PUCL Bulletin, September 1998

Hindutvavadi and Communalism
By R. M. Pal

The thirst of kindred blood, my sons, detest,
Nor turn your force against your country's breast

- Dryden

Is there anyone in the BJP/RSS - now ruling the country - who will listen to this wise saying, and also tell the "fuhrer" of Maharasthra that the "fetwa" issued by him, and accepted by his puppet Chief Minister, to reject the Srikrishna Commission Report on the 1992-93 communal riots in Bombay (now renamed Mumbai) is fraught with dangerous consequences for the country? Will the Home Minister, Mr. L. K. Advani (who says that it is the prerogative of the Maharashtra government to reject the report thereby implicitly endorsing the action) will take a sober and responsive view so that the country does not fall apart?

Communalism of any variety, as we have often pointed out in the PUCL Bulletin, and as history tells us, gives rise to dissension, division, and then disintegration, apart from the worst form of human rights violation. Majority communalism is more heinous.

How can a man like Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee associate himself with one who is a law unto himself, Mr. Bal Thackeray. He had boldly declared, after the report was tabled in the Maharashtra Assembly, that he had written inflammatory articles in his paper, Samna; and what is more, that it was the right thing. And then came a smearing, even if disgraceful, attack on Justice Srikrishna, a practicing and devout Hindu, dubbing him pro-Muslim and anti-Hindu. All these, to put mildly, are alarming - their only result being to create dissension and division and alienating the minorities from the mainstream. (Incidentally, this is not the first time that Mr. Thackeray has attacked the judges).

Everything Mr. Thackeray had done and said is cancerous; and since he is not intellectually equipped to comprehend that he is contributing towards the disintegration of the country, there must be other sane elements, specially the law courts, to prevent him from engulfing the country into lawlessness. The minimum that Prime Minister Vajpayee must do is to see that the report is accepted by the Maharashtra government and the guilty brought to book. (The Prime Minister should know that even now the executioners of Hitler's orders are being brought to book and their victims are receiving compensation from the government of Germany).

The Srikrishna Commission has found the Shiv Sena guilty: "Shiv Sena and Sainiks took the lead in organising attacks on Muslims and their properties under the guidance of several leaders of Shiv Sena from the level of Shaka Pramukh to the Shiv Sena Pramukh Bal Thackeray who like a veteran general commanded his loyal Shiv Sainiks in organised attacks on Muslims". The Commission has also found a section of the police guilty: "The police firing resulted in the death of a large number of Muslims as compared to Hindus. … The built -in bias of police force against Muslims became pronounced. …" The Commission has also come down heavily on the then Congress Chief Minister.

The culture and climate of anti-minoritism, resulting in increasing intolerance, appears to have found a fertile soil elsewhere also in our country, namely neighbouring Gujarat. Those who plant the seeds couldn't care less about their fruits for the country at large. They have taken the law into their hands with the administration looking the other way. What is happening in Gujarat is unspeakably obnoxious. Even the Hindutvavadi Chief Minister was constrained to criticise his followers for the recent organised violent attacks on Christians and Muslims. He said, "I endorse whatever the Director General of Police had said about the activists of the VHP and Bajrang Dal workers". The DGP had held these two formations responsible for the violent incidents against the Christians and Muslims and said that "the VHP and Bajrang Dal workers are taking the law into their own hands, which could disturb the peace in the State". What are the activities referred to here?

Schools run by Christians and even churches have been under attack and copies of the Bible burnt publicly in Gujarat for some time now. The provocation is that Hindu children are converted to Christianity in a "clandestine" manner. If it were true, Hindu parents would have certainly made complaints to the police. There has not been any such complaint.

The charge against the Muslims is that Hindu girls are being forced to marry Muslims boys. And who is to decide whether it is out of free choice or under compulsion? Certainly not the law enforcing agencies/courts, or the parents, or even the girls themselves, but the Hindutvavadi forces whose word is final! (a corollary of this will be that adult girls and women will have no right to choose their husbands).

Look at the logic of the Hindutvavadi forces: If a Muslim girl elopes with a Hindu boy, she had done this at her own free will in order to get away from the rigours of Islamic practices of Islamic practices; if, however, a Hindu girl elopes with a Muslim boy, it is for "forced conversion".

In one case, in a village two Hindu girls eloped with Muslim boys; the Hindutvavadi cadres attacked and burnt all Muslim shops and houses, and the 69 Muslim families were forced to leave the village.

Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Advani have repeatedly declared from the house tops that their cadres are true "patriots". The recent happenings in Maharashtra and Gujarat speak a different language - - they are the potential destroyers of the country. One hopes, however, Mr. Vajpayee raises himself above narrow party politics. The RSS and other Hindutvavadi ideologues and activists may not know, but Mr. Vajpayee surely appreciates the fact that the minorities in our country cannot be thrown into the Arabian Sea - they are part and parcel of what is known as Indian culture and Indian civilisation, and their contributions have been no less significant than that of the dominant community. Let them not be treated like second class citizens as fancied by the unruly Hindutvavadis; they must have all the rights they are entitled to.

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