Is Hindu terrorism based on religious nationalism?

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A supporter of India's main opposition Congress party shouts slogans as he waves the party flag during a public meeting in Gandhinagar

Since the birth of the Rashtriya Swayamsivak Sangh (RSS) in 1922 and their admiration of Germany’s wartime Nazi leader, Adolph Hitler and the Fascist leader in Italy, Benito Mussolini, India’s majority Hindu population has embarked on a systematic and organised campaign of political, social and economic terrorism against minorities in India.

In the last decade or two and after the attacks on the twin-towers in the United States, Hindu terrorism has gained momentum in its home country India. It seems as if the 9/11 attacks in the US was the trigger the RSS was waiting for.

Many analysts are of the opinion that Hindu Nationalism or Hindutva politics gave further impetus to the despicable and immoral activities of these terrorist groups. Their depraved and reprehensible activities made its first significant impression on India’s political landscape in 1948 with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

The attack and destruction of the Babari Mosque in 1992 heralded the beginning of the latest wave of violence against minorities.  This was an organised terror act which led to the communal riots orchestrated by Hindu terror groups. The Bajrang Dal, one of many branches of the RSS, were responsible for burning alive the Australian Missionary, Graham Staines and his two sons in Orissa in 1999.

In February 2002, another example of the disgraceful and organised crime by Hindutva cadres took place at the Godhra Railway station in the state of Gujarat. This resulted in an orgy of communal riots which brutally and mercilessly killed over 2000 Muslim men, women and children. Narendra Modi, who was Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat at the time, turned a blind eye to these acts of state-sponsored terrorism.

Hindu terrorism has been on the rise in India. Other offshoots of the RSS made their appearances on the political landscape. They include the Sanathan Sanstha, Hindu Yuva Sena and Abhinav Bharat amongst many others.

They operate across India. Their attacks are violent, pre-meditated and politically motivated. They target the minority communities, especially the Muslims, whom they wish to terrorise. These Hindu terror groups attacked the Samjhautha Express killing 68 passengers and injuring many others. In the same year the Sufi Shrine in Ajmer, was blasted, killing many devotees and visitors.

In 2007 the Makkah Musjid in Hyderabad was bombed killing 14 worshippers. In 2008 a burial site in Malegaon was attacked, killing 8 and injuring more than 80 people.

As Recently as 2012 a more virulent and radicle terror group has emerged. The Bharatiya Gau Raksha Dal (BGRD) has surfaced on the pretext of protecting cows. They have killed more than 30 Muslims whom they accuse of eating beef. They operate from the States of Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Violence based on racism, religious nationalism or merely social or class difference is terrorism. This form of violence occurs across the human spectrum. As such terrorism cannot be confined to Muslims only. It is perpetrated by supremacist groups such as the Neo-Nazis, Ku-Klux Klan and the RSS. There is a common thread of hate for Muslims and Islam running through these clusters. David Copeland, Anders Breivik, Wade Michael Page and Brenton Tarrant are believed to be loosely linked to the global neo-Nazi movement.

It is an indictment on the Indian mainstream media as well as on the government who refuse to acknowledge the atrocities of the Hindutva terrorists. They continue to turn a blind eye to the racist and caste-based hate crimes of the Rashtriya Swayamsivak Sangh. They also refuse to label these acts of violence as terrorist massacres. This attitude of the media and law-enforcement agencies erodes the civil rights of the minorities who are made to spend several years in prison without legal representation while the terror brigades can walk freely.

It is worth mentioning that after the 2002 pogrom in the State of Gujarat, Narendra Modi was not asked to account for his role in this holocaust. Since the re-election of the Modi Administration for a second term in May of this year, the wave of violence has increased. In June 2019 a 24-year-old Muslim male was forced to chant Hindu religious mantras and then beaten to death. A Muslim male teacher at a religious school was thrown off a moving train. Fortunately, he escaped with minor injuries. A Muslim taxi driver in Mumbai was also mercilessly beaten up. He escaped with his life. In all three cases the victims were forced to recite religious intonations.

The rise in Hindu militancy against the minority populations indicates that India has become a majoritarian democracy. The interests of the Majority Hindu population must always be safeguarded to ensure victory on election day. The country may be defined as a secular democracy, but it has shown repeated signs of being a Hindu state. The civil liberties of minority groups have been battered and wrinkled. Eighty percent of the population believe that to be loyal to the country, you must be a Hindu nationalist. A true democracy is inclusive and embraces all members of the population, regardless of colour, caste or creed. Surely this can only be defined as religious discrimination.

Maybe it is time for the Indian Government, nay all governments around the world, to re-think the role of secret service agencies. They are involved in state-sponsored murders, bribery and corruption, torture, election- management and gross violations of human and civil rights. 

To quote Arundhati Roy: “Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds… Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.

 

Ibrahim Vawda is an executive member of the Media Review Network based in Johannesburg, South Africa.