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Indian secularism: Innocent Simi, but a communal VHP

Indian secularism: Innocent Simi, but a communal VHP

Author: Balbir K. Punj
Publication: The Asian Age
Date: September 26, 2008
URL: http://www.asianage.com/presentation/columnisthome/balbir-punj/indian-secularism-innocent-simi,-but-a-communal-vhp-.aspx

The recent serial bomb blasts across the country have got the "secularists" busy in building smoke screens, raising red herrings and finding scapegoats - all to save the real culprits. The terror machine in India has two faces: The "underground" one which plans and executes the violent operations, while the "over ground" face hides behind masks of human rights, social activists and NGOs and operates under a common brand name of "secularism". Together, they provide an atmosphere conducive to the germination and growth of terrorism in the country.

How does the "secular" cabal provide covert and overt support to terror in the country? It does so by discouraging the rational and forward-looking elements in the Muslim community and promotes only renegades. Remember how Rajiv Gandhi dumped his progressive minister Arif Mohammad Khan and instead courted bigots and reversed the Supreme Court judgment in the Shah Bano case? Or how V.P. Singh wooed the Shahi Imam?

Not in the too distant past, the Kerala Assembly had passed a unanimous resolution seeking Abdul Nasser Madhani's release, a man then behind bars for his alleged role in the 1998 Coimbatore blasts which had left 33 dead. A couple of weeks ago, leaders of three "secular" parties (the Congress, the BSP and the SP) were vying with each other in expressing their support for Abu Bashar in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, after he was arrested for his involvement in the Ahmedabad blasts. What is the message being sent here?

While subsidy running into hundreds of crores of rupees is given for Haj, nothing tangible is done to wean away the Muslim youth from madrasas and motivate them to join the mainstream. In fact, the reverse is being done. Madrasas are being promoted and computers are being made available in a bid to "modernise" them. Equipment is not the issue; it is the mindset. Modern tools are being used to add to the lethal capacity of a medieval mindset. Right from the young men involved in flying planes into the Twin Towers in New York, to the ones involved in Delhi blasts, all are computer savvy and come from comparatively well-off backgrounds.

The 14-page email of the Indian Mujahideen, sent minutes before the Delhi blasts, started with a quotation from the Holy Quran. It said, "When you encounter (in fight) those who disbelieve, strike their necks first, till when you have completely massacred and wounded many of them. Then bind them firmly (taking them as captives). Thereafter is the time, either for generosity or a ransom, until the war lays down its burden (Quran 47:4)."

In the public outrage following the Delhi blasts, the "secularists" have been careful in not mentioning the fact that the terrorists quoted the Quran. However, they have repeatedly recounted from the same email message the demolition of the Babri structure and the riots in Gujarat as the cause for jihadi anger.

If the presumed injustice to the Muslim community is the cause of strike on India's capital and other cities, why are their fellow jihadis attacking the national capital of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan? The continuing jihadi violence against Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and the large number of Al Qaeda-inspired terror modules functioning in many European countries, can only lead to one conclusion: This is radicalisation calling for a throwback to strict Islamic laws that deny education to women, discourage all entertainment, insist on purdah and carry out summary executions.

And what about 9/11? The US did not have any history of either Gujarat or Babri. The truth is that a section of the Muslim community is now ideologically motivated to impose its will on the rest of the world. The demolition of the Babri structure, Gujarat riots or Muslim grievances are just smoke screens which "secularists" build to camouflage the real intention of terrorists. Then there is a well-practiced effort on the part of the "secularists" to blame the police of targeting "innocent Muslims" and of staging "false encounters". The obvious attempt is to obfuscate issues and prevent security agencies from getting to the conspirators.

To divert attention from the real issues, "secularists" frequently raise red herrings. For them, the Simi is an innocent organisation of Muslim youth fighting for justice, and a little bit of violence on the side is a minor indiscretion on the part of some misguided among them. So the ban on Simi is wrong. Shift the focus instead to the Bajrang Dal and the VHP, term them dangerous and ask for a ban on them. To "secularists", Simi's call for "Nizam-e-Mustafa" is probably only an expression of Muslim aspirations and "Bharat Mata ki Jai" is a provocative slogan endangering communal harmony!

There is no end to this sort of perverse logic. The other day, in a television studio, a Congress leader sought to redefine terror. To him, Hindu-Christian clashes in Orissa and Karnataka and the demolition of a mosque or church were in the same category as the serial bomb blasts. This logic has only one aim: dilute the severity of the crime of the terrorists and find scapegoats. If at all the definition of terrorism has to be enlarged, then logically it should include the Congress consenting to Partition, reversal of the Shah Bano judgment, demolition of temples and the forced eviction of Kashmiri pandits, revocation of land allotted to the Amarnath shrine board, the move to demolish Ram Sethu, allowing religious conversions through fraud and bribes, permitting hate literature against Hindu deities, displaying vulgar paintings of Hindu gods and "Bharat Mata" by M.F. Husain... The list is endless. Will "secularists" still insist on enlarging the scope of "terror-related" activities?

"Secularists" won't allow laws which can help security agencies combat terror. Such laws already exist in most western countries. In most European countries, a terror suspect can be detained for up to 30 days before being produced in the court. In the US, the anti-terror provisions are even stricter. These are needed because the terror-trained are well indoctrinated and tough nuts to crack. Besides, as recent events in our own country have revealed, the trail often goes cold if even one cell is alive. Security agencies worldwide have learnt that in the Al Qaeda-trained cells they are dealing with highly sophisticated and indoctrinated tough young men.

Muslim alienation and economic distress is leading some of the community's youngsters to look to terror as an instrument of action - this is another "secular" argument. This is an absolute lie. Every other group that feels alienated or discriminated against is using democratic means of organised protest, political clout and intervention in the political process to get its demands accepted. Why is it that only one community is keeping away and sympathising with the merchants of terror? Why is it that Osama bin Laden is an icon within one community? Is there a theological underpinning to this macabre drama? Will "secularists" have the intellectual honesty to discuss this aspect of the problem?

- Balbir K. Punj can be contacted at punjbk@gmail.com


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