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Monday, October 27, 2008

Saffron Terror

Posted by: danish Ahmed 1:54 AM

The genie is out of the bottle and there is no way it is going back in. The Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad has revealed what everyone has known all along, that some of the blasts in recent times are the handiworks of saffron outfits. Terrorism has always been a touchy issue, its perception varies from people to people. One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist. But then that is true mostly in the context of secessionist movements and insurgencies, anarchist and psychopaths from within the society attacking civilians cannot be percieved of in any way as anything lesser than fiends. So does that imply that far-right groups like the Bajrang Dal and Hindu Jagran Manch should be declared terrorist groups and banned?

I am not really sure what the reaction of the Sangh Parivar is. Most likely it is going to disassociate itself from the perpetrators or just deny the whole thing by accusing of political controversy. Interestingly, few years back, when there were clear signals of Jihadi terrorism gaining inroads into a section of the Indian Muslim population, Muslim leaders displayed similar attitude of self-denial until it was too late to control the damage.Coming back to saffron outfits some people are likely to see them as anti-terror forces, that is more or less how ex Maharashtra CM Manohar Joshi defended the perpetrators, calling it a reaction to terror attacks. This is the sort of reaction that stems from a greatly misplaced sense of loyalty and nationalism. If these terror charges are not dropped before they get permanently etched in public memory we may see a barrage of apologetics swamping the media. It should be remembered that Narendra Modi had justified the massacre of Muslims by calling it a reaction to Godhra train carnage. The ongoing attack on Christians in Orissa has also been justified on similar grounds.

A planned attack on innocent citizens of any hue should be seen as an attack on the nation as whole. If Kashmiri militants, Naxalites and other terror groups can be said to be following sub-nationalist agenda, saffron outfits like VHP and Bajrang Dal cannot be termed as nationalists as the BJP would have us believe. Hindu nationalism is as much a sub-nationalist cause as was the Khalistan movement or the Kashmiri secessionism. Add violence to it, and it becomes a highly explosive cocktail. The fact that the activists belong to the majority community is alarming and dangerous. There is always a great probability of the law enforcement agencies turning partisan as was seen in Gujarat and more recently in Orissa. Besides, strict anti-terror laws are often exploited to incarcerate ordinary Muslims while anti-nationals like Raj Thackeray are released on bail that very day.The Sangh Parivar refuses to accept the fact that outfits like VHP and Bajrang Dal can be termed anti-nationals. It better explain what term should be given to a group that kills,rapes and destroys Churches and homes of fellow citizens following a different religion. And it doesn't end there, the displaced people living in refugee camps are further terrorized by bombings in the vicinity and even by poisoning drinking water.

However, it is not the BJP alone, the Congress has all along been running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. Even now, it was unwilling to come out with the truth when saffronites had been found involved in bomb blasts in Nanded and Kanpur. With election round the corner and a climate of gloom because of the economic disaster, the Congress was, in a manner, forced to come out with the truth to consolidate its voter base. It is unlikely that the government would ban these saffron outfits but the civil society should grab the oppurtunity to send the Sangh Parivar a message that it should take corrective measures instead of living in denial.

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