Friday, August 29, 2008

State's softness on Bajrang Dal, VHP and allied organisations

1. Two persons including an RSS activist and a former Bajrang Dal activist were killed while allegedly making bombs in Kanpur recently and police recovered explosives, timers and other devices from the room, but it didn't make much of a news.

Except a few papers, none took notice of the trend and also the revelation that they were planning blasts to take revenge on Muslims. There were no follow-ups of the sort of 'links' that we hear in other cases which keep news on front page for days after such incidents.

Even media watchdog The Hoot had this to write under the headline: No Followup

Mail Today carried two stories on August 26 and 27 on
the Bajrang Dal bombers, members of the BD who were accidentally killed in
Kanpur while assembling bombs to mount a terrorist attack. It said police
suspect these were meant for retaliatory attacks for the Ahmedabad blasts. The
second story said the bomb- makers of Kanpur seem to be part of a larger network
of terrorists planning a major attack. Amazingly, except for a small inside
story in the Indian Express on August 27, no paper thought this was worth a
follow up!

Now, is it strange! Not at all.

2. In June, Hindu Jagran Manch activists were arrested for bomb blast at a theatre in Thane. The news had again got underplayed. They had confessed that they were involved in similar attempts in the past also.

3. In Nanded, the police had even recovered 'Muslim topis (skull caps)' and 'fake beards' during search at the house of Hindutva militants who were responsible for blasts. Again, most newspapers and channels ignored it.

4. In Tirunelveli, the police arrested workers of Hindu Munnani for blast at RSS office that was aimed to pit both communities against each other and lead to communal conflagration.

5. And there are many more examples. This is not a propaganda blog, which is aimed to highlight such things. But I am really disturbed by the tendency to take any Muslim as suspect and brand him as terrorist, with lawyers not ready to take up their cases and then throw him in jail, but ignore any other offender or probe his involvement especially if the person belongs to RSS, VHP, BD, at all.

I discussed it with a journalist friend (non-Muslim) and despite his secular views, he was adamant that Hindus can't be involved in such activities. I truly understand now why the police wouldn't think the same.

But this is the root of the problem. Flashback 1992. The Babri Masjid was demolished. It was a terrorist act and most Hindus were also unhappy with this development. We all know what happened after that.

PV Narsimharao's Congress government instantly decided to ban five organisations including RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal along with Jamat-e-Islami and ISS. Though it was very clear that Jamaat-e-Islami and ISS (Abdul Nasser Madani's Islamic Sevak Sangh) were not involved in the demolition.

But the message was that it was a sort of 'balance' that three Hindu organisations were banned so two Muslim bodies had also to face a similar situation. At least, Jamat-e-Islami had no reason to be banned.

But those involved in Kar Seva and demolition were never booked under any stringent provision of IPC and were let off. Kalyan Singh mocked Indian judicial system when he was awarded a day's sentence and almost became a hero rather a culprit.

Clearly, the state was being soft on Hindutva oraganisations. The organisations had tasted blood. However, the situation didn't change in the years to come. For extremely provocative statements the leaders like Pravin Togadia and Bal Thackeray were never booked and when their cadre went on rampage nothing happened but Muslim leaders like Madani were thrown into jail and ordinary Muslim youths were framed and booked under TADA and POTA.

In state after state, in small districts, towns and villages, (just like Gujarat or in Orissa's Kandhamal where the scale is too large), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal have been involved acts that easily fall in the definition of terrorism. But they are never made to face the law of the land.

This is a major issue which our state must deal with, at the earliest. Be harsh on anybody who breaks the law. And if one has any doubt on the kind of treatment that is being meted out to innocent Muslims by a section of biased police, just read the last four issues of Tehelka.

My sole submission is that the state must take harshest possible action on Muslims found guilty of any terror activity, but don't let off the other person just because of his faith or the organisation he is allied to.

Ban the Bajrang Dal and also the VHP, if the state has guts and if the Congress wants to give a message that it has secular credentials. As a secular party it can't have a 'laddoo' in both hands---appeasing Hindu fundamentalist and Muslim fundamentalists. Ban both SIMI and also the VHP-BD.

Read Subhash Ghatade's article 'One India, Two people' that tells how innocent guys were framed and branded terrorists.