The great Indian spirit that was witnessed after Mumbai terror attacks has started evaporating. The fears that I had expressed in my last post seem to be turning true.
First it was a zealous part of intelligentsia that passionately argued that the attacks were termed as the greatest terror attack just because the ‘elite’ were targeted. The facts that it was panic on the streets (home of many non-elite Indian) of Mumbai and an ordinary Mumbaikar shuddered to venture out of his home (those who were elite enough to have one) on the night of 26th November were not strong enough a reason to believe that the panic, with an utter contempt for boundaries of class and creed, struck everyone.
And now the worst, thought not unexpected, fear has come true – the reactions have taken a communal color. And I am among the first victims. I write this post as a 'Hindu' today.
And the person who has helped me don this Hindu identity is a central minister, ironically (?) minorities’ welfare minister. The minister, the name is Antulay, A R Antulay, suspects a conspiracy behind killing of ATS chief Hemant Karkare, the person who was investigating the Malegaon blasts case, a proof of existence Hindu terrorism. He thinks Mr. Karkare was pushed into death by some people (what the hell, why can’t he clearly say ‘Hindus’) so that Malegaon investigation was derailed.
There is nothing wrong in thinking or having an opinion. But each thought or opinion has a place in the civil society based on its ‘merits’.
I guess the accepted norm is that when you have a differing opinion from the majority (and I don’t mean Hindus by majority in this case!) the onus is upon you to prove your opinion/assertion/theory. Galileo and Darwin had differing opinions from the majority and the onus was upon them to prove their theories, rather than upon the majority to disprove their theories. And I guess it was fair. What was unfair was the fact that on occasions they were not even allowed to prove their theories.
But in politics, especially in Indian politics, and specifically with Muslims involved, it seems that the onus is on the majority (and here I mean Hindus) to disprove the theories and opinions of the minority.
Otherwise why the political class, except the BJP, thinks that the Antulay’s conspiracy theory should be probed, WITHOUT asking the minister to provide some concrete evidence, say a suspect post-mortem report or any other tangible evidence, which hints towards his conspiracy theory holding some ground?
Antulay did face resistance initially. But the moment he played the ‘Muslim’ card, everyone was willing to oblige rather than question his assertion.
Mr. Karkare was probing Malegaon case. He got killed. These two events happening one after another is strong enough a circumstantial evidence to suspect and probe the causes of his death?
Congress was under pressure over alleged fake encounter in Jamia Nagar. Arrests in Malegaon blasts case take place. Jamia Nagar outcry takes a backseat. These three events happening one after another is not strong enough a circumstantial evidence to suspect if ATS was acting under any political pressure?
For me, both of the above are conspiracy theories, a perverted post-hoc analysis of events by some propagandists. But why should the former merit probe and the later be rejected with disdain?
I can only see religion as the differentiating factor. And that’s my Hindu mindset thanks to Antulay.
A few good men (and women) among you might suggest that I should not take the political class seriously as they always play to the gallery. Vote bank politics, you see. But that is not completely true.
Even an educated Muslim and ‘secular’ Hindu has soft corner for conspiracy theories coined by Muslim groups. Some of the Urdu newspapers had carried out reports suspecting the whole Mumbai terror attacks as handiwork of Hindu Zionists (what on earth does that mean? A fake news report had suggested that Judaism and Hinduism were merged to created Hinjews to fight Islam, seems like our Urdu media and Muslim intelligentsia took that seriously).
The reports suggested that Hindu Zionists (well, they are actually trinity of supporters of BJP, some elements of Congress, and Hindu elements of the Army, backed by Mossad and CIA) had carried out ALL terrorist attacks in India to defame Muslims. The only exception to this conspiracy was 1993 Mumbai blasts, which were not carried out by the Hindu Zionists, the conspiracy theory argued. (In their school text books they must have learnt that each theory has an exception, so they allocated one.)
Among one of the important and tangible evidences that believers of this conspiracy theory provided in case of Mumbai terror attacks was the fact that terrorists wore Hindu saffron bands on their wrists (refer to the famous picture of Azmal Qasab). Hence Hindu Zionists were behind the attacks.
Such a tangible proof it was. Wait, I had seen in some Bollywood movies that Muslims tie such bands after visiting dargaah of Sufi saints. Ah, those movies might also be part of conspiracy by Hindu Zionists. That’s why they issue fatwa against Muslim Bollywood actors.
Anyway, the Mumbai attacks soon were proved to be an exception to the Hindu Zionist theory (the theory still holds true for millions, mind you) after Urdu media from Pakistan argued convincingly that Azmal Qasab was a Pakistani Muslim Jehadi, and not a Hindu Zionist.
If I have acquired a Hindu mindset today, it’s not because of people who coin such beautiful conspiracy theories, but because of those educated Muslims and secular Hindus who shift the onus of disproving such theories (either related with existence of Hindu Zionists or Karkare’s murder) on the Hindu masses.
The cushion of such conspiracy theories against the curse of communal discrimination has taken Indian Muslims into their shell and pushed them into a denial mode. They have got into a position that could make them blind to their own folly, a place where they could indulge in constant self pity and refuse self reform, and a ghetto that could help develop a Muslim mindset and induce a Hindu one upon people like me.
And when I say that Muslims have got into their shell and in a denial mode, it is due to the fact that for several years now educated Muslims have been busy defending and professing Islam instead of accepting that there could be some problems in their own house and trying to correct it. And secular Hindus are more than willing to let them be there.
They have got into their shell as even an innocuous idea such as protest against the terror attacks attracted resistance. Some Indian Muslims had opposed the move by some other Muslims to protest against the terror attacks. The Muslims who favored protesting against the attacks argued that such attacks were carried out in the name of Islam and hence they should clear the air by protesting.
But the other group, consisting of some members of Muslim intelligentsia, argued that protests against the attacks were tantamount to owning up that the attacks were by Muslims. And why should Muslims need to speak up in capacity of being a Muslim against the attacks? Muslims must protest as Indians and not as Muslims, they argued.
Sounds fair and logical enough, but it’s actually a manifestation of that denial mode. The same people used to find fault with media that ‘Muslim’ opinion against terrorism was never given proper coverage, and as a result terrorism was unwittingly linked with Islam. Now when some people, backed by media, want them to speak up and voice the ‘Muslim’ opinion against terrorism, they think it’s not fair. In fact now they claim that they are being targeted against for being Muslims when Media asks for their opinion as Muslims.
Anyway, an average Hindu didn’t ask them to speak up either. The common reaction after the Mumbai attacks was, ‘Pakistanis did it, and we Indians must all be united.’ People trying to blame Muslims and Islam were pushed back and told to shut up. ‘Enough is enough’ was the refrain. BJP couldn’t capitalize on ‘Hindu’ sentiments in the following state assembly elections, as there was none.
There were 'Indian' voices/noises all around. And then Mr. Antulay spoke up.
And he finds support from Muslim MPs cutting across party lines and from secular and broad minded Hindus. I see an analogy between what USA did with Muslim fundamentalists during 80’s and what the secular Hindus are doing now. USA supported Taliban and gave birth to Al Qaida to fight Soviet forces. Secular Hindus want to fight communal Hindus with the same strategy?
And don’t ask me which side I belong to. Don’t divide the Hindus in just two categories – secular and communal. What about Hindus who are proud of Hinduism but don’t want to be associated with rapists and murderers of Muslims, and at the same time are wary of rubbing shoulders with some so-called secular Hindus? Will they be allowed an opinion and independent identity? Or they would be told – either you are with us or you are with the communal forces?
There was time when such a Hindu was real and respectful like Swami Vivekananda. Then he became like Santa Claus; people liked to believe he was there but declared him fictitious. And now with this polarization, he has become like Yeti; undesirable, fictitious and extinct.
But he is still real. It’s a matter of choice for secular Hindus and educated Muslims to give him space, if not respect, by listening to the Hindu mindset. Or the other option is to brand him as a communal, reject his arguments, and go back happily into the shell.
And the Hindu mindset says – stop donning kid gloves when dealing with everything that has a Muslim element and taking a moral high ground when dealing with anything that has a Hindu element in it.
Enough is enough!