Thursday, April 30, 2015

Legal activism among Indian Muslims: Need for consistent intervention, raising voice against oppression and fighting for the rights

Every vibrant community should have activists.

Activists are individuals who are passionate about certain thing or issues, keep track of them and raise voice when they find something wrong.

Indian Muslims are facing a plethora of social, educational and cultural issues.

There are laws but not all laws are implemented fairly. Hence, it is necessary that there are people who intervene and raise their voice in case of violation of rights.

While peaceful means of protests including demonstrations can have impact to an extent, our system of governance, especially, the bureaucratic maze is such that rules are ignored, misinterpreted and thrown out of the window, and gross injustice is meted out in daily lives.

Such is the situation that one leader may get arrested for a single wrong speech but others who have spent their lives in spreading communalism and mouthing venom haven't been touched by cops. The reason is that cases were filed in police stations (and courts) against the particular person, while few complaints were filed against others.

Recently, Advocate Shahid Ali filed a petition with the Election Commission against Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut for his comment that Muslims should be divested of the right to vote. This is a laudable step.

Ali, who heads United Muslim Front (UMF) plans to approach the Supreme Court too, seeking disqualification of Shiv Sena. If similar cases were filed in the past, the situation won't have deteriorated to such an extent, and many other politicians would have been reined in, long ago.

In fact, Ali has been making intervention in important cases, consistently. He has filed petitions in courts, got notices issued to those involved in human rights violations and has raised important issues concerning the community.

Next month, he would be organising a Mahapanchayat, to press for justice for victims of Hashimpura killings. Also, he went against UP government for not fulfilling their promises and against UGC for removing Arabic and Persian.

The point is that just one individual or organisation can't fight for everyone, and we shouldn't expect others to act on our behalf. People should understand that mere education is not enough, they should be ready to stand for their rights too. 

But this is easier said than done. The reason is people who dare to make intervention, are increasingly facing pressures from different quarters, especially, administration.

It is for this reason that lawyer-activists are more needed in the society. The advocates, because of their profession, knowledge of law, and standing in the society, can get things done much more easily, compared to others.

The officials too tread with caution, in fact, they are wary of taking on lawyers. Lawyers can intervene effectively by filing cases, issuing legal notices and fighting for the rights strongly.

Such action can check biased officials and policy-makers from going all out in implementing their agenda.

Injustice happens all around us. There are denials of facilities, services and amenities to people who are entitled to them. This keeps happening everywhere, all the time, either because of poor governance or biased actions of certain officials and policy makers.

The victims of the 'system' are among all the sections of the society. But the poor, the backward, dalit (SC), tribal (ST) and minority communities are more likely to face discrimination and denial to amenities. Hence, the need for lawyer-activists is increasingly being felt among the community.