves to punish the wrongdoers.

The reason why no one dares to question them is clear: they are the caretakers of Indian culture and its ‘collective conscience’.

We have enough examples of victimisation of such kind – from the kidnapping of Najeeb Ahmad of JNU to the cold-blooded murders of Mohammad Akhlaq of Dadri, Mazlum Ansari and Imteyaz Khan of Jharkhand, Faisal of Kerala and recently Pehlu Khan of Alwar– the common thread in these mob lynchings is that of the religion of the victims.

Who Will Speak on Their Behalf?

The most difficult struggle against Hindutva fascism is the assertion of identities – as a Muslim, Dalit or Adivasi.

For the liberal intelligentsia, it’s high time to come together on larger platforms of resistance and protest and voice the concerns of various sections of society.

Also Read: Triple Talaq, Meat Ban: Govt’s Bid to Divide Muslims May Backfire


(The writer is a Research Fellow at the Centre for West Asian Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and can be reached @hishamulwahab. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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