Mainstream, Vol XLVI No 42
Threat to National Integration
Wednesday 8 October 2008, by
Some people who come to me say that the country needs Mahatma Gandhi again. As a freedom fighter I feel that last time the partition of India and formation of Pakistan took place because of Muslim communalism but this time it is Hindu communalism that is leading us to a division of the country. The way the Jammu agitation was conducted, the road to Kashmir blockaded and buses going to Muslim areas attacked gave rise to mass anger of Muslims in Kashmir and this reached such a height that the curfew failed and secular parties like the National Conference and PDP had to support the separatists. There is no Soviet Union to exercise the veto now. The only good factor is that America, unlike in the past, is neither-anti India due to the ‘strategic partnership’ nor is it for strengthening the jehadis anywhere. However, America is losing the war in Afghanistan and the Taliban is gaining. If the Taliban comes to power to join hands with Pakistan’s jehadis to fight India in Kashmir, India will be unable to hold on to Kashmir with the mass of people pitted against it.
Though Indian Muslims were very angry after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, Indian terrorists were not active at that time. It is after the Gujarat massacre of Muslims that Indian terrorist groups have come up with blast after blast killing dozens of innocent people, both Hindus and Muslims, in important towns including New Delhi and Mumbai. Though communal unity still prevails, heart burning is there all around. Muslim religious leaders have openly condemned terrorism saying it is anti-Islam but the media including the TV does not flash it nor have discussions on this issue been held to create mass awareness. Hindu religious heads like those of the Bajrang Dal, VHP, offshoots of the RSS and BJP, have so far not condemned the killings of Muslims and Christians.
In Karnataka and Orissa churches are being attacked by Hindu outfits. Christian religious leaders have been killed and thousands of Christians have become refugees. The concerned BJP State governments don’t take strict action. The Central Government is also failing. It is not banning the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad like SIMI. This discrimination further creates heartburning. Even notices under Article 355 are not issued by the Central Government to those States. India is earning a bad name in the whole Christian world. These incidents may again give a new fillip to the rebellions in Nagaland and other Christian populated areas of the North-East for independence.
THE worst thing is that secular parties are not coming forward to defend the Christians and oppose Hindu outfits. In Maharashtra another Hindu organisation launched attacks against North Indians, particularly poor Biharis many of whom got injured and fled away. This is a direct threat to Indian unity. Here also the State Government did not act strongly nor did the secular parties come out on the streets to protest. (In Assam too Biharis were killed. There the Bodos are for independence and adopting violent methods.)
Generally, the police is acting only against Muslims even though in two places Hindus were injured and killed while preparing bombs. It is because of this POTA had to be withdrawn. In the Jamia Nagar incident, though it was supposed to be the biggest catch and success of the intelligence and police, doubts are expressed by eminent persons like the Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, Professor Mushirul Hasan, who himself was attacked and harassed by Muslim fundamentalists sometime ago. So far the police has not come out with the facts which can be made public at this stage to confirm the genuineness of the case.
The threat to the unity of the country should be taken up seriously by the Congress, Communists and other Left and secular regional parties like those of Lalooji, Mulayamji and Mayawatiji. They should have acted jointly and come out on the streets instead of giving press statements in defence of the Christians and others. This would have forced the governments to act promptly. Mass mobilisation in the States concerned is essential if action is to be taken against the State governments failing to protect the minorities. After all, against how many State governments can the Centre take action when all BJP States are helping to create mass Hindu feeling as in Gujarat?
There is a worldwide tendency among the minorities and different ethnic groups to be independent. Even the UNO acts in favour of such ethnic minorities as happened in the case of the eastern part of Indonesia. In Africa many tribes are resorting to armed fighting to be independent in countries like Sudan. After the collapse of the Soviet Union almost all republics became independent. The same thing happened in Georgia with the separation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In Muslim dominated western part of China terrorists are fighting for independence. Tibet’s case is different but there also forces are asking for independence. The Kurdish people in Iraq, Turkey and other countries are figthting for independence. India should take note of this situation in the world and exerice caution.
The Indian National Congress, which ruled for forty years continuously after independence and kept India united, has become weak and in big States like UP and Bihar it is very weak. Still it is the biggest party which is secular in the main. It has never formed coalition governments with BJP. The next biggest secular force is the Left though confined to a few States. Unfortunately these two forces are at loggerheads. This gives a favourable chance to the BJP to come to power though it is also not spread all over the country. Regional parties have come up. Their joining Central governments in coalition helps regional issues to be given more attention. This is beneficial but these regional parties, except the RJD of Lalooji, join hands with the BJP when there is a chance to form a coalition government with the BJP. While in coalition with the BJP they simply oppose the killing of Muslims verbally as it happened during the Gujarat massacre of Muslims by the government. If these regional parties one day voice for the independence of States the weak Centre would be unable to defend national integration. It will then be difficult for the divided secular forces to check it.
For decades the Left gave the call for a united front, a third front, unity of secular forces but they are unable to form the front. They have never reviewed where the fault lies. In one election they are with one group and in the next election with another and then go on changing their posture. How then can there be a front? Left parties themselves are divided though for power they remain in the Left Front.
The situation, the threats to national integration warrant the emergence of the Left with a new perspective to check the rise of Hindutva.
The author, who was the Union Agriculture Minister in the United Front Government at the Centre (1996-98), functioned as the AITUC President for several years