Monday, September 22, 2008

Ban Bajrang Dal and stop this nonsensical debate. SIMI is different. Period.

The Delhi bombings followed by the arrests of young Muslim men from Jamia Nagar area has sparked a debate that involves a lot of uncomfortable issues. This discomfort in discussing challenges at hand has often sabotaged the possibility of a solution in the past and in turn given us the sobriquet Soft State.

There is a dangerous divide between our intellectuals and thought-leaders over how we move from here. Because move we must lest the country should bleed to death and disintegration. During various debates on TV this past week, I saw a lot of people fighting for words when it came to what to do with “the misguided Muslim youths” and “the gangs of Sangh Parivar goons”. And whenever a speaker demanded a tough, new anti-terror law to face the proxy war, his opponents sought that the same law should be applicable to the marauders in saffron rampaging through churches in Orissa and Karnataka. That a ban similar to that imposed on Students Islamic Movement of India be slapped on Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal.

But what is more dangerous is equating these two ugly faces staring at us. Yes, I will stick my neck out and say Bajrang Dal and Indian Mujahideen cannot be equated and should not be dealt with under the same law. But before Mahesh Bhatt cries “Hindu fundamentalist” and dumps me in the corner of his mind occupied by VHP and Bajrang Dal, I would say hear me out. Bhatt has very valid question: Why don’t we treat mob terror as terrorism. The problem is his argument, and that of so many others, only obfuscates the issue and delays a solution.

Bajrang Dal and VHP, the sordid side of the saffron brigade, want a Hindu Rashtra and frequently foment trouble by demolishing mosques, desecrating churches and killing minority citizens. Most of the killings during the post-Godhra riots were executed by these elements or people sympathetic to their ideology. They are largely responsible for what is happening in Karnataka today. And though the Kandhamal tragedy has a lot of angles, the VHP and Bajrang Dal are guilty of spreading trouble in the region.

There is no agreed definition of terrorism. Etymologically, a terrorist act is aimed at frightening people. Many countries now have separated criminal acts from terrorist acts. SIMI or Indian Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and the like may claim to be patrons of a community but they are essentially terrorist organisations. Apart from owing allegiance to foreign forces or jehadi ideology, they are also different from the VHP-Bajrangis in their approach to violence. They target unsuspecting, innocent people irrespective of their community or creed. If al-Qaeda was a pro-Muslim organisation, people would not be dying in Pakistan almost every day. The law and the common citizen have to differentiate between acts of communal violence and acts of terrorism. Terrorists do not target a community. Terrorists do not care who gets killed. The idea behind a terrorist attack to spread terror/fear/panic by killing randomly at random places. Many Muslims have died in the attacks by the jehadi terrorists. It’s always to shock and awe the common citizen of a country.
VHP and Bajrangi violence is communal violence, aimed at a certain community. It may be worse than terrorism but is not equal to. Hang those who use mob violence to terrorist a community. Make the punishment for communal violence harsher than that handed out to terrorists. Communal violence is not any less dangerous to our nation than terrorism. But they are not the same.

I would like to reiterate here that I do not think we need new laws to tackle either of these elements. All we need is the will to stop this nonsense by bipartisan enforcement of the existing laws. Stop demanding the same treatment not because we need to be soft on communal violence but because in this debate, we may end up not being tough on either.


Chaila Bihari said...

I wonder whether there can be anyhting called 'stricter laws'... How can laws be strict or lax. That has to be about their enforcement. Laws can only be fair and not fair

Anonymous said...

So true. But it can happen only if our so called intellectuals understand the gravity of the situation minus their personal biases. And perhaps the Mahesh Bhatts of this country also need a few lessons in Indian history. There's a world of a difference between being a follower and a proselyte.What Buddha gave to the world was a good thought. That the world believed in it and followed it was totally voluntary. He didn't go about proselytising, like Mr Bhatt would have us believe.