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Hate speech against Indian Muslims goes unpunished

New Delhi: President of Congress Party Intellectuals Cell Syed Shamim Hashmi demanded “immediate arrest” of International President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Ashok Singhal on September 5, for inciting “genocidal violence” against Muslims.

In a statement issued in the wake of Singhal’s anti-Muslim hate speech former Member of Parliament and Congress leader Hashmi said that by now Singhal should have been in jail for saying publicly “we will repeat the Gujarat experiment against Muslims all over India.”

Singhal, whose VHP is part of the “Sangh family” of myriad organisations, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules Gujarat and heads the ruling coalition at Centre, had also said in his speech earlier this week in Punjab state that Muslims deserved the genocidal attack in Gujarat.

“People say I praise Gujarat. Yes I do.” He gloated over how "whole villages had been emptied of Islam" within days and how refugee camps swelled with Muslims.

Singhal has gone scot free despite repeated hate speech as do most of his colleagues of VHP, BJP and allied organisations. Of late their impunity has grown because their people have been in power at Centre and in some states, which is detrimental to secular democracy and security of Muslims and Christians.

The Congress Party has launched a campaign to halt hate speech against fellow citizens. Congress spokesman Anand Sharma has demanded Singhal’s arrest along with that of other leaders. Senior Congress leader Balram Jhakar said this fascist maniac must be put behind bars for his speech which could potentially create nationwide strife. Jhakar said VHP leaders must be put in jail for their anti-national acts.

The influential Hindustan Times in one of its edits Saturday, September 5, wondered how come men like Singhal roam free while others are jailed under harsh anti-terrorist laws for far lighter offences, “Ashok Singhal has ceased to be a mere nuisance factor. He is a threat to any democratic, secular, modern society". The leader writer wondered” …what stops the NDA government from booking this man who is openly inciting mob violence against Indian citizens?”

Though the Hindustan Times has "wondered" over the ruling coalition at Centre, National Democratic Alliance (NDA), allowing Hindu nationalists like Singhal to do as they please, there is nothing much to wonder about here. These people are allowed free-play because the ruling BJP shares its ideology with them and is a self-proclaimed part of Sangh family of VHP-RSS-BJP-Bajrang Dal etc.

A prominent Urdu daily published from Delhi and Lucknow, Qaumi Awaz, in its editorial on September 5, said that Singhal was a self-proclaimed follower of Hitler. (The entire Sangh family, including BJP lionises Hitler.) “This man must be crushed like Hitler to prevent the rise of Nazism,” the strongly-worded editorial said.

By now Singhal should have been jailed, but we know the present government would not do that. “Now is the time for civil society to rise against this menace”, the Qaumi Awaz wrote.

Supported by its Parivar (family) organisation BJP, which holds power at Centre and in some states, VHP remains unrepentant, despite widespread condemnation. Central Secretary of VHP Mohan Joshi said at a press conference in Delhi on September 4, that the special protection provided in the Indian Constitution to minorities should be done away with.

This is an idea which the BJP too believes in, although it is a bit hesitant in saying it publicly. Last month India’s Solicitor General Harish Salve, on BJP leaders’ orders told the Supreme Court of India that the minorities constitutional rights to establish their own educational institutions should be subjected to curbs. This move of the Centre was very much in line with the anti-minority ideas of VHP.

Hindu nationalist organisations like VHP and BJP are against India’s secular Constitution also. They want a new Constitution, shorn of all guarantees to minorities, but cannot muster enough support in Parliament for this venture. Failing that, they formed a Constitution Review Commission 2000, which has not supported their ideas. The secular ethos of the country and independence of press, judiciary and other constitutional entities thwarts Hindu fascist plans for the country.

Despite a thriving democracy, the justice dispensing system, however, has not always been successful in stopping fascist thuggery. There is no proper law against genocide or genocide-like crimes. Hence it is very difficult to book criminals against humanity, though there are certain other laws under which such people can be prosecuted.

Fascists like Singhal are able to hoodwink the Indian state taking advantage of its weaknesses. The fact that like-minded people are in power at Centre also makes things easier for them.

¯ MG Correspondent

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