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Hindu Terror? We must View Terror in the Right Perspective

By: Vivek Gumaste
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The arrest of a Sadhvi and a few others belonging to a Hindu radical group in the Malegaon and Modasa bomb blasts case adds an ostensibly unexpected and sensational twist to India"s war on terror but is a corollary that was inevitable. The partisan polemics melodramatised by pre-election histrionics plus the religious parochialism replete with nuanced innuendoes that greeted this news report have only made an unenviable situation (vis-à-vis the anti-terror strategy) even murkier relegating common national interest to second place in the process. Therefore it is imperative that we analyze this incident independently and objectively for its impact devoid of the contorted logic of Hindu-Muslim balance that seeks to equate evil among one community with the inequity in the other with little regard to the import or gravity of each individual case.

On September 29 this year, bomb blasts in the Muslim majority areas of Malegaon and Modasa killed 6 people. So far three people belonging to a Hindu group Hindu Jagran Manch have been charged (a few more maybe in the offing) in this case by the Maharashtra ATS.

The media hype and the exaggerated furor in parliament that this episode engendered seems to far outweigh its practical significance and raises an uncomfortable question. Is this incident being treated at face value or is it being exploited to promote a warped socio-political agenda?

Whenever the heat is turned on a section of the Muslim community ( I specifically use the word "section" to disown the notion of collective culpability) as in the aftermath of the recent serial blasts, and whenever overall public opinion in India appears to be swerving irrevocably in favor of a strong nationalistic stance, there seems to be a concerted attempt to distract attention from the real problem or obfuscate the picture by inappropriately highlighting an issue that shows the Hindu community in bad light as well. This inexplicable malady is the greatest fallacy of our thought process. Equality implies treating all people equally. Equality doesn"t mean equating one bad with another or magnifying a misdemeanor to level it with a felony for a semblance of balance. This is what the present political scenario does.

Understandably, the past few months have been trying period for the Muslim community in India which has responded to the happenings as a community under siege lashing out irrationally at the system and security forces. Is this drama another subtle ploy to assuage a beleaguered community that has been pushed against the wall with overwhelming evidence of terrorism within its ranks cutting across fiscal barriers and thereby blowing to pieces the over wrought philosophized nexus between poverty and terror resulting in the whittling down of any last shred of public sympathy? Nobody expects Muslims to proclaim their patriotism from roof tops. But neither is a community expected to take up cudgels on behalf of its wayward elements at the cost of national interest (for example the Jamia Milia encounter case). Good sense and national responsibility must transcend tribal affinity.

This isolated response of terrorism from the majority community must lead to serious introspection, especially because it comes 15 years after the advent of terror in India. Since 1993, India has witnessed umpteen bomb blasts, serial and solitary that have targeted major cities and terror attacks that have desecrated the holiest of Hindu shrines resulting in over a thousand casualties. Was this an exasperated response to our apathy towards terror or the pusillanimity of a directionless government more concerned about safeguarding its vote bank than protecting upright citizens? More important this could be an ominous portent of a volcano of anger waiting to erupt. We need to take heed.

But does this mean that we have to condone violence when perpetrated by Hindu groups? Certainly not. Punishment needs to be meted out where warranted regardless of religious affiliations. But there is an important caveat. The punishment and criticism must match the crime and the resources allocated to tackle each case must match the magnitude.

Let us be clear about one thing. Just because a Hindu group has indulged in an act of terror it does not mitigate the atrocities committed by other groups. Nor can it be a pretext to go soft on terror unleashed by Islamic groups. One act of terror cannot justify another. This sideshow must not distract us or weaken our resolve in the war against a more sinister and dangerous campaign of terror that threatens our nation. This present event must be viewed in the right perspective and our energies and resources channeled appropriately in the right direction commiserate with the magnitude of each threat. It would be a fatal mistake if the nation focuses on this insignificant pocket of terror while overlooking the greater danger that looms over it.

Vivek Gumaste

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