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When riots broke out in Mumbai a very curious incident happenned with me. When I received the news that the city may soon go up in flames, (sorry for the drama) I called up a certain friend of mine and what she said is rather telling of the common perception of Muslims. She apparently did not know how the riots had broken out but she was quick enough to say that she was scared as she lived in a place that was just a short distance from Mumbra, which she (not so) affectionately called Pakistan 2. No prizes for guessing why. She said that this was because it was the only place that had a non-muslim population of just 3%. She went on to add that all plans for bombings were hatched up there.

This incident may well mean nothing at all; but as far as I am concerned her attitude pretty much sums up the general mistrust towards the Muslims as a community. It is in this context that the governments recent initiative aiming to bring in quotas for Muslims should be seen. When a large number of people already are scared of them, any actions by the government - that seems to give them an unfair advantage - will most likely invite a violent reaction.

But you may argue that nobody is going around burning SCs, STs and OBCs. After all they are recipients of quotas too. But that is missing the point. At worst these classes are perceived as inferior in certain corners of the country, never as a threat. And when the governmemnt plays vote bank politics like this, it is giving much needed fodder to the saffron parties. For a long time they have not had enough effigies to burn, it would do us no good to give them humans instead.


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