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Blatant double standards

By Jyoti Punwani (Oct 22, 2007, Times of India)


With Islamic groups "not being ruled out’’ as culprits in the Ludhiana bomb blast, and Bangladeshis being interrogated for the Ajmer blast, it is clear that in India’s fight against terrorism, one group of terrorists is being completely excluded. This is despite the Nanded blast in April 2006, in which two persons died while making bombs in the house of an RSS member, and the recovery of fake beards from the house. This is despite the revelations during narco-analysis of the accused that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was training Hindu youth to commit terrorist acts outside mosques. Neither the RSS nor any of its militant wings are ever suspected by the police of being behind any of the bomb blasts that have targeted Muslims with regularity since the 2003 Parbhani blast.

This newspaper highlighted the sensational letter written from Tihar jail by an ex-Intelligence Bureau (IB) informer detailing how IB, working with the Delhi Police’s Special Cell, plants its own ‘‘jehadi maulvis’’ to lure Muslim youth to commit terrorist acts. The Central Bureau of Investigation, directed by the Delhi high court, has corroborated the most important accusations made by the informer. Every politically conscious Muslim, thanks to the Urdu press and the internet, now knows this story. These two factors taken together are enough to destroy the credibility of the intelligence set-up and the police. Yet, the latter continue to act true to type after every blast, as though nothing’s changed. The same automatic blaming and arrest of the usual suspects; the same revelation that the IB/home department had warned about such a blast. It is ironic that the very congregations of Muslims that have always been treated with suspicion by the police have become the targets of terrorist killings since 2003.

The depositions of senior policemen before the Srikrishna commission were marked by a Friday-namaz-phobia; they made it a point to stress that ‘‘bandobast was tightened for the Friday prayers and no untoward incident took place’’. The implication was clear: with Muslims gathering in such large numbers to listen to sermons in mosques, there was every chance of them going berserk thereafter. Yet, there is little evidence of the high-profile Anti-Terrorist Squads (ATS), set up in Maharashtra and elsewhere, having conducted raids on RSS outfits. In fact, the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act has not even been applied to the Nanded RSS accused, while it has to those accused for the July 11, 2006 train blasts, the Malegaon blasts and the alleged Naxalites. Nanded’s Muslims had to move the court before the state even called in the ATS to investigate the case.

You don’t need to be the IB to fear a blast during Diwali. Imagine the backlash if that happens. Yet, a blast on the eve of Ramzan Eid at India’s best-known Muslim shrine created no such reaction. The Ajmer dargah was teeming with devotees who had fasted the entire month and planned to spend their most important religious festival at their favourite shrine. Even the return of the bodies to their homes in Mumbai’s slums passed off peacefully. Compare this extreme restraint with the threats given by the Modis, Thackerays, Togadias and Singhals in similar circumstances. After every bomb blast targeting Hindus, these self-styled Hindu leaders ask why Muslims have not condemned it. Their logic is clear: Because some Muslims have targeted Hindus, the entire community has to distance itself from them or else share their guilt. But not once in the recent blasts targeting Muslims has such a demand been made by Muslims of Hindus; neither have Hindu organisations condemned such acts.

The state’s agencies have different yardsticks when dealing with terrorist acts targeting Hindus and Muslims. What’s more disturbing is the difference between the conduct of the victim communities in the aftermath of such acts. Isn’t this difference an indication of the power equation between the majority and largest minority in our secular democracy?



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