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Posted Online on Tuesday 19, August 2005 23:55 IST

Answers to VHP's Questions to Secularists 

By Khalid Azam

The Milli Gazette (online edition)

Are you a Secularist? Then please answer these
questions:

1. There are nearly 52 Muslim countries. Show one Muslim country, which provides Haj subsidy.
Saudi Arabia itself subsidizes millions of dollars for Hajj every year to all Muslims of the world. Moreover, India's
Hajj subsidy is not given to either the Hajis or to Saudi Arabia, but to India's government owned airline Air India. By citing "Hajj Subsidy", Air India then extracts a number of concessions from the Saudi Airport authorities that are not available to other commercial airlines. Furthermore, while the Haj subsidy is about Rs. 110-148 crores [Rs 1.1 to 1.48 Billion] , the government spends Rs. 450 crores [Rs 4.5 Billion]  on the Hindu festival of Kumbh Mela. The Haj subsidy will dwarf if all the government subsidies to various Hindu rituals and festivals were taken into account. It is also a shame that the BJP (a non-secular, Hindutva party), while in power, failed to remove the Haj subsidy despite the lack of opposition to it from the Muslim community. Will the VHP support the removal of the Kumbh Mela subsidy?

2. Show one Muslim country where Hindus are extended the special rights that Muslims are accorded in India?
Malaysia. Hindus in Malaysia have far more "special" rights than Muslims in India.

3. Show one Muslim country, which has a Non-Muslim as its President or Prime Minister.
Senegal: It had a Christian President for 30 years while 95% of its population is Muslim. Nigeria: It has a Christian President while the majority of population is Muslim. Sierra Leone: It had a Christian Prime Minister while the majority of population is Muslim. Lebanon: With over 70% Muslim population, has elected several Christian presidents.

4. Show one country where the 85% majority craves for the indulgence of the 15% minority.
If the majority craves for the indulgence of the minority, then it is the prerogative of the majority. VHP, in claiming to represent the majority, should ask the question to itself rather than to a 'secularist'.

Moreover, predominantly Muslim Turkey's "indulgence" of its 1% Jewish population and predominantly Christian America's indulgence of its 1% Hindu population are far more praiseworthy than predominantly Hindu India's indulgence of its 15% Minorities which are subjected to regular riots and genocides every now and then. 

5. Show one Mullah or Maulvi who has declared a 'fatwa' against terrorists.
Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar University in Egypt - Al Azhar is considered to be the highest institution of Sunni Muslim learning. Also among the thousands of Islamic scholars who condemned terrorism, some of the prominent ones are Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Tahir Jabir Alalwani, Jamal Badawi, Muzammil Siddiqui, Zaid Shakir, Hamza Yusuf, etc. For a comprehensive list of statements against terrorism visit http://www.muhajabah.com/otherscondemn.php 

6. Hindu-majority Maharashtra, Bihar, Kerala, Pondicherry, etc. have in the past elected Muslims as CMs; Can you ever imagine a Hindu becoming the CM of Muslim - majority J&K?
Why not? Wasn't the King of Muslim majority Kashmir during Independence struggle a Hindu? Or is the VHP conceding that the rule of Kashmir's Hindu King was illegitimate and against the wishes of its people.

7. Today Hindus are 85%. If Hindus are intolerant, how come Masjids and Madrassas are thriving? How come Muslims are offering Namaz on the road? How come Muslims are proclaiming 5 times a day on loudspeakers that there is no God except Allah?
The same argument can be extended to the rule of Aurangzeb. By this reasoning, if Aurangzeb was intolerant, how come there are thousands of temples from his time still surviving in present day India? How come Hindus were allowed to freely go to any of their temples?

8. When Hindus gave to Muslims 30% of Bharat for a song, why should Hindus now beg for their sacred places at Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi?
This rhetorical question can also be rephrased as "When
Muslims gave 90% of India to Hindus for a song
(remember 90% of India was ruled by Muslims at one point), why should the Hindutva Brigade be demanding and destroying the handful of Muslims mosques left standing? 

9. Why temple funds are spent for the welfare of Muslims and Christians, when they are free to spend their money in any way they like?
Some temple funds are collected by government and spent in the general welfare of all people, not just
Muslims and Christians. The government does this because the government owns the endowments to which these temples belong. Likewise, the government also owns numerous endowments to which Muslim and Christian places of worship are attached. It just so happens that the places of worship of Muslims and Christians are not moneymaking centers - so the government does not have any incentive in raiding them.

10. When uniform is made compulsory for school children, why there is no Uniform Civil Code for citizens?
Currently, Hindus themselves have different Hindu Personal Laws in every state of India. Why doesn't the Hindutva Brigade first come up with a unified Hindu Personal Law that is uniform for all Hindus in every state across the country? Why doesn't VHP work on the Uniform Hindu Personal Law first before dispensing advice to other communities? Is it afraid of something?

11. In what way, J&K is different from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu or Uttar Pradesh, to have article 370?
Read the history of India.

12. Why Gandhiji supported Khilafat Movement (nothing to do with our freedom movement) and what in turn he got?
The Khilafat movement was integrally tied to the freedom struggle of the nations occupied by Britain. Abolition of Khilafat was a colonial act just as the occupation of India was a colonial act. Gandhiji supported the Khilafat movement as a strategic initiative to defeat and undermine the British. 

In contrast, one can legitimately ask why the so-called "Veer" Savarkar supported Hitler's Nazi Germany and its genocide of the Jews? What relevance did Hitler's massacres of the Jews have on the Indian freedom struggle? What in turn did he get by supporting Hitler? Here's a quote from Savarkar: "Who are we to dictate to Germany, Japan or Russia or Italy to choose a particular form of policy of Government simply because we woo it out of academical attraction? Surely Hitler knows better than Pandit Nehru does what suits Germany best. The very fact that Germany or Italy has so wonderfully recovered and grown so powerful as never before at the touch of Nazi or Fascist magical wand is enough to prove that those political "isms" were the most congenial tonics their health demanded. 

"India may choose or reject particular form of Government, in accordance with her political requirements. But Pandit went out of his way when he took sides in the name of all Indians against Germany or Italy. Pandit Nehru might claim to express the Congress Section in India at the most. But it should be made clear to the German, Italian, or Japanese public that crores of Hindu Sanghatanists in India whom neither Pandit Nehru or nor the Congress represents, cherish no ill-will towards Germany or Italy or Japan or any other Country in the World simply because they had chosen a form of Government or constitutional policy which they though (sic) suited best and contributed most to their National solidarity and strength"

SOURCE: Published on 30 November 1938 by a famous German daily, the "Volkischer Beobachter". Obtained from "NEHRU MEMORIAL MUSEUM AND LIBRARY, Savarkar papers, microfilm, r.n.1, part 2, March 1937-May
1938."

13. Why Gandhiji objected to the decision of the cabinet and insisted that Somnath Temple should be reconstructed out of public fund, not government funds. When in January 1948 he pressurized Nehru and Patel to carry on renovation of the mosques of Delhi at government expenses?
The Somnath Temple was raided by several Hindu kings for its wealth before it was plundered by Mahmud Ghazni for the same reason. All of this happened several hundred years ago. So, it does not make any sense as to why Somnath should be singled out and reconstructed with government funds! There were over 10,000 mosques that were destroyed in India by the British - should they all have been reconstructed from government funds? In contrast, the damage to the mosques at Delhi, referred in the question, happened from the masses which were led by Nehru and Gandhi, so they were (as national leaders) morally responsible for the repair of those buildings.

14. If Muslims & Christians are minorities in Maharashtra, UP, Bihar etc., are Hindus not minorities in J&K, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya etc? Why are Hindus denied minority rights in these states?
This is because Muslims and Christians are designated as minorities at a national level, not at the state level. In other words, neither are Muslims and Christians minorities in Maharashtra, UP, Bihar etc nor are Hindus minorities in J&K, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya etc.

15. Do you admit that Hindus do have problems that need to be recognized? Or do you think that those who call themselves Hindus are themselves the problem?
Both questions can be answered in the positive. Take for example the issue of Dalits and Caste System in Hinduism. Dalits, who have been labeled as Hindus, have grim problems that need to be recognized. But since it is the (upper caste) Hindus who themselves are the biggest obstacle to the Dalit caste problem, in a way the Hindus are themselves part of the problem.

16. Why post-Godhra is blown out of proportion, when no one talks of the ethnic cleansing of 4 lakh Hindus from Kashmir?
Because the Gujarat massacres were carried out by the state/government while the violence in Kashmir (in which more Muslims have been killed than Hindus) was carried out by non-government actors. Is there any difference between a government and a terrorist in the eyes of VHP? Or does the VHP consider that government should play the role of a terrorist killing and plundering minorities?

17. In 1947, when India was partitioned, the Hindu population in pakistan was about 24%. Today it is not even 1%. In 1947, the Hindu population in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) was 30%. Today it is about 7%. What happened to the missing Hindus? Do Hindus have human rights?
See the answer to the question below:

18. In contrast, in India, Muslim population has gone up from 10.4% in 1951 to about 14% today; whereas Hindu population has come down from 87.2% in 1951 to 85% in 1991. Do you still think that Hindus are fundamentalists?
The question clearly hides another important statistic relevant to the declining population of Hindus - the statistics of the rising female feticide, a practice overwhelmingly associated with Hindu community. According to population survey reports, the sex ratio which was 972 females per 1000 males in 1901 was 933 females to 1000 males in 2001. New technology is now used to diagnose the gender of the child and female children are eliminated with precision. Rather than lamenting the decline of Hindus, the Sanghis should rather show some mercy toward their daughters and stop killing them - and recognize that women are the ones who are responsible for bringing in the next generation.

19. Do you consider that - Sanskrit is communal and Urdu is secular, Mandir is Communal and Masjid is Secular, Sadhu is Communal and Imam is Secular, BJP is communal and Muslim league is Secular, Dr. Praveen Bhai Togadia is ANTI-NATIONAL and Bhukari is Secular, Vande Matharam is communal and Allah-O-Akbar is secular, Shriman is communal and Mian is secular, Hinduism is Communal and Islam is Secular, Hindutva is communal and Jihadism is secular, and at last, Bharat is communal and Italy is Secular?
In order to understand what you are asking, you need to first answer the following question: Since when have the Hindutva warriors [proverbially] stopped beating their wives? Try to answer this question and you will understand the futility of the question above.

20. When Christian and Muslim schools can teach Bible and Quran, Why Hindus cannot teach Gita or Ramayan?
Who is stopping Hindus from teaching Gita and Ramayana? Ramayana is in fact taught in government sponsored state syllabus in many states in India while no government sponsored state syllabus actually mandates the teaching of Bible or the Quran? Will the VHP campaign for the incorporation of Bible and the Quran in state syllabus along the lines of Ramayana? It should also be noted that the serial Ramayana has been broadcasting on the government owned and subsidized TV channel for several years now while no serial on Bible or the Quran has enjoyed any such broadcasting coverage.

21. Abdul Rehman Antuley was made a trustee of the famous Siddhi Vinayak Temple in Prabhadevi, Mumbai Can a Hindu - say Mulayam or Laloo - ever become a trustee of a Masjid or Madrassa?
The Mecca Masjid as well as the famous Public Gardens Masjid of Hyderabad, for example, are both under the AP State Waqf board which is headed by a Hindu. Moreover, unlike the Hindutva Brigade, Muslims don't make a big deal of their famous monuments being run by Hindus. It should be noted that most of present day surviving monuments of Muslim legacy are under the care and supervision of trusts/institutions headed by Hindus.

22. Dr. Praveenbhai Togadia has been arrested many times on flimsy grounds. has the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Delhi, Ahmed Bhukari been arrested for claiming to be an ISI agent and advocating partition of Bharat?
Togadia was caught distributing weapons and inciting masses to use them to kill
Muslims and Christians. Is the BJP sponsored Shahi imam distributing swords and asking Muslims to use them to kill Hindus? 

23. When Haj pilgrims are given subsidy, why Hindu pilgrims to Amarnath, Sabarimalai & Kailash Mansarovar are taxed?
As indicated above, the government spends more money subsidizing arrangements for various Hindu festivals than it does subsidizing Air India in the name of
Hajj Subsidy. Will the VHP lobby to remove government expenditure on these Hindu pilgrimages? 

24. A Muslim President, A Hindu Prime Minister and a Christian Defence Minister running the affairs of the nation with a unity of purpose. Can this happen anywhere, except in a HINDU NATION - BHARAT?
Sure. Saddam Hussein's regime also incorporated similar diversity with Tariq Aziz, a Christian as its Vice President. But you are not implying India is like Saddam Hussein's regime, are you?

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