Posts Tagged ‘Islamic terrorism’

Time for some meditation By Jyotirmaya Sharma – Hindustan Times

November 24, 2008


Jyotirmaya Sharma
November 23, 2008
First Published: 19:47 IST(23/11/2008)
Last Updated: 23:35 IST(23/11/2008)

An amusing spectacle is unfolding on most news channels these days: the top leadership of the BJP strenuously arguing that it is wrong to speak about ‘Hindu’ terrorism. These are the same people who demolished the Babri mosque, coining the slogan Garv se kaho hum Hindu hain (Say it with pride that we are Hindus). They are the same people who encourage and incite lumpens to attack M.F. Husain’s exhibitions in the name of preserving ‘Hindu’ culture. The same who glorified and justified the wilful killing of thousands of Muslims in a premeditated, planned and systematic fashion after the Godhra tragedy in the name of ‘Hindu’ pratishodh (reaction, retaliation). Among them are also people who have invented the most hateful, diabolical and misleading formulation in recent times, arguing that ‘all Muslims may not be terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims’. Among these very people are individuals who have flouted every norm and tenet, every single article of faith of the Indian Constitution in the name of preserving Hindu asmita (sense of self). Among them are also people who certify Jinnah’s secular credentials, but brand anyone talking about coexistence, civility and debate as pseudo-secularists.

Having said this, I agree with them that there is no ‘Hindu terrorism’, just as there is no ‘Islamic/Muslim terrorism’. But there is something called Sangh parivar terrorism, just as there is al-Qaeda terrorism. Neither Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur nor Osama bin Laden represent their respective faiths, nor do their organisations represent the people who they claim to represent. To push aside misplaced legalism, just as the charges against the sadhvi are yet to be proved in a court of law, even Osama bin Laden has not yet been indicted by a court of law anywhere in the world. The only difference between Osama and Pragya is that the former is unlikely to contest an election in the future and become a member of an elected body. In the case of Pragya Thakur, given the way in which criminal investigations are conducted, there is a strong possibility of her becoming a people’s representative, as she would only be following a ‘great’ tradition. Just as Osama hides in the impregnable mountains of Afghanistan, the likes of Pragya will hide behind the fig leaf of the democratic ‘will of the people’. This is why very few people in the country speak about political, electoral and administrative reforms, and the Indian polity has been penetrated by criminal elements of both communal and secular hues. If a hundred people tell a lie and another hundred believe in it, it does not become the truth — this classical formulation has been conclusively reversed in our country.

The predicament of the Sangh parivar is akin to having a tub bath, where one only floats in one’s own dirt and filth. From the 19th century onwards, apologists of Hindu nationalism have sought to portray Hinduism as a unified, seamless and monochromatic faith. The mess that is Hindutva is a result of this ideological confusion and intellectual laziness. While it argued, on the one hand, that Hinduism was a tolerant, peaceful, inward-looking, all-embracing faith; on the other hand, there was a call to all Hindus to regain their Kshatriyahood and resort to the virtues of biceps and the Bhagvad Gita.

Every proponent of Hindu nationalism encouraged and promoted the idea of retaliatory violence, be it Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo or V. Savarkar, in the name of preserving righteousness and a fictional unbroken, centuries-old Hindu tradition. All of them were ensnared by 19th century definitions of religion and attempted to mould their own faith, as they understood it, in ways that were alien to the diverse strands of ‘Hinduism’.

Without exception, all Hindu nationalists from the 19th century onwards argued that religion was the core of Hindu nationalism, and moreover, that it was the only core of nationalism. They further argued that if the former was true, then, nationalism was the only religion. It is this formulation that allows the likes of Vajpayee and Advani to argue, to this day, that Hindutva stands for idealism whereas nationalism is their ideology. They say so in the belief that this linguistic and rhetorical contortion will go unnoticed, and it often does. It also manifests in contemporary times as Indian middle-class aspirations of envisioning India as an economic and military superpower. Very little time and energy are expended in discussing the constellation of values that will constitute the heart of this putative superpower. Like their 19th century predecessors, the Hindutva votaries are satisfied as long as they can vanquish their real and imagined enemies, at home and abroad, and impose their national socialist understanding of the idea of will to power.

No nation is either entirely tolerant or wholly wedded to violence. Any civilisation is a composite of the pure and the tainted, and from the struggle between the two emerge values that are sublime, civilised and truly human. This struggle is neither a given, nor is it a zero-sum game, and it impels human beings to make choices. Choosing peace, tolerance, civility and truth is not a sign of weakness as the apologists of violence and retribution will make people believe, but a way of sublimating the beast within us. Buddha, Mahavir and Gandhi were not weak men. Why, then, are their spiritual children afraid to take this crucial leap? I posed this question to a Japanese writer, who also writes on questions of identity and nationalism. He paused for a moment and said: ‘They did not have the burden of contesting and winning elections.’

(Jyotirmaya Sharma is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Hyderabad)G

Our terror, their terror – By Vir Sanghvi – Hindustan Times

November 23, 2008

Our terror, their terror

Counterpoint | Vir Sanghvi

Hindustan Times (Nov. 22, 2008)

Shortly before LK Advani spoke at the HT Summit on Friday, I was
chatting to Ajit Doval.  Though he is not yet a household name, Doval
is a former director of the Intelligence Bureau who was close to
Advani when the latter was Home Minister and he will probably be
National Security Advisor if the BJP comes to power.

As Advani has – by his own admission – been reluctant to say very much
about the allegations of terrorism against various militant Hindus, I
asked Doval how he viewed the arrests and the claims made by the Anti
Terror Squad (ATS).

Doval’s response was that the term ‘Hindu terror’ worried him. There
were, he said, two dimensions to any battle against terror. The first
was law and order. You should treat all terrorists as murderers
regardless of their religions, ethnic origins or whatever.

But the second one had to do with their cause. You always avoided, he
said, any nomenclature that helped terrorists broaden their
constituencies. So, in the 1980s, you never ever used the phrase ‘Sikh
terrorists’ no matter how many bombs exploded. And in the 21st
century, care was taken to refer to ‘Jehadi terrorists’. If you said
‘Muslim terrorists’, you suggested, however subliminally, that the
terrorists represented all Muslims – which of course, they do not.

It was a perceptive point and one that Advani also made in his speech
at the Summit. Though he refused to be drawn further on the subject –
despite an excellent question from an IBN7 correspondent – Advani said
that he was unhappy with the phrase ‘Hindu terrorists’.

I have no real problem with Advani and Doval’s position. The bombers
do not represent Hindus, and yes, there is a danger that Hindus may
subliminally feel that the terrorism was conducted on their behalf if
we refer to those accused of the killings as Hindu terrorists.

But listening to Doval, I got to thinking about the extent to which
the allegations of ‘Hindu terror’ have changed all the rules.

I have always been suspicious of the claims advanced by various police
forces about their successes in the fight against terror. One simple
fact should illustrate why I believe my skepticism is well-founded:
the police keep changing their minds about who is behind the blasts –
and yet, each time they claim to have cracked a case, they advance
these claims with an air of certitude.

Take the Samjhauta Express bombing. When it took place, we were
assured with great authority that the bombers were jehadis, acting
under instructions from Pakistani terror outfits. Now, we are being
told that they were the Hindus who the ATS has in custody.

To go from blaming Pakistani jehadis to pinning the blasts on militant
Hindus is a 180-degree about-turn. Yet our security services show no
embarrassment about the complete shift in stance.

Or, take the example of the last spate of bombings. Four different
police forces have arrested four different ‘masterminds’. Men who were
described as being in the Osama bin Laden league are suddenly not
talked about at all.

All this is indisputable. And if you enter the more controversial area
of encounters, the police come off even worse. Nobody seriously
disputes that many of the people killed in so-called encounters have
actually been shot in custody. The dispute is over whether they were
ever terrorists to begin with. Once a suspect is dead, the police
don’t have to bother with evidence. They make whatever claims they
like and when you challenge these, they resort to the obviously bogus
explanation: “If he was not a terrorist, then why was he firing at the
police?”(Which, of course, he wasn’t….)

There’s more. None of us doubts that torture is routinely used to
extract information from suspects. And, by and large, this practice
has widespread public support.

Consequently, when any of the suspects or their lawyers or human
rights organisations protest about torture, we pay no attention. Of
course, the police are going to use third degree methods, we say. It’s
a question of saving lives.

Such is the attitude of many of India’s politicians – and especially
those in the BJP – that to raise even the most obvious questions about
claims advanced by the police, is to act in an ‘anti-national manner’.
How dare we demoralise our security forces, we are told.

I know this from personal experience. Every time I have raised
questions about encounter-killings or excessive claims made by police
forces, I have been roundly condemned.

The most notorious instance was the famous Ansal Plaza encounter where
the police took two suspects to the parking lot of a shopping mall and
shot them. Then they announced that they had foiled a terrorist
strike. Advani was Home Minister (and Doval was number two in IB) and
he congratulated the police and associated himself with that ‘triumph
in the war against terror’.

When the HT queried the police version, even those BJP leaders who
should have known better called us anti-national and questioned my

We do not know yet whether the recent Batla House encounter was
conducted in the way the police claim it was. But given that there
were legitimate questions to be raised, and given that the police have
a record of lying, it was entirely understandable for people to ask
for explanations. But even then, those who raised questions were
called unpatriotic.

I was reminded of all this while listening to Advani and Doval because
the Sangh Parivar has now conducted a 180 degree about-turn on the
police version of terrorist arrests. Worse still, the BJP now says
that the Anti Terror Squad frames innocent suspects.

To recognise how astonishing the BJP’s about-turn is, think of it this
way. Suppose those accused of terrorism were not Hindus but Muslims.
Suppose it wasn’t a sadhvi but an imam.

How would the BJP have reacted?

First, it would have emphasised the ‘jehadi conspiracy against India’
angle to make Hindus insecure. Then, it would have condemned those of
us who questioned the arrests as traitors.

Assume now that Muslim organisations had banded together to attack the
police in the way that the Sangh Parivar and assorted sadhvis and
sants recently did. We would have been told how shameful it was that
Muslim leaders had ‘communalised’ the situation. The BJP would have
suggested that the Muslim leadership actually approved of the
terrorism. And it would have been said that the spectacle of mullahs
and politicians coming together to question the institutions of a
secular state demonstrated that Muslims had no real loyalty to India.

And yet, the way in which the BJP has responded to the arrests goes
far, far beyond anything that Muslim organisations have done or said.

If it was anti-national to question the Ansal Plaza encounter, then,
by that same yardstick, Rajnath Singh is a traitor for running down
our anti-terrorist squads.

Even Advani, who clearly recognises that there is a double-standard
involved, has written to the Prime Minister complaining about the
torture of one of the suspects. But if a Muslim politician had
demanded that the Delhi police do not torture a Muslim blast suspect,
the BJP would have vilified him.

It is not my case that the Hindus accused of violence are guilty –
they are innocent until the police can prove otherwise in a court of
law. But the BJP cannot take the line that when the cops arrest
so-called Muslim terrorists, they are never to be challenged.

It’s only when they arrest Hindus that we can accuse them of framing
the suspects!

That shameful double-standard exposes the hypocrisy and prejudice at
the root of the BJP’s approach to terror. The party is not really on
the side of the police at all. All that sanctimonious nonsense about
how it is ‘unpatriotic to question our brave security forces’ is
quickly forgotten the moment Hindus are arrested.

We can now see what the BJP’s message to the police really is: arrest
all the Muslims you want; we will back you unthinkingly. But if you
dare arrest a Hindu for terrorist violence, we will attack you from
the highest platforms.

So yes, Advani and Doval are right. We should not use the phrase
‘Hindu terrorists’. But that’s because we shouldn’t communalise
terror. Not because no Hindus are terrorists. Or because all Muslims

And one more thing: now that the entire Sangh Parivar says it is our
patriotic duty to claim that the police tell lies, frame innocent
people and fabricate cases, can all of us who were called
anti-national for merely raising a few questions get an apology

It’s the least Rajnath Singh can do.


VIEW FROM BANGLADESH- Bombing in India: RSS engineering ‘Islamic terrorism’?

September 24, 2008



Bombing in India: RSS engineering ‘Islamic terrorism’?
London 18 September 2008. Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh expressed new realism when he told a meeting of governors of states yesterday, “The role of Pakistan-based terrorist groups cannot be minimised but the involvement of local elements in recent blasts adds a new dimension to the terrorist threat,” and he added, “We have reports that certain Pakistan-based terrorist outfits are constantly seeking to set up new terrorist modules within our country”, according to report today (18 September 2008).
The reporter remarked, ‘Singh’s comment is an explicit, high-level acknowledgement home-grown groups were now carrying out bombings in India, which has traditionally blamed Pakistan for violent attacks on its soil.’
For many years now, in the wake of bombings by ‘suspected’ Islamic groups, India in the absence of concrete intelligence, has been pointing their fingers at external operatives such as ‘Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-i-Tayeba’, ’Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-BD)’, etc. They dished out many make believe stories of bombing operations, which many observers suspected to be concocted in the research chambers of RAW. This kind of blame-mongering, and the desperate and reckless police actions by India in the aftermath of bombings, has been likened to “a flailing state” by Harvard economist Lant Pritchett, the word ‘Flailing’ meaning moving vigorously or erratically, such as arms flailing helplessly in the water while drowning, according to reports by Avijit Ghosh in the Times of India yesterday (17 September 2008). Another report of the Times of India yesterday highlighted Dr. Manmohan Singh’s despair about the gap in government intelligence as they reported: ‘Reflecting Government’s concern over the recent serial bomb blasts in Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Delhi, Singh admitted that there were “still vast gaps in intelligence” that needed to be overcome’.
Thus, Dr. Singh’s new realism with his inward look is the right approach and it would be quite revealing to him, if only he seriously does a retrospective soul-searching about the conditions of the Muslims in India, who constitute 13 percent (16 percent according to other views) of the population, and if only he looks into the grievances of this repressed, downtrodden and marginalized community, who have been massacred, brutalised and terrorised by thousands of most callous riots perpetrated in front of the eyes of the world, over a decade more than half a century.
In the social fabric, ridden by caste system with unequal status and unequal rights by birth and for life, the other deprived communities in India fare no better, as the treatment of the Muslims by the 15 percent cast Hindus compares very well with similar treatments of the Dalits, the near Dalits, the Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and other minority communities and minority nationalities, in this much vaunted hypocrisy touted as the so-called largest democracy.
It was indeed Dr. Manmohan Singh, who at the start of his premiership, appointed the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee for preparation of a report on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community of India. The committee prepared a 403-page report that was tabled in Parliament on 30 November 2006 – 20 months after obtaining the terms of reference from the Prime Minister’s Office. Now, for the first time, it was shown with statistics, how marginalized the Muslim community have been in India. Even the ‘Ananda Bazar Patrika’ exclaimed that in many respects the conditions of the Muslims are worse than those of the Dalits. What choices do they have then, if they are relentlessly pushed against the wall only to be shot? Will they not launch any struggle to survive??
Peter Foster in his dispatch titled ‘India: how safe is it now?’ in on 15 September 2008 drew bold and correct conclusions: “In the longer term, .. , India will have to do more for its marginalized Muslim minority if it wants to choke off recruits to the Jihadi cause. If you look at the socio-economic statistics, the only category Muslims top is the number held in prison. On literacy, social welfare, government jobs etc, Muslims continuously languish in the lower reaches of pretty well every set of indicators you care to choose.”
Good and sound conclusion. But the big question is: Who is going to tame the Hindu fundamentalists? The Hindu fundamentalists not only whip up communal tensions and perpetrate thousands of riots, but according to reports, they have also been engaged in engineering ‘Islamic terrorism’.
On 15 September 2008, Shabnam Hashmi, Member, National Integration Council and Dr. Ram Puniyani, Social Activist and writer, jointly circulated ‘An Open Letter to the Prime Minister of India’, showing case by case that the RSS have been involved in making and blasting bombs in the guise of ‘Islamic terrorists’, so that communal tensions and violence can be whipped up and these can be used in order to mobilise votes for the BJP-RSS group. The letter was published in the ‘Communalism Watch’ on 15 September 2008 and posted to on 16 September 2008. The activists and writers of the letter asserted, ‘If we look at the timing of the terror attacks it is very clear that one and only one political outfit is gaining from it and that is Sangh. With their eyes on the central government their agenda of polarizing the voter is going ahead successfully’.
With the sinister and murderous scheme of things against them as they are, the Muslims in India are bound to respond, if they refuse to be silently bulldozed. Call it Jihad, call it struggle for physical survival, call it struggle for economic, social and cultural emancipation, the Muslims have been left with no other alternative except for uniting and politically fighting for their rights, and whether these fights for rights can be conducted peacefully will depend on the government and the powerful Hindu fundamentalists. The best thing for the Muslims in India would be to unite with all the other deprived sections and communities of India and launch a united great struggle for the great task of the economic, social and cultural emancipation of the people of India, the kind of struggle which are much needed throughout the under-developed world, including of course our beloved country Bangladesh.