Of Imaginary Hinduphobia, Real Islamophobia and the Persecution of Dr. Kafeel Khan
- How fantastic it would be if Muslims build a state-of-the-art hospital at the designated land given to them in lieu of their claim to the Babri Masjid. And how wonderful it would be if Dr. Kafeel Khan was released from prison and made in charge of that hospital.
I am amused, astonished and speechless – never have I seen someone’s tear ducts open to a deluge, such deep-felt conviction of the righteousness of their claims, such appeal! Talk of trying to globalize a non-existent phenomenon called Hinduphobia that exists only in the minds of a few. I am referring to a recent Twitter viral video of a very young girl, beautiful, obviously educated and articulate – In the video, she is seen crying buckets of tears that I do not doubt for one second are not real, “They bully us for following our Hindu culture. Hinduphobics don’t understand history.” Apparently, this poor girl is crying bitter tears because of the rising Hinduphobia across the world.
Really? Where is this rising Hinduphobia? I later learned this poor girl is from the U.S. of Indian heritage, an Instagram Influencer and goes by the name of wanderingkamya. She is clearly into spirituality and a founder of something called psychedelics education center. My views here are not to judge her in any way, but only to express my thoughts on supposed Hinduphobia.
I am perplexed because I am from India, I live overseas, and I am someone who’s extremely comfortable in my skin, in who I am and where I come from. That includes a cultural representation of my culture. I wear sarees to work when my mood takes me – even though I am probably one of the very few Brown people working there.
Do I get questions about my outfit? Absolutely. Do I get stares, sometimes but mostly it belongs to folks who haven’t been exposed to a lot of living, breathing Brown people? Not their fault surely. Ignorance maybe, but someone else’s ignorance is not my burden to carry.
So, I stride forth in my gorgeous ikats and ajraaks, taking in the compliments and sympathizing with the ignorant. But this poor girl brings up a term that has been thrown at me often by a very few hardcore rightwing acquaintances – whom I call Progressive-hating Islamophobic People or PIPs. The rest of the world knows them as Bhakts. I guess I should shoot a video and hope it went viral – because I feel I am definitely bullied by these PIPs – do I care, none whatsoever! Instead, I write.
These Bhakts don’t understand what it means to live in a diverse world of mutual respect and understanding. So, they coin a term that can somehow get associated with their own Islamophobic views and in some way justify it even.
The Fiction of Hinduphobia
There is no Hinduphobia, definitely no mounting cases of Hinduphobia – no Hindu community has been subject to the kind of pogrom that the Muslims have been subjected to in India as a minority. The days of Idi Amin and Fiji were rooted in the dictatorial era of the time. Hindus do not and have not faced atrocities committed by governments against a community or religion like the Japanese faced in internment camps during the World War II, the Jewish people during the Holocaust or Muslims who are subjected to Islamophobia all over the world today.
We need to refuse to let a vestige of a very small group’s imagination take root into reality. These folks are the creators of the original template of Donald Trump’s Fake News theory. Their nonsensical notions of a marginalized Hindu majority need to be given the same treatment that the rest of the world gives to Donald Trump – scrutiny and fact-check.
My Facebook feed — as always, the barometric pressure indicator of social discourse — witnessed some activity a couple days back when the “Dear Leader” inaugurated the construction of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple. And at what cost. The December 6, 1995 communal carnage that followed the Babri Masjid demolition — no little thanks to the wily L.K. Adwani – will always remain with me and millions of other Indians who saw that as a direct hit to India’s secular credentials. Friends who supported the recent Supreme Court Decision giving the former Babri Masjid structure and land back to the Hindu majority claims, felt it was about time. Some were more obscenely direct in their celebrations of that one act of India’s fall from secular heights, according to me at least.
And recently, I woke up to the news that the land that the same Supreme Court verdict had allocated to the All India Sunni Waqf Board for a masjid to be built in lieu of the demolished Babri Masjid was to be a Hospital. It was fantastic news and too good to be true. It was. But what if it did happen. What a grand slap in the face of the Ram Rajya followers – India needs a working healthcare system, not yet another obscenely grand monstrosity of a temple or church or a masjid.
And that brings me to the trials and tribulations of Dr. Kafeel Khan, a doctor from Uttar Pradesh (UP) who has been languishing in jail in squalid conditions based on charges yet to be proved in courts. His trial started when he exposed a government hospital where a large number of children had died due to non-availability of basic oxygen cylinders. The UP government first denied any such deaths had occurred and later when faced with proof, they laid the blame on Dr. Khan who had been buying cylinders with his own money. The UP government is ruled by the same Modi’s party led by a Hindu sadhu or guru. Dr. Khan is a Muslim and the UP government has been accused of turning a blind eye to frequent and increasing attacks against the minority Muslim population.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has stood up for Dr. Khan, claiming he has been framed and demanded his release. Dr. Khan was released after 9 months in jail – his and his family repeatedly harassed, shot at, threatened and facing looming bankruptcy because no one wanted to do business with him or his family for fear of government reprisals. In 2019, all charges were dropped against him, but he was rearrested in Mumbai a few months later by a special task force of the Uttar Pradesh police, this time for alleged inflammatory comments on the controversial CAA and against the Union Home Minister Amit Shah and charged under the draconian National Security Act.
When the Supreme Court of India ordered all states and union territories in India to consider the release of all convicts who have been jailed for offences for up to seven years, in order to decongest prisons in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic in India, Khan was not among prisoners released under these circumstances.
In July 2020, a letter from Khan detailing conditions inside the Mathura Prison, where he is being detained, was published by several news outlets. His letter claimed that over 150 prisoners shared just one toilet facility, that the level of hygiene was insufficient, and that a number of prisoners were unwell, raising concerns about the spread of illness in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Khan’s brother, Adeel Khan, claimed to have received the handwritten letter on 1 July 2020; however, prison officials denied that Khan had written any such letter, and suggested that the letter was fake.” Sounds familiar.
Kuhu Singh lives in Eden Prairie, Minn., a suburb of the Twin Cities. Bidding adieu to journalism a decade ago, she nonetheless loves to write and express her very strong opinions on social media and blogs and sometimes in a few Indian publications. She is a Senior Digital Marketing Manager for a broadcast retail company. Race relations, diversity, social issues fascinate and roil her into action. She volunteers her time with certain political organizations and community organizations.