Harassment of Faisal Khan
Mayank Austen Soofi
Earlier in 2006, this journalist had published an interview with Mr. Faisal Khan - a social activist.
Mr. Khan is associated with the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) - a gathering of like-minded groups who while retaining their autonomous identities, claim to be working together to bring the struggle for a people-oriented development model to the center-stage of politics and public life.
Mr. Khan has been working in the field of social welfare. He has intensively worked in providing relief to victims of natural disasters, besides being actively associated with issues like female infanticide throughout India, particularly in the state of Haryana. Mr. Khan closely works with Magsaysay award winners Medha Patkar and Sandeep Pandey.
But recently a certain strange event happened to him.
Mr Khan has a Reliance Infocomm mobile phone connection. In August, 2003, when he purchased the phone, he had presented all the necessary details which were required to complete the formalities. There had been no problem since then.
However since the last week of July, 2006, Mr. Khan's phone has been blocked. The Customer Care Executive at Reliance attributes it to the 'security concern'. On prodding further, she was unable to detail the reasons that prompted the blocking of the said connection.
In these times of 'Islamic fascism' and Mumbai train blasts when Mr. Osama bin Laden and his considerable sympathizers are so bent on tarnishing the reputation of their religion, it is understandable to be extra-alert in devising ways to counter security threats. But one fails to understand what purpose is achieved by harassing a social activist like Mr. Khan.
While questions are continually raised about the lack of secular Muslims in the country's mainstream voice, an insulting treatment is meanwhile being meted out to an Indian Muslim who actually symbolizes just that kind of much-needed and much-missed person.
Is it because he is a Muslim?