Clerics booed off by believers!

Soumitra Bose

What happened on June 12, 2007 was the most seminal event in the long drawn struggle of the producing forces against religious politics in India.

Shahi Imam of Delhi – the supreme Sunni cleric adjudged in the north of India and in almost all of India among the Sunni Muslims visited Nandigram. This man had maverick and chequered history of jumping boats and turning coats in politics, yet for some reason he is the most revered “institution” among the Muslims. When all faces of the ruling Left front was lost, the “champions of secularism and the poor people and the minorities” – CPM accosted the Imam to make an official visit in Nandigram. The Imam “carried” the “good will and wishes” of the Chief Minister – the infamous Buddha Bhattacharya. He came, were greeted by the local CPM, was chaperoned by the police and ventured into Nandigram to say that the protestors need to back off and the Left front is sincere and harbours all good wishes. He asked for the audience in the local mosque. The mosque was pre-occupied by the notorious Muslim sub-group of the local CPM leadership. The general people were few who frequent the said mosque almost everyday for Namaz/Salat. The moment Imam opened his mouth the local population protested his remarks. The CPM goons openly threatened the people in front of the police and the Imam looked away and kept on ranting his praises to the government. That was un-bearable. The Namazis boycotted the speech- they yelled, ‘if the Imam has to get into politics, why is he not coming as a political leader and why is he coming as an Imam?’ The local believers- the Momens shouted at him that the people of Nandigram has struck a wonderful relation with people of all religions and accused the Imam of trying to play communalism. They questioned the authority of the Imam to use religion for this purpose. Protests gathered storm and the police declined to take up the responsibility of security. The people swelled up and Lo and behold! The body language of the local Muslims and the leadership- the main trio Abu Sufian, Abu Taher, Abdus Samad of the Bhumi Ucched protirodh committee who till yesterday always donned the Islami cap even on battlefronts removed the cap from the head and challenged the Imam. The first sign of dis-illusion. The entire Muslim strong population rose with one voice against any usage of religion in politics.

For the first time the entire Muslim population collectively turned down the Imam’s authority. For the first time the Momens shooed and booed their Imam out! For the very first time the Muslim population shouted that the Imam is meddling communalism! For the very first time the Hindu right reactionary party said that “Imam is trying to divide the Hindu-Muslim unity”! For the very first time Jamiat e ulema e Hind – the Tablighi Jamat , run by the Ulemas rejected any intrusion by their Imam. For the very first time the most fundamentalist Jamat-e-Islam accused Imam of un-authorized activity. For the very first time the “smaller” Imams of entire West Bengal came out openly against the Shahi Imam! Nandigram teaches us people’s unity, people’s struggle. Nandigram teaches us that class struggle is far more strong than any religious underplay. Nandigram teaches us the way people will behave tomorrow. This is not a lesson for West Bengal, but for the whole of Indian sub-continent. Religious equations are always a part of the game plan of imperialists, but united and collective struggle effaces all these ploys. Nandigram teaches us how to be a Bengali, an Indian, an Asian, a citizen of the world.

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