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Terrorism is not due to religion: Locate underlying Politics!

by Ram Puniyani Mail From India: Politics in contemporary times is wearing the clothes of religion; much too often. It may be global politics of imperialist countries, to control the oil wealth, or the politics to re-impose values of birth based inequality in South Asian countries, religion is the cover. In Pakistan and many West Asian countries , it in the name of Islam that feudalism-authoritarianism persists and is being strengthened, in Myanmar-Sri Lanka Buddhism is the cover, while in India, it is the label of Hinduism, which is being abused to stifle the values of equality and liberalism. Too often such acts of sectarian politics affect the creative people, their gazal concerts are disrupted, their films are banned-attacked by the storm troopers. Many times warnings are given to them and apologies sought for the hurt feelings of religion or nationalism. Priyanka Chopra, the star from bollywood who has been doing a serial in US television, Quantico, has been in the news for similar reasons (June 2018). In one episode of this series; the character played by her thwarts the nuclear attack by some Hindu-Indian terrorist, in the nick of time when Indo Pakistan summit is to take place. The hurt sentiment brigade announced “Hindu Sena appeals to public in general to boycott any work, ads or movies of Priyanka Chopra and appeals to Indian government to strip her of Indian citizenship and deny her entry in India.” In an over bending attitude the actor tweeted “I’m extremely saddened and sorry that some sentiments have been hurt by a recent episode of Quantico. That was not and would never be my intention. I sincerely apologize. I’m a proud Indian and that will never change,” One actor from film industry Pooja Bhat did firmly stand with Chopra, defending her right of freedom as an actor. What is in continuation with this pattern is that while in current times the films, serials, acts of fiction abound with Muslim characters as terrorists-extremists, this episode of Quantico, showing a Hindu character in the evil role brought forth the usual threats and demanded the cancellation of citizenship of the actor! One must say that labeling any act of violence in the name of religion is a trend which has picked up in the wake of 9/11 twin tower tragedy. While the terrorist groups were groomed, indoctrinated by the superpower US, to join the military fight against Soviet Russia’s occupation of Afghanistan, the whole exercise of indoctrination was done by using a version of Islam prevalent in Saudi Arabia. The master of the planning was sitting in Washington. The whole act of insane terrorism was done in the name of Islam. The US media came to coin the phrase ‘Islamic terrorism’ and religion and terrorism got associated for the first time, despite the fact the people from many religions have been involved in the acts of terror most of the time. It was in continuation with this trend that when India witnessed the involvement of number of Hindu nationalists in the acts of terror, the word, Hindu terror, saffron terror or Hindutva terror started floating in the air. Apologies were demanded for use of this term in the wake of granting bail to the likes of Pragya Thakur or Aseemanand. In the aftermath of Malegaon blast of 2008, the meticulous investigation of Hemant Karkare, the Maharashtra ATS chief, brought forth the fact that the motor cycle used for the blast was owned by Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, an associate of different Hidnutva organizations. With his investigation hoards of Hindu names cropped up. This led the trail to Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit, Major Upadhaya, Swami Dayanand and Swami Aseemanand among many others who were part of Hindu nationalist organizations, some owing allegiance to RSS directly. The investigation did lead to arrest of many of them; two of them, RSS ex Pracharaks have been convicted for life term in case of Ajmer blast. The likes of Sadhvi Pragya, Purohit and Assemanand have been let off on bail. Swami had confessed and given the details of planning of terror acts in presence of a Magistrate and lot of material was recovered from the lap top of Swami Dayanand Pande. One Sunil Joshi, who was also alleged to be part of the team, was murdered and it was presumed that he was murdered for making sexual advances to Sadhvi Pragya. Despite these investigations; later due to change of the Government at Center (2014); the likes of Sadhvi and Swami have got bail! Whether the truth will ever be upheld and honored is the question. What also remains unanswered is that Rohini Salian, who was the public prosecutor in the cases involving Sadhvi etc. was asked to go soft on the cases with the change of Government at the center. It does raise many question related to crime and punishment. In Mumbai blast (1993) cases one Rubina Memon was given life imprisonment as the car used for blast cases was registered in her name. In Malegaon blast, Sadhvi owned the motorcycle used for blasts but was given the bail! In present times things are much worse as during last few years the number of Hindus involved in lynching in the name of cow has gone up immensely, funds are collected for the family of Shambhulal Regar the brutal killer of Afrazul, in the name of love Jihad! The associations of killers of Prof Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh to Hindutva organizations are coming forth. While the actors of the stature of Chopra can wriggle out to save their careers and films with an apology, the need to look at the construction of perceptions is needed more than before, as religion has been dragged in the murky World of politics all round.

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India’s ethno-sectarian mosaic

Conceptually, one can trace back domestic façade of Hindu extremism to erstwhile Maha-Bharat mythology. Foundation stone is provided by the religion sanctified Hindu caste system.In the historic perspective, during 1820s or so the British tried to consolidate whatever the caste Hindus were available into a single organized entity. Then on, Hindu community started working towards their national reassertion and around 1925, the concept of “Hindu Rashtra” or Hindu nation state was floated. India is spreading hate-based ideology and Hindutva extremism under present government. Amendments are being incorporated in text books to tarnish Muslim leaders’ image. Prime Minster Narendra Modi, a well-known RSS representative in the BJP government and a flag bearer of the Hindutva ideology of RSS is behind the intimidating plot, rendering full governmental support and protection to the perpetrators of anti-minority drive. The ‘Ghar Wapsi’ movement is based on getting back emigrant Hindus into the folds of Hindutva and converting the Christians and Muslims into the fold of their ‘original religion’. The movement has gained momentum during the current regime. No reversal is expected in Indian behaviour. So, people of the region in general and minority groups living in India should learn to adjust to this stark reality and take measures to mitigate the impact of state practiced exclusionism by India, it is indeed a difficult path to tread. This pattern is likely to go on because “Hindu India” sells well among the rural Hindu masses which form the major chunk of Indian population. Hindu votes will continue to determine who could rule India. Therefore, even the mainstream political parties, which previously prided themselves with secular ideology have largely tilted towards appeasement of Hindu majority, at the cost of minorities. Indian is habitual of ignoring the reports of Human Rights watchdogs which convey their concerns about oppression of Indian minorities quite frequently and rather strongly. The United Nations need to take cognisance of the situation and place India on watch list with regard to its ill-treatment of minorities. Unless appropriate safeguards are built, in line with Universal Declaration of Human rights, majoritarian rule in Hindu India would continue to oppress the Indian citizenry.

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Republic Day: An Icon of National Pride

On 23rd March 1940, a historic resolution passed by the annual session of Muslim League became the basis for the formation of a new nation-state in South Asia: “No constitutional plan would be workable or acceptable to the Muslims unless geographical contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary. That the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign”. Pakistani nation is resolved to redeem its pledge given to its founding fathers that it will protect the homeland. We are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language, and literature, art, architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of value and protection, legal laws and moral code, aptitude, and ambitions. We have our own distinctive outlook on life and of life. Vision of Pakistan’s founding fathers was prophetic. Post independence behaviour of India towards Pakistan, other neighbours and its own minorities including the scheduled castes indicate that creation of Pakistan was the only way forward for the Muslim majority provinces of British India. Happy Pakistan Day!

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