Among the Fanatics: Living next door to the Enemies of the Nation
In January 2020, I visited HDFC Bank in Kerala to renegotiate my home loan. The bank clerk I was to meet was a woman named Vinci. As I sat at her desk, she was having a conversation on her phone about how she sent her daughter off to school despite the child showing symptoms of the flu. Although this was quite unprofessional on her part to be talking about personal stuff while dealing with a customer, I let it pass because every parent of a sick child deserves a break.
However, the woman then made another call, asking the person on the other end about wiring money for her son’s admission in some college overseas. Keeping in mind her sick child, I didn’t mind her behaviour. After she finished the call, I asked her why she was sending her son to study overseas when the 100 percent literate state had tons of medical and engineering colleges.
Her reply was shocking to say the least: “Narendra Modi is turning India into a Hindu Rashtra so we Christians are in danger. It’s better for our kids to leave. Because of the Citizenship Amendment Act, we Christians will find it very difficult to survive in India in the future. I’m trying to get my son enrolled in a German university. I’ll send my daughter also to Europe. It is better they migrate before things get more difficult here.”
At this, I exploded: “What nonsense are you talking? You Christians are the most prosperous community in Kerala. You control all the top jobs and most of the businesses in the state. Every 500 metres there is a huge church in Kerala and there seems to be no end to the church construction craze. Your community has grabbed tens of thousands of acres of public and forest lands and turned them into private rubber plantations. You have been doing this for decades with the connivance of the Church and Christian politicians. The chief of the Congress party is a Christian woman from Italy. You Christians vote strategically and purely for communal gains while we Hindus vote on issues like economy, jobs, taxes, roads and prices. You go to church every Sunday and listen to the hate speech by your parish priest, and then you vote for the candidate approved by the priest. After winning the assembly elections, the first act by the Chief Minister of Kerala is to visit the Bishop to assure him that the Christian community will continue to hold the Ministry of Education (which has been with the Christians for over 30 years now). So tell me, in which universe are Kerala Christians the victims? What do you lack in India?”
The woman looked at me with a confused expression because Kerala Hindus are not known to be so outspoken. After all, the burden of secularism is the responsibility of the Hindu, and they must not say anything even if he sees Christians and Muslims openly practising bigotry and discrimination. I continued: “Don’t you dare utter such nonsense again. I know why you are saying such baseless things. For decades we Hindus quietly suffered your petty religious politics and narrow mindedness. But now that Hindus are saying that they are proud to be Hindus and voting for a party that treats them as equals, you Christians and Muslims find it intolerant behaviour. In fact, the reality is that you cannot tolerate Hindus at all. So don’t try to play the victim when you are not.”
The woman didn’t have a case as everything she said was baseless; so she kept quiet. At any rate, she knew better not to argue with a customer, especially one who knew the duplicity practised by many members of her community. Since she was not wearing any jewellery, it is likely that she belonged to some Pentecostal church. These austere and fanatic churches are known to be particularly anti-Hindu and anti-India, besides being recipients of huge American funding. However, considering the near-total radicalisation of all Christian denominations in Kerala, she could be Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant.
If there is one area in which Kerala leads the rest of the country, it is in toxic secularism. For decades, Kerala Hindus have quietly accepted the trenchant anti-Hinduism of the minorities as a fact of life. They rationalise that since they are the majority – or rather the largest community – they must remain secular, or in fact, become doubly secular in order to compensate for the narrow-mindedness of the Christians and Muslims. In my own family, I have seen that this disease is endemic among those who are Congress and communist supporters. If you ask them why they continue to vote on issues while the minorities vote for religious parties, the answer almost always is: “They are like that, but we can’t be like them.”
Kerala also leads in the sense of minority entitlement – what belongs to Christians and Muslims is theirs alone, but what belongs to the Hindus must be shared with Christians and Muslims. Kerala also leads in the number of highly entrenched radicalised minorities. For these reasons, in the following part of the article, you will come across a disproportionate number of stories from Kerala, although troublesome and self-entitled minorities are present everywhere in India.
The carpenter from Varanasi
Back in the 1990s, when my friend Gosain was studying at Banaras Hindu University, he narrated an incident that happened at the college. The university had hired some carpenters to do some maintenance and repair work in the dorms. Gosain was in his room when one of the carpenters knocked on the door and asked him if he needed any work done on his furniture. During the time that the carpenter, a Muslim man from Uttar Pradesh, was working, they struck up a conversation. Gosain told me what the carpenter said to him: “You Hindus have allowed us to live peacefully in India despite Muslims creating Pakistan. In your place, we would have finished you a long time ago.”
What is striking about some of these Muslims is their transparency. There is no beating around the bush, no quibbling; just the truth. What the Muslims of Pakistan did to Hindus of Pakistan is what many Muslims would like to repeat in India. Don’t forget that it is the 5-7 million Muslims from India who encouraged and prodded the Punjabi, Sindhi, Baloch and Pathan Muslims to launch attacks on the Hindus and Sikhs of Pakistan. Once the Hindus were killed or evicted, the Indian Muslims moving into Pakistan were able to occupy the vacant properties of the Hindus.
Zaheer and family
Zaheer was my father’s colleague in Delhi. He was a genial man who had a smile plastered on his face all the time. Unlike other women in our neighbourhood, his wife never stepped outside the house. Nobody knew what was cooking inside their house until their cook, a Hyderabadi Muslim, started working at our house. She was an old woman whose husband had abandoned her long ago. She told us what went on inside the Zaheer household: “Zaheer saheb and his wife hate Hindus virulently. They refer to Hindus as kutte ke bachche (children of dogs). I didn’t want to work in such a toxic environment, so I quit. It was traumatic listening to them constantly berate Hindus when Hindus are such decent people who employ us and treat us as equals. How can they say such awful things about Hindus while working for a Hindu-owned company that has elevated Zaheer saheb to a senior level?”
The maid, whom we used to refer to as Ammaji, then said something that is rather hard to believe, but coming in the backdrop of today’s Shaheen Bagh terrorism, one can’t dismiss it entirely. She said: “Zaheer saheb has relatives in Pakistan. His wife’s younger sister, who once visited that country, was boasting during a family gathering that she had got commando training from the Pakistani Army while she was in that country.”
The woman’s trip to Pakistan may have happened around the mid-1980s. Since thousands of Indian Muslims have visited Pakistan for family reasons, it is not improbable that some of them got radicalised after interactions with their Pakistani relatives, the ISI or Pakistan Army officers.
Francis and Dixon
When you are young, you are generally liberal, secular and leftist by default. Although I was a nationalist from a very young age, I also supported the Marxists in Kerala because I liked some of their policies such as land reforms. I was also secular in that I used to accept my Christian friends’ invitations to attend church and mass although even back then I knew their ignoble intentions. I never visited temples because Kerala temples have a no-shirt rule and I didn’t want to expose my scrawny frame in front of all those women. My Christian neighbours had probably started believing that I was either an atheist or at the very least agnostic. This made them lower their guard when around me and they would say things which they would normally say behind closed doors.
Francis was my neighbour and bestie. We did everything together – watch the late show and then walk home in cool Kerala nights, listen to George Michael’s ‘Careless Whispers’ on repeat, talk about the future, and dine in each other’s homes. My grandmother loved him and his mother was fond of me. His whole family would become animated when I entered their house that was just two houses away. We were that close.
The first sign that Francis could never be a friend into adulthood came when V.P. Singh introduced the Mandal Commission, which proposed job reservations for Other Backward Castes. Since Francis belonged to the Latin Catholic community, which is largely concentrated in and around Kochi, he was classified as an OBC. Like many right-thinking Indians, I too disliked the highly corrupt Gandhi dynasty and was prepared to give the anti-corruption crusader V.P. Singh a long rope. I told Francis: “If you are eligible this year, you must vote for V.P. Singh. You Latin Christians now have a real shot at government jobs.”
To a secular and liberal Hindu, Francis’ answer was an eye-opener: “Get lost. For us, nothing is more important than madham (religion). First comes Christianity; whatever your V.P. Singh has offered us is secondary.”
The reference to the Prime Minister of India as “your Singh” was a clear indication that to this Christian teenager, the constitution of India was an albatross that had to be worn by the Hindu alone. The Christians were free to “profess, practice and propagate religion” (as the Constitution of India allows in Article 25-1) but without any sense of duty towards the republic. To Francis, India meant nothing; his compass was firmly fixed towards Rome where his true allegiance lay. (1)
Every Sunday morning, rain or shine, Francis and his family went to church. Once he invited me to attend mass during which the parish priest cited nothing from the Bible but instead delivered an intensely political speech that attacked V.P. Singh because he was allied to the BJP. The defining take-away from the mass was that the Christian flock must support the Congress because it was a smorgasbord of religious groups and would, therefore, work for the Latin community of Kerala. The church seemed keen to prevent any young Latin Catholics from getting swayed by the promise of government jobs by V.P. Singh.
On another occasion, I and Francis had a discussion about cows. He said, “You know how much I hate cow worshippers. I can’t stand them.” This was a consistent pattern in my dealings with Christians – it was like your sentiments, feelings and concerns just did not exist. It was all about how they felt. In their view, their right to eat beef superseded all other issues, including the fact that for many Hindus in Kerala the cow is holy. Only 25 percent of Kerala Hindus eat beef, which may be high from an all-India perspective, but the figure also indicates that to 75 percent of Kerala Hindus, eating beef of an animal they consider a second mother or a gentle creature is abhorrent.
Francis and I had a mutual friend named Dixon. They were lifelong friends as Dixon also belonged to the Latin Catholic community. One day out of the blue, as we youngsters were all hanging out at the neighbourhood adda, Dixon said: “Raman and Lakshmanan cut off the nose of Surpanakha which shows both were thendis.” The word thendi literally means vagabond or bum, but in Malayalam the word has a more distasteful connotation.
Dixon’s outburst happened in the backdrop of the nascent Ram Janmanbhoomi movement. Here again, Kerala Christians have no locus standi as there are no ancient religious structures in Kerala that Hindus are claiming from either Christians or Muslims. The Ayodhya tussle was purely between Muslims and Hindus, but Kerala Christians, who had been close to Hindus for centuries, switched their allegiance to Muslims – cold turkey.
Dixon did not care that I would be hurt by his remarks. Maybe he developed his contempt for Hindus from his family, or more likely it was the weekly brainwashing from the church pulpit that conditioned him to treat Hindus as not deserving of respect or tolerance. Some of the younger Christians in my friend circle believed that Hindus were the equivalent of the Roman era pagans who were brutalised and killed by the early Christians. So, if Kerala Christians take delight in Biblical stories of the genocide of the pagans, why would they have any good feelings for their Hindu neighbours? In fact, there is more reason to hate Hindus because for at least 1,000 years they have been standing in the way of the Christian takeover of India.
What surprises me today is not what Dixon said but what I did not do. My uncle was the Vice President of the VHP in our town and was a much respected and powerful person in the area. People were in awe of him. At the very least, some RSS workers could have been sent to Dixon’s home to drive home the message that “abusing Hindu Gods has consequences.” And yet I did nothing. I let it go as a bad joke cracked by a friend. It was the height of tolerance. Today, when Christians, Muslims and seculars ask me why I am not secular, I narrate this story and tell them: “I used to be secular but your intolerance made me discard my secularism.”
The Christian professor
During my PG years, I once ran into some trouble that was entirely due to my own fault. To tell the truth, it was some minor vandalism on my part, and in my defence. It was no big deal in a state where after every college election the losing side routinely wrecks the entire college. I could have swept the matter under the carpet, but since I was the college topper and a favourite of some of my professors (who were nearly all Christian), I decided to have a friendly chat with one of my most friendly professors.
However, instead of listening to my side of the story, the professor launched into a tirade: “The College doesn’t care if your father is a scientist educated in Germany or whether he is a well-connected person in Delhi. We don’t bloody care if you bring your Sri Narayana Guru. This is a Christian college, no power on earth can touch us Christians.”
This was a real shocker and an insult to our most revered guru. Even a mild-mannered secular like me wasn’t going to stand by idly. (Please note that while I didn’t react much when my friend Dixon abused Rama and Lakshman, I was spurred into action by the professor’s blasphemous outburst. The reason was that Dixon was a good friend and we really liked each other. Until that point, he had never crossed me even once. However, the professor’s reaction wound me up because it had been building up for the past two years of my PG course during which the Christian professors had been showing a very open and strong bias in favour of my Christian classmates. From handing them the best notes to helping them gain additional marks in internal assessments, I had observed it all. In fact, a few weeks later when the university exam results were declared, a junior student told me: “Because you topped the college, the result was announced like a Doordarshan newsreader announcing the death of the President of India.”)
I immediately talked to my closest friend Murukan, who being a devout Hindu was highly incensed and made plans to beat up the professor at Christmas time. Not wanting to get started on a career of crime, I went to my uncle, the VP of the VHP. The moment he heard my story he said, “What, he said that about Sri Narayana Guru? He ran towards his open jeep and said, “Get in, take me to that professor.”
To cut a long story short, the professor practically peed in his pants when he saw my uncle and profusely apologised for his remarks. I gave him a glare as we left, indicating, don’t mess with our community.
Again, this episode reinforces my argument that while Kerala Hindus will never abuse Christian and Muslim religious figures and icons, the Christians of Kerala are quick to abuse a Hindu saint in situations where religion is extraneous. The Christian hatred for Sri Narayana Guru is due to the fact that he prevented the Hindus of Kerala from converting to Christianity en masse.
Jehadi from Malappuram
Around 30 years ago I had a conversation – almost a Mexican standoff – with a young Muslim man from Malappuram, the district that is known as a mini Pakistan within Kerala. He was a cousin of my friend Iqbal who was a printer and someone you would describe as a “moderate Muslim”.
It was the month of Ramzan and this twentysomething youth, whose name I don’t recollect, was boasting how he was able to handle a fulltime marketing job despite fasting daily. He held the opinion that Muslims were not safe in India and that it was time for Kerala Muslims to do something about it. I asked, “Why do you feel Muslims in India are not safe?” He replied, “You know, in the entire length of L.K. Advani’s Rath Yatra, the Muslim population has become zero. They have been totally wiped out.”
I realised that this guy was totally brainwashed. Had even one Muslim been killed during the Rath Yatra, the anti-Hindu media would have flashed it as a great genocide. So the question of millions of Muslims being slaughtered was straight out of a jehadi propaganda handbook. Not wanting to have an extended argument with this jehadi fool, I said, “Okay, so what do you plan to do now.” He replied, “We Kerala Muslims are creating a militant group called Zia. It will fight Hindus all across India.”
I said, “But you are far fewer than us. How will you fight so many Hindus?”
He said, “It doesn’t matter how many you are, we will defeat you.”
I laughed and asked Iqbal, who was observing all this quietly, to give me a pen and notepad. I wrote “1-7” and said, “You know what this equation means? The Pakistanis were fond of saying one Pakistani soldier is equal to seven Indian soldiers. Well, in the India-Pakistan war of 1971 we showed them what the reality is. We took more than 93,000 Pakistani soldiers as captives, humiliated the Pakistan Army and cut that country in half. The Pakistanis don’t use that equation any more.”
The Muslim youth took the pen, wrote “1-10” on the pad, and said, “We are planning for each Muslim to fight 10 Hindus.”
At this point, Iqbal snatched the pen from his cousin’s hands and yelled at him, “I have told you many times not to come here and say such nonsense.” Feeling chastened, the guy apologised and said to me, “I was just joking, we have excellent relations with Hindus.” Observe how when exposed he resorted to taqiya – the Koran-sanctioned act of pretending to be friendly towards the enemy when the situation is not favourable for jehad.
The point is that a good number of Kerala Muslims have been preparing for Shaheen Bagh and much worse since 1947. For them, converting India to Islam is the unfinished business of Partition. Islamist groups like SIMI, PFI and SDPI (with assistance from Pakistan) have been infiltrating Muslim neighbourhoods across India, but particularly in Uttar Pradesh which has the largest concentration of Muslims in India. The violence and mayhem unleashed by Muslims in Delhi, Mangalore and Uttar Pradesh were financed by the PFI that distributed crores of rupees to dedicated volunteers, leftist groups and the media. Who knows if the ‘Zia’ group that was being floated by the radicalised Muslim youth in Kerala was a proto PFI. (3)
Frontiers have shifted
In the nuclear-weapon era, there will never again be a war where two armies clash head-on in a battle of attrition that lasts months or even years as happened in WW II. Today’s wars are being fought in cyberspace and on social media and increasingly in the trenches of Shaheen Bagh. Your colleagues, neighbours, classmates and even friends and family members could be fighting against the idea of India. As was seen multiple times in North Delhi, it was the long-time Muslim neighbour who turned against his Hindu friends. Unfortunately, a significant section of Muslims has now become an existential threat to Hindus. (4)
Shaheen Bagh has shown that some among Muslims and Christians whom you have called friends all your life, are friends only as long as the pitch is tilted in their favour, or as long as they are allowed to be communal and the Hindu remains secular. The moment the Hindu wears his religion on his sleeve, they distance themselves from you. Muslims can cheer for Allah and Pakistan, Christians can cheer for Jesus and America, but if Hindus cheer for Ram and India, the friendship is over.
Think about it; when was the last time your non-Hindu colleagues, friends and neighbours wished you on Hindu festivals. Go back into memory lane, and chances are that it will dawn on you that they probably did not wish you Happy Diwali or Holi even once. Exceptions only prove the rule that the people professing allegiance to non-Indic rarely if ever consider Indic religions – Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism – as deserving of being treated as equal to theirs.
The defining belief of a significant number of followers of Abrahamic religions is that native Indian religions are false and their followers are doomed. In this backdrop, there is no need to show respect to the Hindu, who incidentally is the most hated among all because he’s too numerous to be wiped out easily. Since the Koran and the Bible both explicitly and unequivocally declare that the non-believer must be killed, it dehumanises the non-Abrahamic person in the eyes of the Muslim and Christian. This precludes showing them respect or even sympathy when they are down and out. (5)
Try googling “Delhi riots” and the first three pages will only have links to Western liberal media news that shows Muslims as the victims and Hindus as the aggressors. This is because the Western liberal has internalised the narrative that the pagan Hindu is a dispensable civilisational relic in the larger Abrahamic scheme of things.
In the backdrop of this all-angles attack on Hindus, they need to take drastic measures to avoid being snuffed out in the manner of the great Greek, Roman and European pre-Christian civilisations. This can be achieved in our lifetime and without much fuss. But that is for another story.
- Indian Kanoon, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/631708/
- The Religion of Peace, thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/violence.aspx
- The Times of India, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pfi-distributed-money-to-anti-caa-protesters/articleshow/73996050.cms
- OpIndia, https://www.opindia.com/2020/02/watch-delhi-anti-hindu-riots-man-shot-by-muslim-neighbours-attacked/
- Bible, Psalm 137: “Blessed is he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.”
Featured Image: OpIndia
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