Muslim Massacre in Assam and Muslim Leadership
by Dr. Aslam Abdullah
No one would know the real extent of the violence Muslims faced in Assam. No one would ever know the real number of people killed and raped in remote villages, in small hamlets and in isolated plantations. There is no need to give a graphic detail of torture and violence unleashed on innocent people.
What has happened to weak and helpless men, women and children in Assam is nothing new. Ever since we started recording history, we have witnessed this. Despite all our claims and determinations, we have failed to provide security to each other from our own wrath and vengeance. The names and places of victims have kept on changing, and the volume and scope of violence has kept on growing.
It is almost impossible to ever imagine a world free from violence. So we have to live within this reality. But we can create conditions to minimize violence, reduce the number of victims and shorten the length of sufferings.
There are certain steps that can be taken up at different levels to counter the growing violence and to specially help the victims of Assam massacres.
At legislative levels, state and federal governments can impose punitive financial penalties on groups, communities and organizations that promote and engineer violence. In Assam the culprits and their organization may be brought to justice by making them pay for the rehabilitation of the victims. Once the state shows its serious intentions in legally handling the situation, the groups and communities would think hard of serious implications of their actions.
But this is an ideal solution. No one is going to call for it and no one is going to implement it because there are so many political and social factors attached to it.
The next best solution is to mobilize the community resources to help the victims and open dialogue with those responsible for the violence. Both these ideas are implementable.
Only visionary leaders and serious and sincere reformers can put the two ideas in action. Even though Indian Muslims scattered all around the world can contribute to the efforts, the initiative has to come from Indian Muslim leadership.
Currently, several humanitarian groups are engaged in raising funds for the victims of Assam in India and elsewhere. No one would rally know the real amount being raised as there are no consolidated efforts on the part of Muslims.
Muslims in India can work to create a single entity to handle the relief and rehabilitation. It should rely on the resources of all parties and groups and it should recruit professionals who can draw the best plan to ensure that displaced people are provided adequate resources to stand on their own feet.
International Muslim groups may contribute to this unified entity and work in close cooperation with them. This would save time, efforts and resources and produce the best possible results.
How would it happen? Average people can make a difference. They need to put pressure on Muslim leadership to work for a unified approach. The Muslim community would appreciate it and support this initiative. The differences are sustained and nurtured by leadership and if they show boldness in eradicating them, people would follow them.
The second initiative that the Muslim leadership can take is to initiate dialogue with those accused of initiating the violence. It is a difficult process to build the bridges between two fighting groups. But this is the only way to enable the opposite sides develop an agenda that serves their interests. Initially, the dialogue has to be at a low level among those who are willing to dialogue. Later, the dialogue can be expanded to include people at different levels. Through dialogue, the wounds can be healed and through the process of reconciliation differences can be overcome. The Quran provides an effective advice in these situations.
“Nor can goodness and evil be equal. Repel (evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and you were hatred become as it were your friend and intimate! (41:34)