Vilified Community and convenient scapegoats

 

The timing of the twin blasts at Dilsukhnagar in Hyderabad, killing 16 people and injuring over 100, couldn’t have been odder. Coming a day after union home minister offered his planned unconditional regret to the BJP for his last month’s ‘Hindu terror’ remarks on the first day of the parliamentary session, sadly the incident has evoked less remorse and grief over the innocent deaths but more politicking and senseless blame game – revolving around security lapses and speculations about perpetrators. As usual, without any evidence, the media has fallen into the trap, blaming everybody from Indian Mujahideen to United Jehadi Council, quoting mostly the anonymous ‘highly placed sources’. Sangh Parivar, exonerated by union home minister of terror activities only a day earlier, is going overboard with its usual business of maligning Muslims and jumping the gun that the blast is a bid to avenge the hangings of Kasab and Guru, as if the two were twin entities. The Congress led UPA government has found this an opportune time to push through its agenda of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). The electronic channels have found an easy way to keep their TRPs going by competing with each other in discovering and inventing the Indian Mujahideen story.

The first time we heard about the Indian Mujahideen was after the serial blasts in Jaipur, 2008, killing over 60 people and ever since its very existence continues to be mired in mystery and challenged even as the official position is that it is the Indian face of Lashkar-e-Toiba and is the revived form of the banned SIMI. Civil rights activists in India believe that the so-called Indian Mujahideen is a counterfeit organisation set up by vested interests with the intent to tarnish the Indian Muslim community. The belief has gained strength in the last three years, ever since several blasts like Malegaon, Mecca Masjid, Ajmer and Samjahauta Express, in which Muslims were initially arrested and some Islamic groups earlier blamed, turned out to be the doing of Hindutva terror outfits. Though the investigation in the Jaipur blast, in which random arrests of some Muslims were made without substantial evidence has come to a standstill, some reports have pointed out a link between the Ajmer and Jaipur blasts and RSS activists including its top leader Indresh Kumar have been found to have played key role in the Ajmer blast.
Union home minister Shinde’s statement at Congress’ Chintan Shivar at Jaipur about training camps of the Sangh Parivar were based on facts and given the political and religious identity of those involved in the Samjhauta, Malegaon and Mecca Masjid blasts, it was not erroneous to dub it as ‘Hindu terror’. Though, it would be imperative to invent a new vocabulary to desist from tainting terrorism with a colour other than ‘barbaric’ and ‘heinous’ and not allude such barbarity to any religion to terror, this concern cannot be one sided since the use of terms like ‘jehadi terror’ and ‘Islamist terror’ continue to be used liberally by investigators and politicians. This only strengthens an inherent institutional prejudice against the minorities.

The prejudice has been manifest in the manner in which ‘jehadi’ terror becomes the predominant discourse, while later revelations about Hindutva involvement are far more dwarfed and subdued. It is also manifest in the manner in which every blast will be followed by curbs on Muslims and raids in Muslim majority areas. It is manifest in the manner in which Owaisi would be arrested for hate speech but a Thackeray and Togadia would not, even as cases against the latter continue to be registered. It does not serve much purpose when chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah sheepishly defends his action of deporting Togadia through a tweet. The man who was allowed to visit Rajouri last summer in full official security cover to carry on with his hate speech should not have been sent back, he should have been arrested for the FIR that already stands registered against him. Farooq Abdullah’s similar subtle bashing of the BJP for their speculations over the Hyderabad blast also can hardly undo the damage that the typical minority bashing of the Sangh Parivar perpetuates. The collective official bias against the minorities is still betrayed, even by such passive and downcast opposition.

While terror may have no religion, it is the Muslim community that suffers whenever a terrorist attack takes place. The people from this community who have been made scapegoats and arrested for attacks that turned out to be perpetrated by Hindutva organizations still continue to languish in jails or live with the label of being branded ‘terrorist’ forever. In this light Shinde’s remarks last month were welcome. By apologising for them, he has only endorsed the communal and fascist ideology of the Sangh Parivar and provided them the play-field to once again hype the ante against Muslims post Hyderabad twin blasts.
It is sad that when human lives are snuffed out by barbaric people who perpetrate such blasts, and many injured are either maimed for rest of their lives or battle for months between life and death, such grief does not invoke a national mourning. Rather, it becomes an occasion for politicking and furthering everyone’s petty interests. The cost is often paid by a wrongly vilified community and some convenient scapegoats, and of course, there is the collateral damage to the secular fabric of country. As a nation, we seem to have stooped to an all time low.