We are Indians Firstly and Lastly

First and foremost, let me begin by very firmly saying that I don’t believe anyone who is staying in India is Hindu or Muslim or Sikh or Christian or follower of any other religion which he follows in his individual capacity but is firstly and lastly only and only an Indian. Even those who chant “Meri Jaan Pakistan, Mera Kaleja Pakistan, Meri Dhadkan Pakistan, Hum to Hain Pakistan, Pakistan, Pakistan” are not Pakistanis but are only Indians who are pretending to be Pakistanis! If they are really so enthralled towards Pakistan then why they are staying in India?

It is because they really love India and they know that India is one of the best country in the world where they can say what they want and yet breathe in fresh air! This is not possible in Pakistan or in any other foreign country which alone explains that inspite of waving Pakistani flags and chanting slogans in favour of Pakistan they continue to stay in India and enjoy all the privileges just like any other Indian does! They too are Indians even though they pretend to be Pakistanis!

Why separatists in Kashmir never shift to Pakistan? It is because they really love India and they know that in Pakistan they will have to keep their trap shut and will never be allowed to speak openly against the ruling establishment. Don’t we know that people of PoK don’t even have voting rights in national elections and how they are beaten, battered and bruised as was recently shown in a news channel? Why even dreaded terror leader like Syed Salaluddin of dreaded terror outfit – Hizbul Mujahideen requests a CM of J&K – Farooq Abdullah as the latter disclosed for getting admission of his son to a prestigious medical college in India? Why brother of Syed Salaluddin says that his brother is being misguided in Pakistan and he too earlier lived peacefully in India and even contested elections? Why all separatists leaders claim Indian citizenship and avail all benefits of it if they are really Pakistanis? It is because they are firstly and lastly Indians and they just pretend to be different but here too they miserably fail!
It is only in India that there is no discrimination in favour of any particular religion and all religions are treated equally! It is only in India where people consider themselves Indians first and then followers of any particular religion! This alone explains why many Muslims who are even celebrities like Salman Khan, his father Salim Khan and his family celebrate all Hindu festivals with full vigour and enthusiasm just like any other Hindu. Same is the case with many Hindu celebrities as also ordinary people who keep Rozas and observe many rituals connected with Islam! They all consider themselves Indians first who believe in plurality and equal respect to all religions!

My best friend Sageer Khan always said that, “I am proud to be a Muslim born in India and I consider myself first an Indian and then a Muslim. India is the most tolerant place in the whole world and all Indians should feel proud of it. Muslims enjoy maximum liberty in India. See what is the condition of Hindus, Shia Muslims and Muslims who migrated from India to Pakistan who are called Mohajjirs and still treated with suspect there. But in India all religions are treated equally and Muslims in fact enjoy so much freedom as has no parallel anywhere in the world. It is only in India that Muslims can lay claim to the holiest shrine of Hindus like Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi where Hindus have been worshipping since lakhs of years. If Hindus lay claim to Mecca or Medina, will Muslims there relent? No. It is because that country is Saudi Arabia and not India. Muslims must like true Indians living in India must forsake claim to these holy places of Hindus so that bitterness and acrimony between both communities is removed and love is restored again. Moreover no true Muslim will offer namaz in a controversial place. I don’t consider the disputed site at Ayodhya a mosque as no namaz has been performed there since many decades and therefore it ceases to be a mosque.”

We must all rise above narrow considerations and think like my best friend Sageer Khan who despite being a Muslim always accompanied me to pray at temple and it was a coincidence that whenever he took me to temple the deity was that of Hanuman even though Lord Shiv is my favourite deity whom I worshipped since my childhood days. He used to always make sure that I worship my Lord Shiv before he himself used to offer namaz at the same time and at the same place! We must be large hearted like my best friend Sageer Khan and always consider oneself Indian first and anything else later. For this to happen it is imperative that we don’t get carried away by provocative slogans of divisive votebank politics which political parties indulge in for furthering their own vested political interests!
I have always seen Salman along with his family celebrating the festivals of Navratri which is dedicated to Goddess who is a symbol of women power. How can he even dream of showing disrespect to women? Why is NCW running after him so badly in particular? Why NCW says nothing when senior police officers of the rank of even DGP openly mock at women and lambast them for wearing short clothes, travelling alone, travelling late at night and what not? NCW must strongly introspect on this!

I very strongly feel in my personal capacity to which I am fully entitled that, “A mountain is being made out of what is not even a mole”. I am not favouring Salman becaue he is a very famous actor. I am favouring him because I am fully aware of the impeccable credentials which he and his entire family from generation to generation have enjoyed, are enjoying and shall always enjoy! There is not a single Hindu festival of eminence which I have not seen him celebrating along with his family! Still he is being targeted! Pathetic!

Let me recall what Salman had said after a grueling shoot of a wrestling bout for his forthcoming film Sultan. He said that, “While shooting, during those six hours, there’d be so much of lifting and thrusting on the ground involved. That was tough for me because if I was lifting, I’d have to lift the same 120-kilo guy 10 times for 10 different angles. And likewise, get thrown that many times on the ground. This act is not repeated that many times in the real fights in the ring… When I used to walk out of the ring, after the shoot, I used to feel like a raped woman. I couldn’t walk straight.”
However, moments later, the actor appeared to regret his statement. “I don’t think I should have…,” he said. It was rightly pointed out in an English news channel that as many as 30-40 journalists laughed when he had said the controversial statement. Why those journalists who were laughing not being asked to give an explanation? Why Salman alone? NCW can’t cherrypick only whom it wants and spare those who were laughing shamelessly at what he said! Why no action was taken against a women member of a Women Commission who said there is nothing wrong in calling women “sexy”? Why no action was taken when member of a women organization takes selfie with a rape victim? Why no action was taken against a women member of Women Commission in Maharashtra when she blamed women for wearing provocative clothes and asked them to desist from doing so? Such instances are innumerable but media never bothers! Even police officers blame women for rise in crime against women and even blame their clothes, mobiles etc yet NCW says nothing! Why? It must introspect! This has been going on since last many years but NCW maintains a deafening silence on this! Why?

Did Salman justify rape? Did Salman blame women for rape as many times women who are members of Womens Commission do and many politicians do? No! Did Salman made a mockery of Nirbhaya or any other raped women? No! Then why is he alone being selectively targeted by a large section of the media? They must explain! If Salman does something wrong he must face the consequences but you cannot get after him just because he compares his condition with that of a raped women and that too after a lot of non-stop shooting and lifting so heavy persons that people like me can’t even dream of lifting and that too again and again! He never had any intention of making a mockery of women but still media went after him hammer and tong which can never be justified!

Why is Salman Khan our brand ambassador in Rio Olympics due to begin shortly? It is because he and his family enjoy impeccable reputation and whole nation is proud of them! Those who envy him are blowing his statement out of proportion. Why when politicians like a leader of Trinamool before election said that if his party was not elected to power, he along with his men would rape women of families not voting for his party still no action was taken? Such instances where politicians make all sorts of provocative statements even blaming women for rape are galore yet why NCW does not issue summons against them also?

I have always advocated zero tolerance for heinous crimes like rape and had even raised my voice in various articles published in various law journals that even Judge should not be given the power to reduce the minimum sentence under any circumstances which most unfortunately had been given till 2013 before the law was amended after the Nirbhaya gang rape incident when I had written! Rape of a women cannot be justified under any circumstances and there must be maximum sentence and not minimum sentence for it as nothing can justify under any circumstances the rape of a women in a country like India where she is worshipped like a Devi! I will not be even the last person to justify rape or any comment on rape under any condition but I have closely read what Salman had said and I know the family bio-data of his entire family and they are the “best ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity” for which all Indians should feel proud of!

Even our PM Narendra Modi has time and again met his father Salim and Salman too with full warmth and acknowledged their undying commitment for unity among all religions and love for India! We too must always consider ourselves like Salman Khan, his family and Sageer Khan to be firstly and lastly Indians and nothing else! All else later! Only then can India really march forward on the road to progress, prosperity and power! It was a treat to hear noted actor Irfan Khan questioning the killing of animals in the name of religion. India needs many more progressive thinkers like him!

Women too must consider themselves Indians first and when Pakistani invaders like Gen Pervez Musharraf are invited to India and accorded a red carpet welcome and who openly hail terrorists as “freedom fighters” and terrorism in J & K as “freedom struggle” they must speak up and issue notice to politicians also for putting petty interest above national interests but most unfortunately we have never so far seen this happening! We all know how Gen Musharraf masterminded Kargil war in which we lost thousands of our soldiers yet he was accorded a red carpet welcome to India just two to three months after Kargil war and NCW said nothing! Politicians shamelessly have selfies with Gen Musharraf and proudly engage in laughing and talking with him and very conveniently ignoring how he had himself acknowledged that during Kargil war he had entered 14-15 km deep inside Indian territory to ensure maximum killing of Indian soldiers and boost morale of his soldiers! Even seasoned and senior politicians like Mani Shankar Aiyyar are no exception what to talk about others!

We all are Indians first and everything later! Women too are Indians first and anything else later! NCW must work hard to secure justice to those women who are deprived of justice and should refrain from wasting its energies on trivial issues like which actor said what about rape as that is not going to solve women’s problems under any circumstances except becoming headlines in various news channels! I am sure NCW too will realize this and work in this direction accordingly! We see how two finger tests are wrongly done on women who are themselves rape victims yet we hardly see NCW issuing notices to those who perform two finger test on rape victims! This must end! NCW must get more active and instead of concentrating its energy on which actor said what it should see to it that draconian practices openly being carried out against women like two finger test and sex determination test by which girl child is killed even before she is born are immediately stopped and those indulging in such unethical practices are immediately sent behind bars!

(By Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate, Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh)

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