Mob lynching: are we entering a free-for-all stage of countrywide violence?
Finally, the Prime Minister has broken his silence. With the kind of furore that the country has been witnessing and the anxiety galloping in the country, he had no option left. Once he has spoken, the President who is normally under compulsion not to say anything that irks the Government has also found the opportunity to speak up his mind. The violence in the country targeting Muslims has reached proportions where there always hovers a danger of unwanted response. Hopefully, Muslims will remain peaceful and will not follow the example of cow vigilantes in taking the law in their own hands.
And the irony is that if you have a look at the posts of the Hindutva protagonists, you will find them discussing about the Muslim violence. They are still talking of Mahmud Ghaznavi and ISIS. They forget that the violence committed by Ashoka “the Great” shames the combined violence allegedly perpetrated by Muslim rulers. They do not want to mention the violence during Partition, that caused by numerous anti-Muslim riots including Gujarat, the deaths of more than 41000 caused by those who are recognised by Census as Hindus (Naxalites, Maoists, Ulfa, Bodos) and Tamils in Sri Lanka. They have learnt to follow the examples of Western polity, which discusses the deaths caused by Muslim terrorists but fails to mention at least 50 times deaths caused by the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and the West-sponsored civil wars in the Middle East.
Like every country, India wants to be a nation of peace, tolerance and prosperity. Like all nations, India wants to prove that it has always been a tolerant and peace-loving nation. And like every nation on the earth, its history can at the most be described chequered with long periods of wars and internal struggles along with abundant examples of peaceful existence in various parts of the country and in various periods. Like all the communities of the world again, all the communities of the country – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and atheists, boast of being inherently tolerant, and the truth on the other hand is that individuals and groups belonging to almost all of them have had their share in violence and oppression of one kind or the other. The tendency to indulge in violence is almost always more in the groups that hold the reins of the power. The weak too often indulges in violence in retaliation to widespread oppression or discrimination. The amount of the violence caused by the weak is almost always much less compared to the violence against them, but the powerful tends to highlight it so disproportionately that the weak appear to be the culprit rather than the victim.
Since Partition, there has always been a group in the new India, what we normally call Hindutva lobby represented by organisations like RSS, VHP and BJP, which has been trying to consolidate its hold through all possible means, fair and unfair, on the economic and political resources of the country. One of the most unfair means is the politics of communalism, which involves spreading hatred against other communities, Muslims being the biggest target followed by Christians.
The problem with the protagonists of Hindutva is that its definition of Hindutva, in practice if not in theory, is based on its aversion of Muslims and everything that is or can be made to look linked to them. They are not interested in introducing the Hindu vision to the constitution but in demolishing Muslim personal laws. They are not too much fond of building temples; they are more concerned about demolishing mosques. They love singing Vande Mataram and chanting “Bharat Mata ki Jay” not because of their inherent beauty but because they irk Muslims who find it hard to eulogise the land instead of the Creator of the land. Even if they do not read their scriptures with any regularity, they would want to impose them on Muslim students. They are not concerned about saving Hindu lives from fellow Hindus; they derive some sort of pleasure if Muslims are killed. They are not campaigning for bringing comforts to their fellow religionists; they are more interested in teasing and harassing Muslim populace. They count only the Hindu dead or displaced. The Muslim counts hardly bother them.
While they are always busy in pursuing their “goals” with “utmost sincerity”, when the BJP comes into power, the forces of Hindutva start believing it is the right opportunity to spread their tentacles and to achieve their long cherished aims. This seems to have been specifically true for the current BJP rule in the country. Narendra Modi came to power on the corporate-communal agenda, and is pursuing both with vigour and devotion. While the major forces of economics, namely the Corporate, Banking and Finance Sector, are being appeased without much of noise, the noise on the communal front is being used to distract the attention from what is happening on the economic front.
While I have serious concerns with the impact of the Hindutva on future India, I still believe that they have some inherent positives, which if brought to the fore can turn the things for the better. If they start focusing on religious morality rather than communalism and combine with other religious communities including Muslims on the issues of morality, equality and justice, India can truly emerge as a role model for the rest of the world. While I have countered the Hindutva designs of communal divide with the contempt it deserves, I have made every possible effort to make Hindus and Muslims realise about the commonness of their moral, family and social values. If instead of hating each other, they combine supporting each other, both will benefit with immense benefit to the nation as a whole. If we succeed, it is then that our claims of being a tolerant nation will be accepted by the whole world.
Every protagonist of religion or ideology tries to paint it as the best. But the problem comes when instead of describing positives, one starts describing others’ negatives, especially when those “negatives” are the creations of one’s own mind. For argument sake, I can quote hundreds of passages from Hindu scriptures and Hindu ideologues that speak of violence. I can argue that Hinduism is the only religion where festivals are dedicated to victories in wars, where all the major bhagwaans are shown carrying weapons and where all the major scriptures have wars as the dominant theme.
I hate every kind of violence irrespective of who the victims or the culprits are, wherever the place of occurrence, whatever the motivating ideologies and whatever the method adopted, and my condemnation is directly proportional to the magnitude of violence each category belongs to. If we study the violence in last 30-35 years, this is the list of causes according to the magnitude of deaths it caused:
- Abortions caused by scalps: more than 1 billion
- Murders due to inadequate law: more than 60 million (West is most prone and Arab countries least)
- Wars by America and its allies: more than 2. 5 million (most victims Muslims)
- Civil wars supported by West 2-3 lakhs (0.2 m)
- Terrorism by LTTE (Tamils) around 1.5 lakhs ((0.15 m)
- Terrorism by Hindus in India (including Naxalites, Maoists and Ulfa): 40000
- Terrorism by ISIS (which is a West-created Outfit): 40000
- Riots in India: 15000 (70 pc Muslims) (Unofficial figures more than 70000)
- Terrorism by al-Qaeda : 7000
Terrorism by Muslim outfits in India: 1500
(These are only rough estimates.)
I condemn each one in the same numbers as they have killed.
But the media lets us know only about certain categories of violence, which suit their interests. Indian media talks much less about riots than about terrorism and much less about non-Muslim terrorism than Muslim terrorism. I have seen one Indian TV after another presenting horror reports about ISIS but I have yet to see a report on Naxalite terrorism. In India, everybody knows about Kasab, Memon and Guru but hardly anyone knows the names of the killers of Rajiv Gandhi and the Naxalite and Mao leaders. This is despite the fact that ISIS has little to do with India, despite media speculations about its plans.
And to be sure, ISIS is hardly any threat to India, the fact being that the real threat to India comes from the violence promoted by Hindutva Brigade and other organisations of Hindus like Naxalites, Maoists, Ulfa and Bodos. Still more intriguing is this government’s total insensitivity of religious violence in its own country, which more often takes the form of riots than “terror”. But India too uses its own terminologies in describing various forms of violence. While any terrorism related to Muslims is highlighted, the terrorism related to other ideologies is hardly discussed. As I have quoted statistics in several articles, more than 95 pc of terrorism related deaths in India in last 25 years have been caused by Hindu terrorists, not Muslim terrorists. Out of more than 35000 terrorist related deaths in India in last 30 years, more than 33000 are by Hindu terrorists (Naxalites, Ulfa, Bodo, Maoists, Sikhs). Those allegedly by Muslims relate to not more than 1500. And now Cow Vigilantes have become the latest terrorists. And this terrorism is unique as it kills people openly and without fear. They know that unlike the other terrorists they will not be haunted. If at all, they are arrested, they would not face the kind of punishment which is secured for the others.
I must clarify here that when I use “Hindu Terrorism”, it means a link with the Hindu community, not Hindu religion. I firmly believe that terrorism cannot be acceptable to any religion. Even if certain terrorists start describing their acts as religious in the hope of attracting more people, it does not prove their case.
Every kind of violence is bad including the day-to-day crimes, which kill much greater number of people than the violence related to specific problems. The powerful tend to resort to wars, export civil wars and indulge in riots to perpetuate their hold. The weak tend to indulge in terrorism to vent their disapproval of the oppression by the powerful, as they have no power to wage wars or riots. All these forms of violence are immoral. But the powerful with its control on media indulges in a propaganda, which justifies its actions. Terrorism by Al-Qaeda has not killed more than 6000 people till this date including around 3000 killed in Twin Tower attack, which was never established by an independent commission. America in retaliation killed 2 million Muslim innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is now that Blair is accepting that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Who will be made to pay for the 2 million deaths, Blair! As explained above, the terrorism by Hindus belonging to different ideologies have been responsible for more than 90 pc of the terrorist related deaths. But the malicious propaganda only blames Muslims.
The truth however remains that every kind of violence must be condemned irrespective of the identity of the perpetrators and victims, irrespective of the motive and irrespective of the place and time. And the condemnation and the counter measures must be in proportion to the magnitude of the violence rather than its type.
I believe that we need Zero Tolerance in all cases of violence, political or non-political, irrespective of the identity of perpetrators or victims, ethnic or political, irrespective of the method used and irrespective of the place of violence. But the forces ruling the world and the country talk of Zero Tolerance only for selective cases. To the Indian ruling forces, terrorism is a bigger violence than riots, and terrorism involving Muslim perpetrators is a bigger violence than that involving Hindu perpetrators. While terrorism is a relatively new phenomenon, riots have continued to hit this country since Independence. This has killed tens of thousands of people. But we have not heard of even life imprisonments for all these riots what to speak of death sentences. Is it because, in most of these cases, the victims happen to be Muslims and the perpetrators happen to be Hindus, and because in majority of these cases, Police and Politicians have been their supporters? Mumbai blasts followed the Mumbai riots which in turn followed the destruction of Babri Masjid. Why then Zero tolerance only for the conspirator of Mumbai Blasts and not the conspirators and perpetrators of Mumbai riots?
If Muslims start using the logic to counter Cow Vigilantism, the vigilantes will hardly find any answers. But Muslims respect the sentiments of their fellow countrymen. The fact is that the majority of cow meat exporters in India are Hindus. The same is true for the owners of the hotels which serve the beef. If cow vigilantes were serious and really wanted to take revenge, they should have first targeted their own community members. Instead they chose to attack Muslims. This clearly shows that it is the hatred towards Muslims rather than the love for cows which is driving them to the extreme act. If the Government was serious, they dhould have by now sent to Jail all the Hindu beef exporters and hotel owners.
The frenzy needs to be stopped without delay if India is to be stopped from entering a phase where it would become free for all to take the law into their own hands. Violence breeds violence, and this fact should be understood by the ruling class as well as by all those who believe in peace, justice and equality. Muslims have to show that they are peace-loving people who behave responsibly even in the face of utmost provocation.