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India: ’Hindu Terrorists’ and Call for Suicide Squads

by Ram Puniyani

Thursday 10 July 2008

(Published earlier in: Communalism Watch, 27 June 2008)

The bombs which exploded in Gadkari Rangayatan on 4th June 2008, injured seven people. In one of the few cases of success in investigating such cases in Maharashtra or anywhere for that matter, the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) of Police, succeeded in nabbing the culprits. As it turned out, contrary to the prevalent practice of pointing the finger to Huji or SIMI or some such organization, this investigation did lead to the real culprits, who happened to be part of Hindu Janjagaran Samiti (HJS), an outfit of Sanatana Ashram in Panvel. These culprits were also involved in other blasts, in Vashi, Panvel and Ratnagiri. In Thane the blasts were done to protest against the play Amhi Pachpute, a satirical play on Mahabharata. The allegation was that it insults Hindu Gods. The earlier blast in Panvel was in a theater where the film Jodha Akbar was being screened. In this film the Hindu princess is married to Akbar, a Muslim king, and that is regarded by these outfits as insult to Hindu religion.

One recalls that in a serious case of blasts in Nanded in April 2006 two Bajrang Dal workers died when making bombs. Similar incidents of bomb blasts were witnessed in many places around that time, Parabhani, Jalna, Aurangabad. Most of these were in front of the mosques. How far the Nanded investigation ‘leads’ were traced is yet to be known. ATS did investigate the links of the dead with Bajrang Dal, an RSS affiliate. At the same time the injured were visited in the hospital by the top brass of local BJP and associates. Local BJP MP told the police not to harass people, those linked to the culprits in the wake of the Bajrang Dal involvement in the bomb making. In Nanded, ATS also found fake moustache and pajama kurta, the idea being that the culprits will dress like a Muslim while doing these black deeds.

In most of the cases of blasts all over the country, as per the set pattern, the terrorists from across the border and local Muslims are presented as the culprits. For some days media carries the reports and some Muslims are apprehended. In case of Jaipur blasts the local Bangladeshis are being harassed to the limit as the report of Peoples Union for Civil Liberties shows. But after first few days the real culprits and the definitive investigation is no where in sight. By now, in popular psyche it has been entrenched that all terrorists are Muslims, and the matter stops there. The Maharashtra ATS needs all the compliments for overcoming the social stereotypes and biases to unravel the truth.

In the wake of this comes the call for formation of suicide squads by the self proclaimed Hindu Hriday Samrat (Emperor of Hindu Hearts) of Maharashtra, Bal Thackeray. Earlier also he had exhorted Hindus to form the suicide squads, and now he repeats the same call. This shows the absolute bankruptcy of the social and political understanding of the real causes of terrorism or other social issues. His criticism is not that this act by the activists of HJS are condemnable, his call is why the Hindu terrorists are using low intensity bombs, they should use more dangerous one’s and that they should blast “mini Pakistans”, i.e. Muslim majority localities. One has to understand that ghettotization, what Thackeray derogatorily calls mini Pakistans, is itself due to the fear complex, physical insecurity induced by communal violence.

In the wake of the Thane blasts the HJS disowned those who were involved in the act, saying that they had nothing to do with the blasts and that they do want to protest against the play Amhi Pachpute, but peacefully. Nothing new, most of such organizations disown their trained cadre when caught in the act. Nathuram Godse, murderer of Mahatma Gandhi was quickly disowned by RSS. In an interview to Times of India in 1998, Nathuram’s brother Gopal Godse did confess that his brother and he were always part of the RSS and that they did not show the RSS connection in the court to shield the parent organization. Dara Sing’s, murderer of Pastor Graham Stains, was part of Bajrang Dal, but this association could be undermined and bypassed in investigation.

How popular mind has been doctored into believing something becomes obvious from this act of terror. In a talk show, which took SMS poll at the same time, 97% respondents said that the organization involved in this blast (HJS) should not be banned. Bajrang Dal despite its involvement in Nanded case faced no wrath from the authorities. SIMI on the other hand was banned for its alleged involvement in acts of terror. A case of double standards has been ingrained into the society and has been institutionalized over a period of time.

After the dangerous and insane call given by Thackeray, the student wing of Shiv Sena has been putting the posters that they endorse their chief and that acts of terrorism are justified. Question is can the cancer of terrorism, which has multiple reasons be contained by suicide squads or by acts which Thackeray and his ilk is propagating. The cure of the disease lies in the underlying etiology. Broadly one can say that terrorism can fall in two major categories. One those which take place semi-spontaneously, after an individual or group perceives that a wrong, injustice has been done to her and that chances of getting justice for this are remote. These are the acts which occur after pogroms against a particular community. The example of this is the attack on Adivasi procession in December 2006 being followed by the blast in Guwahati Delhi Rajadhani express. The acts of terror occurring after the communal violence in Mumbai and Gujarat can be clubbed in this category.

The second ones’ are the type where a conscious, calculated indoctrination is undertaken in pursuit of a political ideology or economic goal. Murder of Pastor Stains by Bajrang Dal’s Dara Singh, Nanded blasts, the Al Qaeda and its fall outs come in this category. In case of Al Qaeda US had set up/funded Madrassas to indoctrinate the Muslim youth so that they can be made to fight against the Communist armies in Afghnistan. They were also supplied with arms by US. In Nanded and Thane type of blasts, the underlying reason is the indoctrination of youth by RSS ideology, the misconceptions has been planted that terrorism is due to teachings of Islam and nature of Muslim community. This indoctrination is resulting in acts like the ones’ in Nanded. While there is a veneer of Nationalism in this RSS ideology, it essentially looks at people along religious lines, communal identities and teaches its followers to ‘hate others’ and this culminates in burning of Pastor Stains or massive pogroms against minorities. It is not for nothing that US based Terrorism Research institute put RSS in the category of terrorist organizations in 2005. These types of organizations, RSS or Hindu Jagran Samiti may not give the direct training in arms but their ideology of ‘Hate other’ leads to the indoctrination leading to terrorist acts. The success of these organizations lies in projecting that the Hindu community is under the threat from minorities. And that’s how Dara Singh is projected as ‘Hindu Dharm Rakshak’ (savior of Hindu faith). The other common factor is that though these individuals are part of such organizations their connections are kept discreet on purpose and they are quickly disowned by the parent organization.

Coming to Bal Thackeray, one realizes the limitation of our legal system. Bal Thackeray in the wake of Babri demolition said, he is proud if Shiv Saniks have demolished the Mosque, he also gave a call that Hindus should become aggressive. Now he repeats the call for formation of Suicide squads to attack minorities. We are helplessly watching that no action is taken against such spewing of poison! If state cannot act against such ‘hate speech’ can the communal harmony prevail?

One has to come back to the understanding that there are different causes of acts of terror. Intolerance for others, orthodoxy in religious beliefs and sticking to narrow understanding of one’s history and indoctrinated mindset being the major such causes. In different ways Al Qaeda, Taliban, Bjarang Dal and RSS fall in the same category. The double standards of social and legal norms are operative not only in the investigation but also in the way of dealing with those inciting the communities into ‘hate other’, into undertaking violence and divisive acts. One is sure the Government will make some noises that action is being contemplated against Thackeray, HJS etc. but when the crunch time will come, some convenient excuse will be found to back out from punishing/ banning them. Can crime be contained in such a society where society has come to ‘tolerate’ the selective inaction of the state apparatus? Can such crimes be eradicated without applying similar yardsticks to all of them? And finally can we prevent acts of terror by following these double standards?