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NYAhmadi's progressive India

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    NYAhmadi's progressive India

    The Hindu
    Sunday, December 06, 1998
    SECTION: Features

    Minority baiting
    Date: 06-12-1998 :: Pg: 25 :: Col: e


    Rape of four nuns in Jhabua (Madhya Pradesh) is only indicative of 'Hindu outrage' and the anger of patriotic Hindu youth against anti-national forces... the missionaries should pack up and leave... the VHP will not shut (our) eyes to the activities of these traitors.
    (VHP Central Secretary and former BJP MP B. L. Sharma's statement on the rape of nuns)

    THEY first came for the Muslims.

    Thousands were killed; a religious monument was destroyed. Muslims were declared to be anti-nationals and traitors and asked to leave the country. They came to power. The attacks on Muslims suddenly stopped.

    They next came for the Christians.

    Four nuns were raped in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh. In Bihar, a padre-teacher was forcibly stripped naked, paraded and made to walk 16 kilometres while being beaten throughout, all under the gaze of the District Collector and the Superintendent of Police. In Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar, Bibles were burnt, churches ransacked, cemeteries desecrated and coffins exhumed. Christian missionaries were declared to represent "anti-national forces" working against Hindu interests in the country and asked to leave the country.

    In the last few months, the nation has been witnessing a buildup of communal hatred and anger against the minority Christian community all over the country. If language is at all indicative of intent, then another round of bloodshedding to reclaim "Hindu pride" is on the cards. Terms such as "traitors", "anti- national forces", "patriotic Hindu youth" all remind us of the buildup preceding the black events of December 6, 1992, when the Babri Masjid was demolished by frenzied mobs right in front of the eyes of the nation and world.

    It took four years from the Rath Yatras and Shilanyas launched by the VHP-RSS-BJP in 1988-89 to build up such a crescendo of religious fervour that by 1992, the Babri Masjid demolition could be achieved. Is the latest round of hate politics against Christians part of a plant by the Hindutva forces to reclaim the vast properties owned by Christian institutions? We cannot rule out the sudden cropping of historical works claiming that churches were built on the sites of ancient temples. The RSS-BJP- Hindu Munnani claim that church in Pondicherry was actually constructed over the ruins of a temple is still fresh in our memory.

    A major controversy has risen as to whether the rapists of the four nuns belonged to the VHP or any of the various Hindutva front organisations. It does not matter whether the rapists acted on the orders of the VHP or the RSS. What is crucial is, that with the steady build up of propaganda against Christians and Christian missionaries, especially in the tribal areas, this kind of violence was to be expected. If not in Jhabua, it would have erupted in some remote corner of M.P. or Bihar or Orissa or Gujarat or U.P.

    The politics behind this process is clearly exposed by the responses of the different constituents of the Hindutva brigade. Former BJP MP and VHP Central secretary B. L. Sharma 'Prem' blatantly justified the attack (interestingly several days later he reportedly denied having made such statements). BJP official spokesman Venkaiah Naidu refused to specifically condemn the statement made by VHP leader, choosing instead to issue a general statement, "We condemn all such statements made by anybody". Thus while one group was belligerent, the other was conciliatory. While one justified the violence as the anger of "patriotic Hindu youth" (are Christian youths any less patriotic?), the BJP distanced itself. As the political component, it cannot afford to be identified with hate politics or its derivatives.

    Hindutva politics has been fine tuned and perfected over the last two decades. There are three components to this politics: the ideological, the political and the violent face. While the propaganda war is launched by the RSS and the VHP which form the ideological thrust of Hindutva politics, groups like the Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, the Hindu Munnani, Hindu Makal Katchi represent the striking arm. These are the groups which mobilise the youth and which are involved in violent attacks on the lives and properties of the minorities. The BJP is the political component, capitalising on this hate propaganda.

    The caste basis of this three-fold strategy underlying Hindutva politics is equally interesting to study. While the ideological thrust is championed largely by the upper caste leaders, the striking force is led by the middle and lower rung or the backward castes. These people not only provide numerical strength to the saffron brigade but also lead in militant and violent articulation of Hindutva politics. The BJP, on the other hand, represents in many places, the upper-middle caste belonging mainly to merchant communities and traders, who provide the funds. Gujarati and Marwari traders in the southern states, in particular, have played an important role in bankrolling BJP politics.

    An important aspect of the division of tasks among different segments espousing Hindutva politics is the "principle of deniability". According to this axiom, what is not known specifically can always be denied. Once specific knowledge is denied, how can others demand accountability and responsibility for the actions of other Hindutva groups, although they may belong to the same broad grouping? Thus, while the BJP shares the platform with the Bajrang Dal, Sadhu Sammelan and so on, and actively contributes to the spread of divisive politics can always deny specific knowledge of events, being only a contributor, and not a participant in the event. This is politics of convenience and opportunism at its best.

    Advani and other senior BJP leaders took this stand when confonted with their role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Despite the venomous propaganda being documented through newspaper reports and on television and film footage, these leaders got away with murder. How can history forgive their role in this divisive propaganda?

    What is worrying now, as during the events just prior to the demolition of the Masjid in 1992, is that the orchestrated attacks are happening when the BJP is in power in the Centre and in many States. The Supreme Court proceedings in the Babri Masjid case clearly reveal that the BJP leaders do not hesitate to even mislead the apex Court. After that can we still repose trust in the BJP leaders?

    There are several dimensions to the attacks on Christians, especially missionaries working in the tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and the North East. Propaganda was the main tool.

    New terms were coined. The term "adivasi" (meaning original inhabitant) used to refer to tribals was rejected, to be replaced with a RSS coinage, the "Vanvasi" (forest dweller). The choice of terms was not merely euphemistic. Apart from the fact that the term "adivasi" could not be used to build up a separate "identity", accepting it would necessitate granting them special status in law as "indigenous people" and thereby entitle them to the protection in International Law and U.N. conventions, of the "Rights of Indigenous Peoples." Vanavasi was a delightfully value free term, with no connotations as to origin of the people.

    There is a religious angle to the issue also. Till now, adivasis were considered to belong to Nature, who worshipped spirits. Animistic religions fell outside the pale of orthodox Hindu society. This status has been accepted and incorporated into the government policy as it deals with tribal issues in the country. The RSS however, has been claiming Adivasis to be HIndus, and conducting ceremonies to purify them and bring them into the Hindu fold.

    Such has been their fervour that they have not only assimilated values and beliefs belittling their own gods, goddesses and belief systems but also incorporated Hindu concepts of "pollution" and "purity into the tribal societies. As was pointed out by Pradip Prabhu of the Kashtakari Sanghatana recently, the activities of RSS missionarie in Mokhada and Jawahar talukas of Thane District in Maharashtra have resulted in the outbreak of untouchability practices amongst the Warlis and other tribal groups by which all those families who eat non- vegetarian food, or practice traditional adivasi religion are shunned by others who have replaced their traditional idols with Rama, Lakshmana and Hanuman!

    RSS, VHP, BJP and Shiv Sena leaders do not tire of crowing from roof tops about how the states ruled by the Hindutva based parties are free of communal clashes. Ironically, far from revealing the quality of their administration, their statements only reveal that the communal violence was artificially created.

    Interestingly, it is these claims about the "illusory communal peace" (vis-a-vis Muslims) made by the BJP and Shiv Sena that exposes the fact that since the Muslims and their groups have more or less been cowed down, the next target are the Christians. Having built up a political cadre across the country based on the divisive and religion exclusive polemics, the Hindutva parties require new targets.

    While other political parties, the Congress in particular have not been beyond fomenting communal forces and instigating conflicts, the Hindutva brigade has given a new thrust to the politics of creating divides and thereby consolidating political votebanks. In doing so, the Hindutva groups have shaped the nature of political discourse and have been calling the shots.

    I wonder if we can call this "institutionalized" discrimination?



      Let's not forget the massacare of thousands of Sikhs immediately after Mrs. Gandhi's murder. The Sikh's were firmly put in their place. Would they have murdered thousands of hindus if the assassain was a hindu? No chance. Secular India - - joke of the millenium.


        Atleast our newspapers are secular..........


          So are ours for that matter...


            Thousands of Hindus were killed and their property burnt (to ensure that if they survive they are on the streets) when Mahatma Gandhi was killed in 1948. Funny how people have a short memory.
            This is not to justify killings of people of any other religions...this is just FYI.
            Anyways....being a Pakistani, you know nothing about secularism so you're in the worst position to lecture us. Your nation was created by religious fundamentalists and was always ruled by fundamentalists. If the Pakistan Muslim League is supposed to be the moderates then God save your minorities (that is if there are any left by the time this reply is posted).


              Dear Bombaykid.

              “Your nation was created by religious fundamentalists and was always ruled by fundamentalists”

              only the later part is true. The founders did not have any intention of making Pakistan a religious state. It only developed into one, for various reasons. Which perhaps Mr Xtreme can tell you some of. If not, I will post some of those reasons here.


                I may tend to agree with you regarding Pakistan's founders. But when I read Pakistanis referring to the BJP as fundamentalists (note : I'm NOT a hardcore BJP supporter myself), I see double standards. Jinnah and his Muslim league created a nation for Muslims so that Muslim rights are safegaurded. So after partition if someone talks about safegaurding Hindu rights, why should that person be called a fundamentalist ?
                For me (and a lot of Indians), we don't appreciate the way secularism is practiced in India. Does being a Hindu mean, you can somehow be discriminated against ? You'll be surprised how many problems there are living in a multi-religious society. If there's a small incident in which a member of a minority community is killed and even if the matter has nothing to do with religion, Hindu organisations are the first to be targetted. When an Australian missionary was killed in the Congress ruled state of Orissa, the first people to be arrested were members of some Hindu organisation. Now it's been proved that they were not involved.
                My point in saying all of this was that one needs to be careful while using terms like "fundamentalists" and "secularism". You've got to admit that it sounds funny when Pakistanis question India's secular credentials !



                  I don’t know much about the facts of your post, but it is still not ‘institutionalized’ racism. It is just political violence, which is different than ‘institutionalized’ racism. My suggestion will still be for you to read the Indian Constitution. If you find any mention of the treatment vs. race/religion, it will be institutionalized. In Pakistani Constitution, it is said that “Non-Muslim” will not vote in the open elections… that is “institutionalized” form of discrimination. A policy based upon sex/gender/religion.

                  In addition to Pakistan’s treatment of its religious minorities, a few other examples of ‘institutionalized’ racism will be the treatment of immigrants (mainly blacks) by the Canadian Customs. The racism in the Mounties, and the racism in the Canadian Army. Who can forget the pictures of Canadian Soldiers beating the hell out of (in fact killing unarmed poor people by kicking and using gun butts) Black Somali civilians just because of the color of their skin. It is sickening! Violence and hatred for any reason is unjustifiable.


                    Quite honestly, I am sick of the double standards that you people use to judge these issues. Pakistan is a terrorist state yet no Indian has the guts to admit that BJP represents the political face of the Hindu supremacist movement despite the fact that one of your own journalists is saying exactly that, and he is an avowed secularist. Which none of you are without a doubt. The only reason Indians hang around this forum is to push the BJP agenda and try to whitewash what's really going on there.

                    You'll find them on every Pakistani forum doing the same thing. It's ther job (with the odd exception).


                      Bombay Kid,
                      Pakistan doesn't profess to be secular. It is an Islamic state. It is your lot that is always making noises about secularism, while practicsing worst kind of racism, whether it be against Muslims, Skihs, Christian or any other minority in India. You people are hypocrites, talking about secularism when all the minorites are discriminated against, and talking about democracy and at the same time butchering thousands of people in Kashmir. Don't look too far, there is a facist in your own town.


                        Yes Pakistan is an Islamic state and we donot question whether your nation does or doesnot practice true Islamic ideals. We don't have the right to do so since we're not an Islamic state. Similarly you don't have a right to question whether we are a secular nation or not because you're not a secular nation.


                          Get a life. You come here to discuss our country, I don't visit your country's website, neither do I have any inclination to do so. I still say your secularism is a joke and fraud, designed to fool the world.


                            This post was about an article posted after visiting an Indian web-site.
                            Obvoiusly you didn't have an effective argument to my earliest post.....hence the "get a life" statement !


                              hey bombaykid...why don`t you read my reply on the post"afghanistans number one enemy"..its about creation of it and then we can discuss..ok?...I have several replys on that post so you must search for it...