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04 November 2008

Blame RSS For Terrorism

It's time the Hindu right wing owned up the black sheep in its herd and the administration stopped hounding innocent Muslims
N Jamal Ansari
Some of the recent revelations on the 30 September Malegaon incident of bombing indicate that some fanatics from the Hindu community are indulging in terrorist activities and they are sure that the blame will go on to the Muslims. It is because whenever any blast takes place anywhere, the media and security agencies name culprits within minutes, which is impossible in such circumstances. Highly communalised police investigate the incident in their own way. Innocent Muslims become their target. In the process, real culprits go scot-free.

Earlier, despite some incriminating evidence, investigating agencies and the media never tried to question violence-driven Hindu outfits. But of late, reality is coming on the surface. Voice of America was the first to report the involvement of sundry Hindu outfits in terrorist activities; the Indian press followed the lead.

The involvement of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and two others confirms the worst fears of the saner elements of society. The harsh reality is that from the very beginning, investigations in different cases of bombing were initiated with a biased premise and, hence, had to move in all wrong directions. One of the factors behind the carelessness in such a sensitive issue is the approach of the police, which of late has become communalised to a great extent.

Let us consider another development. Soon after the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, BJP President Rajnath Singh issued a press statement stating, “The BJP or RSS workers are never involved in terror activities. Also, terrorists have no religion. The term Hindu terrorism is highly objectionable and no one should attempt to link any community with terrorism.”

I agree with Rajnath Singh fully. But whenever any alleged Muslim terrorist is arrested, usually the media and spokespersons of security agencies call the activity “Islamic terrorism” or “jihAd”. Rajnath Singh never condemned that tendency. Now when it is his men and organisation under the cloud of suspicion, he is turning sober.

It is for the first time that some people once associated with a national political party have been alleged to be involved in terrorist activities. The involvement of former ABVP activists has exposed the claims of the party to be against terrorism. Though it is a fact that Hindus by and large are not involved in terrorism, the fanatics in the community have long been associated with it due to ideological and historical reasons.

There is a difference between Hinduism and the so-called “Hindutwa”. While Hinduism is rather a way of life, Hindutwa is a political ideology evolved by the likes of Savarkar to make India a Hindu Rashtra. It should not be overlooked that Savarkar had apologised to the British authorities for his involvement in India’s freedom struggle so that he could be released from jail. His intentions and mission were doubtful.

Terrorism is part of that man’s legacy. There are historical documents to prove its true nature. Archival evidence of the 1930s indicates the agenda of Hindutwa in clear terms. Hindu nationalism was originally borrowed from European Fascism. In fact, they expressed their admiration for authoritarian leaders such as Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler and for the Fascist model of society. This influence continues to the present day.

Many of those who witnessed the growth of Hindutwa organisations like the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS in the years around the Second World War were convinced of their Fascist outlook. The first Hindu nationalist who came in contact with the Fascist regime and its dictator was BS Moonje. He had been RSS founder KB Hedgewar’s mentor. Between February and March 1931, Moonje went on a tour of Europe, covering Italy in the trip. There, he visited many military schools. He met Mussolini too. He recorded the meeting in his diary spread over thirteen pages. (Source: Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, Moonje Papers)

The structure of the RSS was a result of Hedgewar’s vision and work. Moonje played a key role in moulding the RSS along Italian lines. Once Moonje was back in India, he started to work for the militant reorganisation of the Hindu society in Maharashtra immediately. Soon Fascism became a subject of public debate and Hedgewar was among the promoters of a campaign in favour of militarisation of society. On 31 January 1934, Hedgewar presided over a conference on “Fascism and Mussolini” organised by Kavde Shastri. (Source: Moonje papers, microfilm, diary m2, 1932-36, NMML)

The intimate connection between Moonje and the RSS and the Fascist character of the latter was confirmed by British sources also. An intelligence report published in 1933 entitled, “Note on the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh” ascribed to Moonje the responsibility of the reorganisation of the Sangh in 1927. The report warned: “It is perhaps no exaggeration to assert that the Sangh hopes to be in future India what the Fascists are to Italy and the Nazis to Germany.” (Source: NAI, Home poll Department, 88/33, 1933)

In the late 1930s, Savarkar arrived on the political scene. He was released from jail after he tendered an apology to the British government in 1937.At once he was declared the president of the Hindu Mahasabha. He held that office till 1942. Savarkar was also a believer in Fascism and openly supported Germany in the Second World War. In 1938, he stated in a rally of RSS activists, “In Germany the movement of the Germans is the national movement but that of the Jews is a communal one” (Source: MSA, Home Special Department, 60D(g) pt 3, 1938)

A feeling of admiration for the Jewish policy of Germany seems to have been shared by all believers of Hindu nationalism, know known better as “Hindutwa”.

The above discussion has shown: (a) The chief historical organisation and leaders of Hindu nationalism had a distinctive and sustained interest in Fascism and Nazism; (b) Fascist ideological influences on Hindutwa were present and relevant; and (c) to a certain extent, these influences were channelled through direct contacts between some fanatic Hindus and members of the Italian Fascist state.

There is not even an iota of doubt that beginning with the early 1920s and up to the Second World War, the Hindu right wing looked at the political reality of Fascist Italy and of Nazi Germany as a source of inspiration. One of the results of the contacts between Fascism and fundamentalist Hindus was the attempt to militarise the Hindu society and create a militant mentality among the Hindus. That can best be understood by watching the proceedings of any RSS शाखा/shAkhA where the activists are seen proudly brandishing trishuls (tridents).
The Fascist and violent approach of the subscribers of Hindu protectionism has wreaked havoc on the composite culture of the nation and is constantly tearing apart its secular fabric. But our ruling elite kept silence and did not learn any lesson even from the assassination of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

Now when investigations in the Malegaon bombing case are revealing names of those who are associated with right wing Hindu organisations, those who know the real face of this camp are not surprised. Saner elements of the Indian society had been warning the government, investigation agencies and the media that investigations are not being conducted in an impartial way and that the selective war against terrorism would not be fruitful. Muslims have been treated as terrorists, providing a convenient shield to the Hindutwa Brigade to launch its war against them. It is to be asserted that Muslims are not terrorists; rather, they are the terrorised.

Hindutwa activists have achieved an extraordinary success. But will they remain content with these victories? After tasting blood, can their enthusiasm for further triumphs be contained? Do not forget that Hinduism has been resurrected for political ends and goals. This fact will naturally lead to more conflicts, given the multi-religious character of India.

Terrorism should be crushed with an iron hand. But a selective war against it will not yield any result. What is required is a clear perception of what constitutes terrorism and how it can be challenged so that all communities in the country are able to live and work together for building the nation. It will take a lot of political will and honesty.

The writer is an Aligarh-based newspaper columnist. The views expressed in this article are his own

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Surajit Dasgupta treats no individual, organisation or institution as a holy cow.