SEEMA MUSTAFA | 2 JANUARY, 2015
IT IS OFFICIAL! GUJARAT POLICE OPS GIVE RELIGIOUS COLOUR TO TERRORISM
Gujarat Police apprehend ‘terrorists’ wearing skull caps
NEW DELHI: The Indian police carried out an ‘operation’. And it was not a coincidence that it happened in Surat, in the state of Gujarat where hundreds of Muslims had been massacred in cold blood in 2002 in a crime that is still awaiting justice.
There were the good guys, the Special Operations Group out hunting ‘terrorists’ at Dabhari near Olpad in Surat. Then of course there were the bad guys who had been dressed for the part. They were carrying mobile phones and wearing ‘skull caps’ as they were chased and hunted down by the brave Indian policemen from Gujarat who pinned them down even as the ‘terrorists’ raised “Islam Zindabad” slogans. Right wing leaders are on record supporting their dictum that all Muslims are not terrorists “perhaps”, but all terrorists are Muslims.
These Surat operations have sent a chill down the spine of those who believe in India as for the first time terrorism was given an official colour by the Indian state, with the silence from Prime Minister Narendra Modi deafening. The BJP in Gujarat has of course, gone through the motions after the signal was sent out to India and the world with its chief minister ---handpicked by PM Modi---issuing some sort of an apology and a local BJP leader mouthing the ‘this should not have happened’ platitudes.
The SOG operations, noticed and commented upon by the world, have surpassed all that is decent and legal in not just India but the world. It has been noticed and covered extensively in the media, even as the Opposition and the media has attacked the BJP and its leadership for allowing this to happen. Of course the platitudes will allow the BJP to claim that it has distanced itself from the un-constitutional exercise that has basically followed up on RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s declaration of “Hindu Rashtra’ by placing the Muslim minority at the end of the police gun.
This is the message that has gone out from this operation. And this was the message intended to flow into every democratic and secular household. This is part of a series of events that together constitute a determined onslaught on the nation’s secular fabric, her unity, her desire to live in peace and harmony, and on her Constitution that the perpetrators of the current phase of violence have oft decried.
Muzaffarnagar set the tone of low intensity, high mileage violence just before the Lok Sabha elections when the number of dead were few, but the number of displaced ran into thousands. The violence that spread through the districts of Uttar Pradesh delivered the state to the BJP and since then it has not died down. Tensions erupting into violence have been reported from Haryana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, parts of Jammu, West Bengal and New Delhi where the resettlement colonies have not recovered from pitched battles between two communities, even as peacemakers tried to restore calm.
Along with these tensions have been systematic and planned campaigns such as Love Jihad that struck terror in the hearts of the villagers, with the media now reporting the murder of a young girl by her father because she wanted to marry out of her community in Muzaffarnagar. Love Jihad was spread through the villages and districts of Uttar Pradesh in particular by mobs of goons who were all made members of right wing organisations that mushroomed overnight in the area. Families and women in particular were terrorised with the threat of reprisal, and hate carried into every home by these men who have become the new ‘nationalists’ and insist that ‘nationalism’ carries a religion, and all others who speak sanity and reason are ‘anti-national’ and need to be dealt with accordingly.
Ghar Wapsi followed on the footsteps of Love Jihad, again with UP and the northern states as the specific target. Conversions were carried out by the same goons posing as ‘nationalists’ and belonging to a different set of affiliated organisations. They caught hold of the poorest of the poor and ‘converted’ them to Hinduism at a special ceremony. They threatened to do the same to all Muslims and Christians across the country until both these religions had been eradicated and erased from India. BJP and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders joined them in the exercise even as Bhagwat renewed the Hindu Rashtra call yet again. Christmas Day was earmarked for a mass conversion ceremony, and it was only because Parliament was in session and the Opposition raised a hue and cry that this was deferred.
And now the special operations by the Gujarat police that has raised eyebrows in all parts of the world. Military and police exercises create an enemy, but in India this enemy has never been made to acquire a religion.
The minorities in India are feeling themselves to be under siege. There is deep fear and apprehension, as Muslim and Christian leaders have confided repeatedly to The Citizen. The remote districts of Assam bear testimony to the fact, with hate speech, inaction by the state Congress government, active support to Bodi militant groups all having contributed to continuing violence and now large scale displacement of the terrified Adivasis and Muslims who have borne the brunt of the attacks. Perpetrators and ring leaders receive political patronage, and are either not arrested, or arrested and released almost immediately.
In the rest of India hate speech has become the norm with the media reporting anti-minority statements from leaders belonging to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Bharatiya Janata party, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the affiliated organisations. The instability is large scale with pitched battles being fought now between communities when they are brought to the level of direct confrontation. In Delhi’s Trilokpuri that did not excite Indian television news channels into detailed coverage, two communities fought each other for hours with brickbats and soda water battles before the police finally arrived and restored some peace.
The Surat operations have attracted strong condemnation across India. Significantly it has been reported in the foreign media with Al Jazeera writing, “the incident comes after a series of events seen to be raising communal tensions in the country…..Since early December, far-right Hindu groups allied with the ruling BJP have been accused of forced conversions of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism…...The simmering religious issues have boiled over into parliament, with opposition lawmakers all but shutting down the legislature over charges that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had done little to stop the ceremonies.
Modi has been criticised for not addressing the issue head-on.”
Prime Minister Modi has not said a word on the violence and the vitriolic hate speech from members of his government, party and affiliate organisations. The Opposition sought to corner him in the Rajya Sabha on his silence, but despite repeated adjournments and protests he refused to make a statement assuring the House that action will be taken against those violating the tenets of the Indian Constitution. Opposition leaders were united in pointing out that tolerance and peace was being stretched “to the limit” by the Hindutva forces, and expressed “deep worry” about the manner in which India was being “destabilised.”