Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Frisking or grilling of Muslims is very common in India
Frisking or grilling of Muslims is very common in India. Though there are several instances in the past, let me narrate a recent instance of ‘suspicious eye’ on me just because I have a Muslim surname. Independence Day, August 15, 2009. 6 pm. The second gate of Raj Bhavan on Sardar Patel Road in Chennai. Vehicles belonging to mediapersons are asked for invite copies and media ID cards before being allowed in for the tea party hosted by Governor Surjit Singh Barnala on the occasion of I-day.
I was there at the gate a little while before six p.m. A person of the special branch inspects my invite and media ID. When he inspected my media ID, he spontaneously remarked ‘Oh’ and told his fellow special branch person something in a husky voice. He then asked me to register my name in the visitor’s notebook kept on a table beyond the entry point.
I waited to sign in the notebook as there were few people waiting to sign in the notebook. To my surprise, I noticed that all media persons head towards the party after showing the invite and ID to the two special branch guys. Even as I waited, I asked the second special branch guy why I alone should sign the register which is meant for occasional visitors to Raj Bhavan, especially the lower staff of the Raj Bhavan such as gardeners and others.
He apparently does not have an answer. A security person intervened and said, “They are special branch people; you cannot ask them such questions.” I argued back saying: “Why me when other media persons are allowed to go?” At moments of crisis, there is always an answer (I am a believer). One Sathyaseelan of DIPR (Department of Information and Public Relations) came to the rescue. He said, “Sir, you can go as you have shown your credentials.” I then asked the second SB (special branch) guy: “You wanted me to sign the register as I am a Muslim?” He smiled back. I went ahead for the party.
The tea party was good. But I could not stay there for long as I kept thinking that our country needs to change the way it treats its largest religious minority, the Muslims.