India’s ‘Secular Terrorism’

Sajjad Shaukat

Political experts remark, “Terrorism comes in a variety of forms, but these days religious terrorism is the most common and leads to the most destruction. Not all terrorism is equal…there are significant differences between religious and secular terrorism.”

Bruce Hoffman, in his book ‘Inside Terrorism’ writes: “For the religious terrorist, violence is the foremost divine duty executed in direct response to some theological demand or imperative. Terrorism thus assumes a transcendental dimension, and its perpetrators are consequently unconstrained by the political and moral constraints that may affect other terrorists.”

On the other hand, Hoffman further explains: “The secular terrorist sense leads to a sanctioning of almost limitless violence against a virtually open-ended category of targets: that is, anyone who is not a member of the terrorists’ religion or religious sect. This explains the rhetoric common to ‘holy terror’ manifestos describing persons outside the terrorists’ religious community in dehumanizing terms as, for example, “infidels” or “mud people.”

Judging in these terms, since the 9/11 tragedy, irresponsible attitude of Indian, Israeli and some Western politicians have introduced dangerous socio-religious dimension in their societies by equating the “war on terror” with “war on Islam” and acts of Al Qaeda with all the Muslims. Their media have also heightened the currents of world politics on cultural and religious lines with the negative projection of Islam. In this regard, reprinting of the caricatures about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and release of a Dutch film against the Holy Quran might be noted as an example.

In this context, on October 19, 2007, the real cause behind was revealed by the the special issue of South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal, under the caption-‘Working for India or against Islam? and it wrote: “In the past few years, Indian American community has gained an unprecedented visibility in the international arena and now constitutes influential ethnic lobbies in Washington. Among other factors, Hindu aligned with Jewish pressure groups in relation to the war against terrorism and to further the India-Israel-US strategic partnership play a major role in exaggerating Islamophobic overtones in the Indian American lobbies”

Particularly since 9/11, India which joined the vile propaganda campaign of Western countries in equating Muslims with fundamentalism and in creating Islamic phobia is itself practising terrorism under the shadow of secularism. This could rightly be called secular terrorism.

However, although terrorism has many meanings, but its main aim is to create fear in order to achieve political or social ends, while a terrorist is one who deliberately creates this climate of fear by employing violent means.

So either it is religious terrorism or secular terrorism, India which claims to be a secular state, has broken all the records of violence, genocide and massacre against various ethnic and religious groups, entailing the community of its own lower castes.

Hindu politics and culture, dominated by the fundamentalists parties such as BJP, RSS, VHP, Shiv Sena and other similar groups have been propagating Hindutva (Hindu nationalism). Provocative utterances of their extremist leaders result into more violence against the Christians and the Muslims including other minority groups.

Although violence against the other communities has been used by Hindu terrorists as a normal practice since partition, yet anti-Christian and anti-Muslim bloodshed in the last decade coupled with the dissemination of Hindutva has intensified.

Besides previous massacre of Muslims, more than 2500 Muslims were massacred in 2002 in the BJP-ruled Indian state of Gujarat where horrible scenes of arson, mutation and rape were perpetrated by the Hindu extremists against the unarmed Muslims. Regarding that massive genocide, both Human Rights Watch in 2002 and Amnesty International in 2003 charged the “Gujarat state administration” for involvement in “a massive cover-up of the state’s role in that massacres” and pointed out numerous police officials-specifically ministers, high officials and leaders of the VHP, BJP and Bajrang Dal as participants.

Meanwhile, various investigations failed in indicating the real culprits of Hindu terrorism in Gujrat as they were high officials or police officers of the Indian government. Hence, the Supreme Court of India had ordered a fresh probe on March 25, 2008, but the same also remains inconclusive due to concealment of evidence against the culprits who are members of the dominating political parties of the country.

Besides Gujrat, on September 13, 2008, during the communal riots in Uttar Pradesh more than 200 Muslims were murdered. In the most tragic incident in Assam, Hindu terrorists burnt alive six members of a Muslim family.

In Maharashtra, non-Hindu communities have lived in constant fear and awe since the advent of the fundamentalist party, Shiv Sena whose Chief Bal Thackeray has organised army of hoodlums to beat up any religious minority, openly directing the Hindu terrorists to loot and stone any of their shop or house. Silence of the subsequent governments on every challenge of Shiv Sena and lack of serious action against Thackeray’s vandalism have clearly defeated the secular echoes of India which is in fact a secular terroist state. More alarming point is that Bajrang Dal has also been imparting arms training to its members near Ayodhya where the fundamentalist Hindus want to build Ram Mandir on the site of Babri Masjid which was demolished deliberately in 1992 with the official backing.

Notably, a few weeks ago, a leakage of the report of the Justice Liberation Commission of India admitted the role BJP’s leadership for the destruction of the Babri Masjid, and over other human rights violations in the Indian-held Kashmir including violence against the Muslim and Christian communities.

It is mentionable that after the BJP came to power in February 2006, unlike the previous similar tragic events, Christian persecution rose to new heights in the state of Karnataka. Attacks on Christian holidays became common in the state like other areas. On the Christmas Eve of 2007, Hindu extremists led a series of violent attacks on Christians and their property in the state of Orissa, killing six Christians and razing at least 800 houses and 100 churches.

According to a report of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), “in one of the events, in March, 2008, more than 150 intolerant nationalist Hindus stormed two Easter Sunday services and beat at least 16 Christians including two pastors in Bangalore and in Shimoga district…before almost every assault, the mob of the Hindu extremist of RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal, armed with bamboo poles, sticks and rods, while beating drums shout slogans in Hindi-he “who talks in favour of only Hindus will rule the nation.”

Nevertheless, assaults on Christians and their property have continued by the Hindu mobs in Orissa, Assam, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Even the year of 2009 witnessed a number of incidents of religious intolerance. In this respect, at least 60 Christians have been assassinated in the recent past by Hindu fundamentalists in Orissa.

Recently more than 2,700 unmarked graves of the unidentified bodies were uncovered in villages of Indian-held Kashmir near the Line of Control (LoC). It is not the new event, in the past three years, the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice (IPT) has discovered unmarked bodies buried at various places. Last year, discovery of nearly 1000 graves of the unmarked Muslims in the Indian held Kashmir was also notable. Sources have suggested that these graves include bodies of extrajudicial executions committed by the Indian military and paramilitary forces.

In fact, the ideology of Hindutva is being encouraged by the government officials. Besides attacks on the other ethnic and religious communities including their establishments, appointment of extremist Hindus in top positions in various institutes, and alteration of courses in accordance with the Hindu ideology have reflected the intentions of the BJB and the Congress rulers.

No doubt, violence against the other communities has been used by Hindu fundamentalists as a normal practice since partition, but intensity of the anti-Muslim and anti-Christian bloodshed in the last decade coupled with the dissemination of Hindutva has displayed India’s ‘secular terrorism.’

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.

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