Dr. Ram Puniyani has long been introduced as a former physician and IIT professor who quit his job to dedicate himself to the cause of communal harmony in India. In his mission, he advocates, among other things, that the Muslim conquerers were influenced not so much by their Jihadi fanaticism of proselytizing Hindus as their greed for wealth contained in the Hindus’ places of worship.
On 16 June 2022, he wrote an article in the South Asia Monitor https://www.southasiamonitor.org/spotlight/religion-another-name-love-hate-part-divisive-politics
(w)here he touched upon the topics ranging from the Kashmir Files to the suspension of Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal from the BJP to the handling of the Islamist violence in Kanpur and elsewhere in UP by the Yogi government. He warned the Indians not to critique Islam lest the Islamist nations get angry with India, withdraw all their trade or commerce and force workers from India to leave.
In response, I wrote the following in the comment section, Disqus, which appeared instantly, but was as quickly removed too:
1. In his essay, Dr Puniyani (RP) used the term ‘Muslim’ majority states, instead of ‘Islamic States’ for the Gulf countries. There’s a difference: In the Islamic States non-Muslims don’t have the same rights as Muslims. The Islamic countries in the Gulf didn’t have any right to speak on India where the constitution grants equal status to the followers of all religions. The Indian government should have proclaimed the developments within India as an internal matter and shown the Islamic countries their faces in the mirror.
2. In the Islamists’ violence, most stone-throwers were uneducated or illiterate Muslim youth indoctrinated and misled by the Muslim Mullah-Maulvi-Ashraf class whose sons and family members don’t participate in such acts of violence. RP should have indicated why such cases of violence occurred only on Fridays (e.g., 3 and 10 June 2022) after prayers from select mosques.
3. In UP and elsewhere, bulldozers were used to tear down the illegal constructions over encroached or illicitly acquired land by the accused. In most cases, notices from the city officials/appropriate authorities were served a long time before the actual action. But either the officials were asleep over such cases or the accused dragged the matter in the courts. Yogi’s government didn’t dismantle any construction without due process of law.
The news about the retired highly placed judges making a move in the Supreme Court to stop the use of bulldozers was politically motivated and an attempt to derail the executive function.
4. RP characterized “The Kashmir Files” as a biased film based on “half-truths and lies”. It’s sad and unfortunate, by alleging so, RP puts the blame of the genocide somewhere else. Vivek Agnihotri, the film-maker, had asserted that every shot/incident in the movie was backed up by hard and verifiable evidence. He had openly welcomed any critique like RP to come forward and prove him wrong anywhere. He could be legally liable too for misrepresentation of facts.
As an academic and respectable scholar RP must not have hurled words like, “half-truths and lies.” He has rubbed salt over the wounds of those Kashmiri minorities — Hindu, Sikhs and Shia Muslims — who were driven out from the valley by the Islamist Jihadists supported by Pakistan.
5. RP had done us a favor by quoting Gandhi and emphasizing the need to follow him.
In the words of Gandhi:
“I believe in the truth of all religions of the world. And since my youth upward, it has been a humble but persistent effort on my (part) to understand the truth of all the religions of the world, and adopt and assimilate in my own thought, word and deed all that I have found to be best in those religions. The faith that I profess not only permits me to do so but renders it obligatory for me to take the best from whatsoever source it may come.” (Harijan, 16-2-34)
All of us know Gandhi made so much effort to build up trust and brotherhood between the Muslims (mostly, their leaders inspired by Islamist-supremacist-separatist ideology) and the Hindus. He was even in favor of the Hindus (and the Jews in Europe in the face of Hitler’s Fascist forces) making the supreme sacrifice of their lives for the sake of non-violence. He believed this “collective” offering of lives could “change the heart” of the killers.
However, according to H. V. Seshadri, The Tragic Story of Partition (p.105), the same Gandhi, as far back as in 1925, showed another side of his reading about the Indian Muslims when he was asked a question:
“Have you ever inquired as to why, while in the Muslim community in India as a whole is so keenly interested in the affairs of Muslim countries abroad, not the least appreciable proportion of it takes any active interest in the internal political life and advancement of the country..?”
To this Gandhi replied:
“In so far as the charge is correct, the Mussalmans take less interest in because they do not yet regard India as their home of which they must feel proud. Many regard themselves, quite wrongly, I think, as belonging to the race of the conquerors.” (Young India 2-4-1925)
As a person of scientific temper, Ram Puniyani must know that the younger generation all over the world has access to a lot more information and tools to make a comparative assessment of all the Faiths and their Founders.
About the Writer:
Dr Binoy Shanker Prasad: Originally from Darbhanga, Bihar (India), Dr Binoy Shanker Prasad lives in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). He is a former UGC teacher fellow at JNU in India and a Fulbright Scholar in the USA. Author of scholarly works including a book, Violence Against Minorities, Gandhi in the Age of Globalization (a monograph) and a collection of Hindi poems. Dr Prasad has taught at Ryerson University, Centennial College and McMaster University. He has also been the president of Hamilton based India-Canada Society (2006-08 and 2018-20).