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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Op-ed: Modi’s Hindutva ideology has failed India’s secularism

The richest heritage of India is its diversity and multi-religious people and the RSS is not happy with it, writes Mustafa Khan.

The sudden and complete failure of the Indian polity is at hand thanks to the relentless pursuit of Hindutva ideology. If criminal procedure act of murder 320 is the war cry over the death of a film actor of some fame, the unseemly covering up of the gang rape and murder of the 19 year old Dalit girl is the tip of the iceberg of enormous difficulties the country is facing: there are more reasons for meltdown. It has led to the point of no return. Dalits and Muslims have no future in Modi’s India. The ominous prediction of a sudden bus causing him accidental death has come to haunt some. It reminds of the poetic justice in Graham Greene’s The Case for the Defense.

It is now a well established fact that terror committed by the Hindutva ideology is mire that is coming home to roost. Asghar Mansoori’s death in Nashik central jail is a hobby horse of the police as well as the hordes of the right wing. It has gone to such an extent that the widow of ATS chief Hemant Karkare, Professor Kavita Karkare was forced to pen:

Don’t make the mistake of becoming a martyr in this country
Such will be the sophistries after your death,
The prime investigative committees will blame you after your death
No country subjects their martyrs to an alcoholic test as ours did.

Read more: Babri Mosque case: Indian courts are no longer immune to Hindutva frenzy

The price that her husband had paid was what Gustav Flaubert had called “ ‘L’homme c’est rien—l’oeuvre c’est tout; Man is nothing, the work is everything.”  The Bihar government has given ticket to retired army Major Ramesh Upadhay.  This is the meltdown effect that is a nightmare because, even the fig leaf of democracy and law and order is at risk. There were no detectives was Karkare, he was fit like Sherlock Holmes whose “lust of the chase would suddenly come upon him, and that his brilliant reasoning power would rise to the level of intuition, until those who were unacquainted with his methods would look askance at him as on a man whose knowledge was not that of other mortals.” Our detectives are captive to the Hindutva ideology and obtuse enough not to even know what intuition is and so are the courts.

The richest heritage of India is its diversity and multi religious people and the RSS is no whit happy with it

The hypocrisy is a mechanism to whitewash what PM Imran Khan has taken upon him as a mission to tell the truth about RSS to the world. A part of the rebuttal comes from Asaduddin Owaisi: “..to make Muslims second class citizens I don’t want to hear you say that we’ve to be grateful to majority for living in our own homeland. We’re not seeking majority’s good will, we’re not in a competition with world’s Muslims to be the happiest. We just want our fundamental rights (sic),” Imran Khan’s mission in educating the world about how RSS is behind all acts of discrimination and hence, cruelty being meted out to the minority Muslims in India.

It is also untrue what the weekly columnist in Indian Express claims, that Indian democracy has become illiberal because the congress party has not taken it up as an issue. The heart of the matter is that RSS does not want democracy in the country or else how would they make India a Hindu rashtra? Neither is Indian democracy complacent enough to claim that either the people or Bollywood is comfortable with the claim that they are “content about the valor, values and culture of India” as Karan Johar has put it.

Read more: Plundering Hindustan in the name of Hindutva: Emperor, where are your clothes?

The richest heritage of India is its diversity and multi religious people and the RSS is no whit happy with it. This is made clear and underlined by the letter Sangh sent immediately after the bomb attack in Malegaon in September 2006 and repeated the attack in September 2008.

“Do you remember or not the bomb blasts? Or have you forgotten! If you have forgotten then be prepared for further bomb blasts. The power of the Sangh (RSS) is all over the state and the country. Remember this is a Hindu Rashtra and we will make it one. Muslims, leave India. Jamaitul ulema-e-Hind, don’t try to be smart. We are enclosing here with our deeds”

India has not squeaked at all and squeaking wheels get the grease and India’s got to be squeaking loud. It’s got to be doing things, some risky, some dangerous, some positive

The mastermind behind this was none other than a serving lieutenant colonel of the Indian Army, by his own confession, Lieu Col Prasad Srikant Purohit. The letter makes no bone of contention the gravamen of the extreme right wing ideology. It includes a warning to the body of the Muslim minority, Jamiatul ulema-e-Hind which is also fighting with whatever little money it can spare against the bogus and premeditated arrested of Muslims in terror attack.

Another dimension of it is that the chief minister of UP Yogi Adityanath used his executive power to cover up the gang rape and murder of the 19 year Dalit girl. By hook or by crook, the Yogi government wants to create an impression that the Dalits are content with their lot by releasing staggered information that would attenuate the ghastly rape and death.  The fact of the matter is, the country is in a state of meltdown.  “Her family told the court that the cremation was done by the Hathras district administration against their wishes,” said senior advocate Jaideep Narain Mathur, who was appointed amicus curiae in the case. Why is there so much of shunning and distancing of the district official? It may be because he recorded the CM’s order on the phone.

Read more: Has Narendra Modi’s Hindutva ideology destroyed India’s secular image across the globe?

“If Mr. Modi were to explain his role in the violence and show genuine remorse, we would consider backing him, but he never has; it would be wrong for a man who has thrived on division to become prime minister of a country as fissile as India. We do not find the prospect of a government led by Congress under Mr. Gandhi an inspiring one. But, we have to recommend it to Indians as the less disturbing option.” “And if they still choose Mr. Modi? We would wish him well, and we would be delighted for him to prove us wrong by governing India in a modern, honest and fair way. But for now he should be judged on his record—which is that of a man who is still associated with sectarian hatred. There is nothing modern, honest or fair about that. India deserves better.”

Rise of Modi & the demise of secularism 

Since then, Modi has risen higher and higher in power and as PM, he unfurled the tricolor and in his impromptu speech, he forgot what the papers said. But he spoke of how he was awakened to the warfare that was the standard practice between departments of government in the Delhi durbar of new Modi Sarkar. Now his legacy from Gujarat has churned up such warfare between Intelligence Bureau and Central Bureau of Investigation. On Thursday August 21, 2014 IB appealed to the Supreme Court to intervene in CBI filing a charge sheet against 4 IB officers Rajendra Kumar, P Mittal, M K Sinha and Rajeev Wankhede) who were behind fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan and three others. This, if we have to believe GL Singhal who participated in shooting the four, was ordered by chief minister Modi.

Stephen Cohen speaking at the Brookings Institution said of India: “India has not squeaked at all and squeaking wheels get the grease and India’s got to be squeaking loud. It’s got to be doing things, some risky, some dangerous, some positive.” Narendra Modi’s foreign policy will of course be of concern. The visa ban on Modi was the result of the genocide of Muslims in 2002 from which despite the clean chits issued to Modi the legal battle is still going on.

Read more: Hindutva mindset, stubbornness kindle chaos & conflict: FM Qureshi

Among the three things risky and dangerous have been there before the 2014 polls started, throughout the polls, and even post poll, the pogroms in Assam are the most portentous ones after Muzaffarnagar’s share of the preplanned events. All on account of the phenomenon Narendra Modi has created. It is bound to have tectonic changes if Modi is to assume office as prime minister of India. India has been squeaking without the foreigners taking serious note of it except, the US Commission on Religious Freedom. It did recommended visa ban. Cohen says that once Modi is in office, India may squeak “with a vengeance with the advent of a Modi foreign policy.” This is undeniable because Muslims were massacred in 2002, Muzaffanagar in 2013, Assam in 2012 and, the same repeated in May 2014.

The last was on account of the poll which has churned out the Modi phenomenon as a presidential type of electioneering tsunami. It sucked up the highest amount of money so far spent on election by a single party. The human rights violations by the police and the militia in Gujarat and Assam and also the upsurge of the Hindutva militia be it in Muzaffarnagar or Gujarat 2002, have marred the image of India as a multiracial society. Its repercussion is there to see: the US ambassador Nancy Powell resigned for opposing visa to Modi. Cohen has had this in mind among other things when he observed: “Modi has close relations with China, Japan, and South Korea, and bad relations with the US.” It is not Modi who has bad relations. Cohen is being ironic. It the human rights violation and concern over religious freedom that is at the heart of the matter.

The cases that pile up crying for justice point an accusing finger not just at Modi but also the police and courts: how could a two page letter as suicide note in a plastic bag reached into Asghar Mansoorie’s stomach when his niece found him so optimistic and jovial? He had completed 14 years of imprisonment and was given a responsible duty of warden and then suddenly, he was sent to the solitary cell.

The case of Mohammad Qateel Siddiqui 

Mohammad Qateel Siddiquy was in prison for seven months and refused to own up a crime he had not committed. On the day of the German Bakery attack on 13 February 2012, there was another attempt to blow up the famed Dagdu Seth Halwai temple in Pune. This claim by the police needs to be scrutinized, as a similar claim in Malegaon on 13 September 2006 turned out to be fake and the police reportedly drove away the planter of the would be bomb as weak minded and framed innocent Muslims from the nine accused, instead.

Qateel was accused by the police to be involved in the attempt. There is no proof that he was there. But the police says he wanted to plant the bomb there but a florist did not let him do so. Did the florist recognize him in an identity parade?  Eleven others were also accused along with him. The failed attempt of the police and especially ATS chief Rakesh Maria to implicate him in Dagdu Seth Halwai temple is reminiscent of the failed attempt of the same agency in the case of Khwaja Yunus in the Ghatkoper bus attack of December 2, 2002.

Read more: Has Narendra Modi’s Hindutva ideology destroyed India’s secular image across the globe?

In the case of Yunus, ATS officer Sachin Vaze and others had hit his chest with their feet and knees so hard that another accused Dr. Mateen Ansari realized that he would not survive. Yunus vomited blood and could not survive. Dr. Mateen provided this fact in writing. Till then, false news that Vaze had given was the sensational news that the police jeep carrying Yunus had over turned and the accused made use of this to escape law.

Till today when even Yaseen Bhatkal is safely in the hands of the Indian police, there is no trace of Yunus’ dead body.

Another accused acquitted in many charges of terror was killed in Tihar jail, when a couple of other false charges were still pending. He was Shakeel Ahmad of Delhi. He was in jail for fourteen years and during that period his toddler daughters grew up and now live in sorrow. Till this day the Indian police have not come clean on Shakeel or Qateel. Both had told their wives how the police had snuffed out any hope of their survival. They had stubbornly refused to sign the fake confession.

Another accused Muzammil Akhtar of Malegkaon is still alive because he signed the bogus confession when the ATS brought him in the presence of his father and threatened that even his mother and sister too would be unrobed and insulted like his father. The moot question is that Muzammil has spent not just seven months like Qateel, he has spent ten years and he is still not out even on bail: Why? He was accused of the Mulund local train attack that killed 14 on 13th March 2003 in Mumbai. It is really strange that all other accused have been let off, discharged. Even Dr. Mateen was given bail and discharged subsequently in the same case. Why has the wheel of justice stuck in the morass of miscarriage of justice for so long?

Read more: Tracing the roots of Hindutva & Modi’s BJP party

There are even more serious and disturbing questions which reflect on the nature of how the judiciary and jail system work in India against Muslims. Qateel was already doomed by the police or else why would he have been put in the top security Yerwada jail instead regular jails.  He had not been proved to be such a dreadful criminal as the dacoit Alok Bhalerao or a proved killer of two and extortionist, Sharad Mohol (who killed him) to require a top security jail. Qateel was to appear later on that Friday 8th June 2012 in the Pune court. The ATS had not found any culpable evidence against him in the Pune case and would have let the Delhi police take his custody. It is likely that he knew who had blown bombs in Pune German Bakery and it was a fatal cover up by the police. He was bumped off in the same way as Shahid Azmi was. Who would fear the truth revealed to the Delhi police?

If Qateel had taunted the dacoits and extortionists Alok Bhalerao and Sharad Mohol, it would mean that he knew the real terrorists and would go on to tell it to the Delhi police. Given the location of five lock ups of three cells each in such a high security set up it was impossible to kill him there. So the only way would be when the prisoners are brought into the open at 9.45 to 11.45 in the morning. It is but natural that at such a time there should have been even more tight security. Yet, one of the two dacoits held Qateel’s legs and the other strangulated him. Even then the guards or the police did not come to know of the murder. It was only when one of the killers told another prisoner who in turn told the guards that the news reached the ears of the authorities.  Even if close circuit cameras were there, the police would have conveniently lied as in so many other cases that the camera system was not working. So what we have here is extra judicial killing.

The police claim that Yaseen Bhatkal had given one lac rupees for the treatment of Qateel’s daughter who later died. Now that the police in Delhi are interrogating Yaseen, they should find out if he had really given one lac to Qateel in addition to the one lakh he had sent to his wife on the occasion of Eid. When the police has 40 charges against Yaseen even before his arrest, why don’t they have anything on his connection with Qateel and a host of other Muslim youths accused of being his associates?

Read more: Hindutva led India on a way to destruction under Modi

How improbable it is that the police claim that Qateel had tried to plant the bomb at the temple but a florist refused to let him and so he took it all the way to the sea in Mumbai to dispose it off there? If Qateel was not involved in the Pune German Bakery case, how could he have known where Yasin Bhatkal was hiding in Bihar. And after Yasin Bhatkal was arrested from the border region in Bihar on Wednesday 28th August 2013, why would the Bihar government refuse to register the crime and take custody of Yasin Bhatkal on 29th August?

In this melee, what hope is there for truth to see the light of the day? The only way for the truth to come out would be impartial inquiry by international bodies of repute. This is a way out as even David Coleman Headley and Swami Asimanand have been either prevaricating or retracting whatever they have said. The Ministry of Home Affairs has also been hiding crucial information and facts like in the case of Intelligence Bureau special director Rajendra Kumar’s involvement in Ishrat Jahan case as well as many other cases. It is not only the Bihar government which is casting aspersion on Yasin Bhatkal’s arrest by its refusal to do anything with him.

Qateel taunted Sharad Mohol and Alok Bhalerao which led to his killing but there was no one who saw the murder. So the question is still open as to who killed him. If the duo killed him, who was behind them? The duo and Qateel were playing together, chatting and hobnobbing with each other well. Then how and what could go so wrong that could lead to murder? It could not have been the taunt then that led to the murder. It could only be the fear that if the Delhi police which had arrested him a year before could come to know the stark truth, which the ATS did not want to share with it.

Read more: To be Secular or not: Stop India’s Hindutva Juggernaut

It is also unexplained till today why did the ATS not hand over Qateel to Delhi police on 29th May 2013 when his police custody ended? He had been in the custody of the police in Pune Yerwada jail from 1st May. There was enough time to have interrogated him in four weeks. Why did not the two so called ‘extremist nationalists’ kill him on 29th May itself?

The ATS prepared 81 pages of charge sheet in September 2012 in which it says that Qateel had threatened a “second attempt” to blow the same temple. How could the police verify this and the court to judge? If nobody was present there in the notorious anda cell prison how could the ATS accept this when they had not accepted Qateel’s own insistence that he was not involved in crimes? In what way two criminals and dacoits are more reliable in jail than an innocent person?  If the alleged threat to make second attempt was a boast why in heavens should it be taken as de facto intention of crime? There was little chance of Qateel ever coming out to commit a crime others have ascribed to him? Would he with no record of previous crimes threaten a second attempt? He would have been a fool to even think of a second attempt after having gone through the hell that is Indian jail for seven long months.

Inexplicable is also the fact that Delhi police had arrested him on 22nd November 2011 and had him for more than five months to know all they wanted. Why did they not finish their job? Why did they not ascertain from him before handing him to another agency of another state? Why is the Hindu party BJP silent over this whole affair? Is the onus only on the Muslims all the time to struggle to prove their youths’ innocence?

Read more: Hindutva extremist ideology made it a pariah in world’s opinion

Mustafa Khan holds a Ph.D. on Mark Twain. He lives in Malegaon Maharashtra, India. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.