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Published in the 1-15 Mar 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind at the service of Hindutva? 
By Shamsul Islam

The editorial in the Hindi organ of the RSS Panchjanya ('Initiative of Dialogue', February 1, 2004) was first to uncover the series of secret parleys taking place between the RSS and Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind (JUH). It disclosed that such meetings were in fact continuing for last one and half years. The editorial went on to disclose: "The series of meetings have not been confined to Delhi only. In states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jammu-Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana etc. such dialogues have taken place." It seems that formal resolutions subscribing to the Hindutva agenda were passed after the conclusion of each of these meetings as Panchjanya discloses: "During these dialogues taking place throughout the country such resolutions were jointly passed which underline the honour of Bharat. Resolutions like ban on cow-slaughter, forceful suppression of terrorism, to be vocal against false secular elements, and not indulging in any anti-national activity were passed."

After this exposure the JUH has justified these secret talks by arguing that this exercise was the need of the hour to clear misunderstandings between Hindus and Muslims. Interestingly, JUH in order to justify secret talks with the RSS top brass reproduced an old editorial ('Purify Hearts' in the weekly Aljamiat February 6-12, 2004) from its now defunct organ Daily Aljamiat( [later resurrected as a weekly] of July 13, 1949. 

After this exposure the JUH has justified these secret talks by arguing that this exercise was the need of the hour to clear misunderstandings between Hindus and Muslims. Interestingly, JUH in order to justify secret talks with the RSS top brass reproduced an old editorial ('Purify Hearts' in the weekly Aljamiat February 6-12, 2004) from its now defunct organ Daily Aljamiat( [later resurrected as a weekly] of July 13, 1949. This editorial in the post-Partition days pleaded for rapprochement between ordinary Hindus and Muslims who fed by ordinary propaganda mistrusted each other. This editorial originally intended to make common Hindus aware of the pitfalls of falling prey to the propaganda of communal organizations like the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha against Muslims was now being used by the JUH top brass to enter into unprincipled deals with the same Hindu communal elements. The whole thrust of the JUH's defence of these talks has been that there are genuine misgivings of the RSS about Muslims and these talks are a must for clearing all misgivings.

It was soon apparent that the RSS was not willing to make any change in its anti-minority stances whereas JUH was going out of the way to oblige the RSS in securing legitimacy for its pet agenda. This kind of knee-jerk response from JUH was clearly visible in a 'Fatwa' decreed by Darul Uloom Deoband and sponsored by it against cow-slaughter on February 1. This 'Fatwa' immensely helped the RSS propaganda that Muslims were the real culprits behind beef-eating and that the beef-eating had started with the arrival of Muslims. It sidetracked the issue that Aryans were fond of beef as history has recorded and presently "Hindu" Dalits who needed it as a cheap food full of proteins mainly consumed it. The Ulema who were made to resurrect this 13 year old "Fatwa" decreeing that "the law of the land should not be violated and peace should be maintained in the country" immensely helped the RSS propaganda that Muslims were greatly indulging in cow slaughter. The sense of joy of the top brass of the RSS that now Muslims were seeing reason was clearly visible in Pravin Togadia's statement when reacting to the "Fatwa" he said (Organizer, February 15, 2004) that "such a bold step has not been taken during the last one thousand years". It further strengthened the RSS thesis that treatments like the Gujarat Carnage 2002 were the real solutions that would bring Muslim leadership to its senses (or knees). JUH was simply helping the RSS in its fascist game of Hindutva.

It did not take long to realize how the RSS was willing to address the apprehensions of Muslims. On February 15, VHP organized a Dharma Sabha in the Andheri Deori village of Beawar region of Rajasthan in which 586 Muslim families were converted to Hinduism. The significance attached to this programme of the RSS can be gauged from the fact that a senior leader of the RSS Ashok Singhal personally presented 'tulsi' garlands and Ramcharitmanas to 3000 erstwhile Muslims admitting them into Hindu fold. In another state, MP, run by a senior 'Sadhvi' of the RSS, Uma Bharti, two cities with substantial Muslim and Dalit populations, Maheshwar and Amarkantak were declared to be totally free of eggs, meat and fish. Ironically, the day (January 14) JUH leaders were entertaining the RSS top brass including its supremo KS Sudarshan in a Delhi 5-star hotel as part of the dialogue process between Hindus and Muslims, the RSS goons were making Jhabua, a tribal district in MP totally Christian free. According to a report in a prominent English fortnightly (Frontline, February 27, 2004) "from January 14 to 17, the minorities were systematically targeted-their homes were burnt, their property was looted and vandalized and their religious effects desecrated-with the primary objective of teaching the Christian community a lesson. As the looters ran amok, raising slogans of 'Jai Shri Ram', the police, in most cases, just stood watching."

It is really unfortunate that the JUH leadership is trying to build bridges with a blatant Hindu fascist organization at a time when it is singling out the second largest minority of India, the Christians as Hindutva's prime target. The spineless JUH leadership seems to have forgotten that it was not long ago that Muslims were the targets. Hindutva gang's strategy is very simple and working fine. Cleanse one minority at a time. Do we need to remind the JUH of the prophetic lines of a poem of Martin Niemoler, a German Christian priest that if you keep quiet when others are being persecuted, your turn may not be far away? "In Germany the Nazis came first for the Communists/and I did not speak because I was not a Communist/Then they came for the Jews/And I did not speak as I was not a Jew/Then they came for the trade unions/And I did not speak up because I was not a trade unionist/Then they came for the Catholics/And I was a Protestant and so I did not speak up/Then they came for me/And by that time there was no one left to speak for me." Niemoler wrote these lines in the face of the Nazi (darlings of the RSS) persecution between the Two World Wars.

Shockingly, the JUH is continuing with parleys with an organization headed by a Hindu fanatic, KS Sudarshan who is known for his zeal of exonerating and honouring self confessed murderer of innocent Muslims. It is really unfortunate if the JUH leadership does not know that Sudarshan wrote a laudatory preface to an autobiography of an RSS pracharak (preacher or whole timer), Krishna Gopal Rastogi who boasted of killing a Muslim woman in the post-Partition riots. Rastogi in his autobiography, Pracharak Jiwan (Life of Preacher) while naratting an incident in which he personally led a mob of armed Hindus against Muslims in Kaliar town situated between Roorkee and Hardwar stated without any remorse: "It was an old locality inhabited by the Muslims. They, armed with daggers, spears, guns were fully prepared to meet any situation. When I learnt of their intentions to attack some Hindu areas, I organized 250 people including some known gangsters and raided Kaliar. Then a strange thing happened. While we had been killing men in one of the houses, we spotted a very beautiful young girl. The assailants led by me were instantly enamoured. They even started fighting among themselves to take possession of the girl. I faced an extremely awkward situation and did not know what to do. I tried my best to get the assailants to focus on real issues. I abused and threatened them but they would not listen to me. And suddenly the solution came. The girl was after all causing this trouble and had to be eliminated. I took my gun and shot her. She died. My associates were shocked and returned to the work. Though it was against our principle to assault a woman, but it was done in an emergency and I still regret it." This autobiography was released with a laudatory preface by KS Sudarshan. Murli Manohar Joshi appointed Rastogi in two committees of the HRD Ministry despite protests from more than 50 MPs.

It is alleged that sudden love of the JUH for the RSS is the outcome of the promise of largesse and favours to the pliable Muslim leaders by the pro-RSS government at the Centre. The JUH depended largely on governmental funds for its activities and with Congress out of power for a long time, it needs new financiers even if they hail from the Hindutva ranks. The JUH leadership, of course, knows the golden rule that funds come with strings. It is naturally more than willing to oblige.
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