Playing politically mature: Telangana and its impact on Muslims

By Mohd. Ismail Khan,,

Hyderabad: As Telangana thriller has reached its climax, a 29th state of India seem inevitable, a regional mass movement nearly as old as independent India has finally asserted its political thump. But in the struggle of this regional politics for a common Muslim the crucial question remains what lies ahead for the community after the formation of the separate Telangana state.

Like the rest of Andhra Pradesh, Muslims to seem to be divided in this panorama of a separate state. Sri Krishna Committee presented the same fact that many Muslim organizations in representations to committee were at odds in there opinion on the Telangana issue. After the formation of the separate state Muslims will form 13-15% of the total population, if examined in the context of caste assertive politics of the region than it makes them one of the crucial stake holders in the new state. Some protagonists even suggested hypothetically that Muslims will emerge as the king makers in the new state, and Muslim community will be able to draw back their lost respect, their distinct Deccani culture, and their vibrant ever inclusive Dakkani Urdu, but as of now as things stand all seems to be just yearning assumptions.

Telangana issue is a complex one, especially when it is seen in the context of its Muslim population keeping in mind its divided nature. interacted with some Muslim intellectuals to get an understanding of this whole compound issue and where Muslim interest stand.

Echoing political promises for trailing language and culture

During the Telangana agitation resurgence one would have certainly noticed the constant demand from many pro-Telangana Muslim protesters was the revival of Urdu in the region, which unfortunately lost its esteem after the formation of Andhra Pradesh. And the revival of trailing identity based language in the region had become one of the biggest political promises made to the Muslim community during the agitation by many political leaders.

TCN spoke to Prof. M.A. Ansari who teaches Urdu in the historical Arts College of Osmania University which was the epicenter of separate statehood agitation. He told us that Urdu has been the cultural back bone of the people of Telangana especially the Muslims; “It was the language which united Hindus and Muslims for centuries in the region,” that is how Prof. Ansari signifies Urdu.

He told TCN that since the inception of Andhra Pradesh there has been many successful attempts to wipe out the language from the region. He also informed that first Chief Minister after united Andhra Pradesh was formed issued his debut governmental order to implement Telugu as the essential language for the government services and by one stroke of pen nearly 56,000 Urdu speaking workforce lost their jobs.

He alleged in a leftist style that it was the conspiracy of the ruling class of Andhra to make Urdu negligible, “to destroy the culture and tradition of community, you just have to destroy the language. It was the same tactic played by ruling class of Andhra. When a particular language can’t provide you employment, good education and respect in the society then any one will want to get alienated from that language, that’s the same thing happened to Urdu,” he explained.

Prof. Ansari said he support the formation of separate state, but had little hope that same status of the Urdu can be build up again in the future. He further apprise us that political leaders of Telangana region just to gain the support of Muslims has promised to make Urdu second state regional language, but in the present Andhra Pradesh the position and status is the same but the implementation didn’t even worth the paper where status was signed.

He fears that even in the separate state all the promises would end up dry in the same way of united Andhra. He stressed that what Muslims needed is not a separate state to revive the Urdu to save their culture but a decisive leadership to implement its will. But he is certain that separate Telangana state will help in some or the other way to achieve these objectives because of the region related history with the Muslims.

Telangana March at Charminar led by Father of Telengana stathood movement Prof. K. Jayashankar
The rise of Muslim political clout and Hindutva: exaggerated or possibility?

One another important aspect remains what is going to be the political importance and influence of Muslims after the separate state is formed. TCN spoke to Prof. Mohd Mozzam Ali who teaches political science in Hyderabad Central University, Prof. Mozzam has observed the movement since his student days in 1960’s to till now when the statehood dream is nearly achieved. When asked what is going to be the political relevancy of the Muslims after the separate state is formed, he said there is not going to be any radical changes in the political structure of Telangana. “May be one or two Muslim MLAs may increase or Muslims might get another cabinet ministry other than traditional minority affairs. All those statements by the leaders of Telangana that Muslims will become more powerful or the “king maker” are just political rhetoric.”

He even played down fears in Muslim community about the supposed meteoric rise of Hindutva forces and communal polarization in the region, “Hindutva forces had their presence in Telangana since 1919 its nothing new and nothing to be scared about, but yes they did penetrate deeper into this separate state movement for their own political gains.” And the question of Communal polarization is concerned “Even now it is prevalent in many parts of Telangana same like rest of India, it’s a general problem in the whole country,” he further cautioned “All this apprehensions are created to scare away Muslims from the movement.”

On all the drawbacks of the movement with Hindutva gaining ground, and nothing much of a difference for Muslims demographically and politically, why should community than support it?

Prof. Mozzam Ali said Telangana is not an issue of a particular religious community. “It is a fight against the injustice and discrimination faced by the people of Telangana irrespective of their religion. We should not see it in the context of a particular religion.” Then he said “If the question is how Muslims are going to gain from Telangana? Then the answer would be in the whole statehood movement. Telangana is still incomplete movement which depend wholly on mass mobilization, and Muslims formed a significant percentage in the region, and the Telangana protagonist need them to weight their claim, it is the ripe and right time for Muslim community leadership to exercise their limited clout and make use of this opportunity to made up their demands and to see that all the major players concede to it.”

If on one hand Telangana Muslims gain something on percentage, than what about the future of SeemaAndhra Muslims will their political clout be decreased affectedly?

Prof. Mozzam explained that Muslims in both the separate states will gain in a way because, “Muslims in Telangana and the rest of SeemaAndhra have huge communication gap because of the language barriers, while Telangana Muslims are founder to Dakkani Urdu, Muslims in SeemaAndhra are well versed in Telugu. Muslims in Andhra region were on their own even at the time of the Madras presidency; bifurcation won’t be a huge loss to them as in Rayalseema region Muslims will still be in good percentage.”

Maulana Abdul Raheem Qureshi, is assistant general secretary of All India Muslim personal law board, and the president of all India Majlis-e-Tameer-e-Millat a organization formed during Nizam era. In the Telangana protest of 1969 Tameer-e- Millat was very active many of its members even went in jail, but in the recent revival agitation there was no sign of them.

Abdul Raheem Qureshi said that the present movement was full of Hindutva ideologues, and some of the movement leaders had affiliations with the Sangh Parivar. he gave the example of A. Narendera, former TRS MP, who is now in BJP who was responsible for many anti-Muslim riots.

Maulana said his organization welcomes the formation of separate Telangana state and completely supports the cause of people of Telangana because it is a fight for justice, but his organization will not be a part of the movement driven by the Hindutva elements because he believes it will indirectly help them to gain the ground in the region. He refused to add further thinking that it will affect a legitimate cause.

Fight for justice a long struggle, Telangana will not be a utopia for Muslims?

Muslim Forum for Telangana was formed with the sole aim to increase the participation of the Muslims in the separate statehood movement; it was one of the first organizations to be formed under the Muslim community banner. Dr. Rafat Seema Khatoon is the joint convener of the organization. TCN asked her how she sees a separate Telangana state in the perspective of a Muslim woman. She said Muslim community especially its woman did participate in the movement in huge numbers and that participation was driven by the hope that their lost dignity will be restored.

She said in the erstwhile Hyderabad state Muslims use to have lot of security especially the woman folk, Muslims were having employment keeping up with their own culture and language, but after the accession of Hyderabad with India and subsequent merger of Telangana with Andhra has resulted in alienation of the whole community. Due to this Muslims lost their jobs which gave rise to huge unemployment in the community. But according to her the worst fatalities were the Muslim women folks; “In all this chaotic drama the worst sufferers were the Muslim woman, women often been not taken into account when ever there is a socio-economic conflict, because majority of them generally are in the four walls of their house thus they are neglected, but they will be the worst affected one in any socio-economic crisis, that was the same for the Telangana Muslim women when United Andhra was formed,” she says.

Muslim Forum for Telangana
Now after more than 50 years of alleged injustices on Muslims, more so affectedly on its women in united Andhra, if Telangana is to be formed how community and its women be benefited?

Dr. Seema says that it’s up to Muslim community on how effectively they will reap the benefits, “Now that Telangana is in its final stage, it’s time for Muslims to demand their remuneration for supporting the cause,” she said, adding, “Muslim leadership at this crucial juncture of bifurcation should play a direct role to demand education and employment opportunities, proper representation in the government services and separate sub reservation for Muslim women so they can compete with boys in different fields.” She hopes that after Telangana is formed Muslims will get their due share.

On the security issue as Muslim women she believed that there is nothing to fear of Hindutva but Muslims should be vigilant enough. She conceded that when the movement was revived it was a secular one but in recent times it was nearly hijacked by Hindutva elements. But she further said that Muslims now can’t runaway from the cause when its achievement is almost certain. Dr. Rafat Seema concludes, “Whatever may be the outcome Muslims have to fight back to protect their own self-interest,”

Though outlook of Muslims on this multifaceted issue is not completely equivocal, but Muslim community in Telangana has started envisaging Telengana as their last chance to win back their own interests and culture, which they popularly believe was lost after united Andhra Pradesh was formed.

Even though there remains a general fear, largely justifiable by recent communal incidents that Hindutva has gained ground in the guise of statehood movement by offering it unconditional support. But Muslim community in Telangana taking a political mature vision has reconciled that Telangana will not necessary be a utopia and even after the formation of the separate state their struggle for protecting their interests will be continued.


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