His name is Khan. And he is not a terrorist. Maybe, a terror for his department, but not a terrorist. He sits in an ivory tower called the Regional Passport Office in Ahmedabad. Entry there is not possible for common person. It was difficult for me despite fixing an appointment using some goodwill of people who matter. My interaction with him is limited to a total of ten minutes spread over three meetings and four one-worded mails from him. Too little to apply a typology to him.
But he impresses me as a patriot and a nationalist. I am not adequately well read to apply the socio-political nuances of the nationalist debate on to him. But my heart says he is one. After all, it takes courage to advise a complainant to report irregularities in his department to higher officials and circulate them in social media.
Making yourself vulnerable to scrutiny requires a deep conviction towards setting a culture of accountability and efficiency, transparency in public offices and commitment to a strong governance. All ingredients for building a strong nation.
Unlike those people who, by their action or inaction, perpetrate a system that is lethargic, complicated, corrupt, inefficient and infects like termites to destroy the entire country, he faces the challenge up front by admitting there is some thing that needs to change and sticking his neck out.
He is different from those who perpetuated, by action and inaction, a sluggish, non-transparent, inefficient system that will force people to go for the option of paying up and expediting charge. They sucked the country by infecting it with slow eating termite that will lead to irreparable damage to governance and functioning of the country.
Does he clap for Pakistani cricketers? Does he empathise with SIMI? I don’t know. Given that hundreds of my Muslim friends do not, I can safely assume he does not. Unfortunately, my daughter will not have the same experiential conviction arising out of interacting with real life Muslims to counter such myths. She lives in a ghettoized world. So she does not have a counter that helps her challenge the stereotypes related to Muslims. What will this do to her when she grows up? Will she become part of the brigade that uses communalism to divide the nation? I don’t know. Time will tell.
My mother laments on the news item showing some Muslim names involved in some ISI activities. These names, that are countable on fingers, are enough to brand an entire community as terrorists, anti-nationals, unlike the uncountable names that burn their bahus, abort their female fetuses, commit atrocities on fellow Hindus who are Dalits, empty the state exchequer by filling their personal pockets. These are not considered anti-national activities. Having a Muslim name does.
My ordeal is over. His is not. He has to deal with the Dsouzas and Sharmas and Singhs and Vohras and Palyas on a day-to-day basis. His name is Khan. And no, he is not a terrorist. He is a survivor of anti-national unpatriotic breed of people that has no religion.
Much strength and energy to Khans and survivors of this termite-ridden system who have stood against all odds to help dreams of people like us thrive and flourish.
They perpetuated, by action and inaction, a sluggish, non-transparent, inefficient system that will force people to go for the option of paying up and expediting charge. They sucked the country by infecting it with slow eating termite that will lead to irreparable damage to governance and functioning of the country.
*Managing-trustee, IDEAL-Centre for Social Justice, Ahmedabad