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Creating chasm, not “building bridges” 

The painstaking way Prafull Goradia, one of the front ranking BJP intellectuals, has collected material for his latest book Hindu Masjids (Contemporary Tragett Prafull Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 346 pp, Rs. 480), it can ordinarily be called a labour of love. Unfortunately, as the motive for collection of the material is to press the Sangh Parivar's propaganda about Muslims demolishing temples, it can only be called a labour of hate.

Though one of his reviewers, the venerable senior journalist MV Kamath has hinted that “more than any secularist, he is profoundly concerned with the building of bridges between Hindus and Muslims”, it is beyond common imagination to interpret the whole project other than as an exercise to incite the emotions of Hindus against Muslims. The book is addressed to Hindus rather than to Muslims, as Kamath wrongly makes it out to be. The whole basis of such an exercise of apportioning blame for any past atrocities, and then claiming the exercise as “building of bridges” is a very warped way of justifying the obsession to find trumped up flaws with the current generation of Muslim community, with the deliberate strategy to put them the defensive.The exercise is further flawed in as much as the Muslim citizens of India are not guilty of any sins of the past and they are not prepared to pay for such abominable behaviour of kings and emperors of the past nor are they going to put up with the threats emanating from the rulers of the present. Muslims are ready to condemn all such despicable acts of even irreverent nature to places of worship of all religions, let alone demolition of the kind that Sangh Parivar has carried out in this present age of much more enlightened social values. But to let mischief-makers derive any political advantage from such acts of denunciation in order to press unreasonable demands, can never be interpreted as “building of bridges”. The status quo as per the legal and constitutional position, should be the only correct basis to come to a common understanding on the matters of dispute, in the spirit of communal amity.

Another reason given out by Mr. Goradia for the compilation of the 386-page book, with pictures of the disputed Masjids and the supporting evidence from credible historical sources is his misconception that Muslims are not aware of such wrongs committed by rulers with Muslim names, and therefore they should be informed to stir their collective consciences. One wonders how many Muslims can afford to shell out Rs480 to buy the book just to know about Prafull Goradia’s reason behind building Hindu Masjids, aware as they are about Mr. Goradia's past record of “building bridges with the Muslims”. The groundwork that the worthy scholar has done is in reality to facilitate troublemakers in Sangh Parivar to garner new “facts” and go after Muslim blood.
After Babri demolition and Gujarat carnage, it is difficult for Muslims to trust the motives of Sangh Parivar. This is but natural. Mr. Goradia, if he is really committed to build bridges between Hindus and Muslims, should advise his elders to refrain from deriving political leverages from such communal divisive campaigns. 

The overwhelming silent majority is not with Hindutvadis, and the way they have come out publicly against BJP's Gujarat government and against the role played by VHP and Bajrang Dal rioters, is a resounding blow to the extremist elements and a shining proof before the world that neither India's secularism is dead, nor it requires any constitutional sanctions to abide by the highest norms of justice and fair play. It further confirms that Sangh Parivar does not fit into that secular milieu.

If temple and masjid demolitions are still being perpetuated, the fault would lie strictly with the respective governments. Common citizens cannot be blamed and subjected to collective guilt, in a criminal conspiracy that governments and ruling political parties indulge in to whip up their constituencies and nourish their vote banks. Overwhelming population of the sub-continent is not involved in such criminal activities. They are too hard pressed to make a living, and least interested in indulging in unproductive and destructive actions that compound their sufferings.

¯ Ghulam Muhammed
Mumbai

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