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EDITORIAL: 16-30 September 2002

Call to civil war

Vishwa Hindu Parishad international working president Ashok Singhal’s declaration last fortnight in Amritsar that the “successful experiment” carried out in Gujarat would be repeated all over India only confirms what everybody outside the Sangh has always been saying. That is, the Sangh’s myriad organisations — RSS, VHP, BJP, Bajrang Dal etc. — had carried out a well-designed, well-orchestrated experiment in ethnic cleansing in Gujarat. 

So far BJP leaders have been denying the truth, lying through their teeth. Within days of Singhal’s confession and threat, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee told a Saudi daily that the Sangh “had never been and would never be a Hindu fundamentalist movement.” What do we make of that?

The Sangh has been used to speaking with a forked tongue. Different organisations and individuals of this conglomerate make discordant noises to confuse the victim, while there is an internal agreement on intent and coordination of effort.

Despite the prime minister’s periodic disclaimers, the Sangh’s intent is quite clear. They are preparing for an all-out war against Muslims, and to a lesser extent, against Christians. The distribution of one million trishuls to RSS volunteers at the last Kumbh Mela, the highly publicised firearms training to more RSS volunteers in UP and other places, and periodic trishul diksha (literally, “trident convocation”) ceremonies of RSS in different areas of the country are an indication of the shape of things to come.

For those who are hard of hearing, the warning of VHP national secretary Ram Phal at Allahabad on August 28 should be audible enough. “If conversions are not stopped and the attitudes of politicians do not change, a civil war might break out in the country”, Phal said.

Muslims should not take comfort in the fact that Phal did not refer to them. They keep on changing their targets and victims frequently. One leader might threaten Muslims in Mumbai, while another, on the same day, could spew venom against Christians in Chandigarh. While Mumbai was burning in December 1992 after Babri Masjid demolition, graffiti appeared on walls announcing Aaj Kasai Kal Isai (Today it is Muslims, tomorrow it will be the turn of Christians). The respite for Muslims is illusory.

That the perpetrators of anti-Muslim crimes are unrepentant is clear from Ashok Singhal’s declaration: “People say I am proud of what happened in Gujarat. Yes, I am.” According to reports, he was fulminating before a "small, but appreciative" crowd of well-to-do people in Amritsar.

Fore days before that, on August 24, VHP international general secretary Parveen Togadia made a similar threat against Muslims in New Delhi. Addressing doctors, lawyers and civil servants, he said that the country was heading towards a civil war. He also praised the perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Gujarat.

What does all this portend? Nothing but a concerted move by the Sangh to push the country into a civil war, which would be less of a civil war (because it would be a one-sided attack) than ethnic cleansing and genocide of minorities. 

Singhal issued a similar threat against Muslims in June in Haridwar, but nobody seemed to take note. The irony of all this is that virtually toothless and comical organisations like SIMI got their leaders securely put behind bars under the draconian POTA without even so much as a provocative act or gesture. Even the Tamil politician Vaiko was booked under POTA for an offence only Jayalalithaa seems to know.

However, despite such grave provocation and clearly admitting their involvement in Gujarat (they are even proud of it) Sangh functionaries like Singhal, Togadia, Phal and hundreds of others are roaming free. Why? Because they are members of the same “family” the PM, the Dy PM and everybody else who matters at Centre belongs. As simple as that.

But what happens to rule of law? We have to understand that rule of law is the first casualty when a lawless, fascist organisation takes over the reins of state. With BJP in power at Centre its sister organisations and their leaders are free to act as they will. We could be in for very difficult days ahead.

The country itself might ultimately be threatened by these reckless people. A time would soon come when, after settling scores with the minorities, they would turn their attention to the majority — their liberals, their leftists, their centrist, the civil society itself. That is how the predecessors of the Sangh — the nazis and fascists — acted. That is how they would act. Ultimately, it is a dark moment not only for minorities, but everyone. It is everyone’s duty to sit up and take note.
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