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Ashish Khetan equates Islamic Jihad with Hindutva

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Ashish Khetan equates Islamic Jihad with Hindutva
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One of the oldest tricks in the textbook of India’s self-proclaimed secularists is to blame pro-Hindu forces for terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic jihadists. This trick aims at achieving two objectives. First, it gives an impression to the world at large that there exists something called Hindu terror akin to Islamic terror. This notion will impute blame equally to both Hindus and Muslims, in addition to creating a false sense of guilt in the Hindu mind. Next and most importantly, it prevents public discourse from probing the root causes for Islamic terror and consequently helps buttress the secularists’ theory of terror having no religion.

Ashish Ketan’s recent article in the Outlook is a textbook example of this ‘secularist’ ploy. Ashish claims that the history of terrorism in India is the history of competitive communalism. He blames the Hindus, specifically, the Sangh Parivar, for being the reason for the radicalisation of Muslim youth and consequently for having invited the wrath of Islamic terrorism:

Excluding Kashmir and the Northeast, which have their own unique reasons for militancy, the history of terrorism in India is the history of competitive communalism. The single biggest reason for the radicalisation of scores of Muslim youths has been the organised mob violence of the Sangh parivar. Hindu and Muslim fundamentalism have had a long history of interplay, with violence begetting violence. But two events—the Ramjanmabhoomi movem­ent, culminating in the demolition of the Babri Masjid, and the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat—have been watersheds. Fired by a misplaced idea of retributive justice, some Muslim youths yoked themselves to the ideology of pan-Islamic jehad.

We need to ask a few questions to Ashish and his secularist tribe. Was there no radicalization of Muslim youth before the birth of the Sangh Parivar? If it was, then blaming the Sangh Parivar would be dishonest. Who will Ashish blame for the presence of radical Muslim youth in other parts of the world where the Sangh Parivar does not exist? Was the attitude of Muslim leaders towards Hindus any different before the Ramjanmabhoomi movement and the post-Godhra riots, which Ashish calls as watershed moments in Hindu-Muslim relations? Also, we need to question whether the “ideology of pan-Islamic jihad” is a recent phenomenon “fired by a misplaced idea of retributive justice” or whether it is an age old concept sanctioned by the Holy Quran itself.

Let’s see what Maulana Azad Sobhani, one of the most respected Muslim leaders in the pre-partition era told in his speech made on the 27th January 1939 at Sylhet, which Dr. B R Ambedkar quotes in his seminal work ‘Thoughts on Pakistan.’

…Our big fight is with the 22 crores of our Hindu enemies, who constitute the majority. Only 4 1/2 crores of Englishmen have practically swallowed the whole world by becoming powerful. And if these 22 crores of Hindus who are equally advanced in learning, intelligence and wealth as in numbers, if they become powerful, then these Hindus will swallow Muslim India and gradually even Egypt, Turkey, Kabul, Mecca, Medina and other Muslim principalities, like Yajuj-Majuj (it is so mentioned in Koran that before the destruction of the world, they will appear on the earth and will devour whatever they will find).

…The English are gradually becoming weak…they will go away from India in the near future. So if we do not fight the greatest enemies of Islam, the Hindus, from now on and make them weak, then they will not only establish Ramrajya in India but also gradually spread all over the world. It depends on the 9 crores of Indian Muslims either to strengthen or to weaken them (the Hindus). So it is the essential duty of every devout Muslim to fight on by joining the Muslim League so that the Hindus may not be established here and a Muslim rule may be established in India as soon as the English depart.

When Maulana Azad Sobhani made this speech, the Sangh Parivar—which Ashish calls as the single biggest reason for radicalization of Muslims—was not even formed! While the Maulana’s hatred for Hindus is clearly evident in his own words, it is equally clear that he had a precise conception of pan-Islamism. And it was not Maulana Azad Sobhani alone who had this idea of pan-Islamism. The great poet Rabindranath Tagore—who the ‘secularists’ so often quote to deride Hindu Nationalism—has this to say in a 1924 interview with the editor of a Bengali paper:

… another very important factor which, according to the poet, was making it almost impossible for the Hindu-Mohamedan unity to become an accomplished fact was that the Mohamedans could not confine their patriotism to any one country. . . .The poet said that he had very frankly asked many Mohamedans whether, in the event of any Mohamedan power invading India, they would stand side by side with their Hindu neighbours to defend their common land. He could not be satisfied with the reply he got from them. He said that he could definitely state that even such men as Mr. Mahomed Ali had declared that under no circumstances was it permissible for any Mohamedan, whatever his country might be, to stand against any other Mohamedan.

It is clear that the conception of a pan-Islamic Ummah (Universal Muslim Community) is not the result of a “misplaced idea of retributive justice” but is in fact a long standing Quranic concept. In fact, many Muslim leaders were disappointed when the country was partitioned; they were upset that the Islamic Ummah had to be divided across nationalistic lines. When Ashish rants about Indian Mujahideen, he prefers not to tell us about its earlier avatar—the SIMI—and SIMI’s progenitor the Jaamat-e-Islam-i-Hind.

Jaamat-e-Islam-i-Hind (JIH) was the first organized Islamic reformist movement in the Indian Subcontinent. The group was formed on August 24, 1941, in Lahore under the leadership of Syed Abul Ala Maududi. After partition, which JIH opposed because it would separate the ummah along nationalist lines, Maududi moved to Pakistan where Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) founded the Pakistan branch. Even to this day, one of their declared objectives is to establish an Islamic world order:

The doors of the organisation are thrown open to any citizen who accepts the sacred motto of ilaha illallah, Muhammadur Rasulullah, in its entirety and all its implications, and is ready to work for the establishment of the divine order in the land.

SIMI was simply a more radical offshoot of the Jaamat-e-Islam-i-Hind. After it was banned, it assumed the name of “Indian Mujahedeen” and appeared as fronts like the Popular Front of India. But Ashish does not tell us these uncomfortable facts.

Ashish continues, building on these presumptuous assertions:

A few months ago, when Shakeel Ahmed, a Congress general secretary, quoted from a National Investigating Agency (NIA) document that the Indian Mujahideen (IM) was formed in response to the 2002 Gujarat riots, he was condemned by all quarters. But it will be a pity if the discourse on the root causes of terror, kickstarted perhaps unwittingly by Rahul, dies down. Instead of paying lip service to a discussion on the interplay between Hindutva extremism and homegrown Islamic terrorism, civil society and the political class must engage with it on a fuller, deeper scale.

By quoting Shakeel Ahmed, who sought to justify the terrorist organization Indian Mujahideen, by blaming the 2002 Gujarat riots, Ashish tries to bolster his own argument. However, he raises a few pertinent questions:

Over the past four years, our investigative agencies have arrested more than 100 IM members. This hasn’t halted its activities; new waves of recruits have filled the ranks. Recent blasts in Hyderabad, Bodh Gaya and Patna are evidence of the epidemic dimensions homegrown terror is taking. It goes without saying that, since most of these cases are sub judice, we must not reach any conclusions before the trials are completed. But the fact also remains that terror bombings have become an almost daily occurrence. Who is plotting these attacks, procuring explosive material and making and planting the bombs? What are the motives? What are the bombers trying to achieve? These questions are too relevant to the future of our democracy to be left to the courts alone to adjudicate on. Society in general and the political class in particular must confront them and seek out answers.

Answers must definitely be sought to these questions. However, they must be sought in the right places. If we want to know about the aims, objectives and programmes of say, an NGO working for women. The first place you would go is to its website and read it’s officially published literature. Strangely, Ashish tries to find out the answers by reading a select portion of Indian Mujahideen operative Yasin Bhatkal’s interrogation report, where Yasin blames the Sangh Parivar and by quoting a select portion of a letter published by the Indian Mujahideen after the December 2007 blasts. Here again, Ashish quotes only those portions that are convenient to his argument.

Let us hear it from the Mujahids themselves, what their declared ‘motives’ are. In another letter, written in August 2007, the Mujahids make no bones about their objectives.

…Here we are back – the Mujahideen of India – the terrorists on the disbelievers – the radicals of Islam – after our triumphant and successful assault at Jaipur, once again calling you all, who disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) to accept Islam and bear witness that there is none to be worshipped except Allah, and that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah. Accept Islam and save yourselves.

O Hindus! O disbelieving faithless Indians! Haven’t you still realized that the falsehood of your 33 crore dirty mud idols and the blasphemy of your deaf, dumb, mute and naked idols of ram, krishna and hanuman are not at all going to save your necks, Insha-Allah Allah, from being slaughtered by our hands? Nor is your, fictitious faith in monkeys, pigs and nude statues going to save you from the Wrath of Allah and His Humiliating Pun Punishment punishment.

Know that it is only the true confession of the Oneness of Allah Alone, with no associates, that can save your blood from being spilled on the streets of your own cities.

And from where exactly do these holy warriors draw their inspiration?

And all Praises and Glory be to Allah Alone, the Sustainer of the Heavens and the Earth, Who revealed in His Qur’an:

(O Kaafirs!) If you demand a judgment, the judgment has then indeed come to you; and if you desist, it will be better for you; and if you turn back (to fight), We (too) shall return back, and your forces shall avail you nothing, though they may be many, and (know) that Allah is with the believers. (Qur’an 8:19) All Praises and Glory be to Allah Alone, The One, The Supreme, Who revealed in His Book:

(O Disbelievers!) We are guiltless of you and of whatever you worship besides Allah: we have rejected you, and there has arisen between us and you, enmity and hatred for ever – unless you believe in Allah and Him alone. (Qur’an 60:4)

And Peace and Prayers be upon His Servant and His Messenger servant Muhammad (peace be upon him him), who said:

 “I am commanded to fight the people unless they admit that there is none to be worshipped except Allah, and that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah and establish prayers, and pay the zakah, so if they do this then they have saved their blood and wealth from me, except the rights of e Islam and their accountability is towards Allah”. [Hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim].

To Ashish’s questions—what are the motives? What are the bombers trying to achieve?—the terrorists themselves give us clear answers. Yet, Ashish wants us to believe otherwise. He wants us to believe that the terrorists are merely trying to seek revenge for Hindu wrongs. In his words:

Yasin was involved in half-a-dozen major terror strikes. The agencies believe the IM’s most elaborate bombing plots were designed for Surat and Ahmedabad, in retaliation for the 2002 riots. (Caveat: These cases are all being tried and it would be wrong to prejudge anyone’s guilt.)

But successive governments, both BJP- and Congress-led, have failed to make the connection. They have dealt with terrorism only within the narrow framework of internal security: more laws, more weaponry, more funds and powers for investigators. The theme song has been to blame Pakistan. No doubt Pakistan has been the principal sponsor of terror in India, but even the Samjhauta Express blasts—which eventually turned out to be the handiwork of Hindutva radicals—was first pinned on Pakistan.

Notice how careful Ashish is to put a caveat when it comes to Yasin’s guilt but declares the “Hindutva elements” guilty of being involved in the Samjhauta Express blasts even before the courts have delivered a judgement! In reality, a lot of confusion persists about the Samjhauta Express blasts investigation. Ashish then moves on to link religious violence to terrorism, but interestingly mentions the recent blasts at Narendra Modi’s Patna rally to support his argument.

Terrorism in India has always had links with religious violence. The blasts and BJP leader Narendra Modi’s ele­c­tion rally in Patna are the latest evidence of a direct connection between the politics of the Hindutva brigade and Islamic jehad.  

So what is Ashish’s reasoning for the increasing occurrences of terrorist attacks in the country?

From the mid-1980s on, the Ram­janmabhoomi movement has threatened to tear the social fabric asunder. The rath yatra left in its wake a trail of communal riots and bloodshed. None of the principal actors behind the 1992-93 Bombay riots were bro­ught to justice. The CBI cases in the Babri Masjid demo­lition have been stuck in the quicksand of legal stratagems and dec­e­ption over 20 years now. The ’02 Gujarat riots and the unpreced­ented subversion of criminal jus­tice in its aftermath remain a festering sore, and it was in the wake of this that the IM managed to find recruits.

Apart from being a wholly wrong diagnosis of the problem, this reasoning is extremely faulty. How different is this reasoning from arguing that a girl dressed provocatively is inviting rape upon herself!  But reason and logic take a back seat when a writer has a particular agenda to push forward.

It is apparent that Ashish doesn’t seem to be interested in finding the real causes for Islamic terrorism, nor does he do a dispassionate study of the link between religious violence and terrorism. Because, if that were to be the case, the conclusions Ashish would have drawn would have been very different. The last few lines of the article expose both his agenda as well as his political leanings.

Political commentators believe that Rahul has scored self-goals by his recent utterances. However, aren’t the missteps of a politician, provided they are well-intentioned and aiming to engage with issues that will eventually make or break the country, preferable over a contrived yearning for infallibility? Isn’t it better to listen again to a politician who believes in counselling the vulnerable victims of the minority community or, for that matter, impressionable members from the majority being wooed by radical groups—as Rahul did in his speech? Isn’t it better than an approach that believes in locking them up in jail on first suspicion—as Modi demanded when he asked Rahul to reveal the names of the Muslim youth being contacted by the ISI?

I leave it to readers to discern the real import behind the article.

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Tejasvi Surya

An alumnus of IndiaFacts, Tejasvi Surya is an Advocate practicing at the High Court of Karnataka, at Bangalore. He is also the co-founder of Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence, an organization running projects in the spheres of education, employment and entrepreneurship. Tejasvi is currently the State Secretary for Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Karnataka.