Human Rights

ANHAD of 2002 Gujarat riots to ANHAD 2018— Secularist veneer falls off the sole spokesman

Statement by Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan

Anhad used to be a secular organisation which fought against communal forces and purveyors of hate politics during the last 10-15 years. Its mainstay was Shabnam Hashmi who founded this organisation after parting ways with Sahmat. Last year she thought of widening the scope of her activities and for this purpose she decided to pass on the mantle to the youth in the organisation. Thus a new team was elected out of the youth volunteers of Anhad and the control over the organisation was passed on to them with the well-known social worker and human rights activist Ovais Sultan as the managing trustee. Sultan struggled hard to attract more youth to the organisation, expanded its reach and brought resources to the fund-starved organisation. As a result, Ovais Sultan became a leading figure of Anhad. This caused problems to the old guard, especially Shabnam Hashmi. Soon this group started a Sangh Parivar-like whisper campaign saying that Ovais Sultan is a fundamentalist, in other words a rigid Muslim, and that he wants to convert Anhad into a “Muslim organisation”.

Shabnam Hashmi, Ovais Sultan Khan, Harsh Mander

Last May, India Inclusive Forum held a Citizens’ Conclave to which a number of non-Muslims were invited to speak about the issues of the Indian Muslims. Ovais Sultan Khan proposed that a Muslim should also be invited to speak on this issue. The secularist group did not take this suggestion well and rejected it outright, calling Ovais Sultan Khan a “fundamentalist”.

Part of the schedule of the conclave about which Ovais raised his concerns

Secularist liberals think that they alone are the spokesmen of the Indian Muslims. By doing so they immensely benefit, yet they do not agree to invite a Muslim to speak from their platform. They want to remain the sole spokesmen of Indian Muslims and wronged sections of the Indian society without giving them any representation and opportunity to speak for themselves. Muslims and wronged sections are supposed to quietly stand behind them in support. This group is interested in Muslims only as victims and as crowds so that it may send a message that it has a hold over the community.

The planted story

A plot was hatched to oust Ovais Sultan. The group of conspirators, including Shabnam Hashmi and, sadly, even persons like Harsh Mander, used all kinds of fascist and undemocratic means, took over the organisation overnight and showed Ovais Sultan the door. This group occupied the office and files illegally and undemocratically. Now this puschist fascist group is using its sympathisers in media to plant fake news, calling Ovais Sultan an agent of the RSS who wants to turn Anhad into a “Muslim organisation”, which has no iota of truth and should be a matter of shame for those who are propagating it. This has made it clear how sincere are our liberal-secularist sympathisers. Let milli organisations and well-wishers of Muslims realise that those we hold in high esteem are in fact allergic to even our presence in their programmes except as a crowd.