Sunday, August 16, 2015

Indian Muslims should have own work plan

(An interview with KM Shareef, Popular Front Chairman)

> This is your second term as the chairman of Popular Front of India. You are from Karnataka and. Your newly elected general secretary is from Tamil Nadu.  Is it an indication that the leadership of the organization is spreading across Kerala?  At the same time, no one is found in the National executive council from outside of these three south Indian states.  How long will it take for Popular Front to become an organization with a nation-wide representation?

- Ours is an organization which practices internal democracy. Our National Executive Council is selected by delegates from different states of the country. 15 members are elected through an election process which is carried out democratically and transparently in every two years. Representation from different states are given enough importance while electing capable members. In the 2015 - 2016 election people were elected not only form southern states but even from Manipur which is a North-eastern state.  Our national treasurer is from Manipur which in the last term was from West Bengal. Of course, Popular Front has to grow more nationally representative and it is growing.  

> It is right that your national treasurer is from Manipur. But this is just a nominal presence. South India is still far ahead in growth development. It has been eight years since you commenced your advent to north India.  Is this much talked about north-south distinction a reality? Could you make expected advancement in those areas? Are there still any insurmountable obstructions there?

- It is true Popular Front has more strength in south India. But that does not mean we are not any strong in north India. Our presence in Assam, West Bengal, and Bihar, Andhra and Manipur and many other states is not just nominal any more. Now we have grown so much in North India that they are able take up whatever decisions of organization and implement it throughout the state. In this term we declared our organization in Bihar and Jharkhand and formed state committees there. We are strong enough in north now that almost all the programmes and protests we hold in south, we are able to hold in north too. We have enough manpower for that in North too. We have only one India; an India that has no north south distinctions. Although With slight ups and downs its detail, fundamental problems of Indian Muslims are the same. They all need to be empowered. It is true that in the states with more Muslim population they are more backward in all fields compared to South Indian states. Social empowerment is a new experience for north India Muslims. They have to be taught it. They have to be invited for political empowerment. It will take time.

> The recently held area-level popular gatherings i.e. area conferences were well received as village festivals. It also appears that organization is now active more in social service.  Is this not a diversion of organization from its earlier position which focused on resistance to fascism and protection of human rights?

- We are still a popular resistance movement. Our resistance to fascism and colonialism will always be there. We will keep opposing them without any compromise. We will continue to expose the treacherous tactics of Hindutwa forces to destroy the pluralistic environment of the country for mere political gains.  We will continue to resist their scare tactics. We will share platform with likeminded people for this purpose. Protests, public meetings, seminars, press statements and poster campaigns all are part of our programmes.
Along with that we also put forth the activities for the empowerment of Muslims and other backward classes. Our agenda have been extended by our growth and development of the and our responsibilities have been increased by the growing assaults on the fundamental rights of the people. The village get-togethers successfully held across the nation has strengthened our confidence to go down to people and work.

> ‘Together for a bright future’ this was the slogan of the village Gramotsavs. Many share the view that it is the long term plans in view of the future which has to be the next step. Has Popular Front taken this seriously?

- Indian Muslims who have passed their 67 years of Independence and their self-proclaimed leadership keep proving their failures and degeneration in independent India. They are content with whining about the problems all the time. There is no change in society. Those who have to lead Indian Muslims ahead have no enough connection with the people to be led. There is no any particular concern for their future or no projects. The intelligentsia, they write books and articles, hold seminars and present statistics. No one is able to determine what should be the future plan for Indian Muslims.  At least now we should be able lead Muslims to their future. We should have a long term view. Muslims from various fields should have their agendas determined to be accomplished.  Popular Front is thinking of a long term plan for what future India should be like and what should be the state of Muslims and backward classes in future India. Having travelled throughout the country, we have started our discussion with various people in this regard.

> Why popular Front is targeted more than any other organization? Governments create obstacles to Popular Front. Parties keep distant from Popular Front. Media propagate stories. Not only them, why even some Muslim groups still continue to oppose Popular Front? How will you overcome this situation?

- As an organization which is persistently striving for truth and justice, we naturally have enemies. Our s is an organization that is very powerful, has a cadre nature and constantly spreading from one place to another. For that reason, we are being watched and sometimes threatened by reactionary forces.  We are going ahead by organizing Muslims throughout the country, by creating network among them, by empowering them, by fighting for their rights and by politically strengthening them. Only this provokes those with hidden agendas and not that we have ever in our last quarter of century’s history committed anything anti-national, anti-democratic or anti-constitutional. Bothe the governments and all that keep distant from us know this fact very well. Our activities are transparent. Opponents and government agencies are using media against us. We have no other option but to hold on to the truth stronger. The only way to overcome the manipulations is to convince the truth, no other options.

> I noticed a news report recently that Popular Front is going to be banned. Why such reports keep coming out from time to time? Is such a threat of ban against Popular Front existent in actuality?

- Popular Front is a social movement constitutionally working in India. The Media have already banned Popular Front many times. But our two and a half decade’s activities of empowering Muslims and backward classes have not stopped yet? Not even a shred of evidence that we can be banned can be found from activities either. At the same time divisive antinational forces including RSS are at work here.  We constantly expose such forces. But not only government is not controlling them, but government themselves are under their control.  Understandably, for those who even control the government do not need any particular justification for banning dissident voices. But we believe that a democratic society will defeat any such illegal unjust move.

> There were attempts to link your organization with some of the terror incidents like bomb explosion. Stories floated linking you with groups from LTTE to Al-Qaeda.  Now it is your ISIS link which is taking its turn in the media.  Can the violent activities that some Muslim named groups in India or in some Arab Muslim countries are accused of being responsible be justified?

- We strongly believe that the empowerment of Muslims or backward classes cannot be done just by bomb explosions or by unleashing violence. Indian problems, situations, challenges and situations are different. Illiteracy, poverty, insecurity, injustice, unemployment, corruption and Hindutwa fascism are the problems we are seeking solutions to.   The problems of Indian society or that of Muslims cannot be solved just by blowing up public places like markets and trains and killing innocent people. We continue to caution against such activities. The solution we propose for the problem is find manpower from grassroots level, organise them and prepare them economically, educationally and politically. Opposing assaults and exploitation through democratic means is the method we have adopted.
We don’t have any links to such mysterious groups. Moreover, why should Indian Muslims seek help from such groups while there is no clear and accurate information about them yet?  Indian Muslims are capable of organizing their activities in popular and legitimate ways by understanding the ground realities. The strength of this soil is enough for us. No foreign organization set any model for us to adopt.  

> Although in isolated cases, in our country too youngsters are being reported to be drawn to such groups. How can we prevent such tendencies? Do you have any such agenda?

- Actually youngsters are not attracted to them in any considerable number. Only some isolated incidents of sorts may have happened.   It might have reasons from the Hindutwa fascist assaults to state terrorism to denial of justice from the judiciary. The bottom line is people are unsatisfied with the politics here. This situation has to be changed and the reactions should be objective. Widespread awareness and right organizing are required. This cannot be done by Popular Front alone. Other Muslim groups and social groups must also take this responsibility.  Government and political leadership also have responsibility.  Popular Front is alert about this and does our part effetely.

> Moism is one of the major law and order problem and a real challenge faced by the country. Instead of participating in the democratic process they have adopted armed rebellion as their way. Popular Front is seen to be cooperating with them in the platform of Human Rights. This demands a clarification.

- We don’t know exactly who Maoists are. Accusation of Maoism is also being used falsely and unjustly just like Islamic terrorism is being used. Popular Front does not have any links with any groups that are listed as banned. This is the truth. But Popular Front has shared platforms with likeminded people who voice against Hiduttwa fascism and violations of Human rights. We never supported any groups or ideologies that do not believe in the democratic process are taking arms against government.  A democratic and lawful solution; that is what popular front proposes.

> Popular Front too has a politics. What possibility of the success of that politics?
- Popular Front has a politics since its beginning. That is to defeat Hindutw Fascist communal forces. What we propose is positive politics. Dalits and Backward classes should have participation in power. Indian Muslims should gain their adequate representation by making use of the space given by Indian democracy. That is our message. Our politics is building up an India where every citizen enjoys equal rights and each one is free from fear and hunger.  We will continue to propagate this message throughout the country.  People will identify this. Success might be delayed but it is inevitability.

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