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Gujarat viewed from a Hindu angle
By Balraj Puri
|Jammu: Much has been said and written about the fate of Muslims in Gujarat and reaction of the Muslims elsewhere to that. A view of Gujarat from the Hindu angle has perhaps not been fully projected.
One need not be reminded of the questions raised in this context. What is so special about Gujarat? Is it its first experience with Hindi-Muslim riots? Haven't people been burnt alive, children cut into pieces and women raped in riots elsewhere? What are the bonafides of those who are condemning riots in Gujarat? Why did they remain silent over Godhra, where were they when Sikhs were killed in 1984 and Hindus were being killed in Kashmir?
As far as bonafides are concerned, none of these questions apply to me personally. But I am appalled by the underlying presumption of such questions viz one is entitled to criticise the wrongs committed by members of one's community only if he/she had criticised similar wrongs committed by the members of the other community. Why should I compete with any other communities in the number of rapists and child killers?
If sensitive Hindus share a sense of shame and despair over degeneration, dehumanisation and brutalisation of Hindu mobs, how is it relevant to whether they had condemned or not condemned the madness of mobs of other communities..
However, the fact is that every Muslim of any consequences, apart from the secular or "pseudo-secular" Hindus had the conscience and wisdom to condemn the carnage of Godhra and of Kaluchak in strongest terms. But aren't there some Hindus — who can be easily identified — whose condemnation is confined to Godhra and any where else where Hindus have been killed and not to the killings of, say, innocent Muslims and Christians? Do they want to prove that Hindu community can grow without conscience and wisdom? Or they believe murder of innocent non-Hindus adds to the strength of Hinduism?
Fortunately overwhelming majority of Hindus of the entire country have unambiguously demonstrated that they would not allow moral, spiritual and intellectual degeneration of the community to that level. Almost the entire Hindu intelligentsia, entire media — print and electronic —, all political parties led by Hindus, including allies of the BJP and few voices of conscience even within that party, and members of National Human Rights Commission, all Hindus, have condemned the pogrom of Muslims that the Gujarat government unleashed. In it they are joined by international moral intellectual and political forces, media and democratic governments.
What has worried even a Hindu like Uma Bharati is that "inhuman rape and murders of our mothers and sisters and brutal slaying of children has destroyed the image of Hindus being peaceful and tolerant". Gujarat has damaged Hindu image and Hindu character because it has added new murderers and new rapists to the community.
What should further alarm Hindus is that it is adding a new tribe of cowards to the community. After all child of the other community is killed because the killer is afraid that he would be a threat when he grows up.
Such Hindus must be of a strange pathological type who belong to over eighty percent majority of the country which controls almost all levers of power including political power — without a single Muslim member in the cabinet — all senior posts in the armed forces and civil administration, chambers of Indian Industries and so on.
A community that never lost its self-confidence and refused to be converted — except a minority of less than 15 per cent — during the so called 800 years of the Muslim rule —, a community that could not be converted to Christianity — except less than 2.5% — during two hundred years of the rule of Britishers, who happened to be Christians, has today amongst some people who are gripped with a sense of fear that the tiny powerless minorities would some day threaten the existence of the majority of today.
In fact they must be suffering from a terrible inferiority complex vis a vis semitic religions that they are trying to imitate in what they imagine to be their strong points. They want to monolithise and homogenise Hindus and inculcate in then a temper of hatred, intolerance and violence because they believe these are the characteristics of Islam. They want to create Mecca at Ayodhya and project Ram to the level of the Prophet of Islam.
Thus they imitate some symbolic characteristics of Islam but give up some essential characteristics of Hinduism. It never had a Mecca least of all at Ayodhya. Ram is not the sole symbol of Hinduism. It has survived for thousands of years as a combination of beliefs because of its amorphous and evolutionary character. It has influenced and was open to influences by diverse faiths.
Perhaps most glorious period of Hinduism was that of 15th and 16th centuries when through a mighty socio-spiritual upsurge of what are called backward classes, it broke the shackles of ritualist practices and socio-religious monopoly of the elite. Bhakti saints spread the spiritual message through the language of the people and created a renaissance of literature and learning.
Nobody can doubt the influence of Islam on this renaissance. Nor can anybody doubt that Islam acquired its most creative and cosmopolitan role due to its interaction with Indian philosophies and Bhakti saints.
It is this unique tradition of Hinduism which today stands threatened from what appears to be a fringe phenomenon within its fold.
It is realisation of the magnitude and dimension of this threat and not mere love for Muslims that has motivated bulk of the Hindus to protest against instigation, help, connivance or helplessness of the Modi government over the beastly drama enacted in Gujarat. Gandhi was shot dead for his sympathy for Muslims. But it was his martyrdom that put a new life to the body and soul of Hinduism. Hindus were never so united as they were under the leadership of the Mahatma who happened to be a friend of the Muslims. Thus friendship with the Muslims and not enmity with them can ensure Hindu unity. Though logic is simple, it is often not easily understood. A community that used hatred against any other community as a means to unite itself is eventually consumed by it. Its members develop a mindset of hatred which is equally directed against those members who disagree with them. Look at the way some of the extremist Hindus are threatening and displaying hatred against moderate Hindus.
Further, the nation as a whole has suffered on many accounts due to prolonged Gujarat tragedy. It was never diplomatically so isolated as on this issue. Its prestige as a leading secular democracy of the world has been badly damaged. One of the important planks of India's conflict with Pakistan is ideological. Trouble makers in Gujarat attempted to weaken its ideological and diplomatic fronts against Pakistan. India's fight against what it calls terrorist brand of Islam loses its justification when it fails to control terrorist brand of Hinduism.
The state and society should indeed be strong enough to deal with those who have committed excesses. There is no reason to be less ruthless in dealing with them if the victims are Hindus. But if the Hindus target innocent members of the community elsewhere to which the criminals belonged, it is a sign of weakness and fatal to the body and soul of Hinduism. q
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