“If it ever dissolves into voluntary dissolution, it would be the best thing that would happen to India,” says Tarek Fatah in an undated video that has appeared online. Fatah has confirmed the video is not doctored.
Fatah describes himself as “an Indian born in Pakistan”. A Canadian citizen, Fatah’s strident anti-Pakistan rants, and his lazy clubbing of Islamists and leftists, made him a darling of the Hindu right. Fatah is a much-wanted celebrity amongst the Hindu right, especially that section of it which is trying to build a right-wing intellectual “ecosystem”.
The Canadian-Pakistani political commentator is now so influential among the Indian right-wing that he even takes credit for the renaming of roads in Lutyen’s Delhi. In August 2015, Fatah had said in a speech in Delhi that Indians were the only people who could stand up to the Islamic state by renaming Aurangzeb Road as Dara Shikoh Road.
Having given him such prominence and access, the Hindutva brigade is now embarrassed and divided. Some are not convinced, others seeing nuance in the statement, or arguing that Fatah’s views have evolved.
Here is the full text of what Fatah says in the video:
Fatah: You see, it was never one country, even during the British. British India is not not one... India has never been one entity even under Ashoka, even under Aurangzeb, it has never been a country. The future that I see, if I had my dreams come true, are about the sub-continent being something like Europe where the entities that exist are Bengal, places like Punjab shouldn’t be single entities, shouldn’t have borders but should have common currencies, but we are different countries, I don’t disagree. There is more in common between someone between say Lahore and Delhi than there is someone between Delhi and Madras.
Interviewer: …breakup of India?
Fatah: That is my political analysis of what’s going to happen in the future.
Interviewer: Do you agree with the break-up then?
Fatah: If it ever dissolves into voluntary dissolution, it would be the best thing that would happen to India.
Interviewer: So you think it would be the best thing to dissolve now?
Fatah: Yeah, yeah, Like Europe has.
It is very clear from this conversation that Mr Fatah would like different states of India to have their own flags and passports, like Europe, although he would like a EU-type federation.
That is not a view most Indians would find acceptable. Similar views were aired recently at Jawaharlal Nehru University where some unknown persons shouted slogans calling for the dissolution of India, its break-up in different parts.
While political pressure prevented the Delhi Police from arresting the people who really shouted those slogans, the police took the aid of doctored videos to arrest people who had not shouted any such slogans. These were Kanhaiya Kumar, Anirban Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid.
While doctored videos were enough in JNU to put three students in jail, in Fatah’s case, even a real video is not enough for some of his Hindutva fans to wake up and smell the coffee. Fatah first responded by going underground, protecting his Twitter account and not responding to even his Hindutva fans’ queries to explain his statement. After two days of hiding, he wrote a response, in which he didn’t say the video is doctored. Instead, like a spy whose cover is blown, he said it was Khalistanis and Pakistan’s ISI at work to discredit him -- by broadcasting his own words.
He claims the video was shot in 2003 or 2004. It was part of a debate he was having with Khalistanis, wherein he was opposing the idea of Khalistan. In doing so, he claims, he was only rhetorically saying that if there were to be an independent Punjab it should include Pakistani cities such as Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Gujranwala and Rawalpindi.
Fatah writes, “If this was not a discussion about Khalistan, there is no way I would have made the above statement. In polemics the absurdity of an argument is at times best exposed through an equally absurd argument. Such is the battlefield of impromptu debate over heated issues.”
The only problem in believing that Fatah was championing India’s cause before rebel Khalistanis is that he did call for India’s dissolution, and clearly agreed with the interviewer when asked if he’s for India’s break-up. Dishonestly, Fatah does not explain these statements in his rebuttal.
As recently as August 2014, Fatah had tweeted that while he opposes Khalistan, he is for the creation of an independent Punjab comprising of both east and west Punjab.
Effectively, Fatah is calling for breaking away the state of Punjab from the Indian union. How is this person a poster-boy of the Hindutva brigade, is bizarre. Could it be that Fatah has been fooling the Hindutva brigade by give them what they want – dollops of Islamophobia with the legitimacy of it coming from a Muslim name?
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