Silent Emergence Of Hindu Terrorism
By Subhash Gatade
29 June, 2008
What is common between Kathmandu - the capital of Nepal ; Thane, Vashi which happen to lie in Maharashtra; Tenkasi, which is part of Tamilnadu and Indore, which lies in Madhya Pradesh? Aprops there seem to be no commonality, although a close look at stray sounding incidents in these places brings forth a pattern which has serious import for the manner in which (non-state) terrorism is viewed in this country. It is disturbing that media which calls itself 'watchdog of democracy' and which has no qualms in stigmatising the minority community on unfounded allegations of 'terrorist acts' has suddenly gone mute since the perpetrators of terrorist acts in all these cases belong to the majority community.
It need be told that Kathmandu - capital of the newest Republic of Nepal- witnessed bomb explosions outside the Birendra International Centre where newly elected members of the constituent assembly had assembled for the oath taking ceremony. Although nobody was killed and only few faced minor injuries, it was a clear signal that elements opposed to the momentous changes in the Nepalese polity were involved in the attack The local police immediately blamed Hindu fanatics for this cowardly attack.
Close watchers of the Nepal situation did not lose sight of the fact that promonarchy Hindutva forces had even resolved to take up arms for the restoration of Hindu Rashtra. This meeting was held in the immediate aftermath of elections to the constituent assembly and was attended by sympathetic elements from both the countries. It had been organised under the aegis of Vishwa Hindu Mahasangh an international organisation of Hindus, in Balrampur ( India) which was presided over by the 'firebrand' BJP M.P Yogi Adityanath.
If Kathmandu witnessed bomb explosions as a violent reaction to the victory of the the Republican forces in Nepal, Indore - the erstwhile capital of the Holkars - witnessed firing by activists of Hindu organisations in full public view. They had assembled there after a rally as a part of celebrations to commemorate the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Shivaji Maharaj as he is popularly known was a great secular ruler of 17 th century in Western India who fought with the Mughals. The firing incident which was covered by the media took place under the watchful eyes of the local police itself which remained a mute spectator and did not even deem it necessary to file a report on this thoroughly unlawful act. The brazenness of the participants in this celebrations was evident also from the fact that they even handed over the guns to the kids present there who also fired in the air.
Ofcourse it was not for the first time that such firing incidents had taken place. Few months ago marches (Path Sanchalan) were organised in different parts of M.P. under the aegis of different Hindu organisations which owe their allegiance to RSS . These path sanchalans were also marked by firings at the culmination of the rallies. And as expected there were no police complaints. Nobody questioned how the lathi wielding swayamsevaks have suddenly metamorphosed into gun wielding Machos out to silence 'anti-nationals.' Looking at the fact that many areas in M.P. especially Malwa have always maintained a strong presence of Hindutva forces, one can understand the rationale behind such 'spontaneous sounding' firing incidents.
Perhaps the former Chief Minister was alluding to the discovery of a bomb making factory in Nanded (Maharashtra) at the house of old RSS activist which saw deaths of two Bajrang Dal / RSS workers ( April 2006). Five other members of the terrorist group were also arrested by the police. The most disturbing part of the whole episode revealed how a well-thought out plan to start a communal riot was on the anvil. Apart from maps of mosques in the area police had discovered fake beards or dresses normally worn by Muslims in the area. Further interrogation of the other accused in the case had also made it clear that the same group was also responsible for a few other incidents - namely Parbhani, Jalna, Purna - in Maharashtra where Muslims had come under mysterious attack at the time of friday prayers.
It is a different matter that despite a formally secular government in power in the state, and the police did not deem it necessary to unearth the wider gameplan hatched by the top echleons of the Hindutva brigade. It is common knowledge that the 80 plus year 'cultural organisation' and its affiliated organisations maintain strict hierarchy and any such violent action plan on part of its local activists would not have been possible without the involvement of the top bosses of the 'Parivar'. Neither police used any strong law to apprehend the real culprits nor it tried oppose the bail applications moved by the other members of the Hindu terrorist module.
And today according to informed sources the whole issue of bomb making factory and bursting of a Hindu terrorist module lies buried under the hubris of government apathy and connivance of a section of the bureaucracy.
The arrest of sevaks of the Sanatan Sanstha, a religious group that is behind the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti for planting bombs in theatres at Thane and Vashi brings a new dimension to terrorism. Seven people were injured when one of the bombs the sevaks planted exploded in the parking lot of Thane’s Gadkari Rangayatan theatre on 4 June.
Police say that they had planted a bomb outside a mosque or dargah on the Pen highway last Diwali, to check its intensity, but it did not explode. Nikam had earlier set off a bomb in the house of a family in Ratnagiri that had converted to Christianity, and was on bail awaiting trial.
(Terror’s new face, Herald, Panjim, 19 June 2008 )
Whether westen India - especially Maharashtra, Goa - has slowly and silently emerged as a epicentre of a different sort of terrorism ? Bomb explosion in Nanded in April 2006 at the house of a RSS activist and busting of a Hindutva terrorist module and a repeat of similar explosion in Feb 2007 in the same city which also witnessed two deaths could be said to be two major incidents to mark the emergence of homegrown Hindutva terrorism. It is no mere coincidence that three major stalwarts of the idea of Hindutva - Savarkar, Hedgewar-Golwalkar and Bal Thackeray - hail from this area only. And the dilly-dallying adopted by the powers that be vis-a-vis these explosions in Nanded was a clear signal to these forces that they can move ahead with impunity.
And recent events in Thane, Panvel and Vashi rather demonstrate that hardline Hindutva groups which have secretly and surreptiously built a wide network of active and sleeper cells are ready to go to any extent to make their voice heard. Far away from the scrutiny of the police and the intelligence establishment, many such new outfits have sprung up which are indoctrinating a gullible citizenry about their agenda of hate and exclusion under the cover of 'spiritual gatherings' and distribution of spiritual literature .('Quitely, hardline Hindu outfits build a network across Maharashtra, Goa' (Indian Express, June 23, 2008)' Terrorist acts committed by these groups in the above mentioned places and their capacity to indulge in similar acts elsewhere are an indicator that unless they are dealt with firmly they would be able to spread their tentacles elsewhere as well. And the day would not be far of when Hindutva terrorist network can reach nook and corners of the country rivalling the Jihadi terrorists.
Date 31 st May 2008. Venue : Vishnudas Bhave auditorium, Vashi, Maharashtra.
Within next four days a similar feat was repeated. Of course the venue had shifted to Thane, another city in Maharashtra and the location was the basement of the 'Gadkari Rangayatan Auditorium' where another show of the same drama was on. Unlike Vashi, here bomb explosion could not be averted leading to injuries to few people.
It was clear to even a layperson that an organised group of miscreants was behind these incidents. Looking at the gravity of the situation the 'Anti Terrorism Squad' of the Bombay police was given the responsibility of investigating the case and finding the culprits.
The Sanstha denied any knowledge of their activities and said that they did it on their own. It is clear that protestations of innocence cannot be taken at face value and the police needs to thoroughly investigate the affairs of the Sanatan Sanstha as well as Hindu Janjagruti Samity which have been registered as charitable organisations in Goa. Definitely they cannot evade responsibility in the act as their literature talks of 'elimination' of 'evildoers' and claims that it is a' religious duty' to combat and counter 'enemies of Hinduism'.
The editorial in 'Herald' further adds that :
"..[S]anatan Sanstha and the Bajrang Dal, two Hindu fundamentalist organisations that are both linked to bomb blasts, are the main constituents of the broad joint front called the Hindu Janajagriti Samiti, which has been holding public meetings all over Goa claiming Hinduism is in danger, and making provocative speeches."
According to a writeup in Indian Express ( June 18, 2008) : "..the arrests were enough for Deshmukh to point fingers at the possibility of Hindu groups being involved in subversive activities too. "Normally, when such incidents take place a particular community is suspected, " the Chief minister said in a statement late on Monday. "But the arrest of two people belonging to a Hindu organisation proves that such suspicions are baseless. Criminal do not belong to any religion."
Investigations into the antecedents of these arrested activists have revealed that they have had tryst with bombs and violence in the past. The Chief of the Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad told media persons that "Various members of these organisations are being questioned. If their role is found in the planning or execution of these incidents, we will certainly write to the centre and seek that they are banned." (Indian Express, 23 rd June 2008).
Herald further adds that (Panjim, 22 June 2008)
Defence of Hinduism is one of the biggest themes in the literature and meetings of the HJS and the SS. The massive 44-volume compilation titled ‘Science of Spirituality’, published by the Sanatan Bharatiya Sanskruti Sanstha and ‘compiled’ by Dr. Jayant Athavale, founder of the Sanatan Sanstha, Hinduism is consistently portrayed as being under threat from the forces of Christianity and Islam, aided and abetted by the ‘so-called secularists’, who are seen as traitors to Hinduism. The volumes have titles like ‘Protecting Seekers and Destroying Evildoers’ and ‘Reinstatement of the Divine Kingdom’. Defending the faith against the various purported threats by allegedly anti-Hindu forces is stated to be the primary duty of all true believers.
The nature of this ‘defence’ is spelt out in great detail. It involves identifying those who work against ‘dharm’, making lists of such people, and then moving to ‘eliminate’ them. It is claimed that all this is part of ‘spiritual practice’.
Interestingly all talk of Hindu Unity in the worldview of HJS falls at the altar caste and other regressive practices in our society Believers are exhorted to guide offenders away from the path of incorrect practice. The volumes in the series support the regressive and obscurantist practices of the past, including the caste system, talking repeatedly about the proper role of various castes in society.
While curbing the activities of these organisations or banning them would demand extra efforts on part of the government, as of now there are very many things which can be done to stop their vicious, hatefilled ideas reach a wider cross-section of society. It's literature itself provides many clues.
For an organisation which is so ultra-sensitive about the slightest imagined insult to Hinduism — imagined or real — the literature of the Sanatan Sanstha is rife with attacks on other religions. Priests are depicted with horns, indicating that they are devils. There are frequent references to the Bible, alleging that it promotes incest and other immoral practices. In September 2004, ‘Sanatan Prabhat’ carried a statement saying that the body of St. Francis Xavier should be destroyed. It has also carried other scurrilous articles about Goa’s patron saint. In November 2005, ‘Sanatan Prabhat’ published an article, ‘Mohd. Paigambar: An incarnation of Tripurasur [an ‘asur’ or demon]’, which led to rioting in Miraj town of Maharashtra, and the imprisonment of the editor of ‘Sanatan Prabhat’.
After having created an ideological framework which creates a fundamentalist
mindset and makes it the ‘duty’ of the true seeker to defend the faith against
all those who are projected as attacking it, it is disingenuous of the HJS and
the SS to disclaim responsibility for the acts engaged in by their members.
Ex-members of these organisations talk about the cult-like atmosphere that is
created, with unquestioning obedience being stressed. Members are then
brainwashed into believing that Hinduism is under siege. Against this
background, and with all the talk about ‘defence’ and ‘elimination of
evildoers’, it is hardly surprising that adherents begin to explore ways of
taking direct action to defend the faith. In this regard, the philosophy of the
HJS and the SS is not all that different from the philosophy of terrorists,
whom they claim to oppose.
Of course, if the government is serious about curbing these extremist organisations, it can start with filing criminal procedings against the 'bible' of the HJS itself - namely the 'Science of Spirituality' under section 153(a) and (B) and related clauses on the basis that it promotes disaffection and disharmony between different communities.
But would it be proper to say that only Western India is witness to the silent emergence of Hindu terrorism or the phenomenon is slowly acquiring a national identity.
TIRUNELVELI: The special police team, led by Deputy Inspector General of Police, Tirunelveli Range, P Kannappan has arrested three persons in connection with the Tenkasi RSS office bomb blast case.
The investigations revealed that the blasts were planned to provoke a backlash between two groups of different and dominant communities in Tenkasi.Speaking to reporters at Tenkasi on Monday, Inspector General of Police, South Zone, Sanjeev Kumar said on January 24, there was a bomb blast at the RSS office and an auto, parked inside the new bus stand at Tenkasi, was destroyed.
Following this, special teams were formed to nab the accused. Investigations revealed that S Ravi Pandian (42), a cable TV operator, S Kumar (28), an auto driver, both from Tenkasi, and V Narayana Dharma (26) of Sencottai had planted 14 pipe bombs in the office of Ravi Pandian.
(3 arrested in Tenkasi bomb blast case, Tuesday February 5 2008 08:12 IST , Express News Service ( Newindian express))
It is for everyone to see that S Ravi Pandian (42), a cable TV operator, S Kumar (28), an auto driver, both from Tenkasi, and V Narayana Sharma (26) of Sencottai today represent the less reported phenomenon of Hindutva terrorism..For all practical purposes till 23 rd January they remained activists of Hindu Munnani - an affiliated organisation of RSS - engaged in what they seem to be a 'patriotic' work.
Today they are the new face of 'terrorism' unleashed by the Hindutva brigade.
Looking at the hierarchial nature of the Sangh Parivar outfits, these blasts would not have been triggered without the knowledge of its top brass in Tamilnadu.
A report filed by M.H. Jawahirullah( www.twocircles.net) :
There are reports that the Tirunelveli Police have indicated that the explosives used in Tenkasi are similar those used in the Makkah Masjid blast at Hyderabad. It is incumbent that in the light of the revelations in the Tenkasi blasts , the CBI should reinvestigate the Makkah Masjid Blasts and other Blasts which took place in different parts of the country.
General Secretary of Congress Party Mr Digvijay Singh has attacked Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and RSS about recovery of arms in Shyampur District Sihore. While releasing a letter to the press which he has written to the Chief Minister Mr Singh categorically stated that members of RSS themselves are engaged in sending swords and knifes to instigate communal violence. The two miscreants from Shyampur who were found to be in possession of arms and were duly apprehended belong to RSS only. The letter specifically mentions that since the accused belong to RSS the chief minister would not take any action in this matter. You are under pressure from RSS also. Mentioning his earlier letter Mr Singh said that Mangilal and Phool Singh were arrested for delivering 24 swords and four knifes at Satyanarayan Bhati’s house on 16 th March. These two persons belong to RSS. Within a few days of the recovery of the arms, minorities in Narsinhgarh and Talen (Rajgarh) came under attack and five people from both the sides lost lives.
The Congress leader mentioned a letter written by Sihore S.P. which says that despite attempts by the police the two accused have refused to divulge the information about the source of these arms. To conclude, the point one would like to emphasise that whether it is possible to link Tenkasi with Vardha or Nanded with Ahmedabad or for that matter Sihore or in our own atomised world view or not ?
(‘Sangh Sends Swords and Knifes’ Bhaskar, Hindi Daily ( 19 July 2007) )
It was quite natural that the provocative utterances received condemnation from a broad spectrum of political opinion - with many parties demanding prosecution of Bal Thackre - but inadvertently or deliberately so it served a dual purpose. On the one hand it helped temporarily deflect the attention of the concerned people from the silent emergence of hindu terrorism and on the other hand it was a tacit acknowledgement of its existence and growth.
Perhaps few words of advice from a senior journalist like Prem Shankar Jha would be opportune at this moment. In a writeup for Outlook (May 26, 2008) immediately after the Jaipur blasts he said :
..An effective anti-terrorist strategy requires us to look even more deeply into ourselves. The police and security agencies only mirror the prejudices of the majority community and these have become more pronounced in the past two decades. Why has no one in office ever formally expressed regret for the terrible pogroms that have scarred the face of our society—from the '93 Mumbai killings to the '02 Gujarat massacres. Why are Indian courts suddenly handing out death penalties by the dozen, with a predisposition to singling out minorities? Indeed, so great has been the bias and so quixotic the rulings that it has provoked Amnesty International into making a scathing criticism of the Indian judiciary.
Take the case of Jaipur blasts, One still remembers the story of one Vijay who was immediately spotted after the Jaipur blasts, who told the police the name of his other (lady) accomplice, who were supposedly responsible for the blasts. Nobody has heard about Vijay after that incident.
Take the case of Malegaon blast. A few victims told the police that a body with a fake beard was recovered from among the dead bodies. Looking at the fact that in Nanded bomb blasts the issue of fake beard had been raised prominently, the security agencies could have finetuned direction of their investigation, but they persisted in the old manner only. And they did not bother to question the hospital people when they flatly denied that any such body was recovered.
It has been around one and half month that the tragic Jaipur blast took place but police does not seem have become any more wiser.According to Times of India ( 27 th June 2008) "..But as days have passed, suspect sketches, clues and leads once touted as vital have proved worthless and loudly proclaimed theories proved thin. Rajasthan police went on a manhunt in the city's shanties where Bangladeshi immigrants are holed up. They came back empty handed. " It also adds "Investigators are not ready to name HuJI as a definite suspect any more and only say its role and that of some Pakistan based terror outfits have not been ruled out."
Would it be proper to assume that the police or the security establishment have finally decided that after any such incident they would keep moving in circles, leave the issue unresolved and would move to a new issue/incident.
As already stated, perhaps the need of the hour is get out of the stereotyped understanding vis-a-vis terrorism. Perhaps it is necessary that we transcend the habit of stigmatising or criminalising a particular community for all ills of the society. Perhaps it is necessary to ask those questions which were never asked earlier.
It has been quite some time that many Urdu papers have been raising a point about such terrorist acts which merits consideration. It talks of involvement of Israeli-US agents in all such incidents. Looking at the proximity of the Hindutva lobby with Israel, it is also being said that secret Hindu terror organisations are receiving training in Israel. Apparently these Hindu organisations are sending groups of cadres to Israel for agriculture training. But under the cover of this alibi the Israeli special forces are training the Hindutva cadres on bomb handling and fabrication techniques.
The correspondence between a terrorist action and its likely beneficiaries need also be matched. One thing is sure that the more such terrorist actions take place in India, it would further increase communal polarisation ( although it is to the credit of the composite heritage of the country that there have been no communal flareups in any part of the country after such acts, despite provocations from the majoritarian elements) and would help keep India in US ambit. US which has made a mess of itself in mid-east wants to build the US-Israel-India axis to maintain regional hegemony. It frowns upon any regional cooperation of India with its neighbouring countries especially from the mid-east. It is not for nothing that it has consistently opposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.
Many commentators have written that Jaipur blasts definitely benefitted BJP in Karnatak elections. Can it then be said that some stray Hindu terrorist group at its own level executed the plan so that another member of the Hindutva family reaps its benefits.
Look at the mental image of terrorism which exists in the minds of the people.
Everybody would agree that killing of Mahatma Gandhi by a Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse constitutes the first terrorist act in independent India. Godse, a Maharashtrian Brahmin, was associated with Hindu Mahasabha at the time of Mahatma’s assasination and had his initial forays in the world of politics with the RSS. The world at large knows how the Hindu fanatics had planned the murder of the Mahatma and how the likes of Savarkar and Golwalkar were held responsible for creating the ambience of hate which culminated in the gruesome act.
Question naturally arises why is it that despite their participation in many a gruesome incidents, the role played by them in instigating riots ( as noted by many a commissions of enquiry) or there admission before camera about the planning which went in making a genocide happen (courtesy Tehelka sting operation) the Hindu fanatic who doubles up as a terrorist has not become a part of our social common sense. (To reemphasise one needs to underline that one is not being soft towards the likes of Lashkar-e-Toiba or Jaish-e-Mohammad, their activities are definitely condemnable but how is that every terrorist act in any part of the country is attributed to them and equally dangerours other outfits belonging to the majority community are allowed to go scotfree.)
Perhaps there is no simple answer to this query. One will have to dwelve deep into our past, take a dispassionate look at the anti-colonial struggle and also the tragic phase of partition riots. Simultaneously we will have to discern the threads of our present, understand for ourselves the role of different actors as well as the role of ideologies to reach any tentative understanding. It is for everyone to see that in a multireligious, multilingual country like ours the complexities of the situation are itself immense. We find ourselves in a situation where while ‘communalism’ of the majority community could be construed as ‘nationalism’, every assertion by the minority community on genuine demands tends to be seen with a ‘communal’ colour. And it follows from this that ‘terrorism’ unleashed by the majoritarians is easily disguised under the bursting of ‘pent up anger’ against the minorities.
Of course despite tremendous odds on our way to reach the kernel of truth,
we should not feel disheartened in our journey. It is true that forces of hate
and exclusion appear more organised today, but we should not forget the fact
that there have been n number of occasions when despite provocations the masses
did not get carried away with their agenda. We have on our side the glorious
composite heritage of our country - which needs to be replenished - and the
many silver linings in the otherwise bleak scenario.
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