Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Communalism Vs Harmony: Peace can foil fundamentalists' strategy on Ayodhya dispute

Guest post

The ownership rights of the land on which Babri Masjid once stood, rests with the Sunni Waqf Board but the case is in the court and the verdict is expected on September 24.

The leaders of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [RSS] seem delighted as they have sensed another opportunity for a conflict with Hindus and Muslims. Whatever RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said at a press conference organised by Women's Press Club in Delhi recently, can only be termed disgraceful in any civilised society.

Bhagwat said that Indian Muslims should give proof of their patriotism. He claims that the minority can't be trusted and the community should come forward and send a message that it doesn't have loyalty outside the borders of the country.

In one stroke, Bhagwat abused the entire Indian Muslim populace who are citizens of this nation. Bhagwat needs to be asked about his locus standi before expressing such views. After all, when the founding fathers of RSS, Hedgewar and Golwalkar, were busy in sycophancy of the British maters, the rest of Indians including the Muslims were standing together and giving sacrifices for independence.

In 1920, when the entire nation was standing with Gandhi and the imperialists were losing never against the tsunami of pro-independence emotion, British government accepted the apology of VD Savarkar who was in jail then and released him on the condition that he would form an organisation that will divide Hindus and Muslims.

Any student of history will tell that soon after his release Sawarkar wrote his book 'Hindutva'. On the basis of the book and the narrow Hindutva ideology espoused by him, RSS was formed by a 'doctor' in 1925. Later Hedgewar scripted his scheme for causing discord between Hindus and Muslims, which gave relief to British as communalism spread its tentacles.

For 27 years, nationalist movement remained at its peak but not a single RSS leader was jailed though tens of thousands of Indians were incarcerated in this period. While it kept a distance from freedom movement, RSS leaders' names came up during the course of investigation in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

Still, when the chief of RSS asks Muslims to give certificate of his patriotism, ordinary Indians get angry. It is necessary to keep fundamentalist forces in check. Unfortunately, the leaders of Muslim community, knowingly or unknowingly, fell in the trap during the period of 1986-1992 and their actions strengthened RSS-VHP...

...On September 24, the verdict in the Ram Janmabhumi Temple-Babri mosque case is expected and the onus is on secular parties to ensure that communal forces are not allowed to further their agenda. While addressing journalists in Delhi, Sangh chief said that the RSS would not do anything that would go against law.

However, in the very next sentence he said, 'after the judgment the Sant Samaj would decide the next course of action'. Everyone is aware that VHP had formed the Dharma Sansad in the earlier 90s and it comprised Sadhus close to Sangh Parivar.

In this game, VHP was the nodal agency and mobilised fundamental forces. Bhagwat's statement suggests that on this occasion VHP will be kept behind and the Babas would be given charge. On the last occasion, VHP had collected huge funds and the lure of money can attract some groups of Sadhus to fall in RSS line.

Secular leadership remains passive while Muslims have no fresh leadership. The police alone may not be able to hold fundamentalist forces in check. In this scenerio, Mayawati should also ensure that BSP workers get to the streets. If lakhs of party activists go out to ensure calm, the timid fundamentalists would not be visible anywhere.

Mayawati has a historic opportunity to win the trust of all the secular minded Indians. If she is able to check attempts to fan communal hatred and ensure that Uttar Pradesh remains riot-free, she will gain respect of the society.

The RSS leaders have aspirations to be recoginised as leaders of all Hindus. But they can only be leaders of Hindutva-wadis, as just 3% Indians are members of either the RSS or BJP. The rest are peace loving citizens who stand against communal and divisive forces and consider Muslims as their brothers.

[Sheshi Narayan Singh is a senior journalist and commentator. This article was published in Roznama Sahara, Delhi.]