Genesis of the Indian Storm troopers
A Muslim Minority Point of View
THE The Manuvadi jamboree, awash with sadhus, sants and rashtravadi perorations at Staten Island in USA was addressed by Vajpayee who was rightly described by a columnist as “the saffron knight in Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) armour”. Waxing eloquently on his avatar without a mask, as a swayamsevak, promising “our vision of Bharat” and to fulfil the promises made by the BJP if it came through with a two thirds majority in the next election, by a stroke of sophistry, Vajpayee, swayamsevak turned into “volunteer”, and “our” became “Everyone’s vision..” The imprecise meanings, and ambiguous formulations, exercise in dubious verbal jugglery of his remarks are characteristic of the forked tongue of the RSS. This meeting was undoubtedly organised by the VHP whose gestapo was not only present but bragged of the resolve to build the Ram mandir in Ayodhya, while Vajpayee discreetly held his tongue.
It is necessary that the gullible should know more about the VHP. Since it styles itself as “Vishwa,” i.e. universal, the people of Europe and USA need to sit up and take notice too. Established in 1964 by the RSS, the VHP opened its first American Centre in New York in 1979 graced by no less a person then Vajpayee who was then Minister for External Affairs and its San Francisco and Baton Rouge conference followed in 1979, and 1980.
Prime Minister Vajpayee’s remarks at the VHP meeting in the staten Island in the US have all that one should expect from the forked tongue
The “vision” of the VHP is outlined in the September 1983 issue of its journal, “Vishwa Hindu”; one learns from this the following; Jerusalem is “Yedushalyam”, that is “the shrine of the Lord of the Yadus, i.e. Krishna. Further, “Let everyone know that the Dome of the Rock and the nearby Al Aqsa though currently being misused as mosque are ancient Krishna temples. “Coming to England, readers are enlightened that St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in “origin” was “Gopal (Krishna) Mandir”; at its front is a “statue of Lord Shiva with the trident”, and inside, its most striking feature is the “Sudarshan chakra of Lord Krishna”. One learns that the Notre Dame church was “originally the temple of the Mother Goddess, Devi Bhagvati, Parvati, Bhawani, Chandi alias Durga”. Indeed, Paris itself was “Parameshwarium” which the Romans distorted to “Parisorium” and which finally turned into “Paris”. The river seine which flows through this city is the “distorted name of “Sindhu”. Perhaps Bangaru Laxman when he quoted the ideologue of the RSS, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya that “Muslims are the flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood”, knew that the VHP had discovered that the Kaabah in Makkah was a “gigantic Vishnu temple” and that in “pre-Christian times, all people in the entire world were Hindus”. That is the genesis and theology of the VHP which is currently an applicant with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for consultative status; describing itself as a `Non-Governmental Organisation’ (NGO); located in Delhi that works for the total welfare of humanity”. This is the storm trooper outfit that the National Minorities Commission in a unanimous report, along with its sister outfit, Bajrang Dal holds both squarely responsible for the latest communal killings in Surat. This VHP show was graced by the presence of Vajpayee in Staten Island.
The RSS supremo, K.S. Sudarshan in his first Dasara address to the RSS Dasara rally in Nagpur has asserted that protection of Hindu society against external aggression in the form of religion or culture would always remain a matter of concern for the RSS and a pre-condition to its work for development of the nation. He threatened that those living in India and looking down upon her religion and culture would not be allowed to survive!!! In pursuance of this, 75,000 RSS men met in a 3-day Rashtriya Suraksha Shivir in Agra and the focus was on “Internal security in the face of the ISI threat and growing terrorism” where they were trained to develop their own intelligence units to keep an eye on Christian and Islamic institutions and with the sole objective of transforming the RSS into “a lean, mean, fighting force.”
Addressing this gathering, the RSS Fuehrer exhorted Muslims to accept Ram and Krishna as their forefathers, that the blood of Ram and Krishna flowed in their veins, acknowledge their Hindu ancestry and join the mainstream. He charged churches connected with the World Council of Churches (WCC) that they were promoting anti-national activities. The Central Home Minister and the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh participated on the final day and the former talked of the historical bond between RSS and BJP and how the RSS has exerted moral influence on him and Vajpayee and the rest of the BJP in the Centre.
That Advani as Home Minister should subscribe to the sentiments expressed at the RSS camp goes against the very spirit of the Constitution to which he has sworn loyalty as a minister. This also infringes on the rights of minorities to practise and propagate their faith which also encompasses their right to organise and run their own institutions, subject of course to the law of the land. The RSS fuehrer’s presumption of a self-ordained, inalienable right to pronounce on what makes for patriotism and its exclusivist theological plank that equates patriotism with religion must be rejected with the contempt it deserves.
A Muslim Minority Point of View
Prof. Mumtaz Ali Khan *
FOR the first time, the United States Government created an organization called “US Commission on International Religious Freedom”. The main purpose of this commission is to obtain first hand knowledge from the concerned specialists about the conditions of Religious Minorities. Such a report would be submitted to the US Congress and US President to enable them to take necessary policy decisions.
India and Pakistan were selected for this first ever hearing before a panel of nine top experts including the President of US Commission. There were a few participants other than the main speakers. From India there were three speakers. They were (1) Fr. John Dayal, a Bishop from Delhi, (2) Prof. Sumit Ganguli, now teaching in Texas, and (3) Prof. Dr. Mumtaz Ali Khan. I am presenting a short version of my paper for the benefit of the readers of Islamic Voice.
Muslims of India constitute a little more than 12% of India’s total population and form the second largest Muslim population in the world, next only to Indonesia. They form a sizeable and significant vote bank and as such every political party baits them. But poverty and illiteracy have mostly neutralized the strength of their population.
Successive political parties have announced special programmes for their development. But their sense of insecurity and even dependence have ruined them. Once rulers of mighty India, they are today not even second rate citizens. Their present social and psychological conditions are quite alarming. Even though the Constitution of India has guaranteed them certain special rights under Fundamental Rights, they hardly enjoy these rights because the powerful Anti-Muslim groups well supported by the administration keep them constantly harassed.
The Constitution gives them religious freedom. It is because of this that they are relatively safe and profess, practise and propagate their religion. Normally in religious matters, there has not been much interference from the state till recently.
It is true that the Constitution guarantees equality before law. It also enables them to establish and maintain educational institutions of their choice. But in practice a lot of discrimination is practised. Permission to start minority institutions is either denied or delayed by the administration. Several restrictions and disabilities are imposed.
The mother tongue of the Muslims of India is generally Urdu language. This beautiful language is not much encouraged. Telecast of Urdu news is sometimes curbed and there are instances of riots organized by the non Urdu, non Muslim fanatic groups. In administration, Muslims feel they are discriminated. Though they account for 12% population, they get poor representation. They are generally kept out of important and sensitive wings like Home Department and Defence.
The status of Muslims under the BJP administration poses a much dreaded scene. The Central Government is run by National Democratic Alliance which has Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the largest single group. It rules with the support of a few secular regional political parties. It has a Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a secularist though from RSS background. He is respected by Muslims too as he is the only hope for them amidst tension, suspicion and discrimination.
There are some Central Ministers who have been accused of supporting the demolition of Babri Mosque in Ayodhya in India. There are cases against them pending before the designated court. Their continuance as powerful Central Ministers leads to doubts about the outcome of the court proceedings. Shiva Sena now turned into a political outfit, is adopting poisonous attitude towards Muslims in particular. The chief of the party, Mr. Bal Thackeray, hates the very shadow of Muslims. To him, all Muslims in India are suspects and they should be dumped in the Arabian sea. His party workers harass Muslims, loot their shops, destroy their economic base and curtail their religious freedom in every possible way. His party is an ally of BJP and as such BJP is forced to work against Muslims. The post-Babri Mosque demolition period saw worst riots where thousands of Muslims were killed and made homeless. Bal Thackeray is the present Adlof Hitler of India.
What is happening in some of the BJP ruled states amounts to reign of terror. A few major instances are presented here to illustrate how the BJP administration is treating Muslims. Of course, the treatment meted out to Christians is still worse. The National Commission for Minorities in India has indicated the Gujarat Government run by BJP for attacks on the right to freedom of religion of minorities, particularly Muslims. The state administration and police are biased and partisan. The state has perpetuated a sense of insecurity. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal called for state bandh (means closure of all business, educational institutions and transport) in protest against killing of Hindu pilgrims in Kashmir. There were communal riots. State administration supported the rioters. Muslims were attacked, their shops were looted, houses were set on fire. A place of worship and the tomb of a saint were destroyed.
In Uttar Pradesh, a BJP ruled state, the Government wanted to have a new law according to which prior permission from the district authorities was a condition to build any place of worship. This was obviously against Muslims. Communalized text books which hurt the text and sentiments of the religion of Muslims were freely allowed to be used by the Government and the Central Government remained mute. The Special Reserve Police in Surat town of Gujarat state is said to have unleashed reign of terror on the Muslims, dubbing them as Pakistanis. These policemen not only supported the Hindu rioters but they themselves abetted the crime. They allowed the rioters to loot Muslim shops and burn their houses. Muslim students were forced to sing “Vande Mataram” and “Saraswati Vandana” and when refused they were beaten up. “Vande Mataram” is no doubt a patriotic song. Since the BJP/ RSS/ VHP force Muslims to sing this, they suspect that it is anti-Islamic song. But “Saraswati Vandana” is definitely anti-Islamic to sing since Islam prohibits such songs in praise of Hindu Gods and deities.
There are a few premier research institutions such as Indian Council of Social Science Research and Indian Council of Historical Research always headed by persons of secular bent of mind. But now the concerned Central Minister who is from RSS background has appointed communal chiefs who have started rewriting social themes and history to propagate communal hatred against Muslims. There is hue and cry against this move by Hindu Scholars. But nothing moves the communal biased administration.
Indian Muslims are governed by their own laws relating to personal matters like marriage and divorce as sanctioned by Islam. But BJP and its allies have decided to introduce common civil code. They want to build Ram Templeö on the site where Babri Mosque stood once. This is no doubt politically motivated. BJP has just kept all this in their hidden agenda. Right now it cannot do anything as the Central Government is a mixture of BJP, its allies and regional secular parties. What happens to the minorities if BJP and its like-minded groups have absolute majority is any body guess. As long as Mr. Vajpayee is in power, BJP cannot do much damage. Attempt to review Indian Constitution is feared to be a device to make minorities subdued and be second rate citizens.
The Sangh Parivar has tremendous influence on the BJP rulers in day to day administration. It wants India to be designated as Bharat and the state be declared as a Hindu Rashtra (Nation). It wants the Ashoka Chakra in the middle of the National Flag be replaced by the letters OMö typical Hindutva symbol. Citizenship to be conferred only to those who are patriots. National song has to be changed from the present one to “Vandemataram”. If BJP has its own majority to rule the country, all these demands of the Sangh Parivar would be implemented. This would make the minorities restless and sleepless.
But let it be clear that a vast majority of the Hindus are secular and well wishers of the minorities. Similarly, a vast majority of the political parties and leaders are secular. It is for this reason that the minorities are safe today. But when the BJP Govt. under pressure from Shiva Sena and the Sangh Parivar starts ruling the country on its own strength, what happens to the minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians, is something that causes tension and insecurity among these people.
The author was one among the three persons from India who made a representation before the US Commission on International Religious Freedom last month in Washington DC