politician calls for Hindu suicide bombers to target Muslims
By Ramola Talwar-Badam
MUMBAI, India – A radical
right-wing Indian politician called on Hindus to form suicide bomber squads and
attack Muslim neighborhoods – a threat promptly condemned by political friends
and foes alike.
Bal Thackeray, a Hindu
extremist linked to past waves of mob violence in the western state of
Maharashtra, has long advocated attacks against Muslims. He said suicide
bombers, along with bombs planted in Muslim neighborhoods, were needed "to
protect the nation and all Hindus."
"Islamic terrorism is on
the rise. To combat this, Hindu terrorism must be created of similar
strength," Thackeray wrote in an editorial published Wednesday in Saamna,
the newspaper of his Shiv Sena party. The editorial was unsigned, but his party
said Thackerary wrote it.
"Hindu suicide squads must
be built," he wrote. "Only then will Hindus survive."
Whether Thackerary was sincere or
just trying to grab attention was impossible to tell.
His influence in Mumbai, his
longtime power base, has been waning for years, but he still commands hordes of
violent followers. He has been arrested twice for inflammatory speeches and
writing, and officials said Thursday they were considering arresting him for a
The Shiv Sena – which means
Shiva's Army – is among the most extreme of India's Hindu political parties and
held power in Mumbai from 1995 to 2000.
Indian authorities have blamed
Islamic extremists for a spate of bombings that have killed hundreds of people
in the predominantly Hindu country of 1.1 billion people in the past three
Thackeray's editorial was
promptly condemned by politicians from across the political spectrum, including
India's leading Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has
long-standing ties with Shiv Sena.
"People should not take
law into their hands," BJP Vice President Venkaiah Naidu was quoted as
saying by the Hindustan Times newspaper. "There are democratic methods to
address the problem of terrorism."
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