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Current Affairs ( 2 Oct 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Mob terror is equal, if not worse than bomb terror

By Gyaneshwar Dayal

October 2, 2008


 The ominous head of communalism is once again peeping out from the closet, jeopardizing the identity and idea of India. In the last few weeks reports of attacks on Christians are pouring in mainly from Orissa and Karnataka. The allegations of the State government not doing enough to stop the vandalism have instilled a sense of fear among the minorities. To make things worse, what Central government seems to be doing is just issuing advisories to the state governments. The fear psychosis has thus gripped the minorities. To further malign the country’s image, the reports of Muslim intimidation in the name of hunting terrorists have further demoralized the minority in the country.


As attacks continue so does the bad press for India worldwide; the reports of Hindu India prevailing upon the minority of Christians and Muslims abound. Neither the victimization of Muslims or for that matter Christians is new to this country, what is new is however, the scale and precise administration of these attacks.


They are military-like operations, carried out with clinical precision and brutality, with no discrimination – sparing no one, not even women and children. The objective of polarization of the majority against minorities is thus achieved. These attacks, when they happen in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states, are nothing short of government-sponsored terrorism, while in other places it is sheer ‘mobocracy’, butchering the people who do not have enough safeguards not even state machinery.


The reason sited for the desecration of churches and attacking the nuns is not new either. The issue of ‘forced conversions’ of lower caste Hindus to Catholicism is reason enough to go on a rampage. Any single case of forced conversion is yet to be proved in the any court of law. Not denying the fact that Christian missionaries do have a sizable presence in the remote areas of Orissa where even government infrastructure is non-existent, many people do convert to Christianity out of conviction or to get better deals from missionaries – not reason enough to go charging on Christians as the “sole defenders of the Hindu faith” are doing.


But as world media suggests resurgence of Hindu India, that India which is all exclusive, intolerant, laced with bigotry and chauvinism to the hilt or is it sheer compulsion of the socio-political matrix of the country. Thanks to Hindu fundamentalists who are at work, Hindu fundamentals are under the scanner. Has the ancient civilization with a long track record of tolerance and assimilation suddenly become incognito fundamentalist?


The two states from which the vandalism was most prominent are ironically (?) BJP ruled states, the party which has been almost in shock after losing the last general elections. It almost refused to come to terms that it was out of power and overwhelming majority of Hindus had voted it out of power, whose cause it thought it espoused.


 BJP was a shambles after elections, when came the Narendra Modi rejoinder, which party grabbed as great model to seize power. Modi’s repeat victory in Gujarat convinced the BJP stalwarts and the Sangh Pariwar that it was the model to emulate in the rest of the country if the party was to smother the caste and class identities in the country and form a monolith of a divergent culture. Minority bashing does get good harvest of votes as Narender Modi showed, and if backed by good economy eventually gets people to accept the ruler despite initial hitch. The Gujarat model has become a showcase for replication in Hindutva laboratories all over the country.


With polls round the corner, it is do or die for the BJP and its allies. They want power at any cost if they are to survive as a political party in reckoning. The infighting and arrogance displayed by the BJP leaders in the last four years convinced them they were difficult to manage when out of power. The short but sweet taste of power made them reckless and spoiled the cadre of the “cadre based party”. And to be fair to them their chances are bright given the way UPA is tearing itself apart and losing its standing in the eyes of people. The runaway inflation and a mix of confused policy initiatives are leading people to look elsewhere.


So it is the time to harness the Hindu votes and minority persecution is a must if that has to happen. It is the time to target either Christians or Muslims that will take them to Parliament. The BJP knows that its rivals are wobbly, so the opportune time to strike is now. And this time it is Christians - as simple as that - no fundamentals required, no ideology employed, sheer calculus of Election arithmetic.


Unfortunately the other minority right now is being taken care of by the media itself. As the gory images of blood bathed victims are flashed in our drawing rooms along with Muslim names and faces responsible, the atmosphere of hate and mistrust is getting even more pronounced with every terrorist attack.


Muslims feeling cornered, are raising their voice and majority of people in cities having access to cable TV and newspaper feel they are unjustified in clamoring clemency for the terrorists realizing little that they are not asking leniency for terrorists, they are asking for stopping their own victimization, by the state and its able machinery which has a good history of concocting good stories. From Arushi murder case to Nithari Killings, police credibility is always under question.


As the terrorist blow the social fabric of the country to pieces, media does its bit by overplaying the Muslim names flashing them hour after hour, the Muslims feel insecure of their place in the society and in an emotionally charged atmosphere it becomes difficult to reason with the reasonable and not so reasonable people. The public perception thus gives the state extra leverage to trample human and civil rights.


In its report of a tribunal on ‘atrocities committed against minorities’ in the name of fighting terrorism, a large number of young Muslims are being victimized by police on the charge of being involved in terrorist acts across the country. Such cases are rampant in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.


In most of the cases, in gross violation of the law, the persons picked up are not shown to be arrested by the police until many days after their arrest. Their families are also not informed about their arrest. In many cases, they have been tortured in police custody and made to 'confess' and sign blank papers, the report said, adding that the police has often been humiliating Muslim détentes on the ground of their religion.


While all this happens and the union government makes up its mind to stop it, come up with a law and political will, we can all hang our heads in shame. Mob terror is equal, if not worse than bomb terror.

Courtesy: South Asian Free Press