Between despair and hope
The Rae Bareli court's discharge of L.K. Advani in the Ayodhya
demolition case is a mockery of justice, but the Supreme Court's
intervention in the Best Bakery matter revives hopes that the Indian
legal system might prevail in bringing the perpetrators of communal
hate crimes to book.
THE waywardness of India's police and justice delivery systems has few
parallels when it comes to punishing communal offences and hate
crimes. What began as a devious process of manipulation of the first
information reports in the Babri mosque demolition case, and the
totally illegitimate dropping of conspiracy charges against the
principal accused, turned into a grotesque parody of justice on
September 19 when the Special Court of Magistrate Vinay Kumar Singh in
Rae Bareli framed charges against seven persons, including Murli
Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharati, Vinay Katiyar and other Vishwa Hindu
Parishad leaders, but discharged Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani.
Advani is the man who spearheaded, planned and ideologically inspired
the raucous agitation that led to the razing of the mosque on December
Precisely what charges are framed against the remaining seven will be
only known on October 10. The list of offences filed by the CBI under
the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is not long: Section 147 (rioting), 149
(committing a crime), 153A and 153B (spreading communal hatred) and
505 (creating ill will). But it is clear that the indictment will not
include the all-important charge of criminal conspiracy, nor offences
under Sections 295 and 295A of the IPC (defiling places of worship and
indulging in acts intended to outrage the religious feelings of any
Thus, the perpetrators of one of the worst hate crimes in India's
history - who pulled down a monument which had become a symbol of
pluralism - will not even stand trial for destroying a mosque and
exploiting communal hatred, which they so clearly did.
This is bad enough. What is downright outrageous is that Advani, who
was the most important leader of the anti-Babri movement which the BJP
took over in the late 1980s, and who conducted the infamous Somnath-to-
Ayodhya rath yatra and played a direct, preponderant role in the
events leading to December 6, has been let off the hook. The
ostensible reason made public for this is the curious argument that
the CBI cited two conflicting testimonies, one of which claimed that
Advani tried to calm down the restive crowd (while the other said he
did nothing to restrain leaders like Uma Bharati and Sadhvi
Ritambhara, with whom he shared the dais who made extremely
Basing himself on this claimed contradiction, the Magistrate gave
Advani the "benefit of the doubt". Strangely, he cited the Supreme
Court's ruling in the Praful Kumar Samal case, that if the scales of
evidence presented against the accused during a trial are "even" then
that is a fit ground for acquittal. This conforms to the canonical
rule that a person must be considered innocent until proved guilty.
Logically, this rationale can come into effect only at the conclusion
of a trial, not before it, at the stage of framing charges. It does
not stand to reason that a person against whom there is weighty prima
facie evidence should be simply let off. The Supreme Court had said:
"If an element of grave suspicion is there and the accused has
explained the doubts then he can be discharged." Advani manifestly did
not explain away any "doubts".
The Magistrate has erred in exonerating Advani. Independent
investigations have turned up overwhelming evidence of Advani's
pivotal role in the processes and events that led to the demolition,
including the happenings of December 6. The Citizens' Tribunal on
Ayodhya, comprising Justices O. Chinappa Reddy, D.A. Desai and D.S.
Tewatia documented Advani's role at length in its Report of the
Inquiry Commission (July 1993) and in the Judgement and
Recommendations (December 1993), both published by the Tribunal (K-14
Green Park Extension, New Delhi 110016).
These show that Advani was central to the build-up to the events of
December 1992 - from numerous kar sevas, the 1990 rath yatra, and
manipulation of the State government (then under the BJP's Kalyan
Singh), to misleading the courts, and organising crucial coordination
meetings of the Sangh combine. The intention to raze the mosque was
repeatedly and unambiguously stressed during these events. The very
purpose of the rath yatra was to kindle "Hindu pride" and "get even"
with history - of "conquest and humiliation" of the Hindus by
"foreigners". The main slogans of the yatra were provocative: "there
are only two places for Muslims - Pakistan or kabristan
The Inquiry Commission recorded detailed testimony of eyewitnesses to
show that plans for December 6 were launched by the BJP-VHP-Bajrang
Dal with a lalkar saptah starting November 29. By December 2, 90,000
kar sevaks had gathered at Ayodhya. By December 3, they numbered
150,000. On December 5, Advani addressed a public meeting in Lucknow
and was to go to Varanasi, reaching Ayodhya/Faizabad on December 5.
He, however, altered his plans so as to reach Faizabad to join an all-
important closed-door meeting at Vinay Katiyar's house, where the
ultimate, detailed, nuts-and-bolts plans for December 6 were
Among those present were the RSS' H.V. Seshadri and K.S. Sudershan,
the VHP's Ashok Singhal, Vinay Katiyar and Acharya Dharmendra, the
Shiv Sena's Moreshwar Save, and the BJP's Pramod Mahajan. Meanwhile, a
rehearsal of the demolition operation took place the same day near the
According to the Commission, on December 6, Advani arrived at the site
at the same time as Joshi (10-30 a.m.). He, among others, addressed
the kar sevaks. His speech was intemperate. Meanwhile, some kar sevaks
had breached the security cordon and were in a highly excited state.
At 11-30 a.m., Uma Bharati made a highly inflammatory speech,
including slogans "tel lagao Dabar ka, naam mitao Babar ka", "Katue
kate jayenge, Ram-Ram chillayenge", and so on.
At 11-45, Advani reportedly announced, "We don't need bulldozers to
pull down the mosque; [we can do it manually by removing chunks of its
wall]". The assault on the mosque began. Advani then ensured that the
demolition would continue and be completed without the intervention of
Central paramilitary forces stationed nearby. At 3-15 p.m., he urged
kar sevaks "to block all entry points to Ayodhya to prevent Central
forces from entering, and warned the armed forces not to touch the kar
sevaks." The eight accused were present at the site for a full seven
hours and made no gesture to distance themselves from the destructive
and illegal actions of the day.
The December 6 events were videographed and photographed by numerous
journalists, by Indian and foreign TV channels and, above all, by the
Intelligence Bureau, which reportedly has nine hours of tapes.
(Curiously, the CBI did not present all of these to the special
Yet, the Sangh Parivar has launched a disinformation campaign which
claims that Advani did his best to restrain the kar sevaks and shed
tears at the demolition! It is relevant to ask if these were tears of
sorrow or of joy: Advani has consistently described the anti-Babri
agitation as a "national" movement for Hindu self-assertion, which
finally removed what he called the "ocular" insult in the form of the
The disinformation and evasion of responsibility speaks of monumental
cowardice on the part of Advani & Co. They revelled in the
destruction, and hugged one another in exultation and mutual
The BJP rode to political power at the Centre on the anti-Babri Masjid
movement. In all honesty, its leaders must face trial and declare
either that they stand by their role or that they regret and repent it
and apologise. They cannot both take credit for the act and attribute
its planning and execution to mysterious, unknown and unknowable
forces - as Sangh ideologue K.R. Malkani once did, by blaming the
There was a clearly identifiable human agency behind December 6: the
BJP-VHP-RSS-Bajrang Dal-Shiv Sena's top leadership, including Advani
and Joshi. But cowardice is a Sangh characteristic. Following Gandhi's
assassination, the RSS was banned. Thousands of its members quickly
stopped participating in its activities and claimed they were never
The Rae Bareli order is odious. But Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister
Mulayam Singh Yadav has decided not to appeal against it - on the
grounds that "I am a firm believer in the judiciary and of the view
that the court verdict on Ayodhya should be acceptable to all ... I
welcome the court's decision and have nothing more to say ... " Amar
Singh has gone even further to say that the government cannot appeal
against it. This strengthens the suspicions of a secret collusive deal
between the BJP and the Samajwadi Party. Mulayam Singh Yadav has
decided to accept the BJP's Kesarinath Tripathi as Speaker and not to
poach on the party's MLAs. This makes the whole matter all the more
sordid. It sets back hopes of a just trial and further shakes the
public's confidence in India's justice delivery system.
IN contrast to this comes the Supreme Court's intervention in the Best
Bakery case. Through two hearings on September 12 and 19, the court
effectively began piloting and guiding the Gujarat government in its
handling of the consequences of a "fast-track" special court's
judgment exonerating all the accused for the burning of 14 Muslims.
While questioning Gujarat's Chief Secretary and Director-General of
Police directly, Chief Justice V.N. Khare obtained an assurance that
Gujarat's Advocate-General would now take full charge of the matter.
He would redraft the appeal against the "fast-track" court verdict.
The Supreme Court tried to establish three things: the Best Bakery
investigation was faulty because 37 of the 43 witnesses turned
hostile; there was miscarriage of justice; and there is a case for re-
trial of the accused outside Gujarat. The Gujarat government did admit
that there was miscarriage of justice and there is a case for re-trial
(although that should not be outside Gujarat). It also claimed the
investigation was not faulty. However, the Supreme Court asked it to
file an affidavit on October 9 to say on what lines its appeal would
be drafted. This suggests close supervision or stewardship of the
process of litigation.
Welcome as this intervention is, the Court needs to go beyond the Best
Bakery case and look at the horrendous crimes committed during the
Gujarat pogrom in their totality. Crimes Against Humanity, the report
of the Concerned Citizens' Tribunal, comprising eminent jurists and
scholars, concluded, after examining 2,094 statements and 1,500
witnesses, that the pogrom that lasted several weeks amounted to
genocide in the strict sense of the term. The pattern of violence
shows: selective targeting of Muslims, inhuman forms of brutality,
military precision and planning, and use of Hindu religious symbols.
This was planned, sustained and prolonged through hate speech,
intimidation and terror by the RSS, the BJP and the VHP-Bajrang Dal,
with the complicity and participation of policemen and bureaucrats,
encouraged by Narendra Modi.
It is clear that Muslims were targeted not because they did this or
that act, but simply because they were Muslims. The killer mobs'
declared intention, as revealed by their own slogans, was to
liquidate, mentally harm, humiliate and subjugate Muslims and "destroy
them", "wipe them out from Gujarat", and cleanse the state of Islam.
The physical violence directed against Muslims, the calculated
destruction of the economic basis of their survival, and sexual
assaults against Muslim women as an instrument of terror, all point to
Article II of the International Convention on Genocide, 1948 defines
genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to
destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or
religious group" like: "(a) killing [its] members; (b) causing [them]
serious bodily or mental harm; (c) deliberately inflicting on the
group conditions ... calculated to bring about its physical
destruction... ; (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births
within the group; (e) forcibly transferring [its] children ... to
The Gujarat pogrom unambiguously fits the definition. As a signatory
to the Convention, India is obliged to punish the perpetrators of
genocide through a competent court. This demands a special independent
National Tribunal for hate crimes and genocide. This alone can meet
the ends of justice.
For this to happen, we must see the numerous cases of violence not as
discrete acts, but in their totality as genocide. This sui generis
process of litigation will need special agencies for investigation and
prosecution as well as victim protection. It would be a historic
tragedy if the Indian state once again fails to bring the perpetrators
of hate crimes to book.
Volume 20 - Issue 20, September 27 - October 10, 2003
India's National Magazine
from the publishers of THE HINDU
India's National Magazine
From the publishers of THE HINDU
Vol. 16 :: No. 04 :: Feb. 13 - 26, 1999
A bitter aftermath
The pattern set in the aftermath of the Staines killing shows that
there are enough voices in positions of authority willing to justify
heinous crimes committed in the name of religion.
SENSITIVITY to public opinion was at a premium in the aftermath of the
grisly murder of Australian missionary Graham Stewart Staines and his
two young boys by a lynch mob in Orissa on January 23. Union Home
Minister L.K. Advani put on record his strong condemnation of the
event, as did Minister for External Affairs Jaswant Singh, the latter
describing it as a "crime against humanity". But for each such
concession to the demands of rectitude, there was a gesture that
tended to work to the contrary purpose. One such act was Advani's
preemptive exculpation of the Bajrang Dal - his claim that he had
authoritative information that the organisation was not involved in
the crime. Another was BJP president Kushabhau Thakre's assertion that
Christian missionaries were inviting trouble through their activities.
He said: "I appeal to the missionaries that they are sitting on a
stack of hay. They better be careful."
Thakre's remarks conformed to a pattern of morally dubious conduct by
the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliate organisations
after the Staines murder. In what could only be construed as a gross
act of dishonouring the dead, Vishwa Hindu Parishad vice-president
Giriraj Kishore asserted that the work of Graham Staines amidst
leprosy sufferers was a facade, since there were no such people within
a wide radius of where he lived and worked. As an intervention in an
emotionally fraught situation, this was only slightly less coarse than
that of Hindu Jagran Manch's Orissa unit president Subhash Chouhan. He
said that Graham Staines was killed because he was engaged in
proselytisation. The pattern set in the aftermath of the killing was
very clear. Adherents to the RSS worldview who happen to be in the
Government felt obliged to issue deprecatory noises. But those outside
the Government felt few such restraints.
EASTERN PRESS AGENCY
Australian Christian missionary Graham Stewart Staines with wife
Glade and children Philip, Esther and Timothy, in a picture from the
A three-member team of Cabinet Ministers visited the site of the
murder as part of the Government's crisis management strategy. Prior
to his departure to the spot, Union Minister for Steel and Mines
Naveen Patnaik made it clear that he looked at the event through the
miasma of his antagonism to the Orissa unit of the Congress(I).
Defence Minister George Fernandes and Human Resource Development
Minister Murli Manohar Joshi chose a strategy of prudence in advance
of their visit - the former because he is a key member of the BJP-led
Government's crisis management effort and the latter because of his
well-advertised proximity to hardline elements in the RSS.
The ministerial trio spent one hour at the scene of the crime. On its
return to Delhi, the team issued a statement which ascribed
responsibility for the crime to an "international conspiracy" by
"forces which would like this Government to go". If this effectively
ruled out the culpability of the Sangh Parivar and its affiliates, the
team also urged that a judicial commission of inquiry be constituted
to look into the murder in order to uncover the conspiracy.
Shortly afterwards the Government announced, on the advice of the
Chief Justice of India, that a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court,
Justice D.P. Wadhwa, had been appointed as a one-man commission of
inquiry into the Staines killing. Union Minister for Information and
Broadcasting and Cabinet spokesman Pramod Mahajan said that the
inquiry report would be completed by April, so that it could be placed
in Parliament in its next session.
The Director-General for Investigations in the National Human Rights
Commission, D.R. Karthikeyan, visited the scene of the crime. His
report is expected to be submitted by the middle of February, though
with the appointment of the judicial commission it could become an
input for the broader inquiry. Certain suggestions that he made in the
context of the local police investigation, such as entrusting it to
the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the State police and
putting an officer of the rank of Superintendent in charge of it, have
A two-member team from the National Commission on Minorities
comprising James Massey and N. Neminath also went to the site. Its
report is also expected to be an important input into the inquiries of
the judicial commission.
During their visit to Manoharpur village in Orissa a few days after
the murder of Graham Stewart Staines and his sons, members of the
Cabinet team, Defence Minister George Fernandes, Human Resource
Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi and Minister for Steel and
Mines Naveen Patnaik, make inquiries.
IN the midst of these exertions, the ambivalence of official
utterances continues to cause disquiet. It is well known that the
Bajrang Dal - as in the case of most organisations in the RSS
constellation - does not maintain membership rolls. Established in
1984, just when the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was beginning to take
shape in the strategies of the RSS, the Bajrang Dal honed its
agitational and inflammatory skills in the lethal campaign to bring
down the mosque in Ayodhya. The slogans it crafted as part of this
campaign still ring with menace and were often chanted by the riotous
mobs which took a heavy toll of human life during the six years
leading up to the demolition.
Many modern legal systems have a category of offence known as "hate
speech". Slogans and declamations that tend to engender a sense of
antipathy towards any group of people are an offence in themselves.
And if they are issued in close temporal or spatial connection with
actual incidents of violence against these groups, a direct
association is drawn. The onus is then on those who raise the
inflammatory slogans to prove that there is no connection with the
actual act of violence.
By this reasonable benchmark, the BJP spokesmen who have, at every
juncture since the cycle of anti-Christian violence began, exerted
themselves in the cause of strife rather than harmony bear a share of
the blame for the Staines killing. And their conspicuous lack of
remorse after the event has certainly contributed to the sustenance of
an atmosphere of violence. This has been most recently exemplified in
the alleged gang-rape of a Catholic nun on February 3 in Mayurbhanj
district in Orissa. Heinous crimes have been justified by the supposed
sense of rage at the incursions of alien religions into what is deemed
to be Hindu territory. For the BJP leaders who today represent
governmental authority, this has concurrently become an alibi for a
complete abdication of responsibility.
Volume 24 - Issue 08 :: Apr. 21-May. 04, 2007
INDIA'S NATIONAL MAGAZINE
from the publishers of THE HINDU
Politics of intimidation
The Bharatiya Janata Party is trying to browbeat the Election
Commission and its critics on the anti-Muslim CD issue.
BJP State president Kesri Nath Tripathi with senior leader Lalji
Tandon in Lucknow on March 30.
NO Indian political formation can even remotely match the Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP) when it comes to violating norms of political
decency, defying the law, and pursuing an outrageously divisive and
sectarian agenda. The latest instance is its release on April 3 of a
viciously anti-Muslim compact disc (CD) entitled Bharat ki Pukar (the
call of India) as part of its campaign material for the Uttar Pradesh
The BJP has disowned the CD and feigned ignorance of how it got to be
commissioned, written, approved and released — without sincerely
apologising for it. Worse, it has tried to turn the tables on a
constitutional authority, the Election Commission, as well as its
political opponents. It has also used threats and intimidation to
resist reasonable pressure to play by the ground rules of electoral
Even more disgracefully for the Indian political system, the BJP has
for all practical purposes got away with its offensive conduct. As
this is being written, during the third round of polling in the seven-
phase U.P. elections, it seems highly unlikely that the BJP will be
made to pay politically for its defiance of the prohibition against
using hate speech to win votes, itself a crime against democracy.
The Election Commission issued the BJP a notice asking the party to
explain why it should not be punished under the Representation of the
People Act, 1951 and its Model Code of Conduct, which was in force
when the CD was released. But the BJP, true to type, launched a
counter-offensive and tried to divert attention from this central
issue by demanding that Naveen Chawla, one of the Election
Commissioners, recuse himself from hearing its case. It took this
secondary issue to the Supreme Court on April 13, which has deferred
its hearing to May 8.
Regrettably, the BJP has thus succeeded in getting any resolution of
the issues raised by the CD postponed until it ceases to matter for
the all-important election campaign in U.P.
Now, it can hardly be disputed that the CD is flagrantly anti-Muslim.
It perversely portrays all Muslims as anti-Hindu and anti-national.
They are depicted as duplicitous devils: they trick Hindus into
selling them cows by pretending they will look after them, only to
butcher them in a gory way. They oppress their own women and turn them
into mere reproductive machines - so as to change India's demographic
The CD shows Muslim men abducting innocent Hindu girls and eloping
with them - only to convert them forcibly. (The effect of this was
reinforced in real life by the systematic hounding of mixed couples
from Bhopal and elsewhere, and by orchestrated "protests" against
their marriage, including a typical Hindutva-style attack on a Star
News studio in Mumbai.)
The CD was clearly calculated to incite hatred against a religious
community, divide citizens, and provoke a militant reaction - probably
with a view to triggering a Hindu-communal backlash. There is nothing
vague or unambiguous of its purpose: it is to win votes in U.P., where
the BJP faces a double-or-nothing prospect.
It simply will not do for the BJP to pretend that the CD was
unauthorised and produced by a junior-level "worker" without prior
approval by the party's top leaders, including Lalji Tandon and State
unit president Kesri Nath Tripathi. According to Virendra Singh,
director of the Bulandshehr-based Fakira Films, which produced the CD,
the State BJP leadership was consulted "at every stage of the writing
of the CD" and whenever the script was "modified... and fine-tuned...
" This stands to reason. Withdrawing the CD cannot mitigate the
original offence because the disc is in circulation and has been
viewed by large numbers of people - in excerpts aired on television,
as well as original copies.
The controversial CD.
Prima facie, there is an irrefutable case against the BJP for
violating the election law in a depraved manner and for offending
Sections of the Indian Penal Code that pertain to spreading hatred
against a particular group or using appeals to religious identity and
which prohibit and punish the use of inflammatory communal material.
The Election Commission was not only right to issue a notice to the
BJP, it was duty-bound to act against it. Logically, such action can
take many forms: publicly reprimanding the BJP, imposing a hefty fine,
and derecognising it at least so far as the use of the lotus symbol is
concerned. The E.C. is not merely meant to disqualify a candidate in
retrospect for communal propaganda. Article 324 of the Constitution
gives it a broad mandate, which includes preventing, precluding and
punishing the use of such propaganda during elections.
The "retrospective" argument just does not stand up to scrutiny. The
E.C.'s core job is to do all it can to prohibit effectively the use of
unfair electoral practices. That is why it is empowered to requisition
police and paramilitary forces, transfer and appoint civil servants,
and set rules for the conduct of the electoral process in its minutest
Implicit in, and central to, the E.C.'s function as a statutory
authority is preventive and pre-emptive action so as to guard the
sanctity of elections. To use an analogy, its principal task is not to
punish arsonists but to prevent fires, which vitiate the selection of
the people's representatives - a process vital and indispensable to
democracy. The E.C. would be perfectly within its powers to demand an
explicit, binding commitment from any political party that it will not
use communal means of canvassing electoral support, a breach of which
would automatically entail disqualification and derecognition.
The case for doing so is especially strong because only last December,
the BJP officially released a CD similar to the April avatar. This was
done during its National Council meeting in Lucknow, where the CD
featured as part of the press kit. The BJP fully owns and stands by
this CD. It cannot claim innocence about its cousin/derivative.
It has since produced equally obnoxious advertisements questioning the
patriotic intentions of Muslims through the caption: Kya inka irada
Pak hai? (Are their intentions pure). Several of its top leaders,
including its chief ministerial candidate Kalyan Singh, have publicly
defended their content as "truthful".
The plain truth is that the BJP has tried to browbeat its opponents -
by raising a diversionary issue and by resorting to the melodramatic
(but mercifully aborted) tactic of courting arrest and launching a
self-righteous protest agitation against the E.C.'s notice. (It is
another matter that it also put up a dummy candidate in Tandon's
constituency - his own son - in case the U.P. BJP's topmost leader
faces punitive action.)
This is not the first time that the BJP has resorted to bluff and
bluster, by threatening a "mass agitation", by pretending that any
E.C. action against it would amount to an "electoral emergency", and
by creating a climate of fear. This is a familiar tactic. It takes
recourse to majoritarianism and arouses concern that should a Hindutva
force be even brought to book, the consequences in the form of
disruption of order would be unacceptable.
The BJP did exactly this after the Babri Masjid was demolished in
December 1992, when it prevailed upon the Centre to allow the patently
illegal makeshift Ram-Lala temple built on its rubble to remain.
Indeed, even before that ghastly episode, our courts were reluctant to
take pre-emptive action except of a tokenist variety against it. So
was the government, which retreated each time the BJP adopted an
Here too, the fear of a "majoritarian backlash" trumped all
considerations of constitutional propriety, defence of secularism and
plain legality. Since December 1992, no government has dared to assert
the law of the land. Nor have the demolition's planners and
perpetrators been brought to book.
A similar fear gripped the Establishment after the Gujarat pogrom. The
Centre failed to dismiss the BJP-ruled State government although it
had caused, and continued to preside over, a total breakdown of all
constitutional order: even High Court judges and senior police
officers had to flee their homes in fear. The Opposition too failed to
mount enough pressure on the Centre to impose President's Rule, for
which there has never been, and could not have been, a fitter case.
Worse, elections were allowed to be held while a whole community had
been terrorised, democratic governance had collapsed, and free and
fair canvassing, polling and exercise of rational choices had become
impossible — given the continuing harassment and intimidation of
Muslims, inflamed Hindu-communal sentiments, the BJP-VHP's (Vishwa
Hindu Parishad) goonda raj, and the prevalence of a generalised
climate of fear.
All that the E.C.'s initial and salutary intervention in Gujarat
resulted in was postponement of the elections by a few months - when
the obvious remedy was President's Rule, followed by full return to
normalcy and systematic prosecution of the pogrom's perpetrators. The
Supreme Court's off-the-cuff pronouncements indicating its opposition
to deferring elections did not help.
Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami flanked by Election
Commissioners S.Y. Quraishi and Naveen Chawla, in New Delhi.
The Establishment, in effect, has repeatedly permitted the BJP to hold
and exercise a veto over vital political processes, exercise of police
and prosecution powers, and the running of the administration in
crisis situations such that it would be suborned by the forces of
This does not argue that the Indian government/Establishment has
turned actively communal over the years, only that it has made
deplorable compromises with Hindu communalists or passively accepted
that they deserve to be treated differently from other communalists,
as well as secularists. It is both noteworthy and shameful that the
worst abuses of freedom and the most ferocious attacks on democracy,
secularism and the rule of law in India's recent history have occurred
in situations where Hindu communalism was ascendant or rampant.
Similarly, the Establishment has allowed the BJP and its associates
virtual veto power on a number of policies, especially those
pertaining to religion and politics, to Kashmir, to relations with
Pakistan and other neighbours, and to defence and national security.
BJP leaders have arrogantly begun to assert such "primacy". Three
years ago, L.K. Advani claimed: "The BJP alone can find solutions to
our problems with Pakistan because Hindus will never think whatever we
have done is a sell-out."
The underlying assumption seems to be that by virtue of being
majoritarian or Hindu-communal, the BJP or the Sangh Parivar is a more
authentic representative of Indian opinion than other political
currents or parties. Nothing could be more false. Looked at
historically, the BJP has been a minority current in Indian politics
until the 1990s. Even at its peak, it has never commanded more than a
quarter of the national vote.
Even more important, the assumption is dangerously misguided and
unbecoming of a society and state that aspires to be secular by
drawing a line of basic demarcation between religion and politics. It
simply cannot accord primacy to a particular religious group by virtue
of its large numbers.
This situation must be remedied. That can only happen when progressive
political opinion and civil society pressure is mounted on the
Establishment so that it stands up to the bullying tactics of the
majoritarian communalists. One must hope that the E.C. will set a
positive example in the CD case.
Volume 17 - Issue 13, June 24 - July 07, 2000
India's National Magazine
from the publishers of THE HINDU
An assault on Christians
Emboldened by the weak response of governments to attacks against
Christian places of worship, the affiliates of the Sangh Parivar
unleash a new wave of terror against the community.
EVER since the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance
government assumed power at the Centre, there has been a low-intensity
war against Christians in India, especially nuns and priests, by
groups and organisations loyal to the Sangh Par ivar. A wave of
attacks against Christian evangelists and places of worship through
1998 culminated in the murder of the Australian missionary Graham
Staines and his two sons on January 23, 1999. Dara Singh, a Hindutva
fanatic with links to the Sangh Par ivar, has been arrested in that
connection. A second wave of terror against Christian missionaries,
that extends now to the States of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and
Andhra Pradesh, has culminated this June in a series of bomb blasts in
churches in Ka rnataka, Goa and Andhra Pradesh.
During a peace march in Mumbai on June 17, Christian priests carry a
portrait of Brother George Kuzhikandam, who was bludgeoned to death in
The bombs that went off in churches in the towns of Vasco in Goa, Wadi
in Karnataka, and Ongole and Tadepalligudem in Andhra Pradesh, point
to a qualitatively new phase in the campaign of organised violence
against Christians in the country. Although the identity of the forces
behind the blasts is yet to be established, the nature of the attacks,
their target and timing, point the finger of suspicion at the Sangh
Parivar. In fact, the month of May alone saw two bomb attacks in
Andhra Pradesh; the first in Machlipatnam where 30 persons were
injured in a bomb blast at a prayer meeting on May 21, and another in
Vikarabad where an explosive device planted in a church was
fortunately defused in time. The simultaneous bomb blasts in the four
towns suggest th at the perpetrators have been emboldened by what has
been seen as a weak and non-serious state response to the terror
campaign so far.
At 6 a.m. on June 8, a bomb exploded on the precincts of the St. Ann
Catholic Church in the industrial town of Wadi in Gulbarga, shattering
glass panes. A second blast occurred at 9 a.m. after the police had
reached the spot, surveyed the area and recove red residual material
of the earlier blast. When a car parked in the church precincts was
moved, a tin box was found protruding from the ground. But it exploded
before the bomb disposal squad could defuse it. One person was injured
in the blast. Wadi has a Christian population of about 80 families.
Around the same time a blast at the St. Andrews Church in Vasco in
south Goa shattered windowpanes and twisted grills out of shape. At
8-15 a.m. that day, the Gewett Memorial Baptist Church in Ongole was
the scene of a bomb blast which because it took pl ace after the
morning service, only injured three persons. A bomb went off at the
Mother Vannini Catholic Church at Tadepalligudem in West Godavari
district, around the same time.
The police have already established certain significant facts with
regard to the blasts. "We are now certain that the same group of
conspirators were behind all the three blasts," C. Dinakaran, Director-
General of Police, Karnataka, told Frontline . In all the cases, he
said, the timing device and the detonators used were of the same type.
While in Andhra Pradesh the explosive had a plastic casing, in Goa and
Karnataka the explosives were encased in tin. The bombs were placed,
in all the cases, ne ar the gates or windows of the church. Gelatine,
an explosive commonly used for blasting in the stone quarries and
cement factories of Gulbarga in Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh was the
raw material used. "The other significant fact is that all the towns
have railway stations and we suspect that this may have determined the
choice of place. The conspirators possibly took trains from one place
to another," said Dinakaran.
K. RAMESH BABU
Inside the Mother Vannini Catholic Church at Tadepalligudem in West
Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh which was damaged in a bomb blast
on June 8.
THE serial blast mark a new phase in the continuing two-year-long
violence against the Christian community in the country. The fact of a
conspiracy is now clearly established. This points not only to careful
and coordinated planning, but also to new leve ls and strategies of
planned violence suggestive of a deadly seriousness of purpose. No
longer need mobs be mobilised in the destruction of places of
Christian worship as in the past. The terrorism of the bomb gives the
criminal a degree of invisibility, and widens the range of attack. The
serial bombs were in the nature of a message of intimidation, not just
to those who work for Christian organisations but to Church
congregations, from prayer meetings to Sunday school gatherings. With
the perpetrators of the crime distanced from the scene of the crime,
it is much easier for a compliant state machinery to give them
protection. The fear of indiscriminate strikes anywhere and at any
time has already created a sense of panic amongst Christians. After
all , ifa bomb can be planted in a town as innocuous as Wadi, it could
happen anywhere in the country.
"I read in all this a pattern of violence. These were similar
explosive devices that were used, " Fr. Dr.H.R. Donald De Souza,
deputy secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India
told Frontline. "We suspect an organised movement b y fundamentalist
groups who have been emboldened by the inaction of the government," he
The serial blasts give the lie to the theory of 'secular violence'
that the BJP and the government it heads have put out regarding the
recent attacks on minorities in different parts of the country.
Despite evidence to the contrary, the government held t hat the
innumerable acts of violence against members of the Christian
community, in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and elsewhere, was not communally
motivated but were incidents of "dacoity and loot" by "criminal
According to the United Christian Forum for Human Rights (UCFHR),
there have been 35 recorded anti-Christian crimes between January and
June this year. The most recent of these was the murder of Brother
George Kuzhikandam, who was bludgeoned to death in the Paulus Memorial
School in Navada, Mathura, in U.P. on June 7. Within days of this
incident, a group of nuns were attacked in Mathura by a couple of
scooter-borne assailants. In the case of George Kuzhikandam, U.P.
Chief Minister Ram Prakash Gupta ins isted that money was the motive
behind the murder. "The BJP and the State government reach conclusions
even before the police start investigation," John Dayal, national
convener of the UCFHR said. "Why would a gang of thugs choose to kill
a poor priest i n his school during the holidays ? Or attack nuns who
run a convent school that charges the lowest fees in the area?" Dayal
said that the U.P. Police had promised to post police units at
Christian institutions but these were soon withdrawn. "A police out
post was stationed at the nuns' ashram in Agra. They proved more of a
nuisance as they insisted on being fed and looked after, and were in
any case taken off duty a few days later!" The U.P. government's stand
on the attacks received support from an unexpected quarter. The
National Minorities Commission (NMC) sent an investigative team to the
Agra-Mathura region and its report upheld the official view that the
cases of physical viol ence and murder were committed by anti-social
elements. "The NMC report was prepared by nominees of the present
government. So it is not surprising that they arrived at the
conclusion they did,"said Fr. Donald De Souza. "A group of Christian
parliamentar ians led by P.C. Thomas conducted another enquiry and on
the basis of the same evidence wholly disagreed with the NMC report,"
THE BJP responded to the serial blasts even before the government did.
While the Home Ministry "waited for reports from the States," the BJP
announced that the blasts were the handiwork of Pakistan's Inter-
Services Intelligence (ISI), which, it said, is bent on fomenting
hatred between Hindus and Christians in the country. Prime Minister
Atal Behari Vajpayee had no information to give as to what action the
State governments had taken when a delegation from the UCFHR called on
him three days after the bl ast. By then police investigations could
not establish any ISI involvement.
K. RAMESH BABU
The facade of the church.
Preliminary investigations into the blasts appear to discount the
theory of ISI involvement. "We cannot rule out anything," said DGP
Dinakaran. "But if an organisation as well-funded as the ISI is
involved, we expect they would use more sophisticated bom bs. Why must
they depend on gelatine and not the more expensive and deadly RDX
(research department explosive)?"
Christian leaders attach importance to the proliferation of hate-
literature that has provided the fuel for the attacks, and which also
provides evidence, for a law enforcing agency that wishes to use such
evidence, of who is behind the violence. Hate-lit erature is freely
printed and distributed in States where the Sangh Parivar is active,
and in States where the BJP is in government or is an ally of the
government, as in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. Most hate-pamphlets do
not carry the name of an organis ation that has an address. For
example, there are pamphlets signed by the 'Hindu Jagaran Manch,
Kashi', or by 'Supporters of Dara Singh, the God Who Descended from
Heaven'. While some of the books are directly incendiary, others come
in the garb of work s of historical 'research', and yet others are
books/pamphlets on how to harass Christian missionaries in order to
prevent them from proselytising. For example, a booklet published in
Gujarat suggests that one way to prevent missionaries from working is
to foist false cases on them so that they are always tied up in the
These are faceless, addressless, front organisations of the Sangh
Parivar. If the law enforcing mechanism is slow in apprehending the
culprits in an attack of communally motivated violence, it is even
slower in tracing and taking action against the print ers and peddlers
of hate-literature. The environment in all the three States where the
serial blasts occurred has been vitiated by the activities of the
Sangh Parivar. "We are alarmed at the statements of important people
in the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamseva k Sangh) and the BJP, such as B.K.
Modi and Ashok Singhal, who have been talking of the need to build a
pan Buddhist-Hindu alliance against Christianity and Islam in South
Asia," said Dayal. "The RSS chief speaks of an "Epochal War". What
does all this m ean?" he asked. The NDA government has already swept
the uncomfortable issue of the serial blasts, which they were briefly
confronted with, under the carpet. A passing worry presented itself
when Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N.Chandrababu Naidu was reported to
have tol d a delegation of Christian leaders that he would even
consider withdrawing support to the BJP-led government if the rights
of the minorities were not protected. But that concern too was
dispelled when the Telugu Desam Party leader denied that he had sai d
anything of the sort.
To the Christians in the country, the targets of a sustained two-year-
long cycle of violence, there is little room for comfort. And for
assurances there are few positive measures that have been taken for
India's National Magazine
From the publishers of THE HINDU
Vol. 15 :: No. 26 :: Dec. 19, 1998 - Jan. 01, 1999
RSS and Christians
The Sangh Parivar's violent hatred against Christianity is deep-rooted
and decades old, as is the case with its animosity against several
A. G. NOORANI
ON December 4, 1998, nearly 23 million Christians across the country
observed a protest day demanding that the governments at the Centre
and in the States check the growing violence against members of the
community. A letter of protest, drawn up by the United Christians'
Forum for Human Rights (UCFHR), said: "Since January 1998 there has
been more violence against the Christian community than in all the 50
years of the country's Independence. Nuns have been raped, priests
executed, Bibles burnt, churches demolished, educational institutions
destroyed and religious people harassed." This is persecution in the
strict dictionary meaning of the word "pursue with enmity and ill-
treatment". Mabel Rebello of the Congress(I) told the Rajya Sabha that
day that "50 per cent of these (incidents) have occurred in Gujarat
where the BJP is in power".
On October 8, Gujarat's Director-General of Police, C.P. Singh,
confirmed in an interview to Teesta Setalvad, co-editor of Communalism
Combat (October 1998): "One thing was clear in the pattern of
incidents. It was the activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and
Bajrang Dal who were taking the law into their own hands, which posed
a serious danger to peace in Gujarat. Many of the attacks on the
minorities were after these organisations had whipped up local
passions of conversions (by Christian missionaries) and allegedly
forced inter-religious marriages... our investigations revealed that
in most cases these were entirely baseless allegations."
Two disturbing features of the campaign stand out in bold relief. One
is that the attacks mounted steeply after the Bharatiya Janata Party-
led Government assumed office in March 1998. The Archbishop of Delhi,
Alan de Lastic, said: "What I have noticed is that ever since this
Government came to power at the Centre, the attacks on Christians and
Christian missionaries have increased" (Sunday, November 22). The
other is the Government's wilful refusal to condemn them. Prime
Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's remarks on December 5 were virtually
forced out of him. Union Home Minister L.K. Advani has been false to
his oath of office ("do right to all manner of people in accordance
with the Constitution and the law without fear or favour, affection or
ill-will"). He said in Baroda on August 2 (The Hindu, August 3):
"There is no law and order problem in Gujarat." Three days later the
DGP said, according to The Hindustan Times (August 6), that "the VHP
and the Bajrang Dal were taking the law into their own hands." He also
said that incidents of communal violence had increased manifold over
the last few months; recently the crime rate in the State had
increased by as much as 9.6 per cent. On an average, 39 crimes of
serious nature like murder, rape and dacoity were reported in the
State every day." A member of the investigation team sent by the
Minorities Commission revealed: "After initial reluctance, the
officials named VHP and Bajrang Dal allegedly involved in the mob
attacks on Christians and Muslims" (The Indian Express, August 12).
Advani's certificate of good conduct speaks for itself.
Christians did not rush to register their protest, as they did on
December 4, but for long kept pleading for succour. On October 1, the
national secretary of the All India Catholic Union (AICU), John Dayal,
pointedly remarked: "The AICU is surprised that Union Government and
members of the ruling coalition, including the BJP, have not come out
categorically in denouncing the violence against Christians."
The Bajrang Dal has threatened Christian-run educational institutions
in Karnataka with dire consequences if they did not "Hinduise" them.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Rajendra Singh declared at an RSS
camp in Meerut on November 22: "Muslims and Christians will have to
accept Hindu culture as their own if Hindus are to treat them as
Indians" (an Agence France Presse: report in The Asian Age; November
23). The UCFHR bitterly complained in an open letter published on
November 19: "The state has failed to do its duty in protecting the
life, dignity and property of the victims. At many places, it seems as
if the Centre and the State governments have tacitly supported the
communal groups. How is it otherwise that the State governments have
not taken any action against the virulent and anti-national statements
of the VHP, RSS, Jagran Manch and Bajrang Dal?" (emphasis added,
While the Sangh Parivar's animosity towards Muslims is well-known, its
attitude towards Christians has taken many people by surprise. But,
Vishwa Hindu Parishad general secretary Giriraj Kishore said in
Chandigarh on November 25: "Today the Christians constitute a greater
threat than the collective threat from separatist Muslim elements."
Describing G. S. Tohra, president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak
Committee, as a "separatist", he said, "all minorities including
Muslims and Christians must accept that their ancestors were Hindus."
Ergo, they must all return to the Hindu fold.
Violence in speech inevitably inspires violent acts. As the Jaganmohan
Reddy Commission that went into the Ahmedabad riots (1969) noted, once
communal tension is created in a city, all that is needed is "only a
match to set on fire and a fan to fan the city ablaze." Riots erupt
over trifling incidents only because the atmosphere has been fouled
up. Hence, the need for "a proper appreciation of the communal
atmosphere in a State, in a town or in any particular area," the
Commission stressed. Those who spread hate are the real perpetrators
of violence. The ones who wield the weapon are their mindless agents.
We have tended to ignore a fact that brooks no neglect - the real
cause of the communal riots is the rise of the Sangh Parivar. There
was communal peace even in the early years after Partition. A Home
Ministry review presented to the National Integration Council in 1968
noted: "From 1954 to 1960, there was a clear and consistent downward
trend, 1960 being a remarkably good year with only 26 communal
incidents in the whole country. This trend was sharply reversed in
1961. "That was when riots erupted in Jabalpur - thanks to the Jan
Sangh, the BJP's ancestor. Communal violence has not "looked back"
Justice P. Venugopal, a former Judge of the Madras High Court, who
inquired into Hindu-Christian clashes in Kanyakumari district in March
1982, noted: "The RSS adopts a militant and aggressive attitude and
sets itself as the champion of what it considers to be the rights of
Hindus against minorities. It has taken upon itself the task to teach
the minority their place and if they are not willing to learn their
place, teach them a lesson. The RSS has given respectability to
communalism and communal riots and demoralise administration (sic).
The RSS methodology for provoking communal violence is: (a) rousing
communal feelings in the majority community by the propaganda that
Christians are not loyal citizens of this country..." Report after
report has indicted the RSS specifically or its affiliates (Ahmedabad
1969; Bhiwandi 1970; Tellicherry 1971; Jamshedpur 1981; and Mumbai
VIOLENCE is an integral part of the RSS credo. "It should be used as a
surgeon's knife... to cure the society... Sometimes to protect non-
violence itself violence becomes necessary," RSS leader M.S. Golwalkar
said in 1952. (Spotlights: Guruji Answers, pages 110 and 188). In his
fine work India as a Secular State, Donald Eugene Smith recalled the
desecration of a church in Bihar in 1955 and the almost total
destruction in 1957 of the Gass Memorial Centre at Raipur.
V.D. Savarkar wrote repeatedly in his book Hindutva (1923): "Hindutva
is different from Hinduism." For once, he was right. Hinduism is a
great religion, it is ancient. Hindutva is an ideology of hate. It is
recent. He grouped Muslims and Christians together as ones who do not
share "the tie of the common homage we pay to our great civilisation -
our Hindu culture." He added: "Christian and Mohammedan communities
who were but very recently Hindus... cannot be recognised as Hindus as
since their adoption of the new cult they had ceased to own Hindu
civilisation (Sanskriti) as a whole... For though Hindusthan to them
is Fatherland, as to any other Hindu, yet it is not to them a Holyland
too. Their holyland is far off in Arabia or Palestine."
They are not the only offenders: "Look at the Jews; neither centuries
of prosperity nor sense of gratitude for the shelter they found can
make them more attached or even equally attached to the several
countries they inhabit."
Golwalkar revealed on May 15, 1963 that his first book We or Our
Nationhood Defined was based on Savarkar's brother Babarao's book in
Marathi on the same theme, Rashtra Mimamsa. Golwalkar's second book,
Bunch of Thoughts, praised the book Hindutva and amplified its
ideology. The BJP has used it as a political weapon with dangerous
consequences. Chapter XII of Bunch of Thoughts is devoted to three
"Internal Threats" - Muslims, Christians and the Communists. Of the
first two he wrote: "Together with the change in their faith, gone are
the spirit of love and devotion for the nation. Nor does it end there.
They have also developed a feeling of identification with the enemies
of this land. They look to some foreign lands as their holy places."
They are asked to return to the Hindu fold.
Not that that will be of much help. "For a Hindu, he gets the first
sanskar when he is still in his mother's womb... We are, therefore,
born as Hindus. About the others, they are born to this world as
simple unnamed human beings and later on, either circumcised or
baptised, they become Muslims or Christians." The hatred is
unconcealed. They have no right to proselytise. Hindus alone have it,
for, "returning to one's ancestral faith is not conversion at all, it
is merely home-coming."
Bunch of Thoughts first appeared in 1966 but the good work has been
stepped up since. To the three "internal threats", a fourth is added -
"Nehruism" - and among the perils we face is "Macaulayism". In Delhi
functions an outfit, Voice of India, which proclaims: "We are not
general booksellers and handle only books listed in this catalogue.
Please do not ask for other books." It is an outfit with a mission.
For the catalogue has an "appeal" which reads thus: "Hindu society and
culture are faced with a crisis. There is a united front of entrenched
alien forces - Islam, Christianity, Communism, Nehruism - to disrupt
and discredit the perennial values of the Indian ethos. All who care
for India need to know what is happening, and what is to be done if a
major tragedy is to be averted. Voice of India aims at providing an
ideological defence of Hindu society and culture, through a series of
SOME people were surprised by Advani's assertion at a seminar on
November 6 at Sarnath that "the Buddha did not announce any new
religion. He was only restating with a new emphasis the ancient ideals
of the Indo-Aryan civilisation." The Buddha, he added, derived his
teaching from the Bhagvad Gita and was an avatar of Vishnu. Rebuttals
from Buddhists were swift and sharp (see "Hindutva's fallacies and
fantasies", Frontline, December 4, 1998).
However, no one familiar with the stuff churned out by this factory,
for over four decades, would have been surprised. Its literature is
intolerant of any cultural and religious diversity. It fosters a siege
mentality among Hindus and speaks disparagingly of all others - not
excluding Sikhs and Jews. That is not all. A Hindu who does not share
its bigotry is attacked as being "anti-Hindu". Its literature
represents the spirit, outlook and ethos of the Sangh Parivar. The
writings cited below reveal a revolting virulence. Its moving spirit
is one Sita Ram Goel.
The Parivar's organ Organiser only recently (October 18, 1998)
published a paper he had written in 1983. He wrote: "The English-
educated Hindu elite which controls the commanding heights in
government, educational institutions and mass media has failed the
test either because it has become indifferent to Hindu society, as a
result of having imbibed the current cosmopolitan culture, or because
it has been trained to look at Hindu society through eyes which are
not of its own ancestral culture and, as a result, has become
sceptical about, if not actually hostile to, the merits of Hindu
society. This desperate situation has been made more difficult by a
degenerate politics through which vote-hungry, sloganised, short-
sighted and nominally Hindu politicians weaken Hindu society by
dividing it on the basis of caste, sect, language and region, disarm
Hindu society by sanctimonious and one-sided appeals in the name of
traditional Hindu tolerance, strengthen alienated and aggressive
communities by supporting their separatist demands in the name of
secularism." His intolerance brings all within the sway of his
indictment, bar the Parivar itself.
TO return to Advani's notions on Buddhism, a pamphlet entitled
"Buddhism vis-a-vis Hinduism" published 40 years ago by Ram Swarup for
the outfit asserts: "Buddha, his spiritual experiences and teachings,
formed part of a Hindu tradition... A good Buddhist has perforce to be
a good Hindu too." He went on to attack "foreign" religions. "The
indigenous religions of the countries of the two Americas have been
completely overwhelmed. In the African sub-continent (sic) the local
religions are under a systematic attack from Islamic and Christian
ideologies." The Parivar takes a dim view of the United States.
Golwalkar was asked in July 1967: "What is your opinion about present-
day America?" There was lot to comment about - racial conflict,
Vietnam policy, and so on. All he could say was: "Do you not yourself
see that the American youth is fast dissipating himself in all kinds
of sensual indulgence?" Simplistic, sweeping, defamatory judgment
comes easily to the tribe.
Ram Swarup's tract Hinduism vis-a-vis Christianity and Islam continued
his refrain about "native" faiths. "What is happening in India is also
happening elsewhere. In America even the vestiges of once (sic), a
rich spiritual culture of the Indians, is no more." He developed the
theme in its sequel Hindu View of Christianity and Islam (1992). "The
two ideologies have been active and systematic persecutors of pagan
nations, cultures and religions... We have spoken here with sympathy
and respect not only of pagan Americas and Africa but also of the
pagan past of Egypt, Greece, Rome, Iran, Syria and Arabia." V.S.
Naipaul is in good company with the Sangh Parivar. Unlike him, it
indicts Christianity as well as Islam on this score.
"Hinduism can help all peoples seeking religious self-renewal, for it
preserves in some way their old Gods and religions, it preserves in
its various layers religious traditions and intuitions they have lost.
Many countries now under Christianity and Islam had once great
religions; they also had great Gods who adequately fulfilled their
spiritual and ethical needs... during the long period of neglect, they
lost the knowledge which could revive those Gods, Hinduism can help
them with this knowledge. In its simplest aspect, Europeans can best
study their old pre-Christian religion by studying Hinduism."
Ram Swarup goes on to quote approvingly: "Gore Vidal says that from a
'barbaric Bronze Age text known as Old Testament, three anti-human
religions have evolved - Judaism, Christianity and Islam'; he also
calls them 'sky-god religions'."
Ram Swarup damns all three religions as "great persecutors". The Hindu
response of old was wrong. He writes:
"First, they tried to 'reform' themselves and be like their rulers...
One God, a revealed Book and prophets.... The Brahmo Samaj, the Arya
Samaj, and the Akalis also claimed monotheism and iconoclasm ... in
the case of the Akalis, the new look has also become the basis of a
new separatist-militant politics....
"The second way the Hindus adopted was that of 'synthesis'. The
synthesizers claimed that all religions preach the same thing. They
found in the Bible and the Quran all the truths of the Upanishads and
vice versa. They culled passages from various scriptures to prove
their point... It is by such methods that they proved that the Bible
and the Quran were no different from the Upanishads...."
The wrath wells up as he proceeds and delivers a message which
explains why the country has had to undergo what it has all these
years, especially since 1990: "India became politically free in 1947,
but it is ruled by anti-Hindu Hindus. The old mental slavery continues
and it has yet to win its cultural and intellectual independence.
India is entering into the second phase of its freedom struggle; the
struggle for regaining its Hindu identity. The new struggle is as
difficult as the old one. Hindus are disorganised, self-alienated,
morally and ideologically disarmed. They lack leadership; the Hindu
elites have become illiterate about their spiritual heritage and
history and indifferent and even hostile towards their religion...
India's higher education, its academia and media are in the hands of a
Note what Ram Swarup has to say of the caste system:
"Once when Hinduism was strong, castes represented a natural and
healthy diversity, but now in its present state of weakness these are
used for its dismemberment. Old vested interests joined by new ones
have come together to make use of the caste factor in a big way in
order to keep Hindus down.
"Hindus have been kept down too long. Everyone including the victims
think that it is the natural order of things. Therefore, now when the
Hindu society is showing some signs of stir, there is a great
consternation. Already a cry has gone out of Hindu fundamentalism, we
must expect more of it in future." The readers have been warned. But
India will not be the only country to be saved. "America is awaiting
to be rediscovered in a characteristically Hindu way, not the
THIS represents a worse-than-narrow world-view. It is redolent of the
bigotry of medieval times. This book was published in 1992. His
earlier pamphlet, "Cultural Self-Alienation and Some Problems Hinduism
Faces", also characterised "castes and denominations" as expressing a
"natural and healthy diversity". The ignorance is astounding. "To
Marx, the British conquest of India was a blessing." Hinduism faces
attacks "both from inside and outside. While the forces of self-
alienation are increasing within society, external enemies have
intensified their attack.... Communism, Islam, Christianity have
powerful international links... their World-Centres. Commu-nists have
their Comintern working overtly or covertly." By 1987, Ram Swarup
ought to have known that the Comintern was dissolved on May 22, 1943
and that the "Islamic International, a kind of Muslim Vatican, Rabitah
al'-alam al-Iscaniya" (Muslim World League) is a Saudi-sponsored non-
governmental organisation (1962) which counts for little in India.
Hindus, by comparison, are at a disadvantage, he moans. "They do not
even have a government of their own." Socially, they are falling prey
to "vulgarity"; that is, "gambling, drinking, vulgar film music...
Cinemas (sic) are becoming great moral and social pollutants."
The Christian missionary centre at Nawapara in Jhabua district,
Madhya Pradesh, where four nuns were gangraped on September 23.
So, combat these and go over to the offensive and "look at Islam,
Christianity and Communism... from the Hindu angle." Sikhs are not
spared. Ram Swarup adopts a dual approach in Hindu-Sikh Relationship
(1985). He woos them as "the members of Hindu society" and denounces
them for thinking that "they were different". Base motives are freely
attributed: "Thanks to the Green Revolution and various other factors,
the Sikhs have become relatively more rich and prosperous. No wonder,
they have begun to find that the Hindu bond is not good enough for
them and they seek a new identity readily available to them in their
names and outer symbols. This is an understandable human frailty."
He defends the storming of the Golden Temple. It "became an arsenal, a
fort, a sanctuary for criminals. This grave situation called for
necessary action which caused some unavoidable damage to the
building." There followed "protest meetings, resolutions", which he
deprecates. "The whole thing created wide-spread resentment all over
India which burst into a most unwholesome violence when Mrs. Indira
Gandhi was assassinated. The befoggers have again got busy and they
explain the whole tragedy in terms of collusion between the
politicians and the police. But this conspiracy theory cannot explain
the range and the virulence of the tragedy. A growing resentment at
the arrogant Akali politics is the main cause of this fearful
This is of a piece with the Organiser's defence of Mahatma Gandhi's
assassination in its editorial (January 11, 1970) - "turned the
people's wrath on himself." Its editor then, K.R. Malkani, is now vice-
president of the BJP.
SITA RAM GOEL does not lag behind. His pamphlet "Hindu Society under
Siege" (1981) paints a frightening future: "The death of Hindu society
is no longer an eventuality which cannot be envisaged. This great
society is now besieged by the same dark and deadly forces which have
overwhelmed and obliterated many ancient societies. Suffering from a
loss of its elan, it has become a house divided within itself... Hindu
society is in mortal danger as never before."
One is reminded of the loonies of California, the minutemen who lived
in dread of a Soviet conquest of the U.S. The familiar ghosts of old
are revived - "Islamism", "Christianism" and a new one to keep them
company, "Macaulay-ism" (the educated Hindu who rejects the Parivar's
voodoo credo and the mumbo-jumbo of its shrill rhetoric).
"Ideologically, Communism in India is, in several respects, a sort of
extension of Macaulayism, a residue of British rule. That is why
Communism is strongest today in those areas where Macaulayism had
spread its widest spell." In no other parts of the country, though,
are Indian languages and culture more highly respected than in West
Bengal and Kerala. "Macaulayism is wedded to Secularism and Democracy.
It has to find out for itself as to who are the enemies of Secularism
and Democracy and who their best friends. This can be done only by
looking beyond the United Front of Islamism, Communism and
In the U.S., the minutemen belonged to the lunatic fringe. In India,
the Parivar's ideology is espoused by the party in power, even if it
be through dubious alliances. Scruples are not the Parivar's
strongpoint. On April 4, 1980, L.K. Advani and A.B. Vajpayee endorsed
a formulation in the National Executive of the Janata Party which
pledged its members to accept "unconditionally and strive to preserve
the composite culture and secular state established in our country."
After splitting the Janata Party both rejected the concept of India's
"composite culture." On April 8, 1998, at the BJP's Agra session, its
then president, Advani, denounced the concept of composite culture -
just as the Jan Sangh had done in December 1969.
HARSH NARAIN was a Visiting Professor at Aligarh Muslim University and
Reader at the North-Eastern Hill University. His Myths of Composite
Cultural and Equality of Religions (1990) reveals the unspoken
thoughts of the Parivar; the sub-text beneath the avowed text.
"Mere permanent settlement in a country does not entitle a plunderer
to be looked upon as indigenous. It must first be seen whose interests
he is out to serve. What is his attitude towards Indians? Take an
example. European settlers entered America and ruined the original
inhabitants, whom they named 'Red Indians'. To expect the remaining
Red Indians to regard their European-born rulers as equally indigenous
would be a cruel joke beyond their understanding.
"Islam was out to deal a death blow to the equilibrium, exuberance,
and cosmopolitan character of Indian humanity, later designated as
Hindu culture in juxtaposition to Indian culture."
To him, the Taj and the Qutub Minar are specimens exclusively of
Muslim, not Indian, sculpture. For, he holds: "The Muslims have been
religiously indifferent to, if not contemptuous of, Indian sculpture.
Thanks to the taste of the Sufis, the Muslims took some fancy to
Indian music. The main gamut of Indian literature has also been
untinged with Muslim literature and historic-cultural allusions...
Urdu language and literature, the much-vaunted symbols or vehicles of
composite culture, are not the result of intermingling of Hinduism and
Islam but reflected the Muslim image in Indian garb... nor have the
Hindu heroes and servants been fortunate enough to be honoured by the
This can only be deliberate falsehood, since he flaunts familiarity
with Urdu. The much-maligned Iqbal wrote whole poems in praise of the
Buddha, Ram, Guru Nanak, and Swami Ram Tirtha. He was an admirer of
the Sanskrit poet, Bhartruhari, and had drunk deep at the fount of the
Gita and the Upanishads. Another great poet, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, a
confirmed leftist, wrote nostalgically of the soil of Mathura and in
praise of Krishna. He was also an ardent admirer of Bal Gangadhar
Tilak. But this is understandable of one who stoops to libel one of
the greatest mystics and martyrs of all time, Mansur al-Hallaj. He was
beheaded and his life forms the subject of the feat of scholarship,
Louis Massignon's four-volume The Passion of al-Hallaj. He is accused
of converting to Islam "the Dudwalas and Pinjaris of Gujarat." No
authority is cited in support of the charge.
Harsh Narain holds that while "a sizable section of the Sufis had been
comparatively free from the proverbial emphasis on coercion ... the
role of Sufi tradition in bridging the gulf between Islam and Hinduism
or laying the foundations of a composite culture has been greatly
All this and more only in order to expose "the mad propaganda of
composite culture" and to prove that "Muslim culture cannot be said to
be an integral part of Indian culture and must be regarded as an
anticulture or counter culture in our body politic." This is no
different from the RSS chief's demand (November 22, 1998) that the
minorities Hinduise themselves.
The author turns his attention to Jainism ("failed to develop any
cultural identity of its own") and Buddhism ("basically a life-
negating religion, having little interest in social order, strictly
speaking"). Conclusion? "Our national culture, Indian culture, is a
unity describable as Aryan culture, Hindu culture... Indian culture is
Hindu culture... Muslim and Christian cultures are counter-cultures."
And Parsi culture is "something like" a sub-culture.
So "Hindu culture alone deserves the credit of recognition as the
national culture (abhimanin) of this country, as the culture owning
and possessing this great nation, along with other Indian-born
cultures like Buddhist and Jain cultures as its sub-cultures; Muslim
and Christian cultures being in the nature of tenant-cultures. The
distinction of master-possessor-owner culture and tenant-parasitic
culture has its own significance." One can guess what he is hinting
Sita Ram Goel writes in the same vein. His ardour is reflected in his
three books Catholic Ashrams, Papacy and History of Hindu-Christian
Encounters (304-1996). His preface to the second edition (1996) of the
book on Hindu-Christian encounters explains a lot: "The Sangh Parivar,
which had turned cold towards Hindu causes over the years, was
startled by the rout of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 1984
elections, and decided to renew its Hindu character. The
Ramajanmabhumi Movement was the result. The Movement was aimed at
arresting Islamic aggression. Christianity or its missions were hardly
mentioned. Nevertheless, it was Christianity which showed the greatest
concern at this new Hindu stir, and started crying 'wolf'. Its media
power in the West raised a storm, saying that Hindus were out to
destroy the minorities in India and impose a Nazi regime. The storm is
still raging and no one knows when it will subside, if at all." Thus
"the storm" was unleashed for reasons of power through election
Goel's writings alone prove that the Parivar's ire against Christians
is decades old. In an article published in March 1983 he had asserted
that the ancient Hindu precept sarva dharma samabhava (all religions
are equal) should not be applied to Christians or Muslims.
IT is with some hesitation that one turns to Goel's book Jesus Christ:
An Artifice for Aggression (1994); so wantonly offensive it is. The
focus now is not on the missionaries, or politics, or history. The
target is the faith itself; Christianity as a religion. Why? Because
hitherto "we Hindus have remained occupied with the behaviour patterns
of Muslims and Christians and not with the belief systems which create
those behaviour patterns. We object to Christian missions, but refuse
to discuss Christianity and its God, Jesus. We object to Islamic
terrorisms, but refuse to have a look at Islamic and its prophet,
Muhammad. I see no sense or logic in this Hindu habit."
Is there any other country in the world where such theses are written
for such a purpose? One wonders. "Now, I could see why the history of
Christianity had been what it had been. The source of the poison was
in the Jesus of the gospels."
The Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary is attacked wantonly. There
are chapters on Jesus of history, of fiction and of faith. The thesis?
He did not exist in history. "The quantum of crimes committed by
Muhammad's Islam was only slightly smaller than that of the crimes
committed by the Christianity of the Jesus Christ... The parallel
between Jesus and Hitler was seen as still more striking. The Nazi
creed, as laid down by Hitler, did not sound much different from the
Christian creed as preached by Jesus in the gospels."
Goel is dismayed to find that Jesus Christ "should continue to retain
his hallow" (sic) in India. "Christianity is accepted as a religion
not only by the westernised Hindu elite but also by Hindu saints,
scholars, and political platforms."
Jesus Christ has been "praised to the skies, particularly by Mahatma
Gandhi." But, "it is high time for Hindus to learn that Jesus Christ
symbolises no spiritual power, or moral uprightness. He is no more
than an artifice for legitimising wanton imperialist aggression. The
aggressors have found him to be highly profitable so far. By the same
token, Hindus should know that Jesus means nothing but mischief for
their country and culture. The West where he flourished for long, has
discarded him as junk. There is no reason why Hindus should buy him.
He is the type of junk that cannot be re-cycled. He can only poison
THE virulence of the language reveals the depths of the hatred. This
is what Indians are up against - a powerful hate group, enjoying the
patronage of many politicians in power and in the administration,
which is out to wipe out all traces not only of secularism and
democracy but of religious tolerance, religious and cultural diversity
and, indeed, of decency itself from India.
It shall not come to pass. The answer lies not in forging a united
front of the minorities; it lies in a renewal of the secular ideal in
our politics and in the nation at large.
Volume 19 - Issue 09, Apr. 27 - May 12, 2002
India's National Magazine
from the publishers of THE HINDU
Plumbing new depths
No Indian Prime Minister has justified a communal pogrom the way
Vajpayee has. The BJP's Goa conclave marks the lowest point in
Hindutva's hardline evolution, underlining the need to punish the BJP
ATAL BEHARI VAJPAYEE'S public address at the April 12 BJP National
Executive meeting in Goa has rudely convulsed the secular conscience
of India's citizens. Many were jolted out of the complacent
assumption, promoted by sections of the media, that Vajpayee is some
kind of "moderate" or "liberal" - "the right man in the wrong party" -
a leader "secular" at heart, whose political "compulsions" regrettably
drive him from time to time to compromise with Hindutva. Yet others
attributed the tone and tenor of his speech to his interaction with
the party's young "hardliners" immediately before the Goa meeting,
such as Pramod Mahajan, Arun Shourie and M. Venkaiah Naidu, or to the
temporary "influence" of L.K. Advani, which made him reverse the
stance he adopted during his April 4 Gujarat visit.
The significance of Vajpayee's address goes much beyond his personal
"unmasking". His adoption of a virulent communal posture - which looks
at Indian society in terms of a division between Hindus and Others,
and accords social and political primacy to the majority community -
is shocking, but not really surprising. Vajpayee has never claimed to
be secular in the sense of separating religion from politics, or even
to have cut his umbilical cord to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Several public statements can be readily cited, which indicate
Vajpayee's ideological-political inclinations: for instance, "the
Sangh is my soul" (1995), "I will always remain a
swayamsevak" (September 2000), the Ram temple agitation is a "national
movement", not a sectarian-parochial one (December 2000), and his
Uttar Pradesh election speech in February 2002, in which he chided
Muslims for not voting for the BJP, but also warned them it could come
to power without their support. These are not aberrations. Nor is his
annual obeisance to the Sangh in the form of guru dakshina. Vajpayee
is as dedicated to Hindutva or "cultural nationalism" as any RSS
The true significance of Vajpayee's disquisition in Goa lies in its
relationship to the BJP's recent rightward evolution, and secondly, in
the new low political depths it plumbs. Never before has a Prime
Minister of India, of whatever persuasion, descended to making a hate-
speech against Muslims or Christians, castigating them as "outsiders".
Never before were our religious minorities humiliated by a Prime
Minister who would want them to feel grateful for being "allowed to
pray" - that is, for exercising their fundamental constitutional
Never before has an Indian Prime Minister used such aggressive body
language to justify the Gujarat pogrom by citing the "who-cast-the-
first-stone" argument. Vajpayee blamed the victims of India's worst
communal pogrom for their own suffering. No other Prime Minister has
so blatantly undermined public confidence in the rule of law and in
the possibility of minimal justice for all in this society.
We now know, from numerous independent media accounts, and from
several highly credible and sensitive reports*, that the Godhra
killing of 59 Hindus was not, causally, "the first stone". The post-
February 27 carnage in Gujarat, which has claimed upwards of 850
lives, would probably have occurred even if the Godhra incident had
not. The conditions were ripe for the massacre of Muslims in that
"Hindutva laboratory" State. Elaborate preparations had been under way
for weeks before the massacre, in particular after kar sevaks were
dispatched daily to Ayodhya following the stepping up of the temple
For instance, according to sources in Vadodara, lakhs of anti-Muslim
leaflets were illegally printed on slow treadle machines - which must
have taken months. Bombs and trishuls were stockpiled over a period of
weeks. The gap, exceeding 24 hours, between the "trigger event" and
the anti-Muslim violence - in contrast to, say, the immediate reaction
in Delhi to Indira Gandhi's assassinatio - only confirms the
organised, unspontaneous, planned nature of the pogrom.
Reconstruction of the Godhra incident, for example in the Citizens'
Forum report, suggests that it was a spontaneous, rather than an
elaborately planned, over-reaction to the daily harassment of local
Ghanchi Muslims (oil-pressers by occupation) by communally charged kar
sevaks returning from Ayodhya. Had there been serious preparation for
the attack on the Sabarmati Express, scheduled to reach Godhra at 2-55
a.m., there would have been a large crowd on the railway platform at
dawn. There was not.
When the train rolled in five hours late, there were only a handful of
vendors, porters and passengers on the platform. An altercation broke
out between the kar sevaks and Muslim tea vendors. It was only when a
rumour spread that young Sophia Khan had been dragged into coach S-6
that a crowd gathered near Signal Fadia, a basti known for communal
tension and criminal activities.
Seven weeks on, the government has failed to provide credible evidence
linking the Godhra episode to a "conspiracy" involving Pakistan's
Inter-Services Intelligence or even an organised group in Gujarat or
elsewhere. Nor can it explain why towns such as Ratlam, which are
physically far closer to Godhra, and which have a similar composition
of Hindus, Muslims and Adivasis, did not register any "retaliatory"
violence, while distant Ahmedabad did.
The reasons are self-evidently Gujarat-specific and political. They
have to do with the Narendra Modi government's conscious decision to
support the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's February 28 bandh call and the
authorities' decision to transport the bodies of the Godhra victims by
train to Ahmedabad in a ceremonial manner calculated to inflame
passions. It is impossible to separate the post-February 27 violence
either from the Modi government or Gujarat's communalised context.
The fact that Vajpayee stooped to endorse Modi's "action-reaction"
logic to justify violent retribution upon a falsely constructed
collective culprit (Muslims) speaks of an utterly debased mind. The
logic of such revenge is ultimately the logic of "getting even" with
history, of Nazism, of barbarism. That is now unfolding before our
Clearly, the BJP has decided to embrace a virulent form of Hindutva,
one that bases itself on a contemporary version of the "Two-Nation"
theory. Its disgraceful defence of Modi, its coercive tactics in the
NDA, its prolonged refusal to discuss Gujarat under Rule 184 in the
Lok Sabha, and its wholly unapologetic, brazen, attitude towards the
continuing climate of fear, intimidation and terror in Gujarat all
confirm this. The very fact that the BJP seriously threatened to hold
mid-term Assembly elections in Gujarat in a vitiated atmosphere, and
used it as a bargaining chip in negotiating with its allies, testifies
to its cynicism.
The consequences of this stance are already apparent. Thus, BJP
spokesman V.K. Malhotra made a revoltingly aggressive statement
likening the Congress to the pre-Partition Muslim League - merely
because the Congress expressed concern at the butchery of Muslims
(although not to the exclusion of concern for Hindus too). And one
cannot fail to note Modi's deviousness in transferring honest police
officers who tried to maintain a semblance of impartiality, or his
gross insensitivity to traumatised Muslim children in thrusting
examinations on them at centres located in areas where Muslims were
Gujarat is a fit case for compelling the State government to abide by
the Constitution under Article 355 and for imposing President's Rule
under Article 356. True, Article 356 has been repeatedly misused to
dismiss Opposition governments. The demand for its use is being voiced
by forces with an extremely dubious record. But there could be no
fitter case than Gujarat to which the following description from the
Constitution applies: "a situation has arisen in which the government
of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of
The constitutional machinery patently broke down in Gujarat on
February 28 when scores of citizens were massacred with the full
complicity of the state, and when it could not even protect a guardian
of the constitutional order, a High Court Judge, who happened to be a
It is precisely for such contingencies that President's Rule was
envisaged. The Gujarat situation cannot get normalised with Modi's
replacement alone. If hardcore sanghis like Goverdhan Zadaphia or
Ashok Bhatt were to take over, it could worsen. It is essential, but
not enough, that Modi be sacked. The whole government must be
dismissed and Gujarat placed under President's Rule with advisers of
impeccable integrity and experience, recommended by Parliament as a
It will take months for Gujarat to recuperate and achieve normalcy in
any real sense. Such normalcy must include reconciliation between
estranged neighbours and communities, full physical, psychological and
economic rehabilitation, and restoration of public confidence in the
impartiality of the government as regards different religious groups.
The danger of half-hearted reconciliation should be obvious. If the
one lakh Muslims who are in relief camps - and three or four times as
many, whose livelihoods have been affected - are forced to fend for
themselves without state and community assistance, they will probably
leave Gujarat altogether, or create "safe" ghettos for themselves. The
greater the ghettoisation, the greater the mutual estrangement of
religious groups, the lesser their social interaction - and the
greater the scope for conflict.
That is the last thing Gujarat needs. Indeed, it would be a recipe for
another communal pogrom. That is precisely what Hindutva craves most.
If the BJP succeeds in its game plan in Gujarat, by whipping up anti-
Muslim hysteria, it will replicate the same trick nationally - if
necessary, by staging another Godhra. If the Nazis could stage the
Reichstag fire, the BJP can create a Godhra-II, through agents
These comparisons are not far-fetched. In foundational premises of its
ideology and politics, the BJP shares a great deal with the Italian
fascists, the German Nazis and the Taliban. They all reject the
emancipatory heritage of the Enlightenment. They privilege tradition
(itself ill-defined and distorted) over modernity. They are profoundly
intolerant of difference. They hate democracy and equality. And they
do not believe in just and fair means to achieve just ends. They are
prone to despotic methods and barbaric violence.
It will take a lot of effort to fight a force like the BJP-RSS-VHP. It
has already captured a number of institutions and key positions in
government and civil society. It has a dedicated, if fanatical, cadre.
Even in the short run, it will not be possible to isolate the Hindutva
forces unless the perpetrators of the Gujarat violence are severely
punished for their grave crimes, along the lines described in the
previous Frontline column (issue of April 26), and unless the BJP is
politically punished, that is, made to pay a heavy price through
systematic boycott and isolation.
One wishes this would happen both nationally, in the National
Democratic Alliance, and in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP is about to
form a government with the Bahujan Samaj Party. Regrettably, the BSP
leadership seems to be bent on using its Dalit base as virtual common-
fodder for Hindutva - for dubious, at best petty, short-term gains.
Fighting Hindutva will be a long haul. But the struggle would not even
have been joined unless the Opposition mounts relentless pressure on
the NDA, both inside and outside Parliament, through dharnas, rallies,
public meetings and mass mobilisation. The People's Front should
consider launching a relay dharna in Gujarat's major cities.
The Opposition will do well to join hands with citizens' groups such
as SAHMAT, Aman Ekta Manch, People for Secularism and the Citizens'
Initiative (Ahmedabad), which have done a great deal to highlight the
Gujarat issue and collect donations for the victims' relief. For
instance, SAHMAT mobilised artists to donate their paintings and
raised Rs.5.5 lakhs through their sale.
One thing is clear: it will be a crying shame if the BJP is allowed to
go unpunished for its grievous assault on India's secular-democratic-
constitutional order, and on the foundations of this plural, diverse,
*Citizens' Forum: Gujarat Carnage 2002, by an independent fact-finding
mission composed of S.P. Shukla, K.S. Subramanian, Achin Vanaik, and
Kamal Mitra Chenoy; State-Sponsored Carnage in Gujarat, Report of a
CPI(M)-AIDWA delegation; The Survivors Speak, by a Women's Panel
sponsored by Citizen's Initiative, Ahmedabad; Ethnic Cleansing in
Ahmedabad, by SAHMAT; and A Report on the Gujarat Carnage, prepared by
the People's Union for Civil Liberties.
Sitting here in our village home, keeping in touch with the world
through the Internet, the newspapers and magazines like yours, we ask
ourselves, how many fires can we fight? And yet it appears that there
is really no option except to keep fighting them and to stand up for
what we see as the values and beliefs which are intrinsic to the
foundations on which this civilisation (if indeed we can use that term
any longer) is based.
We have been reading the comprehensive coverage in your magazine of
the ghastly and inhuman murder of members of the Staines family in
Manoharpur and the hard-hitting articles on the politics of hate
("Undermining India", February 12). We have also read (on the
Internet) the highly slanted report of the murders (from Rashtradeep -
Orissa) with its not so oblique insinuations that Staines and his
family deserved what they got. What a coincidence that the Santhals
and the Kolhas apparently lost their patience 34 years after Graham
Staines came to work and live in Keonjhar and decided to attack him
when there is a BJP Government at the Centre, and the Sangh Parivar
has targeted Christians as the new enemies! It is hard to believe that
the so- called educated people hold these views and, more sinister,
use their power and technology to propagate these views in the most
dangerous fashion on the Internet from their comfortable spaces in
American universities. It is also interesting that the fact that
millions of dollars are sent by non-resident Indians to support
fascist activities in the name of Hindutva is not questioned or
If only we can learn from history, we would see that we are moving
inexorably towards fascism - and the silence of the majority can only
hasten this process.
We too are Hindus, comfortable in the freedom of thought that it
provides, and because of this we can also look at our own tradition
critically and see and understand all the warts and distortions that
it accommodates. But what is propagated in the name of Hinduism is a
far cry from the philosphy to which we subscribe. Had we been born
Dalits or tribal people, or experienced oppression and discrimination
in the name of religion, we too might have opted for Christianity,
Islam, Buddhism or any faith which promised us a better deal and the
hope of social justice and dignity. Certainly, India's Constitution
guarantees each of us that freedom.
In all the polemics and passion that we see around us, one hears
little, if any, questioning or critiquing of the built-in inequities
of Hinduism - only the shrill and fearful howls of the advocates of
Hindutva with its distorted and dangerous ideology of linking religion
with nationalism and patriotism. If we believe that it is the spirit
of inquiry and search for truth that is the hallmark of both science
and religion, then let us stop blaming others and begin looking
inwards in the real quest for self-knowledge and encourage our people
to bring about the changes within, rather than demonising other
faiths, other denominations. But the politics of hate is so much
easier to practise than the quest for truth. It has always been
convenient to mobilise mobs - be it against masjids or mandirs,
Dalits, tribal people, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, 'Madrasis',
'Bangladeshis', 'Pakistanis'. We continue to rely on fanning the
flames of hatred for 'the other', to exercise power instead of coming
to grips with the real issues of this country - poverty, education,
employment and all-pervasive inequality. The issue is not one of
conversions or Christianity, but of how to exploit people who have no
identity or no hope of getting a space under the sun, as the foot
soldiers in the service of the armies of destruction and mayhem who
can terrorise, garner votes when needed, and ensure political power at
all costs. Ultimately, it is through economic policy decisions and the
right kind of education in our classrooms that we can hope to build
the kind of India that our Constitution has promised. For now, we can
only ask and hope that the right-thinking majority of people in this
land, regardless of their religious affiliations, will speak up before
it is too late.
Admiral Ramu Ramdas
(former Chief of the Naval Staff)
* * *
Your crusade against the diabolical designs of the Sangh Parivar is
The riots in Suratkal, the persecution of Christians in Gujarat, and
the outrage against a missionary in Orissa expose the Parivar's game
plan. When the Babri Masjid was demolished, people in authority
remained passive spectators. They remain so when the minorities are
attacked. As long as the minorities have insufficient representation
in the police force and secular values are not instilled in the
guardians of law, there is no hope.
The biggest irony is that L.K. Advani, one of the accused in the Babri
Masjid demolition case, has become the Home Minister of this country.
A.B. Vajpayee has proved to be the weakest Prime Minister of India.
During his visit to Gujarat, instead of assuaging the hurt feelings of
Christians, he suggested a national debate on conversions. With this
he dropped his mask of moderation.
* * *
It was with a sense of dismay and shame that one watched the Home
Minister making a humiliating trip to Mumbai to pacify the Shiv Sena's
"paper tiger". It is a pity that the BJP Government with all the power
at its command could not counter the threat to a visiting cricket
team. The Shiv Sena's attack on the BCCI's office or threats to
release poisonous snakes into the playground only proved its
cowardice. If India is to progress, the culture of violence and
terrorism should give way to goodwill, harmony and peace.
Dr. A.K. Tharien
Oddanchatram, Tamil Nadu
* * *
January 23, the day Graham Stewart Staines and his two young sons were
burnt alive, was the blackest day in the history of our country. One
is at a loss to understand why such a harrowing punishment was meted
out to the missionary who had served leprosy patients in India since
Why does the Prime Minister hesitate to take stringent action against
Bal Thackeray, at whose instigation the cricket pitch at the
Ferozeshah Kotla stadium was damaged and the BCCI office in Mumbai was
ransacked? Is the Sena chief so indispensable?
* * *
It was a unique and informative Cover Story. The need of the hour is
unity, integrity and peaceful coexistence of various communities. We
should uphold our secular values and fulfil the hopes and aspirations
of every citizen.
Shaik Rafeeq Ahamed
Rayachoty, Andhra Pradesh
* * *
The expectation that the experience of heading a government in a
modern democracy will soften Hindu fundamentalists, has been belied.
With the assumption of power by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the
process of undermining India started. The aim is to throw the country
back into an era when power, wealth and education were concentrated in
the hands of people who belonged to the upper strata of society. But
we have come a long way. A government which owes allegiance to the
Constitution has to go by the principles enshrined in the
A. Jacob Sahayam
Vellore, Tamil Nadu
Indian culture is rich and vibrant and Dalits' contribution to it is
no less than that of any other section of our society. Unless this
aspect is researched and brought out, Dalits will not get the kind of
respect they deserve. In this context, Arundhati Roy's proposal to the
Dalit Sahitya Akademi on the publication of the Malayalam translation
of her novel was really pathbreaking ("In solidarity", February 12).
Role of bureaucrats
I read with great interest A.G. Noorani's article on Admiral Bhagwat's
case in your February 12 issue. As usual Noorani's article is very
scholarly and unbiased and would serve as reference material. I would,
however, like to point out two references made to me in the article.
First, Noorani should have mentioned that I had also said in my letter
to The Times of India that "he will therefore have to look for another
Cabinet Secretary". This would have clarified that my intention was
that I would rather vacate the post of Cabinet Secretary than sign the
Secondly, the reference to the 1989 general elections. I do not know
the basis on which it is mentioned that "and that the announcements in
that behalf should be made by the Commission forthwith and before 2.00
p.m. on that date, in any case". This was not my belief at all. In an
article I wrote on T.N. Seshan, published in November 1994, I have
said that "I can only write about late Peri Shastri because I knew him
well. It required a lot of courage to stand up to a strong Prime
Minister like Rajiv Gandhi who decided to appoint two Election
Commissioners obviously to control Peri Shastri. Seshan may say that
he was not consulted here but he went out of his way to force the Law
Ministry to issue the notification urgently. When Rajiv Gandhi decided
to announce the general elections, an urgent Cabinet meeting was held
when the Cabinet approved the proposal. Seshan as Cabinet Secretary
should have been sent to Peri Shastri to convey the decision, but
Rajiv Gandhi said, 'let us not send the bull into the China shop. Let
Deshmukh go and settle it in his own quiet way.' I accordingly went
across after sending a message to Peri Shastri. When I entered his
room, I found him agitated, saying that he would not be dictated to by
the Government in fixing the dates for the elections. There was a
sharp exchange between us and tempers rose. I then decided to keep
quiet and let Peri Shastri blow off steam. When he quietened down I
convinced him that the Government was right in suggesting the dates as
it had to make various administrative arrangements. Ultimately, the
notification was issued accordingly."
This should make it clear that I was not the "civil servant who was
sent as an errand boy". My brief was to persuade Peri Shastri to agree
to the Government's suggestion. It should also be added that at that
time I was not a serving civil servant but was re-employed to hold the
post in the Prime Minister's Office.
A.G. Noorani writes:
I was not called upon to mention, as B.G. Deshmukh insists, that he
had asked the President "to look for another Cabinet Secretary". His
intimation to President Zail Singh that he would not notify any order
dismissing Rajiv Gandhi in 1987 as Prime Minister, was wrong enough.
It was not his place to do so; least of all ask the President "to look
for" a substitute especially since the office is in the bounty of the
As for the 1989 Lok Sabha elections, the words in quotes are taken
from Justice P.B. Sawant's judgment in the case brought by one of the
two Election Commissioners whom Rajiv Gandhi appointed to overrule
Peri Shastri, the CEC (S.S. Dhanoa vs Union of India & Ors. (1991) 3
Supreme Court Cases 567 at pages 581-582, para 22).
Deshmukh confirms my comment. It was based on Justice Sawant's
reference to his mission as Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister.
It is pointless to shift the blame to T.N. Seshan, then Cabinet
Secretary, when he himself carried out an order he knew to be illegal
and politically immoral. On his own showing, there was "a sharp
exchange" between him and the CEC Peri Shastri and "tempers rose".
This would not have happened unless a zealous Deshmukh had tried to
force the upright Peri Shastri to accept the election dates
peremptorily urged by Rajiv Gandhi. He relented because the two
Election Commissioners had been appointed to overrule him. "The bull
in the China shop" could hardly have performed worse than Deshmukh
himself did at the meeting. Significantly, Deshmukh has not a word of
criticism of the man who sent him, Rajiv Gandhi. His Cabinet's
decision was palpably illegal and politically immoral.
Judging by his own account, Deshmukh was far worse than the "civil
servant who was sent as an errand boy". Both Seshan and Deshmukh
carried out an illegal order with competitive enthusiasm. Servitors
while in service, lecturers on retirement. The Constitution makes the
CEC an umpire between the ruling party and the others. It is his
prerogative to fix the dates. Two of the foremost civil servants of
the day tried to suborn him.
Ban all Senas
The twin massacres by the Ranvir Sena in Jehanabad district are a
testament to V.D. Savarkar's call to "'militarise Hinduism". As the
blood of 12 Dalits (from Khoja Narayanpur, February 10) and of 23
Dalits (Shankarbigha, January 25) flows in central Bihar, the Sangh
(more like, Jang) Parivar offers its regret from one side of its
mouth, while it is gleeful on the other.
The Progressive Forum of India (PFI) condemns the Ranvir Sena for its
violence as well as the Jang Parivar (notably the BJP) and the
erstwhile Bihar Government for their studied negligence.
The Ranvir Sena, like the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra three decades
earlier, was set up in 1994 to counter the growth of Left
organisations in central Bihar. From the first, the organisation was
prone to violence. Before its formation, landlords (many of whom are
Bhumihars) formed private militias that massacred, for instance, seven
Dalits in Sawanbigha village in Jehanabad in 1991. In December 1997,
the Ranvir Sena killed over 60 people in Lakshmanpur-Bathe, again in
Jehanabad. Further, on January 9, 1999, a Ranvir Sena leader announced
that his fascist band planned to conduct a massacre larger than that
in Lakshmanpur in the near future. Neither the State Government nor
the Jang Parivar did anything against him. Progressive forces in Bihar
and elsewhere underscored the danger, but nothing was done. In fact,
The Times of India reported that Vinod Sharma (Ranvir Sena) travelled
with a police officer to Arwal at the time of the massacre. The PFI
condemns this nexus between the landlord militia, the Jang Parivar and
the institutions of the state.
The Ranvir Sena has been set up to undermine popular movements. It
resorts to violence and to authoritarian acts against the oppressed.
The PFI offers its support to those who feel the strong arm of such
organisations and we call upon all progressive people to condemn and
challenge such fascist bands.
(for the Progressive Forum for India)
received on e-mail
Volume 21 - Issue 02, January 17 - 30, 2004
India's National Magazine
from the publishers of THE HINDU
HOW ADVANI WENT SCOT-FREE
The Rae Bareli court judgment in the Ayodhya case discharging Deputy
Prime Minister L.K. Advani is against the weight of the entire
evidence and violates the law as declared by the Supreme Court.
Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani.
THE Deputy Prime Minister and Union Home Minister, Lal Krishna
Advani's discharge in the Ayodhya case on September 19, 2003, was no
"honourable acquittal" after a full trial on the merits. It was a
gross miscarriage of justice, which precludes a proper trial. A
perusal of the English translation of the 130-page judgment in Hindi
by Vinod Kumar Singh, Special Judicial Magistrate, Rae Bareli, reveals
that the grounds for his discharge could well apply also to other
accused such as Union Minister Murli Manohar Joshi and Madhya Pradesh
Chief Minister Uma Bharati. Conversely, the grounds on which charges
will be framed against them apply also to Advani. The judgment is
utterly unconvincing in the distinction it draws between him and the
other accused, including Ashok Singhal, V.H. Dalmiya, Giriraj Kishore,
Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi Ritambara.
The judgment is against the weight of the entire evidence and violates
the law as declared by the Supreme Court. The reasoning is laboured to
a degree. It must be emphasised that what the Magistrate pronounced
was an order of discharge at the stage of framing the charge not an
acquittal on merits after a trial. A discharge does not bar another
prosecution, an acquittal does.
In the face of such a judgment the behaviour of the Central Bureau of
Investigation, the prosecuting agency, was true to form. It did not
move the High Court for quashing the order. The prescribed period of
limitation is three months. The CBI bestirred itself ostentatiously
thereafter in view of public censure. Rajnish Sharma reported in The
Hindustan Times (December 31, 2003) that "CBI sources claim that the
agency's top-brass still differ on whether to move the High Court or
not. Initially, it was decided that the CBI should not go in for an
appeal against Advani. However, faced with mounting criticism for
having failed to appeal against the lower court order, the opinion
seems to have changed.
Murli Manohar Joshi.
"While announcing its decision, even the Rae Bareli court had strongly
criticised the agency's role as it felt the CBI had deliberately
weakened the case against Advani. Agency sources now claim that once
the courts reopen, they will file a petition explaining the reasons
for the delay."
IT is necessary to recall the background in order to appreciate the
judgment. The CBI had filed a charge-sheet in court against Advani and
other accused, on October 5, 1993, charging them with conspiring to
demolish the mosque. Two courts found that a prima facie case on this
charge did exist - Special Judicial Magistrate Mahipal Sirohi on
August 27, 1994, while committing the accused to the Sessions Court,
and the Additional Sessions Judge, Lucknow, Jugdish Prasad Srivastava,
on September 9, 1997, while framing the charges.
The Sessions Judge concluded that "in the present case a criminal
conspiracy to demolish the disputed structure of Ramjanmabhoomi/Babri
Masjid was hatched by the accused persons in the beginning of 1990 and
was completed on 6.12.1992". Advani and others hatched criminal
conspiracies "to demolish the disputed premises on different times at
different places". A prima facie case was found to charge Bal
Thackeray, Advani and others, including Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma
Bharati, under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
Advani and his colleagues, Joshi and Uma Bharati, faced two charges in
two courts - delivering inflammatory speeches on December 6, 1992,
prior to the demolition, and hatching a conspiracy to demolish the
mosque from 1990. Immediately after the mosque was demolished, two
first information reports were filed in the same police station. One
was filed at 5-15 p.m. against "lakhs of unknown kar sevaks" for
offences committed at 12-15 p.m.; mainly the demolition. Spread of
communal hate was one of them. Very properly, conspiracy was not
alleged since the facts were not known then and no particular person
was cited either. This was Crime No. 197 (demolition).
The next FIR, filed only 10 minutes later, was Crime No. 198
(speeches) against eight named persons - Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharati,
Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, V.H. Dalmiya, Vinay Katiyar and
Ritambara. It alleged that they had delivered communally inflammatory
speeches at 10 a.m. prior to the demolition (Section 153A IPC). This
charge was common to both FIRs. FIR 198 (speeches) said also that
"during the speeches of these leaders, repeated indications (sic:
"incitement") were given to demolish the mosque. As a result, lakhs of
kar sevaks attacked and pulled down the disputed structure". The
leaders were named because their identities were known. Conspiracy was
properly not alleged in either FIR because it requires a long probe.
There were 47 other FIRs for offences against the media.
After the imposition of President's rule in Uttar Pradesh, the
demolition case (197) was assigned to the CBI while the State police
dealt with the speeches case (198). Both were parts of the same
transaction and were linked inseparably. Eventually, the CBI was
assigned the speeches case as well. It, therefore, submitted a
composite, damning charge-sheet in court on October 5, 1993. But there
was a technical flaw in the assignment of the cases to courts, which
was pointed out by Justice Jagdish Bhalla of the Allahabad High Court
on February 12, 2001. He struck down as invalid the reference of Case
198 (speeches) to the Lucknow court from the Rae Bareli court. His
judgment of February 12, 2001, upheld everything else, including the
joint charge-sheet. He thrice said that the defect was "curable" by
another notification after consulting the High Court. Obviously,
justice required that the two cases, 197 (demolition) and 198
(speeches), be tried together in one court.
Neither the Rajnath Singh government nor the succeeding Mayawati
regime had any intention of "curing the defect". Nor has Mulayam Singh
Yadav's government now. The High Court issued a notification on
September 28, 2002, assigning Case No.198 (speeches) to the Rae Bareli
court. On November 29, the Supreme Court upheld it, holding that no
one had a right to insist on a particular venue. It overlooked the
background, the mala fides and the obvious miscarriage of justice. A
review petition has been filed against this order. (vide the writer's
article, `Reprimand for delay', Frontline, March 30, 2001).
To be precise, Justice Bhalla upheld: 1) the Sessions Judge's order of
September 9, 1997, framing the charges in Case No. 197 (demolition);
2) the validity of Vijai Verma's appointment as Special Judge and his
cognisance of all cases (save No.198); 3) the notification of the
Special Court in Lucknow; 4) the CBI's investigation; and 5) the
consolidated charge-sheet of October 5, 1993. Even if the one
concerning the speeches of December 6, 1992, is dropped, the
conspiracy case survives.
But let alone a notification to cure the defect and ensure trial of
both the connected cases in one court, in the interests of sheer
justice, the course which the two cases took subsequently in different
courts was, to say the least, surprising. The High Court's ruling was
set at naught by the Sessions Judge at Lucknow, Srikant Shukla, on May
4, 2001, which he had no right to do. Justice Bhalla had merely struck
down the transfer of the speeches case (198) from Rae Bareli to
Lucknow. Shukla went beyond it and dropped even the conspiracy charge
in Case No.197(demolition) before him. The reasoning was tortuous. He
confined FIR 197 (demolition) to kar sevaks alone; ignored the
conspiracy charges and exonerated the leaders. They were held
accountable only in FIR 198 (speeches) - which he could not try. He
wrote: "Two distinct cases were registered which are different. In the
first FIR were kar sevaks who pulled down the structure... and in the
other FIR are conspirators/abettors who instigated the kar sevaks.
This way, the State has considered both the cases different and
separate and has treated them so."
This was in flat contradiction to Justice Bhalla's judgment. What
Shukla did was to transpose the conspiracy charge, which properly
belonged to the demolition case (197) which he was trying, to the
speeches case (198), which he could not try. Having done so, he
dropped proceedings on the conspiracy charge against the eight accused
leaders who also figured in the speeches case and 13 others besides
who did not. Thrown back at the Rae Bareli court like a shuttle cock,
the conspiracy charge was buried there by the CBI two years later in
its charge-sheet of May 30, 2003. On September 1, the apex court
issued notices to Advani and other accused on a petition challenging
this omission. The CBI had curiously moved the High Court on June 19,
2001, against Shukla's order. On August 6, 2003, Justice N.K. Mehrotra
ordered stay of proceedings in the Lucknow court till September 24.
But the conspiracy charge cannot vanish so easily. It covers events
since 1990. Abetment by incitement occurred on December 6, 1992.
Shukla's reference to "conspirators/abettors who instigated" truncates
the conspiracy charge - and drops it. The CBI's joint charge-sheet of
October 5, 1993, explicitly said: "Investigations revealed that on
5.12.1992, a secret meeting was held at the residence of Shri Vinay
Katiyar which was attended by S/Shri L.K. Advani, Pawan Pandey, etc.
Wherein a final decision to demolish the disputed structure was
taken." Sessions Judge J.P. Srivastava's order of September 9, 1997
also mentioned this very date. He traced the beginning of the
conspiracy to 1990, how it picked up speed in 1991 and the stages
leading to its culmination with the demolition of the mosque. In each
stage Advani's role was narrated in detail. "Conspiracy is planned
secretly," he remarked. It cannot be limited to the public speeches on
December 6, as Shukla did. The High Court upheld the validity of the
TWO recent disclosures support the charge. It has been revealed that
on October 1, 1993, the Home Ministry itself sanctioned the CBI's
charge. It mentioned an interesting detail: "In pursuance of the
criminal conspiracy", Pramod Mahajan and Ashok Singhal met Bal
Thackeray on November 21, 1992, and secured the Sena's participation
in the "kar seva". On June 7, 2003, five of the accused alleged
instigation by the leaders. R.N. Das, one of the priests at the site
where the idols were placed inside the mosque before its demolition,
told the media: "I was a witness in a meeting held by Advani and
others... on December 5 night" - and spilled the beans. Justice Bhalla
remarked: "According to the prosecution, the accused persons are
either rich, influential or politically strong." He recalled the
Supreme Court's remarks in the case of the former Chief Minister of
Karnataka, S. Bangarappa: "The slow motion becomes much slower motion
when politically powerful or rich and influential persons figures as
The demolition case (197) was thus put out of the way. All that the
leaders faced was the speeches case (198) alone. On May 30, 2003, the
CBI filed a supplementary charge-sheet in the Rae Bareli court trying
the speeches case. On July 5, the CBI's advocate, S.S. Gandhi, opened
the case and cited statements by witnesses testifying to inflammatory
speeches and to instigation of the kar sevaks to demolish the mosque.
He said he would produce audio and videocassettes as evidence. On July
30, astonishingly, the CBI said that "the video cassettes did not show
them giving any speech". Special Judicial Magistrate Vinod Kumar Singh
delivered judgment on September 19, 2003, in this case.
He begins by reproducing the FIR in case No. 198 which is revealing:
"I, Sub Inspector Ganga Prasad Tewari, in-charge of the police post
Ramjanmabhoomi, police station Ramjanmabhoomi, Faizabad, was engaged
today, on 06.12.92, in maintenance of peace and order during the kar
seva organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Checking duty near the
disputed Ram Chabutara and Sheshavatar Mandir, I reached the meeting
place in Ram Katha Kunj at about 10 a.m. where the Vishwa Hindu
Parishad General Secretary Shri Ashok Singhal, Joint Secretary Shri
Giriraj Kishore, Shri Lal Krishna Advani, Shri Murli Manohar Joshi,
Shri Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and BJP M.P. from Faizabad and Bajrang Dal
convenor Shri Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharati, Sadhvi Ritambara, etc. all
the speakers were seated on the dais. The above mentioned speakers
were inciting the kar sevaks by their incendiary speeches; their
slogan was `Ek dhakkar aur do, Babri Masjid tod do,' and destroy this
khandahar (rubble) that is symbolic of the Mughal age slavery. Incited
by their incendiary speeches, the kar sevaks were now and then raising
slogans - "Jab katue kaate jaayenge, tab Ram Ram chillayenge; and
Ramlala, hum aayenge, Mandir yahin banayenge." The intention to
destroy the mosque was again and again indicated (in) these leaders'
speeches. As a consequence, lakhs of kar sevaks broke through the
barricades and destroyed the disputed structure, which has hurt the
national unity seriously. The said event was seen, apart from the
police and administration officials and employees, by the audience and
journalists. Therefore, the report must be entertained and necessary
The secret meeting of December 5 was followed by the speeches on
December 6 which incited the demolition. The rest followed as planned.
The judgment recites statements by eyewitnesses on the leaders'
speeches, before the Babri mosque was demolished, as recorded by the
police under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, four video
cassettes, three audio cassettes, photographs and news reports. It is
well settled that at the stage of framing the charges all that the
court has to consider is whether a prima facie case is made out. It is
not to enter into a trial on the merits. Section 227 of CrPC says that
if the Judge considers "that there is not sufficient ground for
proceeding against the accused, he shall discharge the accused", as
distinct from an acquittal which can follow only after a trial on the
merits of the charges.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1979 that "even a very strong suspicion
founded upon material before the Magistrate, which leads him to form a
presumptive opinion as to the existence of the factual ingredients
constituting the offence alleged, may justify the framing of charge".
Nor is the court bound to consider evidence produced by the accused.
It has to consider whether the prosecution case, if unrebutted,
establishes a case in law. That is what a prima facie case means in
The sole issue before the Magistrate, therefore, was whether the
police statements produced before him by the prosecution established
such a case. Thirty-odd such statements are reproduced in the
judgment; some contradict others. The contradiction is to be resolved
only in the trial proper; not while framing the charges unless, of
course, the ones against the accused are manifestly untrue or absurd.
In this case, they were not.
Consider the very first two statements which the judgment quotes:
"Shri Ram Kripal Das, disciple of Mahant late Bharat Das, PS
Ramjanmabhoomi, Faizabad, has made, in the main, the following
statement under Section 161 CrPC: "On 6.12.1992 I remained near my
temple the whole day. Through my door and the windows inside, sounds
coming from the Ram Katha Kunj and words (like) Sheshavatar Mandir,
vivadit dhancha (disputed structure) vivadit chabutara (disputed
platform) can be heard. That day, a crowd of kar sevaks had started to
gather since morning. The kar sevaks were raising slogans and loudly
saying: today we would not stop even if some leader tries to stop us.
We will demolish it today... On the Ram Katha Kunj side, leaders were
making speeches one by one that a temple has to be built. There was a
lot of noise. Lal Krishna Advani, Ashok Singhal, Vinay Katiyar, Murli
Manohar Joshi, etc. spoke. All the leaders were making enthusiastic
speeches. I had seen with my own eyes the above leaders going towards
the temple. When there was a hullabaloo and they were demolishing the
disputed structure, none of the leaders was preventing them. If these
leaders had told the kar sevaks not to break any dome, they would have
obeyed it, because they had called the kar sevaks to come here. Vinay
Katiyar was much active from the very beginning and was prepared to do
everything right or wrong for temple construction" (emphasis added,
Dhanpat Ram Yadav made the following statement under Section 161 CrPC:
"On 6.12.92, I was on the roof of the Sita Rasoi (Sita's kitchen) from
early morning. That day I saw Vinay Katiyar, Lal Krishna Advani, Uma
Bharati, etc. coming in a crowd of kar sevaks. They were making
speeches that were provoking the kar sevaks, saying Mandir bana kar
jaayenge, Hindu Rashtra banayenge (we will leave after building a
temple and we will build a Hindu Rashtra). When the kar sevaks had
climbed the domes in large numbers and were demolishing them, none of
the leaders prevented anyone or told to stop. All stood silent... "
Another 10 statements were in the same vein followed by that of
Chandra Kishore Mishra who said "inflamed by the very speeches of
these leaders, the kar sevaks brought down the structure". Advani was
specifically mentioned by him as one of them.
The Additional Superintendent of Police, Faizabad, Anju Gupta was
detailed to provide security to Advani. She saw people running towards
the mosque with tools in their hands. If she could see that so, one
would think, could "the leaders". She said "Then Shri Lal Krishna
Advani asked me what was happening inside the temple. I asked the
control room and came to know that kar sevaks had entered it and were
busy demolishing the structure; then I told him the same. I also told
him that many people had got injured and were being brought near the
Ram Katha Kunj for treatment. Then Advani told me: I want to go and
tell them to come down. I conferred with S.P. Intelligence and
Commandant of the 15th Battalion who were with Shri Murli Manohar
Joshi. He said it was not proper to go into the crowd as these people
were inflamed. Shri Advani talked to his comrades and told me that he
won't go but somebody would have to be taken there. Then I sent Uma
Bharati and two others there. The crowd surrounded my jeep near Dorahi
Kuwan and did not allow us to go ahead. Then Uma Bharati and we
proceeded on foot. I saw after sometime that people had come down from
the domes. They were talking of doing the kar seva from below, not
from above. Advani told me he wanted to talk to the DM. He also told
about talking to the Chief Minister, but I pleaded helplessness. One
person, who had come with Uma Bharati, was making fun of the Supreme
Court. After some time, Advani and Joshi went to the office of Ram
Katha Kunj, and told me they were talking to the Chief Minister. I saw
fire and smoke rising at all sides in Ayodhya. Advani told me... [page
92 bottom: seems some lines are missing here]... began to distribute
sweets... . Advani came back at about six and a half. With him there
were Murli Manohar Joshi, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, Ashok Singhal and Vinay
Katiyar etc. About the speeches from the stage, I have already told. I
remember the atmosphere became surcharged with Advani's arrival.
People were raising slogans, but I could not hear any other slogan
because of being busy with other works. Joshi had spoken earlier, he
had said whatever Narasimha Rao could say, the temple would be
constructed here. I did not see these leaders making any attempt to
prevent the kar sevaks from demolishing the disputed structure. Advani
was sad that people were falling from the domes and dying... on the
fall of the first, second and third domes, Uma Bharati and Ritambara
had embraced each other; sweets were also distributed. The two had
also embraced the males. Embracing Advani, Joshi and S.C. Dixit, Uma
Bharati and Ritambara were expressing their happiness. On the fall of
the domes, all the said eight accused and Acharya Dharmendra etc were
congratulating one another. All were expressing happiness."
Renu Mittal confirmed reports in The Hindu and The Indian Express
(December 7, 1992): "L.K. Advani began to address the kar sevaks over
the mike from the protection of the Ram Katha Kunj platform. In the
rush of shouts and the milling confusion he could be overheard telling
the kar sevaks to block all entry points to Ayodhya to stop anyone
entering the town. He also announced that the kar seva that begun
today would only end once the mandir nirman was completed... . At 3-30
p.m. the left dome of the Babri Masjid was demolished. Many of the kar
sevaks were injured and some of them were buried under the falling of
the debris of the dome."
Triyugi Narayan Tewari told the police: "The RSS workers also climbed
the domes and demolished the disputed structure. Sh. Ashok Singhal,
L.K. Advani, Uma Bharati, Vinay Katiyar, Murli Manohar Joshi, Acharya
Dharmendra, Sadhvi Ritambara were also present there and were inciting
the kar sevaks."
A few statements, about 5 or 6, averred that Advani urged the kar
sevaks to climb down; evidently for their own protection. For, some
were buried in the debris.
Vishnu Hari Dalmiya.
The Magistrate's observations on the course the case took are
significant. "This is an indisputable fact that the High Court had
before itself a combined charge-sheet in cases 197/92 (demolition) and
198/92 (speeches) and, compared to this court, the High Court was
presented with much more evidence/statements of witnesses. Apart from
it, the High Court had before it the charge under Section 120 IPC
(conspiracy), which was not included in the charge-sheet filed in this
court. After the said judgment, an order was passed by the Special
Judge (Ayodhya Prakaran), Lucknow, in which 21 accused were recognised
as accused in case 198/92 (speeches) and proceedings against them were
ordered to be stopped. These included the eight accused named in the
charge-sheet filed in this court. Thereafter, the CBI requested the
State government to rectify the said shortcoming in the notification
dated 8/10/93, but the said shortcoming was not rectified by the State
government. After that, special writ petitions were filed by Bhure Lal
and three others against the said judgment of the High Court, on which
the Supreme Court issued its judgment/order on 29/11/2002. Under the
said order of the Supreme Court, a petition has been filed by the CBI
in this court constituted under the former notification, on which the
CBI was directed to get the papers in case 198/92 (speeches) and
present in this court. The record of case 198/92 (speeches) was
received and then the CBI filed a supplementary charge-sheet. At
present the case is being heard in this court under the Supreme Court
order dated 29/11/2002. Thus this court has considered the material
presented to it about this charge. Statements of some more witnesses
were considered after the CBI filed a charge-sheet and some evidence
along with it and, later, after its advance investigation."
THUS the CBI itself dropped the conspiracy charge (Section 120 IPC).
The Magistrate lists some 19 considerations for framing the charges.
Two of them read thus: (2) "If the case falls in the area of doubt, it
cannot take the place of proof at the conclusion of the hearing. But
if there is serious doubt in the initial stage and it leads the court
to think that there is ground to believe that the accused has
committed the offence, then the court is not allowed to say that
enough ground is not there for proceeding against the accused... (8)
If material has been presented before the court and that creates
serious doubt against the accused and has not been adequately
explained, it is justified for the court to frame charges and start
hearing." He violated both.
He recorded: "In the videocassettes presented to the court, no leader
is seen making a speech during the demolition of the said structure on
6/12/92. From a perusal of all the statements under Section 161 CrPC
and the available material, it appears prima facie that there were two
groups during the event - one was demolishing the disputed structure
while the other was, along with the security forces, attempting to
prevent the demolition of the disputed structure. The prosecution
witness Shri Ram Kripal Das has said in his statement, among other
things, that the kar sevaks were greatly excited and loudly telling
that (they) would not stop even if some leader tried to stop them.
Acharya Giriraj Kishore.
"In her statement, Anju Gupta has specifically said that on 6/12/92
she was deployed for Lal Krishna Advani's security. She has also said
that the S.P. Intelligence and the Commandant of the 15th Battalion
were with Murli Manohar Joshi Ms. Anju Gupta is an IPS officer and, as
is evident from her statement, she was deployed for Lal Krishna
Advani's security. Therefore, Anju Gutpa's statement is extremely
important regarding L.K. Advani. She has said the following in her
statement: "I had seen some boys advancing towards the disputed
structure from the Kuber Tola side, with tools in their hands. Then
Shri Lal Krishna Advani asked me what was happening inside the
"From this statement, the prima facie conclusion emerges that at that
time L.K. Advani did not know that demolition of the disputed
structure had started. Besides, Advani's contention in Anju Gupta's
statement that `I want to go and tell them to come down' generates
another view contrary to the prima facie charge against him. In her
statement, Anju Gupta has not indicated any such contention by any
other leader. She has also said Advani had asked her what was
happening at other places and she had said she did not know. The fact
of Advani inquiring about what was happening at other places prima
facie reveals his ignorance." How does his ignorance of what was
happening at "other places" in the city prove his ignorance of what
was happening before his and everyone else's eyes - demolition of the
mosque. His reasoning is palpably wrong. First, there were no "two
groups" of leaders, implying that Advani belonged to one that tried to
pacify the mob while the rest instigated it. Who were Advani's allies
in the pacificatory effort or was he alone in this? There were in fact
two sets of statements before the court. It is not the number but the
quality that matters. Even so, the overwhelming majority explicitly
implicated Advani along with the rest as an instigator. The minority
is not only small but pathetically laboured in its apologia.
Secondly, from a mere query by Advani to Anju Gupta, Vinod Kumar Singh
jumps to the astonishing conclusion that "L.K. Advani did not know
that demolition of the disputed mosque had started." The demolition
was surely there for all to see. The query was "what was happening
inside the temple" (sic.). His concern was not to stop the demolition,
else he would not have urged barricading of the roads to prevent
Central forces from arriving. The reason for his disquiet was
different as she clearly mentioned: "Advani was sad that people were
falling from the domes and dying."
DOUGLAS E CURRAN/AFP
Kar sevaks stop the Babri Masjid five hours before the structure was
demolished on December 6, 1992.
Thirdly, the Magistrate holds that "Anju Gupta has not indicated any
such contention (sic.) by any other leader." On the strength of this
solitary statement, Advani alone is exonerated. Her statement itself
is palpably misconstrued. Lastly, the Magistrate embarked on the
evaluation of the evidence. He singles out her statement, misconstrues
it, and ignores the enormous bulk, which clubbed Advani with the rest.
This is in clear breach of the law as laid down by the Supreme Court.
The Magistrate holds: "On the basis of the material presented to the
court, and having considered the extensive possibilities and the total
impact of the evidence in the light of both sides' arguments, I am of
the opinion that two views appear probable only about the prima facie
charge brought against the accused Lal Krishna Advani. One view is
that, prima facie, the crime was caused by Lal Krishna Advani to be
committed and the other view is that, prima facie, the crime was not
caused to be committed by him. After having considered the available
material and the two sides' arguments, in my opinion, suspicion but no
serious suspicion, seems to exist about the accused Lal Krishna Advani
having caused the crime to be committed under Sections 147/149/153A/
153B/505 IPC. On the contrary, having considered the available
material on record in the light of the two sides' arguments, I am of
the opinion that serious suspicion exists about the crime having been
caused under Section 147/149/153A/153B/505 IPC by the other accused
Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, Ashok Singhal, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, Acharya
Giriraj Kishore, Sadhvi Uma Bharati, Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi
Ritambara, which the said accused have been unable to explain... . As
per the above discussion, as two views are possible regarding the
accused Lal Krishna Advani's offence and there exists only suspicion
(keval sandeh) that he caused the said crime to be committed,
therefore under the said ruling the accused Lal Krishna Advani
deserves to be acquitted from the charge in the case in question.
"As per the above discussion, serious suspicion (ghor sandeh) exists
that the crime was caused to be committed by the accused Dr. Murli
Manohar Joshi, Ashok Singhal, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, Acharya Giriraj
Kishore, Sadhvi Uma Bharati, Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi Ritambara, which
the said accused have been unable to explain, therefore in the light
of the said ruling, a prima facie case is made against the accused Dr.
Murli Manohar Joshi, and the rest."
The Magistrate, in effect, tried Advani on the merits instead of
framing charges against him since a prima facie case was disclosed
warranting a full trial. Only at the end is the accused entitled to
benefit of the doubt. The reasoning is tortuous in the extreme. The
conclusion is manifestly demonstrably wrong. Magistrate Vinod Kumar
Singh's judgment prevents Advani's trial on grounds that are
manifestly wrong. Criminal proceedings in the Ayodhya case have taken
a bizarre course. In the Sessions Court at Lucknow, the Judge Srikant
Shukla drops the conspiracy charge on May 4, 2001, in breach of the
High Court's ruling on February 12, 2001. In the Rae Bareli court the
CBI drops that charge in its "supplementary" charge-sheet on May 30,
2003. What are we coming to? The civil proceedings are as disquieting;
especially after the order for excavation by the Special Bench of the
High Court last March. As for the CBI's role the less said the
Hindu Hate Crimes?
Why doesn't anyone ever point out the Hindu hate crimes against
Muslims in India and Pakistan while they are talking about Religious
3 years ago
Thomas, please see answer below, thanks
3 years ago
by Thomas B Member since:
June 12, 2007
5188 (Level 5)
Best Answer - Chosen by Voters
Dear Please list some.
Most Hindu attacks in India are retaliation to what the stupid Muslims
Please show us a proof of Muslim oppression with facts to support your
Whatever Kalebow has stated comes from an extremist platform christian
news network. I am a Christian and still don't buy this BS spread by
the Evangelical Christian Media. Just the same I don't buy that
Muslims in Pakistan want peace.
All what Kalebow has said has supposedly happened in Burma and Sri
Lanka, he does not answer your question about India, please provide
proof of Hindu crimes against Muslims in Pakistan? are you joking.
When India and Pakistan were separated in 1947 Hindu population in
Pakistan was more than 14% today entire Pakistan is has less than 2%
minorities Pakistan is 98% Muslim State.
Where as India at Sepration had a 7% Muslim population which today is
more than 12% and 12% Muslims in India equal to the entire population
Please check your facts about ethnic cleansing then talk.
3 years ago
60% 3 Votes
Other Answers (4)
by MikeInRI Member since:
July 06, 2006
87738 (Level 7)
Because for most people in the west they never hear about them and
lets face it Hindus are not mass killing Christians and Jews like
Muslims have been trying to do - it just does get the interest of most
in the west. Most actions taken by Hindus - although are bad - are
usually retalitory in nature which makes thems to a certain extent
seem justified to some.
3 years ago
0% 0 Votes
3 Rating: Good Answer 1 Rating: Bad Answer Report Abuse by Cathy
May 09, 2007
10890 (Level 6)
Because there comes a point in discussing Religious Extremism where
you just have to start leaving religions and incidents out--EVERY
religion has zealots that commit such crimes.
3 years ago
2 Rating: Good Answer 1 Rating: Bad Answer Report Abuse by wwhy
May 03, 2007
1734 (Level 3)
The Buddhist state of Burma openly plans to Abolish Christianity and
nobody calls them terrorists ?
The Burma Government May Move to Abolish Christianity With Buddhist
Government officials have shut down churches in this capital city and
have disallowed the construction of new church buildings. The number
of bibles allowed for import is limited and in-country printing of
bibles and Christian literature is restricted.
"Some Buddhist monks came and started shouting, 'don't worship God
here – he has nothing to do with us,'” David said. “They said we were
trying to establish Christianity in the village and they did not want
it. The monks and others threw stones at us. They hit us like a hard
rain. Some of us were hit in the cheek, the neck and the forehead."
Report: Burma Plans to Wipe Out Christianity
A leaked secret document claims to reveal plans by the Burmese
military regime to wipe out Christianity in the southeast Asian
Inside the memo were detailed instructions on how to force Christians
out of the country, according to Telegraph.
Instructions included imprisoning any person caught evangelizing,
capitalizing on the fact that Christianity is a non-violent religion.
“The Christian religion is very gentle,” read the letter, according to
Telegraph, “Identify and utilize its weakness.”
Burma, also known as Myanmar, has a Christian population of about four
percent, according to the CIA World Factbook. Persecution against
Christians have come in the form of church burnings, forced conversion
to the state religion of Buddhism, and banning children of Christians
Christian children forced to become Buddhist monks.
CHILDREN from Christian families in Burma, between the ages of five
and ten, have been lured from their homes and placed in Buddhist
monasteries. Once taken in, their heads have been shaved and they have
been trained as novice monks, never to see their parents again.
Buddhist Extremists Attack Christian-Run Children’s Home in Sri Lanka
A 200-man mob, accompanied by extremist Buddhist monks, has attacked a
children’s home, which was being run by the Dutch Reformed Church in
central Sri Lanka at the beginning of August.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a human rights organisation
which specialises in religious freedom, has reported that the mob
fiercely attacked the home, following which, they climbed to the roof
and planted a Buddhist flag on the roof.
Tina Lambert, Advocacy Director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide
(CSW), said: "We are extremely concerned about the continuing violence
against Christians in Sri Lanka. This latest incident, in which child
care workers have been threatened, is unacceptable and we urge the Sri
Lankan authorities to bring the perpetrators of such violence to
Hindu and Buddhists united to opose Christian evangelism
Hindu and Buddhist priests from across Asia are uniting to oppose
Christian proselytism. The 1,000 delegates to a three-day conference
in Lumbini, Nepal, discussed Pope John Paul II's recent call to
evangelize Asia. Evangelism constitutes "a war against Hindus and
Buddhists" and is a "spiritual crime," they said.
Hindus attacking Christian churches and
Reports of Christian persecution in Nepal continue
Buddhist Cambodia Limits Christian Activities :
Cambodia's government issued a directive preventing Christians from
promoting their religion in public places, or using money or other
means to persuade people to convert, officials said Tuesday.
Cambodian Buddhists generally tolerate other religions, but last year
about 300 Buddhist villagers DESTROYED a partially built Christian
church near Phnom Penh.
Also last year, a group of Christian worshippers was caught
distributing sweets to young people in the countryside while trying to
convert them, Sun Kim Hun said. Such activities are illegal.
INDIA (Newsroom) – Six Christian missionaries participating in a
gospel campaign called "Love Ahmedabad" were beaten so savagely in the
state of Gujarat last week that one of the men may lose his arms and
Members of the Hyderabad-based Operation Mobilization (OM) were
distributing Bibles and religious tracts in Ahmedabad, about five
miles from Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, the afternoon of May 5
when they were attacked by members of the Hindu extremist groups
Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). Operation Mobilization
ships tons of Christian literature around the country. The assailants
also burned copies of the Bible and tracts.
Christian missionaries beaten in public for 'converting' Hindus
Television channels showed Hindu activists kicking and punching the
two young priests while dragging them through Maharashtra's Kolhapur
News footage showed an activist knee one priest in the groin, making
him double up in pain. Another kicked the missionary in the head. The
crowd accused the priests of forcibly converting poor Hindus, and
handed them over to police.
The violence of Buddhist extremists it’s being compared to the killing
fields of Cambodia. In Sri Lanka religion has become mixed with
politics and nationalism - creating a toxic brew of hatred and fear.
They are…… forcibly trying to convert people to Buddhism and forcing
people to kneel down to declare Buddha is our god! Read about it
3 years ago
2 Rating: Good Answer 2 Rating: Bad Answer Report Abuse by
anser_qu... Member since:
January 22, 2007
1489 (Level 3)
great answer Thomas...
Unfortunately these bigots that make these false calims only see
though their lens and are not mature enough to realise the facts..
3 years ago
Any my Hindu brother will accept nithyananda swamiji is their guru,
after his crime...? if s why..?.?
Any one accept nithyananda swamiji is their guru, after his crime...?
Christians, can you give several examples of scriptures (to add to
this) that show us how precious...?
Why do religious people think that suicide is a sin?
THE OTHER HALF
From the land of hate
`We have found a lot of happiness here,' said one girl. Happiness?
After spending just three days in an overcrowded, hot, dirty city?....
The story of 19 young Muslim women from Gujarat.
ON the surface they looked like any group of college girls. A little
conservative, perhaps, compared to their counterparts in Mumbai. But
these were not just college girls. You could tell if you looked more
closely, if you looked into their eyes, if you noticed the anxiety.
Nineteen young Muslim women from Gujarat with 19 stories to tell. All
of them unexceptionally disturbing and tragic. They were invited to
visit Mumbai by Aawaz-e-Niswan, a remarkable organisation that works
with Muslim women in Mumbai and is now extending its work to women in
other cities. The very ordinary, mostly lower middle class Muslim
women from this organisation, many of whom have been personally seared
by communal riots such as those that tore Mumbai apart in 1992-93,
decided to reach out to their sisters in Gujarat after the communal
carnage of 2002. They visited some of the worst affected areas; they
heard the stories from women who did not know how they would pick up
the threads of their lives again. And they decided that they would do
something for the younger women, many of whom expressed a
determination to continue with their education, to seek professional
qualifications and to work and be independent.
For some of the girls from Dahod, Fatehpura, Jalod and Vadodara, even
travelling in a train was a novel experience. The five from Fatehpura,
a small town bordering Rajasthan, had never seen a film in a cinema
theatre. The women from Jalod said there was a theatre in their town,
but women never went there. So one of the highpoints of their visit to
Mumbai was seeing a film in a theatre. They could not get over the
fact that as women they could do this.
Also for the first time, these women travelled around the city by
night. Mumbai by night, or any city by night, was something they could
not have imagined doing in their wildest dreams. Yet they went around
and no one looked at them strangely. They were just some among
thousands of men and women who inhabit Mumbai's public spaces till all
hours of the night.
"We have found a lot of happiness here," said one girl. Happiness?
After spending just three days in an overcrowded, hot, dirty city?
"The love we see on the faces here we don't see there," said another.
"We never get izzat (respect) anywhere in Gujarat," said another. It
was interesting to see how the very anonymity of a big city can mean
so much to people who live surrounded by hate.
That hate lurks around every turn, they said. Everyday they see on the
streets the perpetrators of the crimes that led to the death and
destruction of their community. "Even now if we pass by, they shout at
us, use bad language," said a primary school teacher from Godhra. "We
can see our things, our furniture, even our clothes, being used by
other people," said a student from Fatehpura. She broke down as she
spoke of how her house was burnt and looted, forcing her family to run
across the border to Rajasthan.
If there is one good thing that has come out of this evil, say many of
the girls, it is the increasing emphasis on women's education. "We
girls thought that if we had been educated, we could have taken a good
job and supported our families," said one. Families with no earning
member left did not get anything more than a meagre compensation.
This, she said, forced many parents to realise the value of education
and professional training.
So what did they want to do once they graduated? Most said they wanted
to become teachers. But at least two said they wanted to join the
But the down side is that many girls never had a chance to make that
choice. With parents worried about the future of their daughters in
the immediate aftermath of the violence, many girls were married off
to men they had never met at the relief camps. It is unlikely that
these young women will have the freedom to travel to Mumbai at the
invitation of a women's group, to go to the theatre, to wander around
the city at night, to travel in trains and buses.
Life for the Muslim women of Gujarat, as was evident from the way
these 19 spoke, consists of "earlier" and "now". "Earlier", they had
Hindu friends, went to each other's homes, even celebrated each
other's festivals. "Now" this is not possible, they are even afraid to
go through Hindu areas and the question of enjoying each other's
festivals does not arise. "Even today we are told, Pakistan is yours,
go to Pakistan. The Hindus have come back to the city, the Muslims
have moved out. India has already been divided but now even our city
of Vadodara is divided into India and mini-Pakistan," said Nilofer.
Just a day before we met these women, the Supreme Court had ordered
the reopening of over 2,000 cases filed during the communal trouble of
2002 that the local police had closed. A 10-member committee has been
The process is forcing all of us to revisit the horror of those days.
The arrest of Police Sub-Inspector R.J. Patil, for instance, who
admitted that he had burnt 13 bodies of the victims of what is known
as the Ambika Society massacre, without sending specimens for forensic
analysis, is only the beginning of more gruesome details that will
Yet, even this tentative beginning represents hope for many Muslims in
Gujarat. Said Nilofer from Vadodara, "Even if these cases are
reopened, and regardless of whether there is justice or not, at least
in front of society these people will be named." She felt that the
arrest of men like Patil was an important gesture for her traumatised
E-mail the writer ***@thehindu.co.in
No time for coffee in Copenhagen
TABISH KHAIR is not writing about the numerous lives lost in a
senseless and criminal act of violence on September 11. Instead, he
writes about the voices he has heard thereafter; a sound that has a
certain tone to it and which has set him wondering about abstract
hatred and prejudice.
THERE are moments that cleave Time into two. Everything that happens
afterwards happens in a different world. World War II was one such
moment for Europe. The suicide-hijack-crashing of four passenger
planes and the destruction of the World Trade Center is such a moment
for the world.
I will not write about the 5,000 lives lost in a senseless and
criminal act of violence. Such human loss escapes the limits of
language and representation. One can only stand silent in front of the
monuments of sorrow that tens of thousands - relatives, friends,
colleagues - will carry in their hearts for the rest of their lives.
It is a sorrow the rest of us can only share in silence.
I cannot write about silence. And I should not for, in Copenhagen, I
have been deluged with sound: the opinions of ordinary people, the
film-like coverage of the tragedy by Cable News Network (CNN), the
voices of commentators and politicians. Much of this sound had a
certain tone to it and that tone set me wondering. Is there much of a
difference between the terrorists who struck back at a group of
politicians by targeting tens of thousands of innocent people and
those voices that seem to be using the cruel act of a handful of
presumed Islamic terrorists to tarnish and blame entire populations of
Muslims and Arabs? Do not both the acts demonstrate the same type of
abstract hatred and prejudice?
But the questions never end. On the margins of time, in the split
space between worlds, one is always deluged with questions.
For example, the first Danish person who brought me news of the
tragedy said that he was against violence of any kind and added that
he would understand it if Americans decided to hit back. Why is it
that we always justify our own violence, while the violence of the
enemy is sheer sacrilege? Isn't that why there were shocking pictures
of some Palestinians celebrating: people who have become so used to
the idea of missiles being launched at their own buildings by Israeli
forces and the notion of reciprocal violence that they could not feel
the inhumanity of their celebration?
But, then, is this what we can write about: this spiral of violence
and inhumanity? Is this immense tragedy going to remain at such a
general level of discourse?
The answer seems to be "yes" if various media discussions in the West
are to be believed. But it has to be "no" if we are to salvage some
sense from the wanton destruction.
It is easy for us to sit here in our cosy sitting rooms in Copenhagen,
holding a cup of coffee, munching a biscuit, watching the tragedy
unfold almost as fluently as a film on the idiot box, and speak in
general terms. What we are doing is celebrating our own humanity, and
all human beings - even terrorists - are convinced of their own
superior humanity. Many of the most inhuman acts known to humanity
have been the consequence of such a conviction. We need to go beyond
it. We owe it to the victims of the tragedy to go beyond it.
The second person who called me with news of the tragedy was my
father: a devout Muslim doctor who has lived most of his life in a
small town in Bihar. He was shocked by the news. How could anyone do
this, he said again and again. The word he used was "anyone". I went
back to the TV and, in spite of the fact that no one knew anything
about the identities of the terrorists, I did not hear too many people
say "anyone". I heard "Muslim", "Islamic", "Middle Eastern", "Arab".
These were people who had already decided to exclude entire
populations from the circumference of their definitions of humanity.
My father's "anyone" had been reduced by many of these contributors to
"Arab" or "Muslim", even to the very type of an Arab or Muslim. I
could feel the irreligious "Muslim" in me cringe every time I heard
such discussions. I could feel my father being put in the dock.
It is so comfortable, this celebration of our own humanity. It can be
so inhuman, this celebration of our own humanity.
But what about violence?
Thomas Burnet, the late 17th century English divine, wrote that the
Roman Catholic Church persecuted prophets of Apocalyptic violence
(even though Apocalypse and the millennium were prophesied in the
Bible and, as such, should have been welcome to the church), because
it was in those days a church of privilege. Apocalyptic violence,
Burnet argued, was always the last resort of the persecuted and would
be disliked by those who "have lived always in pomp and prosperity".
Violence, in other words, is seldom a free choice. It is predicated
upon most individuals by circumstances. These individuals are usually
those who labour under an overpowering feeling of injustice and
deprivation. However senseless it might be, behind all violence lies
the rubble of shattered hopes, of real and imagined injustices, of
human desperation and, consequently, inhuman hatred. Let us not take
refuge in the easy excuse that we are against violence. For all of us,
given certain circumstances, are capable of violence or sympathy with
violence. While a thousand candles have been lit in Copenhagen for
those who died in the United States, let us also light a candle or two
for those who die - and thousands do every day, with or without
"Western" complicity - in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Rwanda .... Let
us not traffic in the worth of human lives.
No, large descriptions like "violence" do not help if we stay confined
to that general level. Neither does the kind of cry for vengeance that
one heard in the voice of many Americans and Europeans. It is true
that we have to take a stand against violence. Not just violence of
one kind, we have to take a stand against all kinds of violence - the
violence of terrorists as well as the violence of State agencies,
physical violence that leads to the death of bystanders as well as
economic violence that leads to the starvation of millions in a world
that has enough to go around. More than enough.
It is time we in the West think a bit before we bite into the cake of
our affluence and drink the coffee of our civilised condemnation.
If general sentiments will not do, what, then, about the specific
lessons that we can draw from this tragedy?
One of the things that this outrage has demonstrated is the
ineffectiveness of any kind of military shield. The only shield that
can be effective is the shield of a more just world. And for the world
to be made just and equal, it not only needs some of the resources of
the affluent, it also has to be made democratic.
Unfortunately, the U.S. has made itself into the target of extremist
groups largely because it has tried to go solo or exert undue
influence in certain international quarters. The internal democracy of
the U.S. seldom gets translated into international democracy. Had
certain decisions been taken through the channels of the United
Nations (not a military alliance of the privileged, like the North
Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)), the U.S. would have been only
one nation among many. The burden, the "blame" and the risks would
have been shared. There are advantages to democracy at the
international level, but it has to be true democracy. And the final
lesson is that of the dangers of abstract hatred and prejudice. The
act of one leader or a group cannot be blamed in a generalised way on
an entire people or country, as the terrorists seem to have done. But
this is a lesson that we should also remember every time someone uses
the dastardly act of a handful of presumed Islamic terrorists to
implicitly or explicitly blame entire populations of Muslims and
The crashes that reduced the World Trade Center to rubble and the two
terror-inducing plane crashes elsewhere have cleft our age into two.
On the other side of this smoking chasm of blood and bitterness, lies
another world. It can be a world in which all the mistakes of the past
- global inequality, socio-economic exploitation, lack of
international democracy, lack of national democracy and literacy in
some nations, prejudice, hatred - all these mistakes are consolidated
into a world of greater violence and suffering. Or we may, finally,
learn to work towards a world, a very different world, where we will
tackle not the consequences of senseless tragedies but the reasons for
them. A world in which we will condemn not only a certain kind of
violence, but all violence; a world in which we will love not only our
humanity, but all humanity.
In order to make this choice we have to look deep into our own hearts
before we tidy away the tea things and swap the channel in places like
People who commit hate crimes against Americans with Middle Eastern
backgrounds in the wake of the terrorist attacks will be prosecuted
"to the fullest extent of the law", according to a top Justice
According to new federal hate crime statistics released recently:
* Hate crimes accounted for nearly 3,000 of the roughly 5.4 million
victim-related crimes examined in a study which looked at cases
reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) by local police
in more than a dozen states from 1997 to 1999.
* Among the racially motivated incidents, 60 per cent targeted Blacks,
30 per cent targeted Whites and the rest targeted Asians and American
Indians. Forty-one per cent of the incidents involving religious bias
targeted Jewish people.
* Violent crime was the most serious offence in 60 per cent of the
hate crimes, typically involving intimidation or simple assault.
* More than half of the violent hate crime victims were 24 years old
or younger. Among the offenders, 31 per cent of violent offenders and
46 per cent of property offenders were under age 18.
(The writer is Assistant Professor, Department of English, Copenhagen
...and I am Sid Harth