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What is the ‘National Mainstream,’ questions senior IPS officer
By M. J. Akhter, Lucknow

What is the ‘national mainstream’? Precisely the question most often perturbing not only Muslims to whom it is posed, but also to the communal forces belonging to the majority, as they were unable to reply when encountered to define what actually is the much-touted ‘national mainstream.’ And, this question got more merit and currency when asked by a person who is a senior IPS officer.

‘The forces of Hindutva have been raising the question of a ‘national mainstream’ over the few decades. These forces want Indian Muslims to merge with the national mainstream. But what is this national mainstream? Ask Mr. Hoshiar Singh Balwariya, a 1976- batch IPS officer of U.P cadre in his article on ‘Communalism and Communal Violence, Casteism and Caste conflicts’ which had appeared in the latest issue of ‘Uttar Pradesh Police Patrika,’ an official magazine of the U.P. Police.

‘These forces have no concrete answer to this question’, the police officer himself replies to this maligning question, adding that ‘if the mainstream is a Hindu Mainstream, then which Hindu mainstream is it? The Brahmin mainstream or Shudra mainstream or the Bengali Hindu mainstream or the Punjabi Hindu mainstream. All the contradictions that can possibly exist in a pluralistic society are to be found in Hindu and Indian society.’

Discussing ‘the myth and the reality’ about ‘who initiates riots,’ the IG rank police officer presently attached to Dr BR Ambedkar U.P. Police Academy, Moradabad, says that the majority community, or Hindus, believe that it is the Muslims who start the riots and it is the Hindus who suffer more in the course of rioting. The average Hindu is convinced that a Hindu is by nature liberal, spiritual, tolerant and non-violent. As opposed to this, Muslims are by nature cruel, violent, treacherous and fanatic. Once both these formulations have become a part of Hindu psychology it is not difficult for a large number of Hindus to believe that it is Muslims who start riots and that mostly Hindus suffer in the riots.

A glance at the chart given below is sufficient to demonstrate the extent of the misconception harboured by Hindus regarding the religion of those killed in violence:

Year

No of incidents

Killed

Total

   

Hindu

Muslims

 

1968

346

24

99

133

1969

519

66

558

674

1970

521

68

176

298

1971

321

38

65

103

1972

210

21

45

70

1973

242

26

45

72

1974

248

26

61

87

1975

205

11

22

33

1976

169

20

19

39

1977

188

12

24

36

1978

219

51

56

108

1979

304

80

150

261

1980

427

87

278

375

Total

3949

530

1598

228

Source: Law and Order: Readings and Cases, 
Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy of Administration, Mussoorie.



It would also be relevant to have a look at figure of Hindus and Muslims killed in major communal riots during the past few years. As per the figure available with Combating communal Conflicts, a book written by Mr. V. N. Rai, also a U.P cadre IPS officer and formerly IG, Border Security Force (BSF), a total of 251 persons had been killed in the five riots occurred in Aligarh (twice), Firozabad , Moradabad and Meerut. Of them, only 34 were Hindus, 210 Muslims while seven were went unidentified.

‘Both the figure given above make it amply clear that except in some minor exceptions, many more

Muslims than Hindus have been killed in communal violence,’ Mr. Balwariya points out.

About Record of Police Impartiality, Mr Balwariya says that Indian society would appear to be badly divided on the role and the concept of neutrality of the police during communal strife. Different segments of society view the impartial intervention of police in a riot in different ways. For an average Muslim, the police during communal riot is more like an enemy than a friend and shows distrust towards police whereas an average Hindu considers police as a reliable friend. Thus lack of faith in the state itself. In Uttar Pradesh towns, Muslims have always been resisting the deployment of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), a para-military force due to its communal bias.

Maintaining that during the last few decades, society has been affected by the communal virus on a very large scale and it is very natural that the police has also got infected, the officer who was denied promotion to the IG rank on flimsy ground says that ….. ‘ the massacre of the Sikhs after the assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi would not have been possible if the police in various towns of Uttar Pradesh had not displayed deliberate negligence. At many places, human rights organizations have accused the police of siding with the rioters. 

The second example can be quoted from the Babri Mosque demolition on 6 December 6 1992 when rioters demolished the disputed structure despite the Court’s status quo orders and police remained a mute spectator. This incident created large scale communal violence not only in Uttar Pradesh state but throughout the country. Thus communal bias in police actions during communal violence has often surfaced to the ground.

The police officer warns that ‘…. If the growing communalization is not checked effectively, the very edifice on which our leaders have dreamt of creating a just, secular and forward looking society will collapse.
q

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