AN ODD INCIDENT IN GUJARAT
b. About two years ago when on a Sunday a select team of our staff were working at office in connection with erection of a traffic circle [bearing a large artefact having 4 Question Marks, with the slogan in Gujarati and English reading Ask So That You May Learn], just on the cross-roads in front of our office, a labourer who just wouldn’t work, was asked to leave by our Manager – a Hindu lady.
In an hour this labourer barged into our office with three heavily built muscle men of the same outfit. As they were arguing arrogantly with the lady I intervened. As soon as they saw me, and heard my Urdu, the leader started throwing the worst four letter abuses I had lately ever heard. When I protested and threatened to call in the police he offered his phone with the phone number of the local PI on the screen. As I attempted to reason with him about my constitutional rights, he raised his hand and almost slapped me but for another staff member intervening.
Then even as I called the local BJP MLA this man snatched my phone and told him [apparently his boss] “This **** ka Miyan hamare aadmi ka paisa rokta hai” etc etc.
Remember these: Except me everyone else was Hindu. The labourer was thoroughly wrong, was a goon and did not work. The three men had nothing to do with the transaction. We have had no quarrel with them or known them before. We were engaged with a social work, and selflessly, and on a Sunday.
Later I took up the matter with the Zonal Police Officer, with local MP and with L K Advani, with little more than lip sympathy in return. But I persisted.
Weeks later the local MLA called to say [apparently on a nudging by Mr Advani] that he had instructed his workers not to harass me. After this we have had some respite. But it seems we have over-extended our protection!
This is despite the fact that I am not taken very kindly to by the Muslim clergy for my rationalist views, and that former RSS Chief and some in VHP hailed my work as a nationalist. This despite that many distinguished people including the Governor, KPS Gill, eminent writers, celebrities, senior bureaucrats etc visiting me at various times.
Those who lecture us on tolerance, Modi’s sagacity, or question why I dislike what I dislike about Gujarat and about the right wing in general, or when I paint the Muslim dilemma.. will do well to penetrate my heart – and those of many a Muslim liberal nationalists like me. We are very very alone.