Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution

Blog of Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution

Leave a comment

Will Communal Violence Bill be tabled in Parliament?

With the defeat of Congress in the 4 states results of which were declared on 8th December 2013, one does not know the fate of the Prevention of Communal Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill 2013 that was to be introduced in the last winter session of the Parliament under UPA II. Some may say the UPA II government is now a lame duck govt. and would not introduce such a legislation. On the other hand the UPA has a duty to redeem its electoral promise and should introduce the legislation to gain support of democratic and secular forces.

The Indian National Congress had promised in its election manifesto in 2004, “The Congress will adopt all possible measures to promote and maintain communal peace and harmony, especially in sensitive areas. It will enact a comprehensive law on social violence in all its forms and manifestations, providing for investigations by a central agency, prosecution by Special Courts and payment of uniform compensation for loss of life, honour and property.” Towards redeeming this promise, the UPA – I Govt. proposed a Bill in 2005 which was draconian and rejected by the civil society and human rights organizations. The 2005 Bill sought to empower the state and double the punishment for scheduled offences if they were committed within the area and during the period it was declared as “communally disturbed”. The malaise why riots broke out was that the administration, either because of political leadership or otherwise, omitted to use the powers vested with them or misused the powers and discretion vested in them. Secondly, those guilty were not brought to justice. Therefore, more powers in the hands of the state was going to be counterproductive and doubling the punishment meaningless if prosecutions were not launched in the first place. The voice of civil society was heeded to and the 2005 Bill was withdrawn. However, the civil society kept demanding that the election promise of the Congress Party be redeemed.

The promise was repeated in its 2009 Manifesto – “The Indian National Congress believes in ensuring the right to compensation and rehabilitation for all victims of communal, ethnic and caste violence on standards and levels that are binding on every government. The Indian National Congress will propose a law that empowers the National Human Rights Commission to monitor investigation and trial in all cases of communal and caste violence.” There was substantial difference in the promise of anti-riot legislation in the two manifestos. The first difference is that the vague term “social violence” was spelt out more precisely as “communal, ethnic and caste violence”. The 2009 Manifesto emphasises more on right to compensation and rehabilitation of victims. While the 2004 Manifesto promised investigation by a “central agency”, the 2009 Manifesto proposed empowering “National Human Rights Commission to monitor investigation and trial in all cases of communal and caste violence.”

National Advisory Council chaired by Ms. Sonia Gandhi then consulted peace activists and legal experts and proposed a draft Bill in 2011. The 2011 draft Bill in spite of some minor flaws, appeared to be legislation in the right direction. By and large organizations working for peace and communal harmony supported the Bill with some having few reservations and suggestions for further strengthening of the Bill. On the other hand, the BJP and pen pushers subscribing to Hindutva ideology started a vicious misinformation campaign against the Bill. They firstly attacked NAC headed by Sonia Gandhi as a non-Constitutional body (though NAC had drafted other Bills too, the attack was for the first time). However more vitriolic comments were on the ground that the Bill was anti-majority as it could be invoked only when minorities were under attack. It was alleged that the Bill would in fact stoke communal fire and polarize the communities. The third ground was more to appeal to the non-Congress parties and that was, that the 2011 draft Bill violated the federal structure and encroached upon the powers of the state.

The UPA – II Govt. did not disclose its view on the Bill either way. It called a meeting of the National Integration Council and let the BJP Chief Ministers, including Narendra Modi to attack the Bill. One Chief Ministers from Congress ruled state feebly opposed the Bill and the Union ministers did not respond to the attack. One thought that the 2011 Bill was given a quiet burial.

BJP’s worry:

BJP and the Sangh Parivaar have always benefitted by the communal polarization following a communal riot. Gujarat 2002 riots installed Modi firmly in power. All predictions are that the BJP is likely to increase its tally in UP during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections after the Muzaffarnagar Communal riots in 2013. There already exists a powerful and efficient network for spreading rumours. Hatred against minorities is poured out continuously through public speeches, media, social media, using educational institutions and all available platforms. We are familiar with slogans like “Babar ki aulad”, “Mussalman jao Pakistan”, “All terrorists are Muslims”, referring relief camps set up after riots as “children producing factory” etc. and are labelled as “Congress vote banks”. These are just a few of many hate titles seeking to portray Muslims and Christians as unwanted foreigners who should be deprived of their citizenship rights and if possible thrown out of the country. Given such hate attitudes, communal tensions prevail all the time in various degrees. The theatre of this tension has spread from urban to rural areas now. Given these communal tensions and rumour spreading network, communal riots are easy to organize in India. An insignificant incident can be exploited to trigger off a riot. This situation is compounded by lack of will on the part of the law enforcing agencies to prevent a riot when there are early warnings of it like hate speeches being spouted. Or counter rumours and prevent mobilization on streets and disperse rioting mob with minimum force if already mobilized. Some members of the law enforcement agencies even collude with the rioting mobs. And finally lack of prosecution of the guilty who planned and executed the riots.

The proposed Bill makes dereliction of duty on part of public servants, including colourable exercise of (or omission to exercise) authority vested in him/her and which leads to communal offence a punishable offence. For example, allowing lakhs of people to gather during the Jat Mahapanchayat armed to the teeth when Muzaffarnagar was communally tensed and when the Mahapanchayat was banned would have constituted offence of dereliction of duty on part of all the police officers who were in charge of the area. Similarly in the Gujarat 2002 riots, all the police officers who handed over the bodies of the karsevaks to VHP leaders to be taken in a procession from Godhra to Ahmedabad or the officers who allowed the huge crowd to assemble on 27th February outside V S Hospital, or the policeman during Mumbai riots in 1992-93 whose wireless communication was intercepted and in which he is telling his colleague let the residence of Muslims burn and not to inform the fire brigade, all would have been guilty of dereliction of duty had the Bill been passed in the Parliament.

The Bill makes it a duty of every public servant who holds the charge of maintaining public order and tranquillity to prevent any act of communal violence without delay and in fair, impartial and non-discriminatory manner and act against unlawful assemblies. The guilty officer claiming to be following unlawful or illegal order of a superior would not relieve her/him of criminal responsibility.

The Bill has accepted the doctrine of command responsibility. A commanding officer who fails to exercise command, control or supervision and as a result of such failure persons under the command of the officer fail to discharge their duties and offences under the Act are committed, would be guilty of breach of the offence of breach command responsibility.

Any legislation that seeks to make the law enforcement agency accountable for their omissions and commissions in preventing and / or controlling riots and / or compel them to bring the guilty to justice and make the criminal justice system victim friendly and victim driven will make organizing riots more risky and difficult. For the BJP to benefit from riots and consequent communal polarization will be a loss. This is the real worry of the BJP. All the grounds on which the Bill is being attacked by the BJP are sham and slogan mongering. Let us examine.

Violation of Federal Polity:

The case of intrusion into the domain of the state can probably be made out because of constitution of National and State Authority for Communal Harmony, Justice and Reparations. This Authority is now proposed to be replaced by the National and State Human Rights Commissions in the amended version, may be in order to avoid attracting the charge of violation of federal nature of polity as no new authority is being created. However, the proposed functions of the Authority were more in the nature of advisory and recommendatory. Just sample some of its functions “Authority shall observe, monitor and review the performance of duties by public servant in relation to the following….” the issues on which the Authority was to monitor include effectiveness of steps taken by public servant; recording of information by public servant; provision of timely and adequate measures related to relief, rehabilitation, reparation and restitution of survivors of the riots; etc. The Authority was also to receive and collect information on … any act that indicates build up … of offence under the Act; any form of propaganda or mobilization; likely occurrence of offences of communal and targeted violence; issue advisories to state and non-state actors; frame schemes for making reparations; frame guidelines for prevention and control of communal and targeted violence; receive report on patterns of communal and targeted violence, visit relief camps and receive information on arrangements; visit jails; observe and intervene in proceedings in courts where trials of communal and targeted violence are being conducted and such other functions as may be considered necessary. The Authority may also conduct an inquiry however, there is nothing in the Act to indicate that the Authority will have powers of police and will be performing the function of investigation agency under Code of Criminal Procedure and file charge sheet in courts. That job will still have to be done by the police under normal laws of the country. There is no provision that advisories and recommendations of the Authority would be binding. The Sangh Parivaar is scaring State Governments and regional parties without any reason.

In any case, Art. 355 of the Constitution of India imposes a duty on the Union “to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance and to ensure that the Government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”. Situation of communal riots amounts to internal disturbance, wherein the life and liberty of minorities in particular people of the area where riots are going on in general is under grave threat. The State is temporarily unable to enforce law and guarantee security to citizens. Often in such a situation, armed forces of the Union have to be requisitioned and it is the duty of the Union to ensure that the Government of the State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. The Union is within its right to frame laws where appropriate measures are laid down to deal with communal violence since it is such a regular occurrence.

Art. 246 read with 7th Schedule of the Constitution of India enlists the subject matter of the laws to be made by Parliament and State Legislatures. There are three lists in the 7th Schedule – List – I is Union List, List – II is State List and List – III is Concurrent List. Parliament has exclusive power to make laws pertaining to matters enlisted in List I. The State legislatures have exclusive power to make laws with respect to matters enlisted in List – II. The Parliament and State legislatures can both make laws with respect to matters enumerated in List – III. Entry 2 in the Union List is: “Naval, military and air forces of the Union” and entry 2A is: “Deployment of any armed force of the Union or any other force subject to the control of the Union or any contingent or unit thereof in any State in aid of the civil power; powers, jurisdiction, privileges and liabilities of the members of such forces while on such deployment. Entry 1 in the State List is: “Public order (but not including the use of any naval, military or Air Force or any other armed for of the Union or of any other force subject to the control of the Union or of any contingent or unit thereof in aid of the civil power)”.

Though public order is within the jurisdiction of the state, in case of riots, often armed forces of the Union have to be requisitioned and deployed to restore order. As per entry 2 and 2A of the Union List and entry 1 of the State List, it would be clear once again that the Union has a duty to frame laws to prevent and control communal violence. Further, entry 1-3 in the Concurrent List, are matters like criminal law, criminal procedures and preventive detention on which the Union as well as the States have power to enact laws.

When laws draconian laws like TADA, POTA, ostensibly to deal with terrorism, or legislation pertaining to National Investigating Agency or preventive detention legislations are enacted by the Union the BJP fully supports such legislation. Unlike the National Investigation Agency (the constitution of which BJP never opposed), the Authority has neither powers to, nor obligation to investigate the criminal cases launched after the riots. That would continue to be done by state police. In fact TADA and POTA also defined new offences and laid down draconian procedures making it easy to convict accused even with lazy and half hearted investigation and in some cases on contrived and manufactured evidence. Legislations like TADA, POTA, AFSPA, Disturbed Areas Act, and other such draconian legislations invest much power with less or nil accountability in the security forces and enable security forces to violate human rights with impunity. The BJP never considered these legislations as intrusion into the domain of the states and damaging the federal polity even though these legislations are essentially pertaining to public order and all of the aforesaid legislations successfully faced Constitutional challenges.

Anti-Hindu Law:

All indications are that the in the new 2013 Bill, the term “communal and targeted violence” will be reworded as “communal violence”. In the 2011 draft of the Bill, the provisions of the Act could be invoked if offences like sexual assaults, hate propaganda, organized communal and targeted violence, extending financial, material or any kind of aid for committing any offence under the Act or torture were committed targeting linguistic or religious minorities or members of SCs and STs were targeted. That was so because minorities, both religious and linguistic, SCs and STs are more vulnerable being non-dominant community. Officials of the state, more often than not, nurture biases and prejudices against the non-dominant sections of the society. Prejudicial attitude of the officials colours their judgment in taking action against those responsible for communal and targeted violence, particularly against the dominant section of the society who are politically well networked. The Rationale of the NAC in their Explanatory Note states “The Bill is only concerned with ensuring that when the group under attack is non-dominant in that State, then the officers of the State machinery must not be allowed to let bias to breach their impartiality or colour the performance of their sworn legal duty.

As the upper castes belonging to the majority community (belonging to either religion) are well networked with institutions and enjoy disproportionate influence over levers of power, including the politicians and bureaucracy, they are less vulnerable and unlikely to be targeted on the basis of their caste or religion or language. The 2011 Bill nevertheless could be invoked when either Hindus or Muslims were targeted. The 2011 Bill could be invoked when offences linguistic minorities or SC or STs were (belonging to any religion) were committed. The Bill did not classify members of any religion to be perpetrators of communal and targeted violence and they could belong to any group. But the Hindutva followers created a scare that the communal violence Bill was against Hindus as they alone would be assumed to be perpetrators of the communal violence.

Though now the 2013 does away with the concept of “targeted violence” and offences against any person during communal riots will attract the provisions of the Bill, the propaganda continues that the Bill is anti-Hindu. Neither the 2011 draft Bill was anti-Hindu nor the 2013 draft Bill is anti or pro Hindu. Both the draft Bills were anti communal offenders and communal rioters who disturbed the peace communal harmony and public order; who gained from the polarization that followed communal riots. It is against the environment of impunity that followed the communal riots wherein the rioters went unpunished.

Justice and Reparations:

In the proposed Bill likely to be tabled in the Parliament, the National and State Human Rights Commission (NHRC) will monitor the trials of offences committed during communal violence. The trial itself is proposed to be made become more victim-friendly, right from registering FIRs in relief camps to having a say in appointment of public prosecutors, and if necessary, shift the trial outside the district in which riots have occurred. The provisions also include witness protection programme to ensure that they are not intimidated and the process of law is not subverted. The Bill provides right of the survivors to relief of adequate standards as laid down in the Act and right to compensation, rehabilitation and restitution, including guarantee of non-repetition of communal violence and safety and security of the survivors in relief camps as well as after rehabilitation. For setting up adequate, fair and reasonable rehabilitation and restitution, the Bill provides for Dist. and State Assessment Committees that will assess the extent of damage caused to the survivors.


The UPA II should accept the gauntlet of communal forces and take speedy steps to enact a law without any delay. The Prevention of Communal Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill 2013 would deepen democracy as the state is sought to be more accountable and makes relief and reparations right of the riots survivors and duty of the state. The trial procedures would be more survivor friendly leading to bringing the communal offenders to justice. The Bill will strengthen the forces of peace and harmony.

However, the 2013 Bill is likely to be much watered down then the originally conceived. The sting of the Bill will be less virulent if it is allowed to be invoked even by dominant sections who can misuse the provisions of the Bill.

The second area of worry in introducing the 2013 Bill in Parliament is replacing the National and State Authority for Justice and Reparations with National and State Human Rights Commissions. Many Human Rights organizations are dissatisfied with the functioning of the Commission in upholding Human Rights. The Commission is over burdened with cases and effective action is taken up in rarest of rare cases. National Human Rights Commission played a salutary role in the case of Gujarat communal violence in 2002. However after that the Commission has done nothing in the riots thereafter, though within its mandate. The work and responsibility of the Authority was slated to be very heavy and demanding a lot of time and effort if we are serious about preventing communal violence that are more than a dozen every year. The work of Authority includes receiving information and discerning patterns of communal violence as a preventive measure. This requires not only a dedicated Authority but also having expert knowledge of patterns of communal violence and violence based on hate on the basis of religion, caste, region, language, race, or ethnicity in different countries of the world. The NHRC, already over burdened with cases of human rights violations would be eminently unsuitable. It would amount to having no body that would discharge the functions of the Authority under the 2011 Bill.

The dilution of the principle of breach of command responsibility is also a worrisome matter.


Leave a comment

Shia-Sunni Conflicts – What are the issues?

Shia-Sunni Conflicts – What are the issues?

Irfan engineer.

Conflicts between the Shia and Sunni sect of Islam has increased in the 21st Century. Clerics and politicians on both sides are stoking violence and distrust. Syria’s Civil war has become added reason for the growing virulent conflict between the two sects of Islam. There did exist some amount of mistrust between the followers of the two sects earlier. However, it largely remained at that – mistrust and prejudices. But the US led “war on terrorism” has widened the divide in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, and now in Syria. In our neighbourhood in South Asia, Pakistan too has witnessed escalation in sectarian violence with Shias being attacked inside their mosques and Sunni extremist organizations like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi becoming bolder in their attacks on Shia minorities.

The two sects separated on the issue of choosing the successor of Prophet Mohammed after his death in the year 632. There are indications that struggle for succession had started when the Prophet was on his death bed. Shias believe that the Prophet had appointed his son-in-law Ali as his spiritual as well as temporal successor. However, this is difficult to ascertain, as the tradition of the Prophet quoted to prove this can be interpreted differently. What is probable is that the Prophet might have desired that Ali, who was undoubtedly a man of great courage, valour, character and intellectual accomplishments, should succeed him but did not state it in categorical terms in view of powerful contending groups. Succession brought tribal solidarities to the fore. The Banu Hashim rallied round Ali and the emigrant Qurayshite rallied behind Hazrat Abu Bakr. Banu Hashim were in minority. After and Hazrat Umar pledged his loyalty to AbuBakr, the tide turned in his favour and Abu Bakr was elected as the Caliph to succeed the Prophet. The Banu Hashim did not pledge their support the new Caliph for quite some time. They used to gather at Ali’s house to discuss their plans. However, on Hazrat Umar’s efforts, Ali also accepted the authority of Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was succeeded by Umar, Uthman and Ali. Those who were partisan of Ali in the conflict between Abu Bakr and Ali for succession were called as Shi’atu Ali or party of Ali and later were called simply as Shias. The majority were referred to as Sunnis, that is, those wanted to follow the good practices of Prophet.

Ali was also the fourth Caliph accepted by all Muslims. Nevertheless, the Shia Sunni Conflict survived as there are some theological differences. Shias believe that the successive Imams should be from the family Ali as the family has special religious wisdom and rightful political authority after the Prophet. It is hard to tell the exact numbers but it is generally believed that Shias constitute about 10-20% of the Muslim population in the world.

The largest Shia population in the world is Iran where they constitute an overwhelming majority. Iran, with its oil wealth and vibrant economy In Iraq though the Shias constitute majority of the population, the army and the Ba’ath party was dominated by the Sunnis. After the US invasion of Iraq toppled Saddam Husain, the Shia – Sunni conflict escalated. Shias claimed power and Sunnis feared repression.

According to one estimate, as of early 2008, 1,121 suicide bombers have blown themselves up in Iraq. Sunni suicide bombers have targeted not only thousands of civilians but mosques, shrines, wedding and funeral processions, markets, hospitals, offices, and streets. Sunni insurgent organizations include Ansar al-Islam. Radical groups include Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, Jeish al-Taiifa al-Mansoura, Jaish Muhammad, and Black Banner Organization.

Sunni insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi urged followers to kill the Shia of Iraq, and calling the Shias “snakes”. An al-Qaeda-affiliated website posted a call for “a full-scale war on Shiites all over Iraq, whenever and wherever they are found.” Wahhabi suicide bombers continue to attack Iraqi Shia civilians, and the Shia ulama have in response declared suicide bombing as haraam. “Even those who kill people with suicide bombing, these shall meet the flames of hell.” Declared Ayatollah Yousef Saanei.

Death squads of Shia militia-dominated government too in early February 2006 were torturing to death or summarily executing hundreds of Sunnis every month in Baghdad alone.

There was a vicious sectarian struggle till 2008 with hundreds killed in the process. The Sunnis pulled out Shia pilgrims from buses and gunned them down with the Shias retaliating equally violently and brutally. The Shia Sunni conflict was sought to be promoted by the US even during the 10 year long Iran-Iraq war. The US installed government is now headed by Nouri al-Maliki, a Shia. It must be remembered here that neither the Shias nor the Sunnis are striving for theological superiority of one over the other. They are locked in the struggle to bargain for maximum share in power.

In Bahrain too, the ruling Al Khalifa family professes Sunni Islam though about 70% of the population is Shia. With Arab springs, there were demonstrations against the government of Bahrain but Saudi Arabia sent army to help the Al Khailfa family curb the demonstrations. Media did not cover much of the demonstrations.

The Syrian War:

In Syria, this equation reverses. While the majority of the population is Sunni, the Alawite army and the President Bashar Al Assad of Syria has been from Shia sect of Islam. US is subtly using the Shia-Sunni divide to topple Bashar Al Assad Government. Bashar Al Assad has accused the US backed rebels to be terrorists who subscribe to Al-Qaeda ideology. Al Assad has refused to be US client state serving its interests; particularly, it has not accepted the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and its own territory – Golan Heights in under Israeli occupation.

According to one estimate, over 80,000 people have been killed in the US supported and instigated revolt against Bashar Al Assad’s regime. Over 150 Hezbollah fighters have reportedly been killed while fighting in support of the Syrian regime of President Bashar al Assad. Influential cleric Yusuf al Qaradawi recently called on Sunni Muslims to join the rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, he effectively called for the Sunni-Shia conflict in the Middle East to escalate in some countries and start anew in others. Qaradawi denounced al-Assad’s Alawite sect as “more infidel than Christians and Jews.” Such provocative statements are classic Qaradawi, who in 2008 warned of the “Shiitization” of the Middle East. Such statements could escalate the conflict in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Lebanon has significant Shia population though not majority. Hezbollah a resistence movement to Israeli occupation is a militant organization receiving strong support from the Shias. Hezbollah defends Lebanon’s Southern Borders against Israel. Formed in 1985 to free Lebanon from Israeli occupation, it fought two wars with Israel, the last one being in 2000. When Sunni Prime Minister of Lebanon – Rafiq Hariri was assassinated on 14th February 2005, US and countries that support it blamed Syria for the assassination. The pressure mounted led to withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. The Shia and Sunni population have a stable sharing of power arrangement in Lebanon after long years of civil war. However, in 2008 the tensions between the two Shia and Sunni dominated political alliances With the Arab Springs, and the US supported rebel in Syria in 2011 the repercussion have been felt in Lebanon too.

In India, Shias are about 20% to 30% of the total Muslim population or about 20-40 million. Shia population in India is second largest after Iran. Shias are found in considerable numbers in Lucknow, Hyderabad, Kargil, Delhi, Mumbai, Jaunpur, Machilipatnam, Barabanki, Sirsi, Amroha, Karari (Kaushambi, UP), Unnao, Akbarpur, Sultanpur and Muzafar Nagar. The Nawabs of Awadh, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan of Mysore were Shias. There were communal tensions between Shias and Sunnis in Lucknow during the Moharrum processions where Tabarra is recited. Tabarra is a doctrine that refers to the obligation of disassociation with those who oppose Allah and those who caused harm to and were the enemies of the Prophet Muhammad or his family. Some Shia leaders send curse (la’anat) on Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Muawiyah and that offends the Sunnis and can potentially trigger of riots between the two. Britishers had banned the Moharrum procession in Lucknow as a preventive measure as Shias are in large numbers in Lucknow. The Moharram procession is now being permitted only since about a decade without any untoward incident.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah who is considered as Qaid-e-Azam in Pakistan was also a Shia Muslim. Pakistani Shia community is spread across the country, mainly in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Islamabad. Pakistan Shia communities include the Turis and Bangash Pashtun tribes, Qizilbash, Hazaras, Baltis, Shias of Padhrar, Khojas, Bohras and others. They constitute about 10% of the population of Pakistan but the estimate of their number varies 17 top 26 million. The Shia-Sunni Conflict in Pakistan has manifested itself in brutal attacks on the Shia Masjid. Sunni extremist organizations have been active on this front, particularly Sipah-e-Sahaba. Some Shias formed their own militant organization Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan. The sectarian conflict escalated due to “Islamization” drive in Pakistan during Zia-Ul-Haq. Shias were resisting compulsory deduction of Zakat from the incomes of all Muslims by a state dominated by Sunnis.

Nature of Shia-Sunni Conflict:

Though there are theological differences, they are hardly the cause of escalation of Shia-Sunni conflict in the world. It is not for us to go into the merits of theological validity. Belief is always between the God and the believer and not for any third human being or human institutions like state or religious institutions to interfere or make the believer answerable to his/her beliefs. Genuine believers usually do not aggressively seek to impose their beliefs on anybody else. In fact firmer one’s belief and deeper one’s conviction in the truth, less one depends on aggression and imposition. Such a person has more confidence in the truth of one’s belief that would itself persuade the others to one’s point of view. There have been and will be dialogue between the believers of different theological perspectives as to merits and demerits of their theology and practice in an open and accommodative spirit. Violence has no role in such dialogues. The escalation in Shia-Sunni conflict cannot be attributed to theological conflict, though mistrust can be attributed to the theological differences and to aggressive style of sections of religious leadership.

What is worrying is that US imperial ambitions to hegemonize and dominate the world (we shall call it “the Empire” for convenience and includes the Gobal North acting in the interest of a few big global corporations monopolizing trade surplus profits with slogan of freedom, choice, free market). The Empire using the Shia Sunni conflict to make a section of population fight against the other and ultimately overthrow inconvenient regimes and install pliant regimes and convert them to client states.

President Bush tried to create a Sunni axis by cobbling alliance with Saudi Arabia and other Arab Countries against Shia Iran. In late 2006 or early 2007, the United States changed its policy in the Muslim world, shifting its support from the Shia (in Iraq to topple Saddam Hussain) to the Sunni, with the goal of “containing” Iran and as a by-product bolstering Sunni extremist groups. During the Iraq War, the United States feared that a Shiite-led, Iran-friendly Iraq could have major consequences for American national security.

US updated its “Mass Atrocity Response Operations” (MARO) doctrine in 2012. This doctrine was used in Libyan war and is being misused in the Syrian war. The MARO doctrine allows providing advisors, equipment, or specialized support such as deployment or airpower to coalition partners, host nation, or victim groups; to influence perpetrator behaviour with strikes, blockades, or no-fly zones and to contain them and finally to attack and defeat perpetrator leadership and/or capabilities. The Empire instigated Syrian civil war is exploiting the fact that Alawite Shia regime reigns amidst the Sunni majority population. It is instigating Sunni rebels and even those who subscribe to Al Qaeda ideology extremism against the Shia Alawite regime. The Empire wants to topple the regime to secure Israel, its ally in the Middle East and install a pro-Israel client regime that is less belligerent towards Israel if not outright friendly and that does not support Hezbollah and the Lebanese Army against Israel. And finally, the Palestinian fighters are not able to seek support or refuge in Lebanon. The Empire sees potential threat in the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis with Iran having the potential to develop nuclear weapons and wants to neutralize this threat. While war is one way to fight the threat with loss of resources, weapons and men, the easier option for the Empire is to train one sect to fight another, i.e. use one Muslim sect against the other and the sectarian divide is handy here. This is precisely the MARO doctrine.

US wants to secure Israel to control the Arabs sitting over fossil fuel energy – oil. The increasingly mechanized world and modernized industrial production systems that are cutting down on labour costs to increase profits needs more and more energy. Renewable energy cannot meet the challenge and nuclear energy is accident prone. The best source of energy therefore seems to be the fossil fuel and Arab nations are sitting over this wealth. Forming cartels and limiting supply of this fossil fuel would push the price up and bring down profits. The only way to keep the OPEC cartel from consolidating it dividing them on whatever basis and sectarian conflict is one of the tools exploited by the Empire.

The Authoritarian states:

However, the Muslim populated states themselves are authoritarian kingdoms/Emirates to monopolize the wealth and revenues earned from the fossil fuel. They too use religion and religious ideology to keep control over its subjects. They have no futuristic vision. The Arab-Muslim countries are yet to build good research centres, world class universities and centres of knowledge. They invest in spreading religious ideology and religion based orthodoxies to ensure stability and they themselves revel in riches violating every moral obligation of equality and justice in Islam. They talk of Wahabism, Salafism even while building most modern and luxurious palaces for their extended families. They too use sectarian religious ideologies as a tool to exclude their subjects from revenues and deprive them of development. Muslims are most backward though they constitute roughly 1.6 billion people. Shia –Sunni Conflict is direct result of such instrumental use of religion by the rulers and military dictators in the Muslim world. The war of words between Sunni Scholar Ysusf Al-Qaradawi and Hassan Nasrallah literally calling for war is the case in point. Had the political leaders focussed on education, the educated class would have demanded more inclusive and responsive governance. The rulers patronize huge Madrassas and religious leadership that is backward looking orthodox and promoting sectarian conflicts.

Role of Media:

The Empire as well Muslim authoritarian states use media extensively to achieve their narrow objectives. The Empire uses media to spread Islamophobia and rally “its people” in this “war against terrorism” which in reality is a war to promote hegemony of corporate world and their interests, to promote access to resources of the global south and their markets. The authoritarian rulers in the Muslim world use media to promote orthodoxy and ritualized Islam. Media then creates stereo-types and “Jihadi Muslim” and “Islamic terror”. Those fighting against occupation of their land by foreign forces like the people of Afghanistan, Palestine and to some extend Pakistan are labelled as terrorists.

What should we do to promote Shia-Sunni unity:

Before we answer the question what should we do to achieve Shia-Sunni unity, we must ask the question why do we want to achieve this unity. If the unity is to be forged to prosecute another conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims, say with the western culture etc., the unity is not desirable. However, if Shia-Sunni unity is part of larger process of reconciliation and promotion of peace and humanity, a common struggle to a common struggle to achieve justice for all the peoples of the world, then the unity is highly desirable. but we cannot make any progress without the unity. Shia-Sunni unity is therefore part of the process of struggling for justice and struggling to establish Hukumat-e-Ilahiah where everybody is equal, everybody is a free citizen enjoying all the rights to good life and where is collectively struggling to creates means to enjoy good life for all which includes all basic necessities like food shelter, clothes, education, health.

If all are to be equal, we have to create systems that ensure fair distribution of resources and fair economic and political systems that ensure that all are heard. It is to be a common struggle of humanity against the Empire dominated new world order and more inclusive UN. While struggling against the new world order and the Empire, the authoritarian states ruling the Muslim countries are not going to be our allies. The so called Jihadis like the Al-Qaeda and Talibans are also not going to be our allies. In fact they are the factors that claim to fight the Empire but in a sense are allies of the Empire as they supply the pretext to the Empire through their actions (which are at best a little irritant) to create and strengthen New World Order where power is even more centralized and peoples of the world are further excluded. But these are long term measures. However, we need to immediately mitigate the Shia-Sunni Conflict.

In a special interview broadcast on Al Jazeera on February 14, 2007, former Iranian president and chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council of Iran, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and highly influential Sunni scholar Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, “stressed the impermissibility of the fighting between the Sunnis and the Shi’is” and the need to “be aware of the conspiracies of the forces of hegemony and Zionism which aim to weaken Islam and tear it apart in Iraq.”

The present hotbed of Shia-Sunni Conflict is Syrian civil war. All efforts must be made by the Muslim world to stop the civil war and work out a negotiated settlement that is fair to all sides. Way should be paved for free and fair elections under neutral observers but keeping the international influences out. In fact the Muslim world as a whole should forge ahead towards democracy wherein freedom of religion is ensured and minorities secured and enjoy equalilty in all respects and enjoy all liberties.

Introducing democracies in the Muslim countries are throwing up Islamists into power which in turn leads to repression of minorities and restricting their liberties to practice their faith, including the Shia or Sunni minorities. However, we will have to be patient as long repressed and well organized Islamists are more likely to effectively reach out to people far and wide. Besides they have also being organizing welfare activities like educational institutions hospitals, other medical services and people are dependent on them. However as state takes over these functions, people would judge more impartially the performances of other parties as well with better economic and political programmes. But for that we would have to be a bit patient.

International Islamic Unity Conference: Saudi-Iran summit

A good beginning was made when on March 3, 2007 King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held an extraordinary summit meeting. They displayed mutual warmth with hugs and smiles for cameras and promised “a thaw in relations between the two regional powers but stopped short of agreeing on any concrete plans to tackle the escalating sectarian and political crises throughout the Middle East.” However, nothing more was expected and the Empire is good in seeing that the two countries do not come together. On his return to Tehran, Ahmadinejad declared that “Both Iran and Saudi Arabia are aware of the enemies’ conspiracies. We decided to take measures to confront such plots. Hopefully, this will strengthen Muslim countries against oppressive pressure by the imperialist front.” The Saudi official government news agency said, “The two leaders affirmed that the greatest danger presently threatening the Islamic nation is the attempt to fuel the fire of strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and that efforts must concentrate on countering these attempts and closing ranks”.

The Arab League can play a great role in pushing the Arab nations and mediate whenever there is conflict between and within Arab nations. However, Arab League has proved to be more pliant to the Empire’s interests. Arab Springs, particularly in Tunisia and Egypt raised hopes that people would be listened to and there would be democratic governance. But once again the Empire manipulated Arab Springs and channelized the momentum into instigating civil war in Libya and Syria. Rulers in the Muslim world are too engaged in promoting their own narrow and sectarian interests and dependant on the Empire to expect anything from them. Even their ill gotten wealth is invested with the Empire which is an additional control over the rulers.

The only long term hope is in promoting education among the Muslim youth and building world class educational institutions that provide opportunities to the younger generation to acquire knowledge and wisdom to be able to address these problems and build a popular media to be able to reach out to the world at large countering Islamophobia and broadcasting truth.

Leave a comment

Any military action against Syria will constitute a war crime

Any military action against Syria will constitute a war crime

Irfan Engineer

A key Senate committee could vote as early as Wednesday on a measure authorizing U.S. military action in Syria. A key US Senate panel has approved a draft resolution allowing a 60-day military action in Syria. With this, the possibility of a military strike on Syria seemed inching one step closer. The resolution will now be put to vote on Wednesday, 4th Sept. 2013. Leaders of the Foreign Relations Committee agreed late Tuesday on details of the plan that would give President Barack Obama authority to order limited strikes against Syrian military targets for 60 days. He could extend the window by another 30 days under certain conditions. The US claims to know that the Syrian government used a chemical weapon near Damascus on Aug. 21 against those prosecuting war against Syrian Govt. President Barrack Obam asserted: “We have a high confidence that Syria used… chemical weapons that killed thousands of people.” John Kerry, however said that it was beyond any reasonable doubt that President Bashar al-Assad’s government had used chemical weapons on civilians in the attack last month that killed more than 1,429 people near Damascus. And the French Govt. differs with the US Govt.’s claim of “thousands killed” by the use of chemical weapons. The French PM claims that they have video that shows 281 people died due to use of chemical weapons. It is on the basis of contradictory figures and claims, “confidence” and not evidence that the US wants to authorize the military action against the Syrian Govt. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called US evidence for Assad’s use of chemical weapons “absolutely unconvincing.”

US led forces went to war with Iraq on the pretext of weapons of mass destructions being hidden by Saddam Hussein regime. However, nothing was found after the war. If the US acted without any evidence then, this time even the claims from US itself are contradictory. While President Obama says thousands were killed, John Kerry gives the figure of 1,429. The “co-lateral damage” caused by unilateral and illegal military action by US itself would cause lives of hundreds of civilians. Around two million Syrians have reportedly fled the country since the uprising in the country in 2011 and the figure is expected to touch 3.5 million by end of the year, a United Nations report has stated. The UN says this is the worst refugee crisis for 20 years, with numbers not seen since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. More than 100,000 people are thought to have died since the civil war against President Assad began in March 2011.

Anti-war activist Noam Chomsky categorizes any military action against Syria as illegal. He said, “that aggression without UN authorization would be a war crime, a very serious one, is quite clear, despite tortured efforts to invoke other crimes as precedents,” In an interview with the Associated Press and Russia’s state Channel 1 television, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the U.S. should present “convincing” evidence to the United Nations. He said he “doesn’t exclude” supporting a U.N. authorization of force against Syria if there is such proof, but warned the U.S. against taking action without U.N. approval. “Only the U.N. Security Council could sanction the use of force against a sovereign state,” Putin said. “Any other pretext or method which might be used to justify the use of force against an independent sovereign state is inadmissible and can only be interpreted as an aggression.”

At the U.N, secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon said any use of chemical weapons in Syria is an “outrageous war crime.” However, he called on the Security Council to “unite and develop an appropriate response” to bring the perpetrators to justice. Obviously, he was not supporting the unilateral action of US military action. He further said that a political solution to the crisis in accordance with the U.N. Charter was the best way to proceed. He cautioned that any use of force to punish those responsible for the chemical attack would not be legal without U.N. authorization. “This is a larger issue than the conflict in Syria,” Mr. Ban said. “This is about our collective responsibility to humankind.” The UN experts were working non-stop trying to determine whether chemical weapons were used on August 21 in neighbourhoods near Damascus but the report was not yet complete.

By some counts, the U.S. has been involved in more than 50 significant military actions in the last half-century – an average of more than one a year – ranging from significant fighting in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to lesser incursions in such far-flung countries as Kuwait, Bosnia, Pakistan, Libya, Grenada, Haiti and Panama. In Vietnam Napalm bombs were used by the US Army. Napalm B became an intrinsic element of U.S. military action during the Vietnam War. Reportedly about 388,000 tons of U.S. napalm bombs were dropped in the region between 1963 and 1973. The US Air Force and US Navy used napalm with great effect against all kinds of targets to include troops, tanks, buildings, jungles, and even railroad tunnels. The effect was not always purely physical as napalm had psychological effects on the enemy as well.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad has denied use of chemical weapon alleging it was the rebels who deployed them. However, it is difficult to whether chemical weapons had been used in the conflict, and if there is evidence of it being used, which side used it. President Assad has not opposed investigations by UN into the allegations. Therefore the right thing would be to investigate, gather evidence and then proceed. The US want to carry out military action even before the UN report comes. Call for unilateral military action based on “claims” betrays nervousness of opportunity missed to carry out pre-planned military action that is waiting for pretext and the pretext is there in the form of “claims”, even if contradictory. International support to support President Obama’s decision to carry out military action has collapsed.

The real objective of military action:

The real objective of the impending military action is not to punish President Assad’s regime for using chemical weapons, nor it is to protect the people from Assad Govt. The hidden objective is to bring about a regime change through force. The civil war supported by the US has been sapping resources and getting prolonged without producing any results. The impending military action would mean striking artillery and rocket systems; aircraft; maybe even missile production facilities. Headquarters and other buildings could also be struck on the grounds that they are associated with units linked to the chemical weapons programme. These potential targets – artillery and aircraft for example – are a key element of President Assad’s superiority over the rebels. If these assets are badly damaged, the military balance on the ground will significantly alter in favour of the rebels. Rebels include some of the former Al Qaeda fighters. President Obama said that the military strikes against the regime of Bashar Assad was part of a “broader strategy” aimed at ending the Syrian civil war. He made clear that he planned to help the rebel forces and allow Syria to “free itself”.

It is this objective of the US that one should be wary of. The US and French supported rebel forces were provided every assistance in Libya to win the civil war and to weaken opposition to Israel. The Allied forces imposed a No Fly Zone on Libya to help the rebels. People in Lybia are agitating and asking tough question as to where US$103 billion worth budget has disappeared and questioning the oil theft.

There is little doubt that the Muammar Qaddafi was a dictator and the President Assad would not get re-elected if a free and fair elections were held. It is for the people of Syria to struggle for democracy. But there is also little doubt that democracy cannot be established under foreign interference and support.

Israel too has been calling for punitive strikes on Syria. Israel has occupied Golan Heights territory of Syrian and annexed in 1981. The Shia Alawite regime of Syria is seen as inimical force by Israel. Syria has been helping the Hizbollah in Lebanon, a Hassan Nasrallah led Shia resistance movement in against Israel. Iran has also provided support to Hizbollah’s resistance movement. The US has therefore directing its fire at the moment against the Shia axis of Iran-Syria-Hizbollah to secure Israel and weaken the Palestinian movement further. Assad in turn has been warning that any military intervention would exacerbate the chaos in the entire region. Comparing the Middle East to a “powder keg”, Assad said “the fire is approaching today” and the entire region would explode.

The crisis in Syria can, in the first instance, be resolved through dialogue between the rebels and the Government. International community should play role of a facilitator and promote fair systems to ensure popular regime and liberties as well as protection of human rights. If the dialogue and negotiations do not yield result, then in the second instance, the international community should decide based o n concrete evidence and investigations as to penal actions permissible to respect the human rights and dignity of all involved. There cannot be unilateral actions.

Resolution 2131 (XX) of the UN states that:

“ 1. No State has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements, are condemned.

“2. No State may use or encourage the use of economic, political or any other type of measures to coerce another State in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights or to secure from it advantages of any kind. Also, no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist, or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State.

“3. The use of force to deprive peoples of their national identity constitutes a violation of their inalienable rights and of the principle of non-intervention.

“5. Every State has an inalienable right to choose its political, economic, social and cultural systems, without interference in any form by another State.”

“6. All States shall respect the right of self-determination and independence of peoples and nations, to be freely expressed without any foreign pressure, and with absolute respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Consequently, all States shall contribute to the complete elimination of racial discrimination and colonialism in all its forms and manifestations.”

However, the US wants client regimes installed in crucial countries so that it can act as a self appointed global cop and establish a new world order outside the UN system and enforce it on all the countries, to control the natural resources and sources of energy and the flow of world trade.

Leave a comment

Sardar Patel and the Sangh Parivar

Sardar Patel and the Sangh Parivar

Irfan Engineer

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi wants to collect iron from the farmers and build a monument to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat. Sardar earned the reputation of “Iron Man of India”, or “Bismarck of India” because of his uncompromising nature, his decisiveness and the determination with which he worked to resolve the problems facing the country. Sardar, a practicing lawyer was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. He mobilized the peasants of Kheda, Borsad and Bardoli for non-violent civil disobedience movement to oppose British colonial policies. Sardar played an important role in the movement against salt tax and Dandi Satyagraha. He worked hard during the 1937 elections which brought Indian National Congress to power. He firmly supported Gandhiji during the Quit India movement. He served the country as Deputy Prime Minister after independence and contributed seminally in integrating the princely states into India and that is when he earned the reputation of “Iron Man” and Bismarck of India.
Monuments are built to keep the memories of a movement alive and to inspire people to carry on the good work and remind them about the ideals of the movement. However, oppressors and oppressive rulers too often build monuments to overawe the people and make them submissive. In fact oppressive rulers build monuments with great grandeur that show people how powerful they are and would continue to be so in perpetuity and therefore they should not entertain any other ideas except that of submission to the power of the rulers. While Statue of Liberty is an example of the former, grand religious monuments build by oppressive rulers of hierarchically structured feudal societies come in the latter category. In what category the monument sought to be built by Narendra Modi will come, remains to be seen. The issue that we want to address here is, to build Sadar Patel’s monument is one thing, but will Modi follow the examples set by the Sardar in good governance? Or is the objective of building Sardar’s monument to overawe the people?
The Sangh Parivar in general and Modi in particular misuse Sardar as an icon for two reasons:
1) Sardar did not belong to the Nehru-Gandhi family and therefore the Sangh Parivar uses his icon as a proxy to combat Nehru-Gandhi’s contribution to the freedom movement and ultimately to oppose Congress. The Sangh Parivar is compelled to chose a non-Nehru-Gandhi family icon from among the Congress Party as they do not have any icon of their own. The RSS in fact opposed the freedom movement and the “Quit India” call given by the Congress in 1942 and sided with the British colonizers, just like the Muslim League did. In fact the Hindutva icon Savarkar apologized to the Britishers and begged to be pardoned for his mistake of participating in the anti-British activities in early 20th century and for which he was to serve his sentence in the cellular jail in Andamans. Sardar had differences with Nehru but, as we shall see later, they were not as fundamental as between the Sardar and the Sangh Parivar. The Sangh Parivar hopes to exploit these differences and present Sardar as a hero who opposed Nehru.
2) Sangh Parivar wishes to colour the Sardar’s successful integration of Nizam’s Hyderabad state into India as an act that showed the “Muslims” their place. However, Sardar was always ready to guarantee the safety and will being of Muslims all over India and this has been recorded by General Roy Butcher, British Commander-in-Chief of Indian Army when the former met the latter in Dehra Dun.
Modi has an additional reason to use the icon of Sardar – he was a Gujarati and Modi wants to project himself sole spokesperson of Gujarati asmita or Gujarati pride. Modi also wants to position himself as the Iron Man like the Sardar. Weaker sections of the society are often misled, particularly during the times when an impression of chaos gains currency, to believe that a determined dictator would lead the nation out of the chaos, on to the path of development, and rein in the oppressive sections that are cause of their misery. Sardar Patel gained the reputation of Iron Man not because he wanted to be a dictator, but because he enforced law impartially and with strong determination.
Sardar and Hindu-Muslim Unity:
Sardar was proud of his Hindu heritage, though not deeply religious. However, his Hinduism was not narrow and he respected other religions. He had accepted the composite character of India. However, he expected the minorities to reconcile to being integral part of the country. He was opposed to the Sangh Parivar’s political goal of Hindu Nationalsim. He publicly declared in 1949, that all talk of a Hindu Raj was a mad idea as it would kill the soul of India. Sardar was brutally frank and transparent in his feelings to a fault. Gandhiji once said about the Sardar “his tongue is studded with thorns”. He did not care if his words hurt. His nationalism however, was inclusive and had no place for narrow parochialism or caste and creed. Gandhiji once said about Sardar, “I know the Sardar… His method and manner of approach to the Hindu-Muslim question, as also to several other questions, is different from mine and Pandit Nehru’s. But it is a travesty of truth to describe it as anti-Muslim. The Sardar’s heart is expansive enough to accommodate all.” Sardar once said referring to the allegations that he had many Musalman friends, “The closer I come to the best of Musalmans, the juster I am likely to be in my estimate of the Muslamans and their doings. I am striving to become the best cement between the two communities. And my longing is to be able to cement the two with my flood, if necessary… I must proce to the Musalmans that I love them as well as I love the Hindus. It is only after Jinnah’s demand for Pakistan intensified that Sardar’s attitude changed and he began to doubt the bonafides of Muslims.
Jayprakash Narayan and even Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia felt that Sardar was Hindu in his political motivation. However, after Gandhiji’s assassination by follower of Hindutva ideology – Nathuram Godse, Sardar mellowed down considerably and went out of his way to assure Muslims that he was their true friend. His differences with Nehru gradually smoothened. Sardar supported the Nehru-Liaqat Pact between Pakistan and India wherein both countries guaranteed the safety and security of their respective minorities, guarantee them freedom of conscience and agreed to set up minority commissions in their countries.
After the Muslim representatives in the Constituent Assembly gave up their demand for separate electorates, the Sardar cautioned Hindus that it was a sacred trust which the minorities had placed in the majority community and that they should honour it in letter and spirit. He also warned “that a discontented minority is a burden and a danger, and that we must not do anything to injure the feelings of any any minority so long as it is not unreasonable”. He also said, “It is upto the majority community, by its generosity, to create a sense of confidence in the minorities, and so also it will be the duty of the minority communities to forget the past and to reflect on what the country has suffered owing to the sense of ‘fairness’, which the foreign rulers thought was necessary to keep balance between community and community.” “It is for us who happen to be in a majority to think about what the minorities feel and imagine how we would feel if we were treated in the manner in which they are treated.”
Sardar exerted all his prestige to include right to propagate as one of right to freedom of religion alongside right to profess and practice religion, in spite of strong opposition from the representatives of the right wing followers of the majority community. Sardar also exerted himself to include the rights of minorities to conserve their distinct language, script or culture and right of the linguistic and religious minority to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
Sardar’s handling of communal riots:
When riots broke out in Delhi in 1947, true to his uncompromising nature and decisiveness, Sardar was for strong action, irrespective of the consequences, or even toll of lives that might be taken in the process. Sardar would countenance even some collateral damage to innocents in order to take deterrent action against murderers, looters, robbers and those involved in setting properties afire. Had the Sardar been called to handle 2002 riots in Gujarat, he would have deployed army within hours and certainly would not have handed over the charred bodies of those burnt in Sabarmati Express to Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders to be taken out in procession or to conduct the post mortem on those bodies in full public view. Modi’s Govt. further allowed the demolition of Vali Gujarati’s dargah to ground and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation immediately flattened the ground and built a road on it. Modi did not visit any relief camp for the victims of riots. In sharp contrast, Sardar promptly visited the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin where there was panic and a feeling of insecurity among thousands of Muslims who had taken shelter in the Dargah. Sardar spent about 45 minutes in the precincts, visited the holy shrine and went round with the attitude of veneration. After making due inquiries from the inmates, Sardar left only after arranging for their safety, but only after warning the police officer in-charge that he was responsible for the safety of the inmates.
In East Punjab, the Sikhs were in the war path; there was blood in their eyes. Sardar rushed to these places personally on September 30, 1947 and pleaded with them not to bring dishonour and disgrace to India. He added, “Butchery of innocent and defenceless men, women and children does not behove brave men.” He appealed to themto maintain peace and “break the vicious circle of attack and counter-attack, retaliation and counter-retaliation.” His words had desired effect and Muslim refugees from East Punjab were given safe passage to West Punjab. Whereas Modi’s Govt. justified the 2002 Gujarat riots by quoting action-reaction doctrine and postponed imposition of curfew even as the charred bodies were being brought in a procession to Solan Hospital and the emotionally charged mob had gathered.
Sardar won over the Nawab of Chhatari in his letter dated 25th October, 1947 by assuring that the minorities would be protected in the country. He assured him that India would never become a religious state. The idea itself was abhorrent to him and the Congress, despite the bitterness that partition had created and the communal poison spread by the Muslim League all around. However, with the hard headed Nawabs of Hyderabad and Jumagadh, Sardar did not hesitate to use force to integrate the state into India, however, after winning over the Muslim commoners who supported the use of force to integrate the state.
There is another incident that we would like to state here briefly due to lack of space though it requires detailed treatment. Sardar was, like Nehru, very disturbed when the miscreants smuggled the statues of Lord Ram inside Babri Masjid, and advised the Chief Minister of UP Govind Vallabh Pant to meet the unilateral use of force by force as was his wont and further stated that unilateral action based on an attitude of aggression or coercion could not be countenanced. He was clearly on the side of Muslims in the dispute when he wrote to Pant on 9th January 1950 reminding him that Muslims were just settling down to their new loyalties. The Sangh Parivar on the other hand were for aggression and use of unilateral force when they demolished the Babri Masjid.
From the above it is clear that Sardar’s views do not support the Sangh Parivar and Modi’s politics has been in sharp contrast to the vision of Sardar who stood for secular India and propounded composite nature of Indian nationalism. That is why Sardar not only banned the RSS after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, and lifted the ban only after imposing certain strict conditions to bring it into the mainstream and after extracting the promise that RSS would be active only in the cultural field. The RSS did not comply with the condition and with their promise given to the Sardar. One is therefore suspicious about motives of building a monument for the Sardar – it is certainly not to follow his ideals but awe and fool people and make them more submissive to fake iron men of the Sangh Parivar.

Leave a comment

Modi and Hindu Nationalism

Modi and Hindu Nationalism

Irfan Engineer

The Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is expecting to be anointed as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate in the forthcoming Loksabha elections seems to enjoy controversies that surround him. Narendra Modi chooses his words very carefully, and is ably advised by his public relations managers in this regard. “Kutte ka pilla”, “hiding behind burkha of secularism”, “I am proud to be a Hindu nationalist” are some of the words carefully chosen to stoke controversies and polarize the debate and run a sub-terrain communal campaign for the general elections, and to benefit from the polarization of the electorate. Modi resorts to innuendoes and subterfuges to communalize the electorate. If he is not using these words in a calculated manner, is his vocabulary is so naturally communal? In either case, the voters should be worried for voting him to power! When Modi says he is a Hindu Nationalist and proud to be one, let us understand that he and his ilk are neither nationalists, nor Hindu and are not even proud to be one!
The RSS under whose tutelage Modi grew to be CM of Gujarat, never participated in the freedom movement of the country. In fact they kept arms length from the freedom movement and always supported the British colonial masters. Their Khakhi shorts uniform was on advice of British Colonial masters. When the whole country was agitated in the year 1942 and asked Britishers to “quit India”, the RSS and the Muslim League both were mobilizing support for the imperialist World War II. Nationalists were bravely facing imperialist’s canes, gun fire, jail and torture for giving asking the British to quit India. British masters suggested that their (RSS’s) drills to train army of supporters for the war should not be mistaken to be official soldiers and therefore advised the RSS to adopt Khaki shorts as their uniforms rather than khaki trousers, and they obliged the Britishers! Not a single RSS leader participated in the freedom movement. They always supported the colonial masters!
Nationalism for the RSS meant supporting the British, participating in communal riots to help the cause of British in their divide and rule policy, while the nationalists were making herculean efforts to unite the people of India for freedom movement. For Nathuram Godse Hindu nationalism, or patriotism, their preferred terminology meant assassinating Gandhiji as his liberal and inclusive Hinduism was the biggest obstacle to the spread of Hindutva ideology. Let us not blame Modi for RSS’s stand during freedom movement as he was born post-Independence in the year 1950.
Nationalism in post colonial period should mean defending independence of the nation and building institutions of the nation to ensure that all the citizens have equal stake and equal share. However Modi is busy destroying institutions of democracy that the nation built. For example, unprecedented numbers of top ranking police officers are behind bars in Gujarat! The police machinery to protect the people of Gujarat and secure the institutions of democracy were instead busy working to keep Modi happy. Modi has passed a Lok Ayukta law wherein the Judiciary and the Governor or any independent body would have no say in appointment of lokayukta in Gujarat. The lokayukta will be appointed by those who are likely to be accused of corruption! How can a person promoting himself and building his charisma rather than the nation be nationalistic?
Modi openly declared that for him Hindu Nationalism meant being pro-industry. Therefore, for Modi nationalism means facilitating the crony capitalism to grow rapidly at the cost of the poor and the marginalized, particularly the peasants and the fishing community. Patriotism means grabbing 1100 acres of land belonging to the peasants in Sanand (Ahmedabad Dist.) and transferring overnight to Tata Motors at even cheaper rate than what it paid to the farmers. Patriotism means a Rs 9,570 crore soft loan (close to 25 per cent of Gujarat’s annual budget) over 20 years, which Tata Motors will repay in 20 years, at 0.1 per cent interest rate and will repay the land price in eight equal annual instalments. In addition the Government will build four lane Road to the Tata Nano Factory and power plant. Robinhood robbed the rich to pay the poor. Modi robs the poor taxpayers of Gujarat to pay the Tatas and the Adanis, the Ambanis and Karsanbhai Patel. It is this robbing Paul to pay Peter policy that has further impoverished the people of the state. When faced with the stark reality of malnutrition, the insensitive Modi adds salt to the wounds of people and says, it is the beauty consciousness of the women in Gujarat that has led to malnutrition! People of Gujarat – Hindus or Muslims – do not figure in the scheme of patriotism and the Govt. does not even want to think of solutions for malnutrition! The language of patriotism/nationalism is to attempt to instil sense of false pride in the people to make them forget their plight, just like the “India Shining” campaign in the year 2004 designed by another Hindu Nationalist – Advani.
Can Modi claim to be a nationalist when his team allegedly looked for Gujaratis only to be rescue from the Uttarakhand cloud burst disaster and left out all other stranded Indians?
Nationalism for the Hindu Nationalists always meant spreading hatred against minorities to obfuscate the reality of impoverishment of people due to calculated policies of the Govt. to support the industries and private profiteers from taxpayers’ money. The Hindu nationalism discourse means demonizing and targeting the minorities. Demonizing and overlooking the violence that targets minorities acts as a valve for the toiling poor from majority community to vent their frustration under Govt. patronage. The energy generated by the frustration of the poor from majority community should be used to bring about change and force a more equitable growth and saner policies to benefit the most marginalised. Instead, it gets channelized in targeting minorities and letting off the heat. Modi is therefore not Nationalist but pro-crony capitalism and nationalism to him leading the majority community to attack imaginary windmills that the minorities are.
To Gandhiji, Hindu religion meant truth and ahimsa. “Religion is a matter of the heart”, Gandhiji said, “No physical inconvenience can warrant abandonment of one’s own religion.” Elsewhere Gandhiji said, “I worship God as Truth only. I have not yet found Him, but I am seeking after Him. I am prepared to sacrifice the things dearest to me in pursuit of this quest. Even if the sacrifice demanded my very life, I hope I may be prepared to give it.” Satya, ahimsa and self sacrifice were three pillars and litmus test of Hinduism for Gandhiji. Can one imagine Modi speaking truth and only truth? He did not contradict when the media published that Modi organised 80 Innovas to rescue 15,000 Gujaratis in two days!! Later, after a few days when saner people questioned that the proposition does not stand the logic, his people quickly claimed that the statement was not made by Modi! He has been caught lying so much that he has earned the sobriquet of “feku” Modi claims credit for everything that every Gujarati has done since decades, even before he came to power! His Govt. machinery has been eliminating and murdering innocent citizens and claiming that they were killed in encounter! Sohrabuddin Modi, Kauser Bano, Tulsiram Prajapati, Ishrat Jehan are a few cases where Modi Govt’s hand was caught in a cookie jar! Eliminating unarmed citizens and claiming himself to be target of terrorists to become a “Hindu Hero”! Can such a person who is not truthful be a Hindu? Gandhiji would disown such a person. Modi’s ahimsa is too well known to warrant any comment and explication. For Gandhiji, Hinduism would mean sacrificing one’s interest and oneself to save those needy and suffering. Modi could sacrifice scores to protect his interests and marginalize even his own guru who helped him become CM of Gujarat and politically protected him post 2002 riots. Modi fails on all the three counts that Gandhiji set for being a Hindu. While Modi and his action-reaction justification for Gujarat 2002 riots was not only a big lie, it was also demonizing the minorities. Gandhiji, a sanatan dharm follower, wrote in Young India, January 19, 1928, “I came to the conclusion long ago … that all religions were true and also that all had some error in them, and whilst I hold by my own, I should hold others as dear as Hinduism.”
Another great Hindu exponent, Radhakrishnan said, “Hinduism is not bound up with a creed or a book, a prophet or a founder, but is persistent search for truth on the basis of a continuously renewed experience. Hinduism is human thought about God in continuous evolution.” To seek God is to learn the virtue of tolerance. Tolerance is the homage which the finite mind pays to the inexhaustibility of the Infinite. From the time of the Rig Veda till today, India has been the home of different religions and the Indian genius adopted a policy of live and let live towards them. Indian religion never quite understood the idea of exclusive worship. Indian religious tradition admits all forms in which the single truth is reflected. Radhakrishnan also emphasised on earnestly seeking truth.
Acceptance of diversity is another important pillar of Hinduism. Radhakrishnan wrote, “Hinduism represents an effort at comprehension and cooperation. It recognizes the diversity in man’s approach towards, and realization of, the one Supreme Reality. For it the essence of religion consists in man’s hold on what is eternal and immanent in all being.” Even Supreme Court of India, in one of its judgement commented on Hinduism thus – “When we think of the Hindu religion, unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet; it does not worship any one god; it does not subscribe to any one dogma; it does not believe in any one philosophic concept; it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed. It may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more.” For the Hindu, every religion is true, if only its adherents sincerely and honestly follow it. They will then get beyond the creed to the experience, beyond the formula to the vision of the truth.
Modi on the other hand has been targeting and demonizing minorities and their religion with subterfuges and innuendos. In his speeches during Gaurav Yatra, Modi said the minorities were multiplying like rabbits due to “Ham Panch hamare Pachchees” (marrying four wives and having large families) policy. Radhakrishnan writes, “My religious sense did not allow me to speak a rash or a profane word of anything which the soul of man holds or has held sacred. The attitude of respect for all creeds, this elementary good manner in matters of spirit, is bred into the marrow of one’s bones by the Hindu tradition.”
Is Modi a proud follower of “Hindu Nationalism” that he claims to be? Modi has changed his agenda so often to suit his political interests, that it would not be hard to conclude that he could not be a proud of his “Hindu Nationalism”. If he was proud of “Hindu Nationalism”, what was he doing when BJP in order to be in power from 1998 to 2004 gave a go by to Hindutva agenda of amending article 370, introducing Uniform Civil Code, building Ram temple in Ayodhya? A proud person would sacrifice everything to hold on to his principles he is proud about and sacrifice his interests. Modi is not known to have done any such thing! From 2002 that he was in power, he never offered to resign on issues he now claims he is proud about. The only Hindu Nationalism he is proud about is his track record of presiding over a Govt. that oversaw 2002 violence! Can he be proud about the fact that he is facilitating crony-capitalism in Gujarat make quick bucks while the most backward district in the country is not in Bihar or Uttar Pradesh or Odisha or even in North-East but in Gujarat – The Dangs! That all the money to be spend on drinking water schemes in the district was utilized to fund providing drinking water only in a single village where Shabri Kumbh Mela was held under in famous Swami Aseemanand, the accused in Mecca Masjid blast and other terrorist cases? The whole of Dangs is thirsty even today and funds for drinking water schemes have dried up but the outsiders who assembled in a village for manufactured tradition in the name of Shabri Kumbh with political motive were provided drinking water just for about a week?
Modi resorts to phrases like “burkha of secularism”, “Mia Musharraf” “kutte ke pilley” etc. and scores to come in days ahead, only to cover up the fact that he is not even an honest and earnest follower of Hindutva. Even Hindutva for him is a ploy to gain and hold on to power.

Leave a comment

Totalitarian state V. authoritarian state

Totalitarian state V. authoritarian state

Irfan Engineer

The campaigns for 2014 elections have sort of begun. Media and many other players are expecting it to be a match between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. If that is what the match is going to look like, the contestants are nothing to choose from.
But the real contest is between authoritarian state that the Congress wants to build, and a totalitarian state – Hindu Rashtra that RSS-BJP combine wants to construct. The differences may not be sharp and apparent but not difficult to find to a searching mind. In an authoritarian state, the elite try to limit democratic rights of the citizens and place authoritarian laws and structures which tends to centralize power and restrict accountability and inclusion of diverse interests through devolution. Authoritarian state suits elite with futuristic goals like liberalization and growth of corporatization as against a federal state where the elite of diverse nature and interests are included and fruits of development benefit more interests than in authoritarian state. The authoritarian state facilitates the elite to push its goals. In India, authoritarian structures are unstable and temporary with diverse interest groups resisting and favouring federal system and voice of social justice being strong.
The RSS-BJP combine’s polity and ideology however, go a step further with a goal to build totalitarian state with Savarkar’s motto of Hinduizing the society and militarizing Hindudom. For the BJP, power is not the end, but a means to reconstruct a Hinduized society to ensure homogenization and semitization of Hindu society, using state to impose a certain religious practices and culture that justifies hierarchies as desirable. Thus introduction of draconian and intrusive cow-protection legislation, surya namaskar and teaching of Gita in schools are some examples. The totalitarian state or what they prefer to call Hindu Rashtra, that RSS-BJP wants to build would draw from the selective authoritarian traditions of upper caste Hindus and a culture of intolerance with civil society’s autonomy being seriously eroded. The reconstructed hierarchical society and culture ensured by state does in no way conflict with the agenda of growth, liberalization and protecting the interest of the economic elite – the corporate sector as we are witnessing in Gujarat.
The biggest challenge for secularists, human rights activists and democrats in this elections is therefore to protect and strengthen democracy and to ensure that most marginalized sections of the society enjoy the protection of the Constitution to form their interest groups unhindered and further their struggles for justice and equality. There is therefore no hesitation in giving a call to defeat politically the totalitarian designs of the communal forces.
The secularists will have to do that deftly and consistently, looking beyond its traditional methods that are aimed at appearing to be politically neutral and equating the danger of authoritarianism with totalitarianism. The secular democrats will have to issue statements and campaign actively making people aware of the danger of totalitarian agenda and ideologies even accepting the risk of appearing partisan. All available means should be adopted to focus the campaign on the totalitarian nature of polity of communal forces, including traditional media, new social media and through various election meetings. The totalitarian Pakistan that was created on the slogan that all Muslims have same culture could not survive as a single nation, and it is now imploding from within due to totalitarian forces dominating there, targeting, among others, even Shia Muslims. It is only because the Constitution of India embraced diversity by giving freedom of conscience to all persons; liberty of thought and action; equality; social justice, dignity of all individuals and ensured that India survives as one nation in spite of its rich diversity and in spite of the fact that India houses second largest Muslim population in any country.
However, the forces that threaten Indian democracy are growing stronger by the day and are no more marginal and are in a position to pose real threat to Indian Constitution and democracy and the idea of diverse, democratic India with freedom of conscience. The functioning of democracy faced many challenges in the country but survived so far. This election will be yet another trial for democracy. We can only work tirelessly for survival and deepening of democracy. It would be foolish to believe that weak secular, democratic and human rights activists would be in a position to take on the totalitarian and authoritarian forces together. Today we can protect the democratic institutions by focusing our fire on totalitarian forces.

Leave a comment

Communalism: New Strategies

Communalism: New Strategies

Irfan Engineer

The communal organizations often propound that there is peace as there are no riots, at least major riots in the country. They further propound that there being peace, there was no need for the proposed “Communal and Target Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill” or any other special law to deal with communal riots. That such a legislation would in fact deepen the communal divide and wounds that were healing. We are not going into the merits and demerits of the proposed draft of the legislation, which has been dealt with separately. However, it is an obvious fact that Gujarat 2002 type riots have not repeated after that. But this was true even after the 1969 major riots in Ahmedabad in which according to unofficial estimates over 2,000 people had been killed and 1970 Bhiwandi Jalgaon Mahad riots, equally devastating, only until 1984 when again there were riots in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bhiwandi and Mumbai! Throughout 1980s there were localized riots, including Godhra, Meerut, Maliana, Moradabad, Aligarh, Bhagalpur etc. of various intensities. These riots in step with the campaign to mobilize for demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and construction of Ram Temple on one hand and opposition to the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Shahbano Case on the other hand. The mobilization to demolish Babri Masjid finally culminated in communal riots in 1992-93 in many cities across the length and breadth of the country, mainly in the Northern and Western Regions, including Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat.
One explanation of the pattern of violence, given the political mobilization of various castes and communities to claim their share in the pie of the opportunities and fruits, could be that communal violence is cyclical and periodical. The period of the cycle may more or less vary, but the intensity of violence escalates. Therefore, the present period is more of a lull before the storm. But lull itself is not so peaceful with series of communal riots on low scale 8 riots in UP, in Dhule in Maharashtra, etc. The other observation regarding the pattern of violence could be that the communal organizations are now less dependent on riots as a tool for communalization and communal mobilization.
Communal organizations would like to spread a myth that communal riots are a natural and popular reaction to certain appalling incident like assassination of Indira Gandhi, killing of Swami Laxmanand or burning of a coach of Sabarmati Express, Communal violence is orchestrated to achieve certain objectives. Paul Brass suggests that an institutionalized riot systems have been created since independence in certain regions, particularly in north and western states in India, which can be activated during periods of political mobilization or at the time of elections. Communal violence is far from being spontaneous occurrences. The production of a riot, Brass argues, involves calculated and deliberate actions by key individuals, like recruitment of participants, provocative activities and conveying of messages, spreading of rumours, amongst other specific activities. There are frequent rehearsals until the time is ripe and the context is felicitous and there are no serious obstructions in carrying out the performance.
The objective behind communal riots in India is to deepen communal consciousness and marginalise all other primordial identities like linguistic, ethnic, gender; and ascribed identities like profession or occupation based, club/sports or that of animal lovers or art lovers etc. It also seeks to make the dalits and adivasis ignore the fact that they are oppressed and discriminated by caste based hierarchical structures on one hand and embrace the communal identity as informed by the interest of the upper caste on the other hand without questioning the caste based hierarchical structures.
Communal violence heightens an individual’s communal consciousness as based on his/her communal identity s/he could be killed. The fear of “other” is highest during violence and every person belonging to one’s community is perceived as comrade and persons not belonging to one’s community are perceived as a source of potential violent threat. Therefore during riots one is desperate to know every strangers identity. The communal consciousness acquired during riots due to heightened state of fear does not entirely wane after the riots. The communal forces build on the communal consciousness through constant propaganda popularizing many myths, stereo types and negative attitudes about the “other” community which sustains image of the “other” as a potential threat to their collective social interest. Thus communal violence leads to communal consciousness and discriminatory approach towards the “other” and preference for members of one’s own community in social, political and economic affairs. This process in turn pushes the society towards ghettoization of social space. Communal consciousness leads to acceptance of communal nationalism as a natural political order rather than secular and inclusive nationalism with democracy and its principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. Communal riots therefore play an integral part in communalizing the society.
New Strategy:
The old strategy of spectacular and catastrophic riots was inevitable as the communal forces did not have sufficient following and critical mass to doctor consciousness of the nation without resorting to riots. Producing riots, as Paul Brass would put it, enabled the communal organizations to get increased coverage in a section of media and attract attention of the nation. The strategy was to use riots and the media together for constructing communal consciousness. However, of late, the communal organizations seem to have adopted an alternate strategy to achieve the objective of constructing communal consciousness and are less dependent on spectacular and catastrophic communal riots to communalize the consciousness of the society. Nay, they also face difficulties with catastrophic communal riots inflicting heavy casualty e.g. a section of media may cover the incident adversely, or they may run into problems with international human rights organizations and at times with national institutions like the higher judiciary and at times being accepted as a leader at national level, particularly, if one has prime ministerial ambitions.
Instead of heightened fear during communal riots, the communal forces are now disguising and morphing themselves as “Islamic terrorists” and executing terror attacks targeting Muslims as well as Hindus. The terrorists motivated by Hindutva ideology were first detected trying to manufacture a bomb, which exploded in the process on 6th April 2006. Two Bajrang Dal activists – who were manufacturing the bomb were killed, including one Rajkondwar. Maps of mosques, attire usually worn by Muslims was found by the police during their investigations. Rahul Pande, one of the person who sustained injury when the bomb exploded, confessed that they had made series of bombs earlier too. In January 2008, Hindu Munani activists were arrested by the police for placing bombs near RSS office and ST bus stand in Tenkasi in TN. They thought that the blame would naturally be on Muslim groups leading to communalization of the Hindus. On 24th August 2008, two Bajrang Dal activists died in Kanpur trying to assemble bombs. The group was planning massive explosions all over the state.
On 30th April 2010, Devendra Gupta, Vishnu Prasad and Chandrashekkar Patidar, long associated with RSS was arrested for placing bomb in one of the most popular Muslim shrine – Ajmer Sharif in October 2007. They are also believed to have placed bombs in Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad for which scores of Muslim youth were arrested and tortured during police custody.
Six members of Sanatan Sanstha were arrested for planting bombs outside of an auditorium in Thane, Vashi in 2008. On 30 August 2011, Ramesh Gadkari and Vikram Bhave belonging to Sanatan Sanstha were found guilty of the Thane blasts by the Sessions Court and received the maximum sentence of ten years rigorous imprisonment. NIA officers raided the organization’s headquarters in October 2011. The investigations are ongoing.
Two persons were killed in the Margao blast on 16th October 2009. The NIA has accused Prashant Juvekar (Ratnagiri), Sarang Kulkarni (Pune), Jayprakash alias Anna (Mangalore) and an unidentified person. The two men identified as Malgondi Patil and Yogesh Naik, who were carrying the bagful of country made explosives were reportedly riding a scooter when the blast occurred. The blast took place when a religious event was being held during which effigies of a mythical demon, Narkasur, were brunt to celebrate the victory of good over evil. Police linked the blast to a right-wing Hindu organisation named Sanatan Sanstha, which has its headquarters in the temple town of Ramnathi in Ponda region of Goa. In both the above incidents, the target was not Muslims. Naturally the blame was expected to be laid at the door of Muslims.
Communalization of section of IB and ATS:
While resorting to terrorist methods and using bombs to achieve their objective of constructing communal consciousness and fear of Muslims was one of the methods adopted by the communal organizations, the other strategy was placing persons indoctrinated with communal ideologies in key places within the security forces. The key individuals within the security forces would then misuse their positions and illegally arrest and murder innocent Muslim youth declaring them to be “terrorists who infiltrated from across the border with the intention to kill Narendra Modi or target some key individuals / installations and who were killed in encounter with the police.” Innocent Muslim youth were regularly targeted in this fashion until the brother of Sohrabuddin decided to wage a long legal battle against all odds and might of the individuals involved in the murder and those protecting them. Ishrat Jehan, Javed Sheikh and two others with her, one Sadiq Jamal and others were also similarly eliminated. CBI investigations of the murder of Israt Jehan points to the involvement of P P Pandey who retired as DGP of Gujarat and still investigating the involvement of Rajendra Kumar, officer of IB who not only provided the intelligence which enabled the murder to pass off as encounter, but also allegedly arranged for AK47 guns that were placed on the bodies of Ishrat Jehan and others to ensure that the murder passes off as an encounter for the media. Amit Shah, State Home Minister and Narendra Modi’s right hand person was arrested in the Sohrabuddin, Kausar Bano and Tulsiram Prajapati murder case.
The periodical murders of Muslim individuals would be followed by nationwide coverage of the police version by the uncritical media millions of avid news hungry consumers would have no option but to gulp the news as 24 carat truth. Repeated coverage of such periodical murders by unsuspecting and uncritical media, prime time debates around the incidents for days together made the consumers of news to accept the doctrine propounded by Narendra Modi and L K Advani that all terrorists are Muslims. The fear of Muslims after riots is replaced by fear of Muslims being terrorists and achieving the same objective of constructing communal consciousness. The murder episodes which were passed off as encounters also helped make individuals who were to be targeted as heroes of “Hindu community” and construct their image as iron persons.
The alternate strategy now increasingly resorted to by communal forces is to use a section of intelligence and Anti Terrorism Squads (ATS) coupled with media coverage to stigmatize the minorities as posing threat to the nation. The communal forces have succeeded in getting its ideologically trained cadres placed in security forces and use them as a vehicle in communalization project. The new strategy can now work as communal forces have succeeded in systematically infiltrating the security forces to carry out its objectives. While a section of the IB provides cooked intelligence, the ATS pretends to immediately swoops into action arresting or killing innocent Muslim youth and claiming to protecting the nation against threat of terrorist attack. Nimesh Commission in UP has pointed out list of number of Muslims who were falsely charged by UP Govt. even during ‘secular’ Mayawati regime as terrorists. Khalid Mujahid was one such person according to Nimesh Commission on basis of evidence. Khalid Mujahid was eliminated under police custody. Minds have been so communalized that advocates defending the Muslim accused of terror charges are being beaten up within court premises by fellow advocates and the society / judiciary does not seem to be appalled! At least there are no strong signals sent by high courts or the Apex Court against such incidents within court premises! Qateel Siddiqui was killed in Yerwada jail as he could have testified to innocence of Himayat Baig, facing gallows for the German Bakery blast. The new strategy seems to be working, but it remains to be seen how long it will work? When will the citizens who respect democracy and institutions of democracy rise to question such blatant violence? Will they before we have a fascist state at our doors?