Mohammed Haneef, the Bangalore doctor detained for “recklessly” lending a SIM card and buying a one-way ticket, is now out on bail. But only just. The next hearing is a month and a half away. Till such time he cannot leave Australia to see his new-born child or family. His working visa has been revoked because he failed a “character test”. He has to present himself before the police thrice a week. His landlord wants him out. Etcetera.
While the family will view today’s developments positively, a good point to ponder is if Indian civil society has failed to rise to Dr Haneef’s defence. The mandarins of the external affairs ministry have been sleeping. Our political and secular tigers have been napping. Our human rights bodies have been silent. Much of the media has played along gladly. Barring Prime Minister Manmohan Singh‘s “terrorism has no religion” appeal, there hasn’t been a squeak in India.
Obviously, it’s risky to stick the neck out when the full facts are not known. But shouldn’t civil society—not just Muslims but Hindus and everybody else—have risen to Dr Haneef’s help with greater alacrity and speed? Shouldn’t India have brought greater pressure on Australia given the flimsiness of the “evidence”? And, by looking the other way, have we all contributed to the devious “all Muslims may not be terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims” theory in a way?