Meaningless Controversy over Sameer Wankhede’s Religion

By Utkarsh Pandey, Advocate
For the last few weeks almost every day, we find one or the other charge is being traded between Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik and an officer of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) Samir Wankhede. Nawab Malik says that Wankhede’s name also contains the middle name of Dawood, which he has deliberately deleted. Nawab Malik is insistent on saying that Wankhede is a Muslim as his father had converted to Islam after marrying a Muslim woman. He says that even Sameer Wankhede‘s previous marriage was also with a Muslim woman, which ended in divorce, but later he married, Kranti Redkar, a Hindu woman. The allegation is that Sameer Wankhede has fraudulently obtained a certificate of the Hindu Scheduled Caste, to which his father originally belonged before converting to Islam, to get the job from the reserved quota. Thus, he is said to be guilty of grabbing the job by depriving it to a rightful backward candidate.
But can Nawab Malik pass a judgment that Wankhede is a Muslim, while he and his family is stoutly claiming to be a Hindu? Even if Wankhede was born to a Muslim father and a mother, he has got every right to shun their religion and follow the religion of his choice, which is Hinduism here. Is it not stretching a non-issue too far? If Nawab Malik had not been a Minister, would anybody even have noticed it? Moreover, if Wankhede had not arrested Malik’s son-in-law, would he have opened the relentless campaign against Wankhede? An officer may not be lily-white, but the general perception is that a turncoat politician like Malik must have made money in the most hanky-panky manner, which emboldened him to contest elections in Maharashtra and become a Minister, that too, after getting uprooted from Uttar Pradesh. So, Malik cannot adopt the ‘holier than thou attitude’ towards Wankhede.
There is hardly any doubt that in India substantially large numbers of people have two dates of births. One is given in the certificate, which is decided either by teachers or by their parents and the other one is the real date of birth. I can say with certainty that in the sixties and early seventies most of the students had their dates of birth either 15th July or 1st of January because it was easier and convenient for the class teachers at the primary schools to maintain the records. Now also the dates of births are manipulated but only at the school levels. Even parents used to get recorded the different dates of birth, which normally used to be less than the real ones. The purpose was to get the dates of retirement delayed if their wards were in any job.
However, the controversy used to be set at rest on the basis of the dates that were given in the High School or in the School Leaving Certificates. It was nobody’s business to spark controversy at a later stage. Again, if somebody has fraudulently obtained the certificate of OBC/SC/ST, the issue can certainly be raised by a third party but to create controversy on anybody’s religion is mischief, pure and simple. It cannot be linked with any other misconducts like the misuse of power for extortion etc. Moreover, Wankhede is not trying to hide behind the cover of any religion to save himself from the allegations of extortions etc. Therefore, Nawab Malik would do well not to misuse his position as a Minister to throw mud on a person by questioning his religion, which he and his entire family is stubbornly denying.