I spent most of the last week working behind the scenes to foolproof my blog against its periodic bursts of becoming not reachable. Hence I haven’t really dwelt upon the new mischief concerning Malegaon. Meanwhile, here’s Chandan Mitra, on how the media and secular fundamentalists creates bogyes because they have no concrete evidence to brand Hindu groups as “terrorists.”
What is Hindu terror?
The cutting ed: Chandan Mitra
The media loves bogeys. First they are created; then, promoted; and finally bashed. In the last week one such bogey was discovered. With the vocal assistance of a section of the political class, it was assiduously promoted. Parliament being in session, the hype got further fillip. And almost immediately the bashing began.
It’s a bogey the media has been trying to nurture for some months now. But they had failed to make headway in the absence of any supporting evidence. This line of thought was first propagated when the Malegaon blasts took place last year killing 37 people outside a mosque. A section of the media loudly wondered why jihadi terrorists would specifically target their co-religionists and suggestively hinted at the possibility of Hindu groups coming under the investigators’ scanner.
But soon the case was cracked and it was authoritatively billed as a SIMI handiwork. But the secular-fundamentalists did not give up. They waited for two crude bombs to explode in Gujarat’s Modasa and once again in Malegaon. This time, the Maharashtra Police obliged. Under fire for handling Raj Thackeray’s rampaging goons in Mumbai with kid gloves, the authorities decided this was the most opportune time to selectively leak some sensitive information regarding the September 29, 2008 incidents. Howsoever far-fetched and tenuous the alleged suspects’ links to the extended saffron parivar, the leaked news came in handy for the media to resume the onslaught on “Hindu terror”.
Before we examine the ramifications of this allegation, it is important to understand the political motivation that guides the disproportionate attention paid to two crude bomb explosions last month. For a long time, the secular-fundamentalists and their cohorts in politics and the media have been agitating against the alleged stereotyping of Muslims as terrorists. That this too is a media-generated bogey is, of course, another matter. Nobody in their right minds has ever suggested that every Muslim is a terrorist, real or potential.
Indeed, there is consensus that Muslims are almost equal victims of jihadi terror as Hindus. There is also wide agreement that the Muslim community needs to be insulated from the evil influences of their Talibanised co-religionists and their leaders need to do more to combat jihadi ideology. It is only the opportunist practitioners of crass vote-bank politics — Lalu Prasad, Ram Vilas Paswan, Amar Singh and their ilk — that have engaged in stoking the fires of sectional Muslim angst over incidents like the arrest of mastermind Abu Bashar and the encounter at Batla House in Jamia Nagar. The Congress has unsuccessfully tried to hunt with the hound and run with the hare, but stopped short of endorsing the repugnant demand for revoking the ban on SIMI.
In the aftermath of the perfectly legitimate Jamia Nagar raid, there has been a systematic attempt to claim that the Indian Establishment is guilty of regarding every Muslim as a terrorist. This is precisely the premise on which the bogey of Hindu terrorism has been constructed. The argument is rather simplistic: The police and public are wrong in assuming all terror incidents to be executed by Muslim groups such as SIMI; that, new “revelations” suggest that many such terror attacks are the handiwork of Hindu outfits. So, Islamist terror must be treated on the same footing as ‘Hindu terror’. So, if SIMI is banned, so must be Bajrang Dal, VHP, ABVP, RSS and, eventually, BJP.
That the Government will have neither the gumption nor evidence to do so is another matter. But repeated equation of Islamic and ‘Hindu’ terror is expected to sow doubts in people’s minds and, hopefully, puncture the BJP’s battering ram against the UPA regime, namely the Government’s inability or unwillingness to combat jihadi terrorism.
It is a matter of time before it is suggested by this lobby that the Sangh Parivar is, in fact, the biggest progenitor of terror in India; that they are doing so with the aim of breeding mass insecurity in order to bamboozle terrified Hindus into voting for the BJP in the forthcoming polls! Evidence of ‘Hindu terror’ comprises only a few instances of alleged bomb-making by members of obscure groups, such as something called the Hindu Jan Jagran Manch. But that is hardly of consequence in the process of hyping this supposed phenomenon. The media has repeated ad nauseum that two Bajrang Dal activists got blown up while making bombs in Kanpur, deliberately overlooking the fact the persons had been expelled from the Dal 12 years ago and were probably involved in a conspiracy to settle scores with their tormentors in that organisation!
Had India not been a vibrant democracy and were Hinduism an intolerant faith, we would have witnessed many violent responses to jihadi terror. Most Hindus are unable to comprehend why groups like SIMI are going about massacring innocent civilians all over the country when they have no specific demand. Terrorist violence, whatever the cause, can never be condoned but in cases of foreign intervention (such as Iraq) or in the course of separatist movements, can at least be understood. But nobody can quite comprehend what SIMI and its cohorts want of the Indian people or the State.
Reams have been written about Muslim angst following the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat. But what about Hindu anger in response to the thousands of innocent people felled by jihadi bomb blasts over the last 15 years? Don’t they have families that are battling for survival, orphans who have grown up bearing bloodthirsty rage against the killers of their parents or family? Doesn’t it hurt their sense of justice when political parties rush to felicitate terrorists’ families or join the chorus describing the Jamia Nagar encounter as fake and the December 13 Parliament attack a conspiracy by the Intelligence Bureau?
Is the average Indian so thick-skinned as to applaud Manmohan Singh when he says the first right to the country’s scarce resources belongs not to the poor irrespective of caste and creed but only to Muslims? When anti-terror laws are diluted and vociferous demands for the lifting of the ban on SIMI reverberate through sections of the political class and the liberal-secular intelligentsia, should the victims of jihadi terror be expected to cower in fright? Isn’t it then a miracle that vigilante groups aren’t roaming the streets of our cities seeking revenge?
Those who equate imaginary Hindu terror with jihadi violence would do well to realise this odious comparison can only agitate people further, communalise the polity beyond redemption and unleash retribution on a scale not seen before.
The fact is that individual miscreants or petty bomb peddlers do not constitute anything like Hindu terror groups; they have no sympathy, at least yet, from the community. But stoked and insulted repeatedly, the tolerant and largely passive Hindu might just start justifying the actions of fringe groups. By nature, the Hindu can never be a terrorist. Secular-fundamentalists should not provoke him to a point where he seriously contemplates the option.