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Gandhi, not Godse, shall rule the heart of our countrymen

The RSS ultimatum has been issued in the context of the genocide, ethnic cleansing and terrorism unleashed in Gujarat with the full collusion and support of the powers that be. At the same time the Resolution seeks to ‘alert’ the Hindus to the threat of Muslim militancy, says Syed Shahabuddin 

Vajpayeeji, you identify terrorism with Islam. Are all terrorists all over the world Muslims? Are the terrorists in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Spain, Ireland, Colombia, to name a few, Muslims? And, even in India, do the Assamiya, Naga, Metei, the Ranbir Sena, the PWG, MCC militants profess Islam? Is the Bajrang Dal which made a habit of terrorizing artists and film-makers, which attacked the Orissa Assembly a Muslim organization? Is the Vishwa Hindu Parishad which brought down the Babari Masjid in 1992, which has written a new chapter, on its recent exploits in Gujarat, with the blood of the innocent men, women and children, a Muslim organization?

  In line with the RSS ultimatum to Muslims to ‘obey or else’ and the BJP endorsement of the Modi line, you have voluntarily dropped your mask and exposed your real self before the world. This you did, not only out of your loyalty to the philosophy and ideology of the RSS and your love for the organization which you call your mother. This you did out of political compulsion to keep yourself in power and to preside over the implementation of the Game Plan of the RSS. 

After half a century, the RSS has come to the conclusion, specially after the electoral setbacks the BJP has suffered since 1998, that it cannot realize its dream of Hindu Rashtra through democratic means. So it has adopted a three fold strategy: incite the Hindus by raising emotional issues – Pakistan, ISI, Masjids and Madarsas, Jihad etc., into the mode of distrust and suspicion, revenge and violence, saffronise the security forces, enact Ahmedabads, demoralize the Muslims into subservience and also to provoke some stupid Muslims into retaliation. The Parivar can then discard the veneer of democracy, take over power to establish order, repeal the Constitution, declare India a Hindu Rashtra, in the name of national security and stability!

But this Game Plan will never succeed because the vast majority of the people of this country are not prepared to forsake their faith in Democracy, their commitment to Secularism, their love for peace and their respect for justice. The long-deprived Hindu masses, who are today struggling to become subjects of History, know that they are your real target. They understand the real significance of your tactics of Muslim-baiting and your objective of Brahminical dominance.

Vajpayeeji, your attack on Islam and Muslims has shocked the entire world and brought you down from the high pedestal. But for many people who know you better it did not come as a surprise. A senior Hindu journalist called me stupid when I expressed my shock and said that no one should have ever been fooled by your mask of liberalism, secularism and cosmopolitanism, given your life-long association with the Sangh Parivar, your frequent pledges of commitment to its ideology and to the thoughts of Golwalkar. Indeed, he added, the Sangh Parivar functions like an orchestra in which every one has an assigned role.

Vajpayeeji, you have been clever enough or, shall I say, kind enough to cover your track by postulating two sets of Muslims: those who are peace-loving and those who are militants. Yes, there are militant Muslims but aren’t there militant Hindus, militant Christians, militant Sikhs? But you are silent on the level of militancy among the Muslim Indians. Are you aware, Vajpayeeji, that not a singal Muslim Indian is known to have responded to Osama bin Laden’s call and joined his outfit?

Vajpayeeji, you identify terrorism with Islam. Are all terrorists all over the world Muslims? Are the terrorists in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Spain, Ireland, Colombia, to name a few, Muslims? And, even in India, do the Assamiya, Naga, Metei, the Ranbir Sena, the PWG, MCC militants profess Islam? Is the Bajrang Dal which made a habit of terrorizing artists and film-makers, which attacked the Orissa Assembly a Muslim organization? Is the Vishwa Hindu Parishad which brought down the Babari Masjid in 1992, which has written a new chapter, on its recent exploits in Gujarat, with the blood of the innocent men, women and children, a Muslim organization?

No, Vajpayeeji, howsoever you define fundamentalists and fanatics you find them operating in the name of every religion. I may add that there are more Hindu fundamentalists and fanatics in India than of all other religions put together, simply because the Hindus constitute 80% of our population!

Continuing with your vilification of Islam and demonisation of Muslims, you accuse Muslims all over the world and in history with propagating their faith with violence. Muslims are used to this lie. May I point out, Vajpayeeji, that the proportion of Muslims in the regions of our country which were under Muslim rule for centuries is less than 20%, and it is higher in regions like Malabar which never came under Muslim rule or in Assam, or what is now Bangladesh, which were under Muslim rule for much shorter periods? Indonesia is almost 100% Muslim though it was never militarily conquered by the Muslims. Parts of the Middle East which have been under Muslim rule for 1400 years until recently were Muslim-minority areas. And Spain under Muslim rule for 700 years never became a Muslim majority country! May I request you to make an objective study of the history and geography of Islam? And may I remind you, Vajpayeeji, that Islam envisages a multi-religious world and that Islam does not allow any coercion in matters of faith?

You have followed Modi and the RSS in postulating Godhra as the cause of Gujarat. But how do you justify the liquidation of innocent Muslims of Gujarat all over the State in retaliatory killings? Don’t you see, Vajpayeeji, the immorality of the principle you are enunciating? If innocent citizens can be punished for the ‘crimes’ of their co-religionists elsewhere (or for the ‘sins’ of their ancestors), it may set into motion an ever-expanding spiral of violence, which can engulf the whole country, nay, the whole world. Do you want the Hindus and the Muslims to be at each other’s throats to the end of time, all over the world? 

As for Jihad, you see the upsurge of the Palestinians, the Chechens and the Kosovars as ‘Jihad’ but you close your eyes to state terrorism and genocide. Islam allows use of measured violence in self-defence, individual or collective, and against those who break agreements. But it prohibits the killing of even one innocent person. That is why the Muslims in Gujarat and outside, in India or abroad, rejected Modi’s logic of ‘provocation’ and ‘reaction’ with the contempt it deserves. There was no retaliation. And before you embraced his vicious, heartless logic, didn’t you see what seeds of poison you are sowing?

Vajpayeeji, you have referred to your kindness in ‘we’ permitting Muslims to perform Namaz? If they enjoy freedom of religion, is it by the grace of the Sangh Parivar or because the Constitution lists it as a fundamental right. 

And who are ‘we’? Is India the country of the Hindus in which non-Hindus live by your grace? Did only Hindus become free in 1947 or all the people of India? And whose Prime Minister are you, of India or only of Hindu India, of all its citizens or only of its Hindu citizens? It is this mindset, nurtured by the RSS, shared by men like Modi, which makes the graduates of the RSS, particularly when they hold public office, totally insensitive to the sufferings of the non-Hindus and negligent of their duties towards the latter.

And, Vajpayeeji, Muslim Indians do not want your intervention in their religious institutions, even to ‘upgrade’ and ‘modernize’ and ‘vocationalise’ them. They understand both your misapprehensions as well as your motives. If you are indeed keen to upgrade the educational status of the deprived Muslim community, as you should be, if you regard yourself as the Prime Minister of all Indians, you should instruct your Government to open schools in Muslim concentration villages and mahallas, in accordance with the national norms. And if you find that any Madrasa or, for that matter any Masjid, any Mudarris or Imam, is committing an unlawful act, with or without the support of the omnipotent ISI, why aren’t your arms long and strong enough to pull him out and place him in the dock?

You have tried to define Secularism in a restrictive manner which suits you. In the Indian context, secularism is not anti-religion but it implies that the secular state recognizes the institution of religion but does not identify itself with any religion, that it does not discriminate among its citizens on the basis of the religion they profess, that it protects religious groups which form a minority at any level and that in situations of conflict at the interface, it maintains equidistance and neutrality and remains non-aligned. Can you say, with a hand on your heart, that Modi’s Gujarat passes the test of secularism? For Modi, and, now it looks, for you, secularism is another label for Hindu dominance. And even your reading of history is so selective. You completely ignore the centuries long conflict of attrition between rival Hindu sects and between Hinduism and Buddhism throughout the length and breadth of the country.

Vajpayeeji, Muslims no longer regard you as genuinely secular. They regard you as the star performer in the theatre of the absurd to which you have reduced our Republic. All the 4 years you have in power, you have given the freedom of the land to your Sangh Parivar and its spokesmen and pamphleteers to demonise Islam, to vilify Muslims, to insult the Holy Prophet, to tear and burn their Holy Book, to run down their institutions, to sow distrust and suspicion against them, to question their loyalty to the State, to identify them with terrorism, to demolish their Masjids and shrines (in Gujarat alone your followers have demolished or damaged, and converted into temples, more than 500 Masjids, Mazars and Dargahs) to preach the anti-gospel of revenge, to saffronise education so as to reduce their enrollment and though all these create a permanent sense of siege and insecurity in their mind. And you have done next to nothing for their education and economic development, for their due representation in the power structure (you have one Muslim MP whom you made a Minister and recently you gave one ticket to a Muslim in UP, who lost) or due share in public employment. But they have never asked you for any special indulgence, nor do they demand anything beyond what the Constitution grants to them, individually as citizens and collectively as an identifiable religious group.

It is not the Muslims but you who have adopted double standards. You dismiss Rabri Devi’s Government for some killings and you refuse to dismiss Narendra Modi for a holocaust! You ban SIMI but you embrace VHP and Bajrang Dal.

And instead of dismissing him, you advise Narendra Modi to seek dissolution and go for fresh elections. Vajpayeeji, can any election held in the present state of fear, suspicion and insecurity be free and fair? Can a democratic election, within the letter and spirit of the Constitution be held in Gujarat unless life becomes normal, unless people are free to walk in the streets, unless they feel safe in their homes, unless students can go to their schools and take examinations, unless vendors can sell their wares, unless shopkeepers can open their shops. Time and gain you have spoken against vote bank politics. Now you ask for elections in Gujarat, after you have erected the edifice of your vote bank in Gujarat with the mortar of human bones and blood. Vajpayeeji, please do not reduce democracy to an exercise in cynicism and to an immoral hunger for power.

The vast majority of the common people everywhere want to live in peace and fraternize with their neighbours; they do not kill others or rape women or commit atrocities against children, nor do they loot homes and shops or commit arson? In any civilized society the government and its coercive arm, the security forces, exist to save the common people from those who do such irrespective of their identity. Unfortunately, sometime in some places, the governments and their police, for reasons of their own, join hands with the killers or do not restrain them. That is when governments turn against a section of their own citizens, like Hitler did, with a view to liquidate them, to demoralize them or to assimilate them or to force them down the economic or social ladder, when governments organise ethnic cleansing as in Yugoslavia, when they engage in genocidal killing as in Rwanda. Modi’s Gujarat was reminiscent of Hitler’s Germany, Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

Our great nation will survive Ahmedabads, will outlive Modis. Gandhi not Godse, Ram not Ravana, Krishna not Kans, Kabir not Golwalkar, will rule the hearts of our countrymen. The symphony of love and not the cacophony of hatred will resound through our land.

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