exclusive by Devansh Patel
Gul Panag dropped an intellectual bombshell last Friday when I called her, surprising the nation with her vision and comment on the Mumbai bombings. She quoted, "I don't know how my comments will be taken by you but this had to happen and is not a complete surprise. Me and you only take notice of terror when it enters the malls or the hotels. But if the same thing happens in the slums we are ok with it. This is a much larger issue than it looks. Have you ever taken into consideration the Islamic population of India? It's in the region of 18 to 20%. The figures keep on varying. Do you know what percent of Islamic population is living below the poverty line? It's 40%. I am not a fundamentalist but I am looking at a much bigger picture. There are certain segments of the society which have not got its due, whether you agree or not. But if you look at the demographics, you'll understand. Whatever the population of muslims in India, is that population propotionate and reflect in the jobs of this country? When people are poor and have no where to go, they have no choice but to turn into radicals. I hope my views and comments make people understand the broader picture".
Gul's comment ignited anger demanding an explaination to the above quote. While some demanded an explaination to her remark, others said it wasn't enough, and some even agreed to what she said. One of the reply to her quote said, "I do agree with what Gul is trying to say, people are just taking it wrongly. Islam doesn't teach violence and neither does it allow innocent killings and mass murders. When Muslims do something like this in terms of revenge, they are called terrorists but when Hindus, Jews and Christians do it, they are called Freedom Fighters". Debashri, one of the users who think that Gul's comment was a flaw said, "Its not because of poverty that some Muslims take the fundamentalist route. Then we would have had an equal number of Hindu terrorists too. I think we have made a habit out of making terrorists look like victims! It is fashionable to side with them. Do we then take out guns and start killing people? No. The trouble is the indoctrination that takes place". Another user Roopa also disagrees. She said, "Poverty doesn't justify the birth of radicalism. Many terrorists are rich and come from educated backgrounds (Osama). If people feel the government isn't helping them, it is up to them to educate themselves and grow". Mamuh who sides Panag said, "I like Gul's view was very much well thoughtout and accurate. We can't stump terrorism, until we see the root of it. Injustice like Gujurat Riots or Orissa Riots need to stop. When significant politician turn a blind eye and something drastic happens. India just sucks if you're a poor or a minority". A user called Light said that the actress did not make sense, "Islamic population is 18%, where as hindus make it 80%. Does that mean all hindus are rich ? Are they not umemployed?. Muslims must learn basic ethics of living and change their mindset. You dont have to go and kill innocent poeple, one can demonstrate peacefully. It's all their wrong teachings for personal gains. If one knows his pocket he will keep track of his expenses. So muslims must just not go and have dozen babies in one family. Learn first and then step ahead.
Well, it wasn't Gul Panag who was made the target for her quote. The above named user Light also dragged actress Shabana Azmi into the picture. The posted comment read, "People like Gul Panag and Shabana Azmi who thinks they are literate think all crap. People like them are the one who provoke peace minded Islamic people to fight and bring terror. Islam was good till the rich Islamic people corrupted poor peoples mind".
So when the actress got up this morning and logged on to bollywood hungama, she was taken by surprise to read comments posted by users on her quote. This got Gul to write even more. Within 10 minutes, the actress sent me what she thought of the above reactions and the many more posted on our website. This is what she had to say: "Yes, there are rich who also get involved. The percentage is small. The machinery in place that goes about recruiting these people is very advanced and unscrupulous. They are highly motivated by people whose full time job is to mislead these people. Their modus operandi is to show videos of Muslims being tortured /killed/women being raped, and other forms of propaganda. In Punjab ( I am a Sikh from a village in Punjab called Mahadian, Distt Fategarh Sahib), many youngsters from well to do families after seeing their relatives/ kin burnt alive by mobs, tortured and raped by the forces were badly shaken up. Psychologically numb. And were ready when extremists came knocking on their doors to garner support. As for the security lapses, I am sure there are many loop holes. We apart from being a booming economy are also a country of the poor and homeless, (who's primary focus is two square meals). We are NOT the United States, where we can single mindedly pursue security). But having said that, it's important to understand, that not even the best trained force in the world can be prepared for someone who is ready to kill himself. The terrorist wins by not losing/dying (for whatever short period he wreaks havoc) and the forces "lose" by not winning immediately (ultimately they do in a Mumbai like scenario, but not in J&K, Iraq). And how can I be biased? Because I am in Indian and believe that the same set of rules must apply to all? So Muslims who kill people are terrorists but Bajran Dal/RSS activists who burn Christian homes, rape nuns are "angry misguided youth"?? My father is a serving army officer; he has 40 years of service to the nation and is currently posted as Army Commander Central Command, at the very tip of the army pyramid. He also served as Northern Army Commander. I have been brought up in the most secular way possible, where I have observed at close quarters what the army does for the Nation. And it pains me to read about people pointing fingers at the forces being "inefficient" when they constantly give away their today for us to be able to blog like this, sleep peacefully and enjoy life as we know it."
As far as I am concerned, the moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it and become blind to the arguments against it. Discussion is an exchange of knowledge and an argument an exchange of ignorance. So when an argument or an opinion flares up, a wise man quenches it with silence. That's all I can say! What say Gul?