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EDITORIAL: 1-15 November 2002

Ominous Portent

Over the last few months we have witnessed a relentless drive by Hindutva votaries to push the country into a civil war as the government at Centre led by similar Hindutva votaries prefers to look the other way.

Men like Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, and Parveen Togadia hold the law of the land in contempt. This band of reckless people publicly justifies having broken the Babri Masjid and the law of the land. They openly say they care two hoots for the law.

Ashok Singhal justifies the Gujarat carnage, Parveen Togadia issues a call for civil war; Giriraj Kishore justifies the lynching of Dalits in Haryana (he quotes Hindu scripture saying, "the life of a cow is more precious than a man’s").

Bal Thackeray openly incites violence against Muslims with impunity. Leaders of RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and myriad other Hindutva outfits spew anti-Muslim, anti-Christian venom without the slightest fear of law.

Amidst all this one wonders where has the state gone. Possibly, out on a sabbatical. The state does not react even to the most serious provocation. When Bal Thackeray publicly cocked a snook at the law in Mumbai last fortnight, the state government, instead of taking action, announced that it would write to the Centre complaining about Thackeray. Does that mean that law and order is no longer a state subject?

There are quite a few simple-minded people still around who believe that the Centre would reprimand Thackeray. Don’t they know that Shiv Sena is part of the NDA coalition that forms the government at Centre? Will Mr Vajpayee be willing to take on the bully who is carrying him on his shoulders?

For the same reasons that the NDA government at Centre cannot act against Shiv Sena, it cannot move against Singhal, Togadia and Co. Is it not a fact that BJP has come to power with the support of these lawless people? This being the case, how do we expect that a BJP-led government will discipline them?

Men like Singhal and Togadia are the backbone of the Ayodhya movement, which has catapulted BJP to power. Now that these men demand their pound of flesh in increasingly raucous voices, the government at the Centre has no resort left but to acquiesce.

As late as October 22, one VHP luminary threatened Christians publicly that a massacre would follow if they did not heed their advice while another VHP stalwart ordered Muslims to delete 23 verses from the Quran. As the government at Centre is run by their own men, Sangh leaders are assured of immunity.

When an acharya (in Sanskrit, a great scholar) says in the national capital soon after the murder of five Dalits that “a cow’s life is more precious than a man’s” as per the scriptures, he sends a clear message to the VHP foot soldiers that it is all right to kill people in the name of cow protection.

Of late, such venom has filled the air so heavily that minorities have begun to worry about the shape of things to come. Neena Vyas made a trenchant remark in the Hindu last fortnight: “There is no doubt that the VHP... are protected by being part of the Sangh Parivar. As some of their leaders are openly saying: ‘Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Advani owe their jobs to us’.”

But where will all this lead the country to? To an abyss of anarchy, of course. The secular parties, and civil society at large, seem to have been stricken by a paralysis of will. The air is thick with forebodings of terrible things waiting to happen. WB Yeats’ lines come to mind at such moments:
Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold 
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world
The best lack all conviction
The worst are full of passionate intensity.

Evil men have held the country hostage. "The best lack all conviction", and men like Togadia and Singhal are convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that India’s empancipation lies in a countrywide pogrom against Muslims and Christians. God Save India.
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