Thursday, November 20, 2008

HINDU TERROR AT LAST. THANK GOD!

This is not the refrain of the ordinary Hindus of India. This is not even the cry of Hindu right wing groups. This is the sigh of great relief that is being experienced by India's secular parties and a motley group of disconnected analysts whose India starts in Delhi and ends in Bombay, via New York. The arrest of a couple of Hindu radicals in connection with the blast in Malegaon on September 29 has given all of them just the excuse they needed to unleash their 'Daisy Cutters' on the BJP and its associates. For the first time since Gujarat 2002 they have got an issue which they think will help the Congress-led UPA win the forthcoming elections.

These days, TV studio debates and columns in mainstream media are all about 'Hindu terror'. It is as if the Pakistan inspired and sponsored Islamic terror that India has been facing for over two decades was just a myth, a big right wing lie and conspiracy. The recent blasts in Delhi, Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad, and the many previous blasts have all been forgotten. Also forgotten is the seditious SIMI, the Pakistani Lashkare-e-Toiba, the Bangladeshi HUJI and other Islamic terror groups responsible for taking the lives of thousands of innocent Indians. Forgotten also is the spectacle of the entire Muslim leadership, secular and fundamental, coming together over the Batla House encounter in which two alleged terrorists were killed along with a police inspector, when some even went to the extent of saying that Muslims in India were like Jews were in Nazi Germany.

Thank God, a few Hindu terrorists have been found. But for them, the Congress party would still have been worrying to death about the devastating blow that the loss of Muslim votes was going to inflict on its electoral prospects.

In UP, the Congress has already lost the complete dalit and part of the Brahmin vote to Mayawati, most of the remaining upper caste vote to the BJP, and the complete Yadav and much of the Muslim vote to Mulayam Yadav. The only way the party can increase its humilitating vote share of around eight percent is by wooing the only woo-able voters, Muslims, to it. Till Hindu terrorists appeared as its saviours, the Congress was well set to be totally wiped out in UP, notwithstanding the statement of the Prime Minister that minorities had a first right right on the resources of this country. That blatantly communal, begging-for-votes statement would probably not have got the Congress any additional Muslim votes but it has certainly cost it many votes of the majority community.

Thanks to the arrests by the Mumbai ATS of Sadhvi Pragya Singh, Dayanand Pandey and Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit, the Congress thinks it has found just the issue it needs to win over Muslims, without losing any Hindu votes. The latter is the critical part to which little attention is being paid in the excitement over the discovery of Hindu terror.

Is the combination of 'encouraging' Raj Thackeray and 'exposing' the links of the Sangh parivar to Hindu terrorism going to get the Congress and the NCP to the winning post in Maharashtra? Is the shrill call for a ban on the Bajrang Dal, the RSS and even the BJP, and equating them with the SIMI going to get any party additional Hindu votes in other states? Or are the Sangh parivar and the NDA going to wind up being the unintended beneficiaries of this unintelligent and dishonest secular blitz, not just in Maharashtra but elsewhere too?

Are real Hindus who live in a world which is totally disconnected from ours actually horrified and alarmed by what the Sadhvi and the Colonel may have done? Are they going to vote for secular parties because of this development or is the reaction of a majority of them going to be exactly the opposite, as more details unfold? Are they really so dumb as to not understand that all this noise is being made solely to get Muslim votes?

Are they going to actually forget that this country has been suffering without relief from terror whose roots are across the border? Are they also going to forget the thousands of innocent Indians who have been getting killed in numerous Pakistan sponsored terror attacks for years? Are they going erase from their memories the thousands of body bags that have been coming in from Kashmir for decades? Are those who fought terrorists in Kashmir and came back alive simply going to forget that trauma that they went through for this country?

Earlier this year, an unprecedented agitation led by the civil society, and not any political party, broke out in Jammu. The strength and duration of the agitation surprised every one. Why? Because no one had their ears to the ground. For 61 years, every one remained focused solely on the entirely Muslim Kashmir Valley and pretended as if the Hindus and Buddhists who lived in other parts of the state did not exist. The frustration and anger was building up, unseen, all the while and it took a small issue, the Amarnath land dispute, to set the region on fire.

Some of us are gloating right now about the first cut of Hindu terror, either because we better relate superficially to the West than to the Indians we drive by cocooned in air conditioned cars, or because we think that this is going to get our secular parties additional Muslim votes. But, if we pause and think a little deeply, this development should actually not allow us to sleep in peace. Cut through the stereotyped political blame-game and you will begin to realise that some sections of majority community have genuinely been feeling insecure and discriminated against in their own country. And the anger has been building up. For a long time. But no one has been paying any attention, out of fear of losing Muslim votes, and everyone has been taking them for granted. Just like they did in Jammu.

Come election time and voters will again be easily divided along their many fault lines by self-serving politicians and no one will again care to notice the continuing build up of anger.

See the tragedy of India's democracy? We say we are secular, but when it comes to votes, it is never the secular vote that we seek. Indeed, it is doubtful if there is any truly secular vote left in India, except in TV studios and a few isolated pockets in the cities. That is precisely why we don't know what is really happening in India's towns and villages. That is why, despite all our efforts, India's voters surprise us.

But the war on terror is beyond and bigger and more serious than elections. It has to be fought by the nation in a completely bipartisan manner, no matter which government is in power. The rule of law has to be allowed to prevail, if this war has to be won. Any one who indulges in violent acts that target innocent civilians, be he Hindu or Muslim or Sikh or Christian, is a terrorist and has to dealt with sternly.

If India has to defeat terror then the communalisation of all acts of terror has to stop and the issue kept firmly away from voting machines. Unfortunately, till now India's politicians have done exactly the opposite. If some secular parties were guilty of communalising Islamic terror earlier, the BJP and the Sangh parivar are equally guilty of doing the same now in respect of Hindu terror. Advani, Rajnath and company have no business to shed public tears for those who have been arrested by the ATS.

Even if one buys the argument that the ATS is being forced to play the political game of the Congress-NCP government of Maharashtra, in view of the forthcoming elections, no politician should denigrate the police only because those arrested happen to be Hindus. After all, it is not the police that pronounces any one guilty; the courts will come in soon. Why this disgusting noise? How often is Advani going to show to the world that he does not have it in him to rise above petty politics? Is it right for him to speak in defence of the accused solely because that will get his party additional Hindu votes?

The problem is far too serious to be debated and addressed with votes in mind. It is time for every one to sit down and dispassionately deliberate about what the nation as a whole needs to do to ensure that the societal tensions that have been building up due to the long drawn proxy war that Pakistan has unleashed are doused holistically and not inflamed further. It is time for for the nation to firmly tackle the scourge of terror, no matter which religion is involved, with an even hand. It is also time to make Bangladesh and Pakistan realise that they will have to pay an unacceptable price for trying to bleed India to death by inflicting on it a thousand cuts.

Unfortunately, India's politicians do not seem to have the desire or ability to see beyond the next elections. It is time they realised that unless they get over this petty and often destructive fixation, one fine day an innocuous incident will spark spontaneous combustion across the country, most unexpectedly. And there will be no one to douse the resultant flames before it is too late.

Pakistan will then have truly achieved its aim. Does any one of us want that to happen?
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Readers may also read:
1. Backlash: Jammu today, India tomorrow
2. Islamic terrorism: Muslims in India like Jews in Nazi Germany?
3. Tackling Islamic terrorism: what India needs to understand
4. Pakistan: dangers of the multi-ethnic Islamic state