Vinit Wahi / New Delhi
The outgoing Vice President, Hamid Ansari, has stirred a controversy by asserting that the ambience of acceptance “is now under threat as there is a feeling of unease and a sense of insecurity among the Muslims in the country.
Ansari has said that there is a feeling of unease and insecurity creeping in among the Muslims in the country due rising incidents of intolerance and vigilante violence.
Ansari, 80, who has had two terms as Vice President, also described the questioning of citizens over their love for India as a “disturbing thought”.
“Over all the very fact that Indianness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought,” he told journalist Karan Thapar in an interview on Rajya Sabha TV.
Ansari, also said that there is a breakdown of Indian values and the ability of authorities at different levels in different places to be able to enforce what should be normal law enforcing work.
Ansari said the idea that India has been a plural society for centuries and not for 70 years was under threat.
when asked in the interview whether he felt that the Muslims are beginning to feel they are not wanted, said, “I would not go that far, there is a sense of insecurity.”
He made these remarks in the backdrop of incidents of intolerance and cow vigilantism and comments made by some saffron leaders regarding the minority community.
In the interview, Ansari referred to incidents of lynching and ‘ghar wapsi’ and killings of rationalists as a “breakdown of Indian values, breakdown of the ability of the authorities at different levels in different places to be able to enforce what should be normal law enforcing work and over all the very fact that Indianness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought.”
“Yes it is a correct assessment,” Ansari said when asked whether he agreed with the assessment that the Muslim community is apprehensive and that it was feeling insecure as a result of the kind of comments made against them.
“Yes it is a correct assessment, from all I hear from different quarters, the country; I heard the same thing in Bangalore, I have heard from other parts of the country, I hear more about in north India, there is a feeling of unease, a sense of insecurity is creeping in,” he said.
He said India is a plural society that for centuries, not for seventy years, has lived in a certain “ambience of acceptance” which is now under threat. He was of the view that the propensity to be able to assert your nationalism day in and day out is “unnecessary”.
“I am an Indian and that is it.”
At an event in Bengaluru on Sunday, Ansari said the “version of nationalism” that places cultural commitments at its core promotes intolerance and arrogant patriotism.
Responding to a question on comments made by some BJP leaders related to minorities, he said he would not talk about political people or political parties.
“But to me, every time such a comment appeared or came to my knowledge; I mean my first reaction was that, A: the person is ignorant, B: that he is prejudiced and C: he does not fit into the framework that India has always prided to itself on, which is to be accommodative society,” he said.
Responding to questions on triple talaq, Ansari said it is a social aberration, not a religious requirement.
On triple talaq, Mr Ansari said it is a social aberration, not a religious requirement. “Firstly, it is a social aberration, it is not a religious requirement. The religious requirement is crystal clear, emphatic, there are no two views about it, but patriarchy, social customs have all crept into it to create a situation which is highly undesirable,” he said.
He said the courts do not have to step in as the reform has to come from within the community. “The courts can say that we don’t recognise it. That’s all. I mean a marriage has to be recognised on certain occasions by the system of the state. And if a state functionary at a particular point of time refuses to recognise a happening which may be the product of a triple talaq, that s it,” he explained.
To a poser on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Ansari said, “the problem has always primarily been a political problem. And it has to be addressed politically.”
However, the BJP and VHP were quick to respond to his observations saying it did not behove well for the dignity of a vice president. Senior BJP leader Kailash VIjayvargiya condemned the remarks saying that this violated the sanctity of a constitutional post.