Asghar Ali Engineer
(Secular Perspective December 1-15, 2008)
Now the BJP leaders are protesting, and rightly so, on use of the term ‘Hindu Terrorists’. But they would have been indeed more consistent if they had similarly objected to the use of the term ‘Islamic Terrorist’s. Mr. L.K.Advani who is so exercised at the use of the term ‘Hindu Terrorists’ is not known to have ever objected to the term ‘Muslim Terrorists’, let alone ‘Islamic Terrorists’. I wish he had objected to use of the term ‘Islamic Terrorism’, he would have sounded much more authentic.
He only lately began to say that terrorists have no religion and there are no Hindu or Muslim terrorists. But this was only after media and police started using the term ‘Hindu Terrorists’. Yes, the terms like ‘SIMI’ or ‘Hindutva terrorists’ certainly has justification but not Hindu or Islamic terrorism. The liberals, human rights activists and Muslims kept on objecting to use of the term ‘Islamic terrorists’ but no one cared, much less the Sangh Parivar which is so agitated today.
The Sangh Parivar, particularly RSS even sent SMSs to the effect that ‘all Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims’. Now it is having test of its own medicine. Any way whatever Sangh Parivar might have done on account of its partisan politics or aversion of Muslims, we must be consistent in our principles and totally refrain from using the term ‘Hindu terrorists’ and also object to use of such terms by others.
No religion in the world teaches, violence, much less terrorism. Religion is meant to be for spiritual guidance though in certain context and with certain stringent conditions it may permit use of violence as all religions like Christianity, Islam, Hinduism etc. do. Lord Krishna’s sermon to Arjuna or certain Qur’anic verses or concept of Holy war among Christians point out.
However, that does not or should not mean that violence could be used as part of ones religion. Normatively speaking religion is nothing but moral and spiritual guidance, everything else is secondary. No form of violence can ever be a normative concept. Many Muslims grossly misused concept of jihad for their own selfish motives just to create emotional ambiance for their wars of territorial aggrandizement. Similarly some Muslim youth in our own time or Al-Qaida leaders have been grossly misusing concept of jihad for their own selfish motives.
In fact both anger and revenge are anti-religious emotions. All religions, especially religions of books like Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism etc. exhort their followers to control anger and refrain from revengeful acts. Because all human beings have these instincts and get carried away by anger and feeling of revenge. As far as Muslims are concerned Prophet’s forgiving all his persecutors and enemies after bloodless conquest of Mecca. He refused to take revenge.
Unfortunately those misguided Muslim youth belonging to SIMI or Al-Qaida are seeking nothing but revenge while resorting to terrorist violence. How can then it be construed as Qur’anic jihad? Real jihad would be suppressing ones anger and feeling of revenge, and not terrorize innocent people and kill them.
It is no different for Hindutva organizations. They too, as per their own statements, have been motivated by revenge and anger. Ms.Himani Savarkar, President of Abhinav Bharat, the organization involved in Malegaon bomb blast of 29th September 2008 that we believe in ‘bomb for bomb’ and since Muslims are killing Hindus so Hindus are killing Muslims. But SIMI, Al-Qaida and Abhinav Bharat do not represent Muslims and Islam and Hindus and Hinduism.
It is surprising that Mr. Advani, who never tired earlier demanding application of POTA to SIMI or Indian Mujahideen terrorists and kept mum about complaints of inhuman torture on Muslim boys arrested by the police, guilty or not rushed to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about Sadhvi Pragya’s complaint about torture. Mr. Advani who is projecting himself as Prime Minister in waiting, how can he be so distinctly partial in his behaviour towards one community? Mr. Advani, if he wants to be Prime Minister of a secular democratic country, cannot be so obviously partial in his behavior.
He never even once condemned application of torture on Muslim youth for confession. Not only that he demanded application of stringent laws like POTA to curb terrorism and promised, in order to attract angry Hindu votes, to enact such a law once BJP comes to power. Now Mr. Advani, instead of condemning terrorist acts perpetrated allegedly by some Hindutva extremists, is refusing to condemn terrorism on their part and even rushing to Prime Minister to asking him to inquire into Sadhvi’s complaint of torture.
Let me make it very clear here we are against use of torture on any citizen of India irrespective of his/her caste or creed as it is gross violation of human dignity and democratic rights. The police have to work hard to collect evidence and confront the accused with the evidence rather than obtaining ‘confession’ through torture.
Also, it has been reported that ATS has applied MCOCA to these Malegaon blast accused. We are against use of such draconian laws against all citizens of India be they Hindutvawadis or supporters of SIMI and Indian Mujahidin. Only normal laws should be applied so that confession does not become the only evidence against them. All human rights organizations, including Muslims leaders should oppose application of MCOCA on the accused of Malegaon blasts.
The police should try its best to collect hard evidence against all the accused to get them convicted. Now perhaps Sangh Parivar will understand why POTA like laws should never be enacted, in the first place, let alone applying them on any kind of accused. The police authorities then are tempted to use torture for obtaining confession instead of collecting hard evidence which requires very hard and honest work without any prejudice.
What ATS has revealed so far about activists of Abhinav Bharat, if true, is indeed shocking. They had allegedly planned murder of two RSS office bearers for being lenient to Muslims and it is alleged that VHP office bearer Pravin Togadia also allegedly financed Abhinav Bharat for executing bomb blast in Malegaon. These are very shocking revelations indeed.
Resorting to violence can indeed be very dangerous. All violent groups are basically most intolerant. They do not believe in dissent and settle dissent only by eliminating dissenting person. RSS itself is an extremist Hindu organization and there are more extreme than RSS that want to eliminate its office bearers. RSS claims to be a patriotic and nationalist organization which it is not. One does not become patriotic just by declaration. It is practice which is real test. If it considers an important part of its population as suspect and alienates it how can it be patriotic. It is disservice to the country as it impairs the unity and integrity of the nation. A true patriot has to ensure unity of the country and should respect all its people, not only its co-religionists.
It is not surprising that RSS, instead of waiting for law to take its own course has characterized arrest of members of Abhinav Bharat as a political move on the part of the UPA Government to hide its own failures. Also, it is wrong to say that arresting members of Abhinav Bharat on charges of terrorism amounts to branding Hindus as terrorists as arresting some members of SIMI cannot amount to branding entire Muslim community as
amounting to characterize Muslims as terrorists. What was objected to so far was using terms like ‘Islamic terrorists’.
What RSS can do is to see that no innocent Hindus are victimized. In fact any human rights activist would be seriously concerned if innocent citizens irrespective of their religion or caste are victimized. Moreover no police officer has been ever accused of being anti-Hindu though there are some officers who have bias against Islam and Muslims. It is very well documented. And these police officers develop bias against Muslims and consider them as anti-national or terrorists and hence after every bomb blast police officers think only of Muslims being responsible and arrest many innocent youth.
Many Hindutvawadis are openly talking of Hindu youth becoming terrorists as Bal Thackaray once gave a public statement to that effect and recently Himani Savarkar as pointed out above said in an interview to the Outlook that we believe in bomb for bomb. No Muslim leader can give such statement and get away with it. No one, in fact, ever do that. It is not only peculiar with India. In all countries police has majoritarian outlook though there are always few honest and committed officers also.
One can get rid of curse of violence only when one believes in democracy and secularism. Any Islamic or Hindu politics is bound to lead to extremism as it is our day today experience. Politicization of religion is in fact anti-religious as unless religion is strictly understood in value terms as Mahatma Gandhi did in our own times. All those who politicize religion, use religion for their own motives rather than being inspired by religious values of justice, love and compassion for all.
All those who have politicized religion in our country should deeply reflect are they serving even their own religious community or bringing only disaster for them?
Centre for Study of Society and Secularism