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Are we rationalizing minority terrorism?

Are we rationalizing minority terrorism?

Author: Rajvir Sharma
Publication: Organiser
Date: May 19, 2002

The Opposition seems to have lost the track. Running a Hate BJP campaign, its only motive remains is the ouster of the BJP, even if it comes at the cost of rationalizing anti-people and anti-national acts of elements opposed to India. Such a parochial attitude is evident ever since the formation of the BJP. With the BJP arriving on the political scene in the early 80s, there has been an ideological contest between the Left, the Congress and the party on account of socioeconomic and cultural thought and programme. However, anti-BJPism did not become a cult before it became a real claimant to or occupant of power. Still the opposition to its ideology was within the limits, of a civil society frame. The sense of insecurity among the anti-BJP political forces, nevertheless, was never so high as it is today. in fact, this insecurity has driven the opposition to the level of animosity, if not that of antinationalism. The attempted rationalisation of minority terrorism in the world as well as in India by the Opposition in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in the US on September 9, 2001 is an example of its anti-national attitude. If the Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Left really loved secularism and the cause of national unity and integrity, they should have vehemently protested against the Imam of Jama Masjid who justified the acts of jehadi elements in Afghanistan and also in J&K. The silence of these self-proclaimed champions of secularism could be taken as a tacit support to the views justifying terrorist tactics of the Islamic fundamentalists. It did not occur to them even for a moment that these forces were in violation of human rights of the innocents and the security forces at the first available opportunity anywhere and any time. They fail to perceive the designs of those who confirmed their opposition to India who was supporting America in its fight against global terrorism. The Left did not like even this instance when it made no secret of its opposition to India's support - to America without realising its implications for India.

Similarly opposition to Lahore Bus Yatra is another instance of their implicit support to the cause of terrorist that was evident in their criticism of a very bold and timely initiative of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to deflate the tension between Pakistan and India and also to put into operation the process of finding long term solution to the contentious issues between the two. It also aimed at putting an end to cross-border Terrorism. But the opponents were once again driven by the fear of rise of BJP's' image in general and amongst the Muslims in Particular; if the Prime Minister succeeded in resolving the long-standing issues or in promoting the idea of co-existence.

Opposition to POTO (now POTA) is the third example of the BJP's critics to send a hidden message to the perpetrators of terrorism and that is that the opposition would not allow such a law to be passed without attaching a motive and a question mark. That is what they did when they argued unconvincingly that POTO would be misused against the minorities as was done, in their opinion, in the case of TADA. They also cited the examples of release of many people arrested in POTO by the judiciary in Maharashtra rind Gujarat. That such interpretations to the efforts of the Government to fight against terrorism will only strengthen extremism and terrorism is beyond any doubt. The view of the Opposition on this issue created an impression that minorities have a fundamental right to fundamentalism and that any action under that law shall be treated as taken against them as prejudiced even if they are suspected or found to be involved in the acts of violence. Otherwise the release of persons arrested in POTO should have been treated as one good example of in-built mechanism in POTO against any misuse. But so much is the obsession against BJP that the critics refused to see reality and unknowingly perhaps, reassure the anti-national elements of their unstinted support in case action is taken against them under POTA. The support being given to A R Gilani, a Delhi University Lecturer, suspected to be involved in terrorist attack on Indian Parliament, by the so-called defenders of human rights and having the Left mindset is a case in point. Such behaviour in our society may be understood as a direct or indirect rationalisation of terrorist violence.

The latest example of such rationalisation is the Gujarat debate inside and outside the Parliament. It has raised more doubts about the intentions of the Opposition when the idea was not to find ways and means to restore normalcy and reduce the sufferings of the victims of violence as much as to discredit BJP amongst the Muslims and its allies. In fact, Mulayam Singh Yadav could not conceal these designs when he averred that the Opposition, though lost the censor motion, succeeded in its objective of creating and widening cracks within the NDA, no matter at whose and at what cost. If one makes a content analysis of the editorials, and the statements of Modi-baitors and Hindutva-bashers, one finds one common thread running among them: Muslims have been subjected to genocide', 'discrimination', 'injustice' and that such acts of state sponsored violence against the Muslims would push them towards 'terrorism'. Now, one wonders whether such an analysis should be treated as an exhortation to Muslims or a warning. Advancing such arguments may only mean preparing a ground for justifying Muslim terrorism in future. "We had already predicted it" could become a refrain of anti-BJP mindset whenever the Muslims are found involved in acts of subversion, extremism and mayhems. It is in this context that condemnation of Godhra could have gone a long way in establishing secular credentials of India and the Congress and its associates because Hindus also have, one believes, equal rights including human rights, in a secular India. The leader of the Opposition could have gained a tall stature had she directed the Congress workers to organise peace march for justice to all in Gujarat including the Hindus, but this was not to be. She seems to be competing for Muslim votes at the cost of social harmony and national interest. The Opposition has decided to play negative politics while following only one principle: We shall criticise and oppose you, no matter what you say or do. That is why they did not hesitate even in welcoming the observations of EU on Gujarat even though, it has long-term repercussions for India's sovereignty and integrity.

(The author teaches Political Science at Delhi University.)

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