The deaf and mute Indian woman, Geeta, is in her country, but not at her home yet. She has refused to go with the Mahatos whom she had earlier identified from a group photo as her family.
The Indian authorities will wait for the DNA test results if she belongs to them or any of the other three families who too insist she is their lost girl. And if she is not, she would be put in a care centre – more or less like the one in Karachi she lived in for 13 years.
At the Edhi Foundation she was a kind of prima donna who received the best of attention. She practiced her religion freely. Will Sushma Swaraj be a more loving mother than Bilqis Edhi was to her all these years? How different for her would be living in a country she was born from the country she lived in? What if she fails to get the love and care to which she was used to at the Edhi Foundation and thinks of coming back to Pakistan? This is a great unknown. We hope and pray she is reunited with her real family.
One wonders why the bonhomie that so thickly permeated the episode of Geeta’s return home, was so blatantly missing from the venue in Mumbai where PCB Chairman Shaheryar Khan was to meet his Indian counterpart or from the tribute concert that ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali Khan was to participate.
If her going home lends the much needed positively to the Pak-India relationship, the cricket chiefs meeting and Ghulam Ali’s tribute, too, had the same potential. But there is one subtle difference to it and that is what Shiv Sena thinks of Pakistan and its nationals.
Given clout the extremist Hindu outfits have acquired in India, especially now that BJP is in power, the Babris and Dadris would keep happening. Seemingly, they have hijacked the much-trumpeted constitutional obligation to obtain a ‘democratic, secular republic’ in India.
Not that earlier, the treatment being meted to the minorities, particularly Muslims, was any better; they faced problems of identity, security and denial of opportunities in development, provoking no less a person than Vice President Hamid Ansari who recently called upon the Indian government to take an affirmative action to address the discrimination faced by minorities. And former naval chief Admiral Ramdas has fired letters to president and prime minister of India asking why Muslims have to prove their loyalty to India.
Hindu revivalism is a profoundly dangerous mindset. India is not a nation; it is an aggregate of host of multi-racial, multi-linguistic and multi-religious groups, each having its own identity, culture and history. Neither the Shiv Sena nor any other progeny of the RSS can prevail upon others by intimidation or high-handedness and enforce its diktat. That is not going to happen.
How come the Hindutva activists think two hundred million-plus Muslims in India would convert to Hinduism; or Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and other minorities will? Such an adventure would be resisted with equal force, bringing out in sharper relief the existing fault lines.
History tells us that when pushed to the wall the minorities fight back, and bring down the very roof over their head. Akhlaq Ahmad’s killers must know that buried deep under the earth he is a seed that would come alive again, not a staid family man but a rebel with a cause. In secularism is India’s future, and its leadership is expected to curb extremism, even when it gels with the Hindu voter.