Communalism, Hate Speech and History

April 28, 2022

Communalism, Hate Speech and History

I am copying three articles below, written in this mopnth by three different authros in The Indian Express. Copying them in the order of their publication.
The first one is by S.Y. Quraisi regarding hate speech.
Second a rejoinder to Quraishi by BalbirPunj.
The third one is regarding cherry picking in history, a rejoinder to Punj by Narayani Gupta.
These three articles actually cover a lot of ground of the current communal-political discourse. Three views, the so-called liberal, Muslim perspective and the so-called Rightist Hindu view are presented, though not in detail.
Let us discuss these articles on the coming Saturday, 30th April 2022, at 8:00 pm
Link: Rohit Dhankar is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Open Dialogue
Time: Apr 30, 2022 08:00 PM Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi
Join Zoom Meeting


Hate speech is violent in itself and must be called out
SY Quraishi writes: It is at the root of many forms of violence that are being perpetrated and has become one of the biggest challenges to the rule of law and to our democratic conscience.
Calling Our Hate
Written by S Y Quraishi |Updated: April 15, 2022 9:05:50 am
What is to be done when the Indian republic, committed to working within the framework of constitutional democracy and the rule of law, starts to accommodate elements that are stridently anti-constitutional and anti-secular? What once belonged to the fringes of Indian society now has increasingly become mainstream, their disruptive actions being registered in the public sphere more frequently and viciously. Hate speech is at the root of many forms of violence that are being perpetrated and has become one of the biggest challenges to the rule of law and to our democratic conscience.
One of the most visible consequences of hate speech is increased electoral mobilisation along communal lines which is also paying some electoral dividends.
Hate speech must be unambiguously condemned and the law must take its course, although not merely because it can lead to events of violence in the future. Hate speech, in itself, must be understood and treated as a violent act and urgently so, for it has become an indispensable resource for the ruling powers. No wonder, during the elections, it becomes louder.
Several instances of hate speech and religious polarisation have been reported in Yogi Adityanath’s poll campaign in the recently concluded UP elections, for instance. In 2019, the Supreme Court reprimanded the Election Commission, calling it “toothless” for not taking action against candidates engaging in hate speech during the election campaigns in UP. The Commission responded by saying that it had limited powers to take action in this matter. So far, the Supreme Court does not appear to have acted decisively in response to allegations of hate speech in electoral campaigns, indicating that the EC must assume more responsibility and the EC has argued that in matters of hate speech, it is largely “powerless”. In any case, the EC’s role is confined to the election period. So who is responsible for the non-election times?

Is the state powerless? Not at all. There are a whole bunch of laws meant to curb hate speech. The Indian Penal Code, as per Sections 153A, 295A and 298, criminalises the promotion of enmity between different groups of people on grounds of religion and language, alongside acts that are prejudicial to maintaining communal harmony. Section 125 of the Representation of People Act deems that any person, in connection with the election, promoting feelings of enmity and hatred on grounds of religion and caste is punishable with imprisonment up to three years and fine or both. Section 505 criminalises multiple kinds of speech, including statements made with the intention of inducing, or which are likely to induce, fear or alarm to the public, instigating them towards public disorder; statements made with the intention of inciting, or which are likely to incite, class or community violence; and discriminatory statements that have the effect or the intention of promoting inter-community hatred. It covers incitement of violence against the state or another community, as well as promotion of class hatred.
While examining the scope of hate speech laws in India, the Law Commission in its 267th report published in March 2017, recommended introduction of new provisions within the penal code that specifically punish incitement to violence in addition to the existing ones. In my view, any recommendation for more laws is a red herring and provides an excuse for inaction. It’s the lack of political will, blatant inefficiency and bias of the administration and shocking apathy of the judiciary that is killing the secular spirit of the Constitution.
Another watchdog should have been the media. In recent years, hate speech in all its varieties has acquired a systemic presence in the media and the internet, from electoral campaigns to everyday life. Abusive speech directed against minority communities, particularly Muslims, and disinformation campaigns on media networks have made trolling and fake news significant aspects of public discourse. By desensitising the citizenry with a constant barrage of anti-minority sentiments, the ethical and moral bonds of our democracy are taking a hit.
This epidemic of “mediatised” hate speech is, in fact, a global phenomenon. According to the Washington Post, 2018 can be considered as “the year of online hate”. Facebook, in its Transparency Report, disclosed that it ended up taking down 3 million hateful posts from its platform while YouTube removed 25,000 posts in one month alone.
On April 2, amidst unconcerned police officials and cheering crowds, Mahant Bajrang Muni Udasin, the chief priest of the Badi Sangat Ashram in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur district, publicly threatened sexual violence against Muslim women and against Muslims in general — “you and your pigsty will cease to exist”. Although this particular video went viral recently, and he has now been arrested by the Sitapur police, Udasin has had a long history of spewing hate and stoking communal polarisation with apparent impunity. In the past, Udasin celebrated Dara Singh, a Bajrang Dal member who is currently serving a life sentence for leading a mob on January 23, 1999 in Orissa and setting fire to the wagon in which the Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons were burnt to death. Likening Dara Singh to a godman, Udasin appealed to Hindu monks to declare him a Shankaracharya. With this, Udasin joins the ranks of a multitude of “holy” men and women, most prominent among them being Yati Narsinghanand, Pooja Shakun Pandey and Jitendra Tyagi, who have been at the forefront of the politics of fear and hatred.
With elected members currently sitting in the legislative assemblies and Parliament giving political sanction to these self-styled mahants, and ordinary citizens mobilised into mob violence and complicit public officials, hate speech is becoming the dominant mode of public political participation. Two people died in the Ram Navami violence recently while many were arrested across states. Shocking images also surfaced from JNU of students injured during a face-off between two groups on Ram Navami on campus.

This should prick the conscience of the nation. Enough damage has been done. We cannot wait another day to address this growing challenge.


Face the facts on communal violence in India
Balbir Punj writes: Understanding climate of hate requires honest examination of its origins, perpetrators
Ignorance isn’t bliss
Written by Balbir Punj |Updated: April 21, 2022 10:46:08 am

Hate and bigotry feed on each other. They germinate and flourish on a toxic diet of divisive and schismatic ideologies and polarising creeds that discriminate against human beings on the basis of colour, region, gender, faith — and divide them between believers and non-believers — ranging the chosen ones against the idolatrous.
‘Calling out hate’ by S Y Quraishi (IE, April 15) has little to do with the anatomy of hate or its ongoing malignancy. It is more of an ad hominem attack on the ruling dispensation. A complex phenomenon has been over-simplified to suit a convenient political narrative. The arguments are drearily familiar, facts dodgy and conclusions delusional.
For aeons, India has had syncretic traditions inspired by the Vedic aphorism, “Ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti” (there is only one truth and learned persons call it by many names). Because of this underpinning, Indian society has never insisted on uniformity in any facet of life. Indian philosophy is a smorgasbord of varied ideas and traditions — incongruous at times, but always a part of a harmonious milieu.
This equanimity of Indian society was, however, disrupted by invading creeds claiming only their God, and His messenger were true, and the rest were false and worthy of destruction, along with their followers and places of worship.

The first such incursion came in 712, when Muhammad bin Qasim vanquished Sindh, and as Chach Nama, a contemporary Arab chronicle states, introduced the practice of treating local Hindus as zimmis, forcing them to pay jizya (a poll tax), as a penalty to live by their beliefs. “Hate” and “bigotry” thus made their debut in India, which was hitherto free from this virus. Pakistan’s official website credits this invasion as when the country was born as an Islamic nation in the Subcontinent.
In the 11th century, Mahmud of Ghazni, while receiving the caliphate honours on his accession to the throne, took a vow to wage jihad every year against Indian idolaters. During his 32-year reign, he did keep his solemn promise over a dozen times. The rest is history.
But why go into the distant past? Unfortunately, the trail of hate unleashed over a thousand years ago continues to haunt us even today. The last 100-odd years witnessed the Moplah riots, Partition, and the decimation of Hindus/Sikhs/Buddhists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Kashmir Valley. The recent pre-planned attacks on Ram Navami processions in over half a dozen states, and the onslaught on the Hanuman Janamutsav rally have reminded us that the ogre of hate is alive and stinging.
It’s uncanny: While communal mayhem was going on in India, Muslim mobs were fighting pitched battles against the police in dozens of towns in Spain, Sweden and the city of Jerusalem. In Sweden, Muslims were agitated over blasphemy involving the holy Quran. Protests in Spain are against the imprisonment of a rapper convicted of insulting the monarchy and praising terrorist violence. While the issues involving these sordid episodes may differ, the pattern is common.
Were the Hindu-Muslim relations peaceful in the past and have soured post-2014? The fact is, ties between the two communities were seldom cordial. There were intermittent skirmishes, wars and occasional short-lived opportunistic alliances. Is the current dispensation responsible for Muslim alienation? Remember, even Gandhiji failed to wean Muslims from Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s schismatic movement.
In the aftermath of the Moplah violence and communal riots at several places in India, Gandhiji observed in Young India (May 24, 1924): “My own experience but confirms the opinion that the Musalman as a rule is a bully, and the Hindu as a rule is a coward”. Nothing much has since changed in the Subcontinent.
Can laws or police fight hate? No. If they could, Kashmiri Hindus wouldn’t have gone through the hell they did in the 1990s, and would have been happily back in their homes by now. India is a secular democracy, not because of its Constitution. It’s the other way round. When Pakistan declared itself an Islamic Republic in 1947, it would have been natural for India to identify itself as a Hindu state. It didn’t, and couldn’t have — because of its Hindu ethos of pluralism. A Hindu-dominated India, is, and will always be, catholic, plural, myriad and a vibrant democracy.
George Orwell said, “The relative freedom which we enjoy depends on public opinion. The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country”.
Can one fight hate selectively? The burning of Graham Staines and his children is reprehensible. So was the lynching of Akhlaq and Junaid. But why the cowering silence on the dastardly gunning down of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and four of his disciples (August 2008) in Orissa for which seven Christians and a Maoist have been convicted? Over a dozen Muslim workers of the BJP have been killed in Jammu & Kashmir and other parts of India in the recent past. These victims of hate are, of course, ignored. Their deaths don’t suit the narrative.
Charged reactions, punctuated with half-truths, deliberate omissions and tailored narratives, offer no real solution. Pusillanimity to face facts will only exacerbate the situation and give egregious results. Ignorance is not always bliss.
In this context, it’s relevant to recall what Lester Pearson (14th PM of Canada) said: “Misunderstanding arising from ignorance breeds fear, and fear remains the greatest enemy of peace.”

The problem with cherry-picking facts from history
Narayani Gupta writes: Selective reading of historical events produces half-truths, tailored narratives
History as Mischief
Written by Narayani Gupta | Updated: April 26, 2022 6:32:21

In my younger days, if we wanted to comment on any article in a newspaper, we rattled off a short letter to the editor on our typewriter. Now there are journalists whose comments are in the form of an article as long as the one under discussion. Many of them can only be described as clones of Humpty Dumpty, confident that “When I use a word, it means exactly what I want it to mean, no more, no less”.
A recent example is that of an article by S Y Quraishi (‘Calling out hate’, April 15) and the comment that followed. Noting the alarming reports of hate speeches in the social media, Quraishi wrote, “It is at the root of many forms of violence that are being perpetrated and has become one of the biggest challenges to the rule of law and to our democratic conscience.” He lists those who can act firmly and swiftly — during elections it is the Election Commission that must act, and in the “non-election” months the state has the power to act by using provisions of the Indian Penal Code, and the Representation of the People Act. The sense of urgency in his article was palpable.
There was a rejoinder to Quraishi in The Indian Express (‘Ignorance isn’t bliss’, April 21). Balbir Punj, the writer, says in the second paragraph that Quraishi’s “arguments are drearily familiar, facts dodgy, and conclusions delusional”. Punj adds: “Quraishi’s article has little to do with the anatomy of hate or its ongoing malignancy”. Quraishi was not dissecting the emotion of hate, he was criticising the inaction of the Election Commission and the courts, in the context of hate-speeches made by individuals over the last year.
Punj begins his piece on a breathless note: “Hate and bigotry feed on each other. They germinate and flourish on a toxic diet of divisive and schismatic ideologies and polarising creeds that discriminate against human beings on the basis of colour, region, gender, faith — and divide them between believers and non-believers — ranging the chosen ones against the idolatrous”. The strapline was “Understanding trail of hate in India requires honest examination of its origins”. Eleven of the 15 paragraphs in the essay deal with this trail.

History as a discipline is about time, place and people. Teachers of history compartmentalise themselves into sections of time and of place/region. Not so the non-historian. Punj writes, “For aeons, India has had syncretic traditions, inspired by the Vedic aphorism “ekam sad [sic] vipra bahudha vadanti” (there is only one truth and learned persons call it by many names). In September 2020, a 16-member committee was set up by the Ministry of Culture to study the origin and evolution of Indian culture, “dating back to around 12,000 years ago”. It held two meetings and vanished from the scene. That’s a cautionary tale.
Bhakti and Sufi cults have been for long described as “syncretic”. Punj does not associate Sindh with its great Sufi tradition, but with bin Qasim’s conquest in 712 CE and the coming of Islam — “…as Chach Nama, a contemporary Arab chronicle states, [he] introduced the practice of treating local Hindus as zimmis, forcing them to pay jizya… ‘Hate’ and ‘bigotry’ thus made their debut in India, which was hitherto free from this virus”.
It is worth locating and browsing through translations of the Chach Nama, for its accounts of the attitude of the Arab rulers of Sindh towards the Hindu population and their places of worship. A natural outcome of this beginning was the enduring presence of Sufi orders in Sindh.
The simplest — but not wholly ethical — way to substantiate an argument is by cherry-picking. From 8th-century Sindh the author moves to 11th-century north India. He writes of Mahmud of Ghazni who “took a vow to wage jihad every year against Indian idolators”. (I tried to locate a source for this, and came up only with one — an earlier article by Punj, on July 12, 2019). Ghaznavi’s exact contemporary, Rajendra Chola, was in the same period raiding Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. In Indian school textbooks Ghaznavi has always been an “invader”, the Cholas were “conquerors”.
The next eight centuries are omitted, and the trail moves down to Malabar (the Moplah Rebellion of 1921), then north and east India (the Partition tragedies of 1946-8), the “decimation” of Hindus in neighbouring countries (no dates) and people in Spain and Sweden.
He proceeds to ask a rhetorical question “Can laws or police fight hate?”
And this article was published a day after the BJP-run civic body let the bulldozers raze homes in Jahangirpuri “in the face of the Supreme Court order” as the Indian Express headline stated on the same day as Punj’s article!
Punj’s narrative could be described in his own words — “charged reactions, punctuated with half-truths, deliberate omissions and tailored narratives, offer no real solution” [to what?]. This is followed by a line which I find extremely difficult to decipher — “pusillanimity to face facts will only exacerbate the situation and give egregious results.”

The Quran verses in Hindu temple festival: Meaning and significance

April 17, 2022

Rohit Dhankar

The whole India was happy when the news that Rathotsava of 900 year old Chennakeshava temple in Belur, Karnataka, started with recital of verses from Quran. It is like a breath of fresh air in the current Hindu-Muslim tension too often resulting in violent episodes. All news papers and news outlets published it prominently and praised the decision of the temple. It is read as a symbol of not only peaceful coexistence, but also deeper goodwill between to two communities. Many said this describes the beauty of India.

There is no doubt that syncretic traditions mutually respected and cherished by both the communities, and an all prevailing respect and goodwill towards each other is what the India needs the most at the current juncture. No sane Indian could or should doubt it. However, traditions and rituals which have become tradition are dead mental/physical gymnastics if their origin and true meaning is not known, understood and accepted by those who are involved and those who appreciate that traditional ritual. Such rituals on the surface can neither create nor sustain true and lasting harmony. If they are accepted and cherished on the force of dogma alone, without understanding their meaning, they actually can be turned into flash-points of violent clash any time, by those who capture people’s mind through them. Therefore, to appreciate the benevolent force of this ritual, knowledge of its origin and meaning of the ritual including that of the verses from Quran is a necessity.

But all news items are declaring that the origin and reason why the ritual started is known to no one. A temple manual written in 1932 is said to mention it, but not how and why this ritual was started. No historian has come forward to explain its origin and original meaning. The only explanation comes from the ToI, which claims that “Belur-based writer and researcher Srivatsa S Vati said the chanting practice is said to have been started in the Ramanujacharya period (1017–1137 CE) as part of Sarva Dharma Samanvaya (a concept embodying the equality of the destination of the paths followed by all religions; although the paths themselves may be different).” The temple itself is said to have been built in 1116 CE, which means the ritual started some time between 1116 CE and 1137 CE. Which implies (1) a significant Muslim population in Belur at that time, and (2) goodwill of temple authorities in particular and Hindus is general towards Muslims and doctrines of Islam. One can assume (2), at the least for an argument; but certainly wonder about (1). Be that as it may, overall it looks a socially positive step of the temple authority of that time.

The important point to note about the idea of “Sarva Dharma Samanvaya (a concept embodying the equality of the destination of the paths followed by all religions; although the paths themselves may be different)” is that it is worthy of following and creates good for the society only if it is mutual, understood, believed in and followed by all. Followed by one party among many and not believed in seriously and not followed properly by others creates serious problems. It may solve some short term problem without mutuality, but will create much bigger in the long run.

One indicator of appreciation of the principle of “Sarva Dharma Samanvaya” by ordinary public is its cheering the ritual and appreciative publication of the news in the media. But this would be real only if the public, media and appreciating opinion makers also know and are transparent about the meaning of the verses from the Quran that are recited. But no news story tells you which verses from the Quran are recited. ToI gives English translation without actually giving reference to the original verses. I will examine that meaning in a while, but first let us think why it is important to know the actual meaning of the verses recited.

Suppose, some good souls from the Hindu community (Brahmins, Dalits and all) opening a school for all castes to study together to acquire vidya, and the inauguration is flagged off with the following verses:

नाविस्पष्टमधीयीत न शूद्रजनसन्निधौ । न निशान्ते परिश्रान्तो ब्रह्माधीत्य पुनः स्वपेत् ॥ ९९ ॥ (Manusmriti)

Suppose further, that every one appreciates the school for all, starting with recitals from a Hindu-shastra, considers it an occasion of unity and acceptance of all for the seeking knowledge. But no one quotes, gives reference of tells the meaning of the verse to all who are appreciating it. Would it really be a gesture of unity and earning vidya (knowledge) for all? Would it last? Would it be genuine? Is the ritual in itself (the physical motions of it) enough? The reader should decide for himself/herself. Meaning of the above quoted verse: “Let him not recite (the texts, Vedas) indistinctly, nor in the presence of Sudras; nor let him, if in the latter part of the night he is tired with reciting the Veda, go again to sleep.” It seems to me that without understanding this verse and the meaning of ‘shudra’ in this, celebration of inclusiveness in this imaginary example would be misplaced if not seriously misleading.

The recited verses from the Quran and their meaning

I did not find references to the recited verses, may be some news item did give the references, but I could not get it. A well wisher and friend sent a link to ToI story, which gives the following English translation:

In the name of Allah, the most gracious and merciful, the god is praised as lord of the world. The god is the owner of the judgment day. The god is worshipped to pray for the help and to show us a straight path. Those who go on a straight path, is not the right way to gain anger …” ToI, 15th April 2022 in “How Hindu temple kept Quran reading tradition alive”.

This text breaks off, it seems without completion, at the end. However, any one cursorily familiar with Quran will immediately recognize that it resembles very closely to the meaning of Chapter 1 (Surah 1. Al-Fatihah). This chapter of The Quran is widely used on many occasions, including in namaaz. This is also clear that the meaning given in ToI is wrong, whether that is intentional or because of ignorance is difficult to say.

Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad, perhaps the tallest leader of India from the Muslim community, considered a very accomplished Islamic scholar, has explained Quran in his “The Tarjuman Al-Quran”. Mawlana’s translation for this chapter in the said book is as follows:

“In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful

1. Praise is for Allah only — The Lord of All Being!

2. The Benevolent, the Merciful!

3. Master on the Day of Recompense!

4. Thee only do we serve, and Thee onlydo we ask for help.

5. Direct us to the Straight Path –

6. The path of those to whom Thou has been gracious, –

7. Not of those who have incurred Thy displeasure, nor of those who have gone astray.” (Emphasis added)

The Mawlana writes the whole of first part of his The Tarjuman Al-Quran on this chapter alone. The long winded arguments are very informative and a pleasure to read, whether all convincing or not is a separate matter.

In this article we will pay attention only to the emphasized verses 4 to 7. In explaining verse 4 Mawlana writes: “…, the form of prayer suggested in the Surat is not, ‘We serve Thee’, but is specifically worded, ‘Thee alone do we serve’, and from ‘Thee alone do we ask for help’. This manner of expression fulfills the primary condition of belief in the unity of God, and disallows room for every form of ‘shirk’ or associating with God anything beside Him.” (Emphasis as in the original) The meaning of ‘shirk’ according to Britannica: “shirk, (Arabic: “making a partner [of someone]”), in Islam, idolatry, polytheism, and the association of God with other deities.” The temple in which the verses were recited qualifies as forbidden ‘shirk’ on the count that it is both polytheistic as well as idolatrous.

The ‘straight path’ according to Mawlana is the path prescribed by the revelation, the central piece of which is already there in verse 4 above. “The Noble Quran” translated by M. T. Al-Hilali and M. M. Khan and published by King Fahd Complex for the Printing of Holy Qur’an, Madinah, is more direct and brief. Accordingly it is simply “Islamic monotheism”. And the path of those who have incurred Allah’s anger and/or gone astray are those who worship anything but Allah, particularly mentioned in this translation are Jews and Christians. Hindus were not an issue in the Arabia of Muhammad’s time, so they are not mentioned. But if one looks at the meaning of ‘shirk’, they, including the temple administration, amply qualify to be counted among those who incur Allah’s wrath and who have gone astray. Of course, Quran never tires of telling you that all such people will burn in hell for eternity, though that is not mentioned in this chapter.

We can say for the purposes of this article that perhaps in every religion there are people with three broad attitudes to the faith in: 1. Those who actually believe in the every tenet of their religion, if they happen to know them. 2. Those who selectively believe, accept the good and leave our what they consider bad. And 3. those who are only socially associated with the faith through rituals and social relationship.

All that the people in category 3 would want is this kind of acceptance of each other’s faith and rituals in which both may participate. However, to be true to their position they should wish it to be two-sided. That is an equal give and take from both religions. My question to such people is: would this ritual still be something to rejoice if there is no such both-sided give and take in the matters of faith? And, is there such a give and take between Hindus and Muslims? My question to the people in category 2 would be the same.

My questions for the people in category one—these are the people who actually matter in religious strife—would be separate for Hindus and Muslims. To Hindus: Are they fine with the actual meaning of the verses recited? Or do they believe that the actual meaning is something like given by the ToI? My question for the Muslims would be: do they accord equal respect to Chennakeshava as to Allah? Would they be willing to reinterpret the verses 4 to 7 as simply indicating devotion to the universal God by any name, any attributes and by any ways of worship? Would the Maulanas accept that the priest of the Chennakeshava temple will go to jannat? Or is he likely to incur the Allah’s wrath?

In my view if this openness in interpretation of the meaning of these verses is not there, this ritual does not represent “Sarva Dharma Samanvaya” and either is hypocrisy or worst Islamic supremacism. One also need to remember that Sarva Dharma Samanvaya in this sense would require reinterpretation of Quran. Would Indian public be prepared for that? One ardently wishes that all this becomes possible. But I do not think that can happen by just rejoicing in superfluous rituals and shying away from asking questions like the ones raised here. The questions like these and an open debate on them with mutual respect and goodwill is the only thing that can give a deeper and real meaning and significance to such rituals.


भारत में वर्तमान सम्प्रदायिक परिदृश्य: कारण और निराकरण?

April 15, 2022

(पहला रफ़ ड्रफ़्ट। इस आलेख को चर्चा के लिये नोट्स के रूप में देखा जाना चाहिये, अभी व्यवस्थित लेख के रूप में नहीं। इस में अभी भाषा और कथ्य की गलतियां हो सकती है। पूरे लेख को अभी हिन्दी में भी नहीं लिखा है। लोगों से एक चर्चा और उसमें इस में अभिव्यक्त विचारों की आलोचना-समलोचना के बाद ही इसे पूरा करने का विचार है, यदि किया तो।)

Discussion on Open Dialogue: 16th April 8:00 pm

रोहित धनकर

भारतीय कथित उदारवादी आख्यान के दो लोगों की तिप्पणियां

प्रोफ़ेसर अपूर्वनन्द का मत

A Delhi University professor and one of the foremost writers in The Wire, tells us that “This politics of violence has caused immense cognitive damage to the Hindus. Their ability to comprehend the world and society is seriously impaired. They have also lost their sense of the self.” (emphasis added). Now, the Hindus, all Hindus, are not only responsible for the Hindu-Muslim riots and rifts in the society, but if they don’t feel this they have become stupid, they lost their cognitive ability and sense of self. Remember that sense of the self and cognitive ability to understand the world is what makes us persons and confers citizenship rights on us. But Hindus have lost both, thus they are no more persons and soon their rights should be consider an anomaly.

प्रोफ़ेसर योगेन्द्र यादव का मत

उत्तर प्रदेश में भाजपा को बहुत मिला तो सब यह विश्लेशण करने लगे की यह क्या हुआ? इतनी समस्याओं, जनता को कठिनायों, आदि को भूल कर लोगों ने भाजपा को वोट कैसे देदिये? बहुत लोगों ने बहुत से कारण गिनवाये, कुछ ने जनता को फ़ुसलाये हुए मूर्ख माना, हलंकि सीधा लिखा नहीं। इसी सन्दर्भ में योगेन्द्र जी यादव का एक विडिओ आया ( जिसमें वे वही बात कह रहे हैं‌ जो हम जैसे कम जानकार १० वर्ष से कम जानीमानी जगहों पर कहते और लिखते रहे हैं। पर अब भी अधूरी बात, पूरी बात कहने के लिये शायद लोगों को और समय लगे। पर इस बात को पूरी करने से पहले यह देखते हैं कि उन्हों‌ने कहा क्या। नीचे उन के विडिओ के एक अन्श (लग्भग १४ मिनट से) की ट्रांसक्रिप्ट है, जिसमें कुछ वाक्यों को बोल्ड मैने किया है। देखें:

“मुकेश :… बहुत सारे लोग ये मानते हैं कि जो हिंदुत्व है वो काफी नीचे तक चला गया है। … जो आपने रिश्ता बनाने की बात की है, मानस में अपने-पराए के भेद की बात की है, क्या वो इस रूप में है?

योगेंद्र यादव : जी मुकेश जी, ये आपने अच्छा किया, खुलासा किया इसका क्योंकि वही है अलग से कोई factor नहीं है। यही तो factor है। और इसे खाली हिन्दुत्व मैं नहीं कहता। देखिये, इस देश में राजनीति करने की तीन सबसे बड़ी संपत्ति हैं, पूंजी हैं, जहां से कोई भी राजनीति अपना स्रोत ढूंढती है, अपना औज़ार ढूंढती है, और अपनी ऊर्जा ढूंढती है। पहला – राष्ट्रवाद, क्योंकि हिंदुस्तान में और खासतौर पर एक गुलाम देश में जो आज़ाद हुआ है, उसका राष्ट्रवाद सबसे बड़ी पूंजी है। और इस देश की तो इतनी अद्भुत पूंजी थी राष्ट्रवाद हमारा। दूसरी – धार्मिक विरासत और हिन्दू धर्म की विरासत, जिसका नाम लेने से हमारे ज़्यादातर लोग सकुचाते हैं। जो हर धर्म की तरह इसमें कूड़ा भी है। और हर धर्म की तरह बहुत शानदार, महान विरासत है ये। और तीसरा – हमारी सांस्कृतिक विरासत। हमारी भाषाएँ, हमारी संस्कृति। ये तीनों चीजों पर भारतीय जनता पार्टी ने कब्जा कर लिया है। ये तीनों इसकी हैं नहीं। ये भारतीय जनता पार्टी वाले, RSS वाले, हमारे देश की सांस्कृतिक धरोहर, विरासत को समझते भी नहीं है। हिन्दू धर्म के बारे में इनकी जो सोच है वो हिन्दू धर्म की मूल प्रवत्ति के विरुद्ध है। और राष्ट्रवाद में तो इनका, एक कतरा खून भी इन लोगों ने कभी नहीं दिया। अंग्रेजों की दलाली इनमें से कई लोगों जो इनके वारिस हैं, उनमें से कई लोगों ने की। लेकिन आज ये इन तीनों के मालिक बनकर बैठे हैं। और जिसके पास राष्ट्रवाद है, धर्म है, संस्कृति है, वो तो मेरा अपना है न। यहाँ से अपना-पराया हुआ है (दिल पर हाथ रखते हुए)। और उसके लिए मैं केवल बीजेपी को श्रेय नहीं देता। मैं, आपको और मुझे, अपने आप को दोष देता हूँ। हम लोग, जिनके पास देश के पहले पचास वर्ष, हम लोगों के पास इस देश की शिक्षा व्यवस्था थी। हम लोगों के पास इस देश का मीडिया था। हम लोगों के पास इस देश की सत्ता थी। हम लोग मतलब आप-मैं नहीं व्यक्तिगत रूप से। मगर ये जो जमात है, इसके पास सब कुछ था। लेकिन, इसने, इस जमात ने, इस देश के राष्ट्रवाद को धूल में फेंक दिया। सोचा इसके लायक नहीं है। सोचा अरे राष्ट्रवाद क्या चीज होती है, ये तो बड़ी embarrassing सी चीज है। अंग्रेज़ी बुद्धिजीवियों की नकल करके हमने भी यूरोप की तरह कहना शुरू किया कि राष्ट्रवाद तो बड़ी शर्मिंदगी का विषय है हमने हिन्दू धर्म के केवल नकारात्मक पक्ष देखे। उसका सार्थक पक्ष, उसकी खूबसूरती, उसकी गहराई, उसकी सांस्कृतिक पूंजी जो है, विषद स्वरूप, उददात स्वरूप जो उसका है, वो कभी पेश करने में सकुचाते रहे। बीच-बीच में कभी कर देते थे लेकिन सकुचाते रहे। और हमने, … इस देश की भाषाओं को हमने लताड़ा। इस देश की भाषाओं का अनादर किया। तो, जो पूंजी हमारे हाथ में स्वतः आ गई थी आज़ादी के आंदोलन के कारण, उसको हमने दुतकारा और दूसरे की थाली में रख दिया। और अब हम कह रहे हैं – हाय-हाय, क्या हुआ, मेरी थाली से क्या, अब मेरी थाली में कुछ नहीं बचा। हाय! वो क्या कर रहे हैं! हमारी वजह से तो कर रहे हैं। सच बात है ये मुकेश जी, इसको लागलपेट के कहने का क्या फायदा?”

इस अधूरे सच में कुछ जोड देने से यह अधिक पूर्ण (सम्पूर्ण नहीं) हो जायेगा। पर उस से पहले यह देखिये कि इस आधी-आत्मस्वीकृति में भी दूसरों को लतियाने का कितना लोभ है। कहते हैं ” ये तीनों चीजों पर भारतीय जनता पार्टी ने कब्जा कर लिया है”। और यह भी कि “जो पूंजी हमारे हाथ में स्वतः आ गई थी आज़ादी के आंदोलन के कारण, उसको हमने दुतकारा और दूसरे की थाली में रख दिया”। जब आपने स्वतः ही उसे “धूल में फेंक दिया” था या उनकी “थाली में रख दिया” तो कब्जा करने की बात कहां आई? उन्हों‌ने आप की फेकी हुई‌ आप की नजर में‌ सडी वस्तु को इज्जतबक्षी। आगे कहते हैं कि “और राष्ट्रवाद में तो इनका, एक कतरा खून भी इन लोगों ने कभी नहीं दिया। अंग्रेजों की दलाली इनमें से कई लोगों जो इनके वारिस हैं, उनमें से कई लोगों ने कीयह बात रोज कही जाती है। और यह कहने में सब से आगे हैं भारतीय कम्युनिस्ट। संघ वालों ने आजादी कि लडाई में भाग लिया या नहीं इस का उत्तर संघ वालों को देनेदें, यहां‌ हम यह देखते हैं कि भारतीय कमुनिस्टों ने क्या किया। क्यों कि यह आरोप योगेन्द्र जी ने मूलतः उन्हीं से उधार लिया लगता है। कमुनिस्टों के चरित्र और स्वतन्त्रता आन्दोलन के आखिरी दिनों में व्यवहार की एक झलक लोहिया अपनी पुस्तक “भारत विभाजन के गुनह्गार” में दिखाते हैं। इस पुस्तक में वे कम्युनिस्ट को एकाधिक बार “विश्वासघती” (पृष्ठ ९, ) कहते हैं। और लिखते हैं कि उन्हों ने विभाजन का समर्थन किया। हलंकि लोहिया उङ्के समर्थन को विभाजन का बडा कारण नहीं मनते। पर यह सिर्फ़ इस लिये कि उनक प्रभाव नहीं था। उनकी नीयत तो साफ़ ही थी। आगे वे कहते हैं “I am somewhat intrigued by this aspect of cimmunist trachury, that it leaves no lasting bad test in the mouth of the people. Other traitors are not so fortunate”. (The Guilty Men of India’s Partiction, Rammanohar Lohia, R.R. Publishing Corporatioin. 1960, re-print 2020)मैने यह हिस्सा मूल अङ्ग्रेजी पुस्तक से इस लिये लिया है कि यहां पर हिन्दी अनुवाद गलत है। इसी पृष्ठ पर आगे वे कहते हैं कि कम्युनिस्ट जबतक सत्ता में नहीं रहते तब तक आत्म-निर्णय (self-determinatioin) का समर्थन करते हैं, और जब सत्ता में आजाते हैं तो उसका विरोध। उनके इस सिद्धन्त ने भारतीय राष्ट्र को कमजोर किया है।

एक झलक और हामिद दलवई कम्युनिस्टों और मुसल्मानों की तुलना करते हुए लिखते हैं “When communists are not in power, they are internationalists; when Muslims are a minority in any country they lack a nationalistic spirit and have an internationalistc, that is, pan-Islamic, attitude. When either the communists or the Islamists are faced with a choice between modern, territorial nationalism and allegiance to the state on the one hand, and their own international ideology on the other, most of them invariably choose the latter.” यह कहना आज कल मुस्लिम विरोध कहा जायेगा पर मुझे दलवई की बात ठीक लगती है। पर मुझे यह भी लगता है कि भारतीय मुसलमान बदल रहे हैं इस सन्दर्भ में। कम्युनिस्ट नहीं बदल रहे।

सच का एक और हिस्सा

अब सच के उस दुसरे हिस्से की बात करते हैं जिस का जिक्र योगेन्द्र जी ने अपने विडिओ में नहीं किया। यह हिस्सा उनकी सम्पत्ती २ और ३ से सम्बन्धित है। उन्हों ने कह है कि “जो पूंजी हमारे हाथ में स्वतः आ गई थी आज़ादी के आंदोलन के कारण, उसको हमने दुतकारा”। बात सिर्फ़ इतनी नहीं है। केवल दुत्कारना किसी भ्रमित आधुनिकवाद के चलते हो सकता है, इस का स्पष्ठीकरण बिना दुर्भावना के आरोप का सामना किये सम्भव है। पर यदि इस “दुत्कार” के साथ तीन चीजें और मिलजायें तो कठिनाई बढ जाती है। मान लीजिये किसी एक बहुत समर्थ तबके ने देश के राष्ट्रवाद, हिन्दू-धर्म और सन्स्कृति को “दुत्कार दिया” और उस तबके के पास “देश के पहले पचास वर्ष इस देश की शिक्षा व्यवस्थाहो, उसके पास देश का मीडियाहो, और उसके पास देश की सत्ताहो; और उसके व्यवहार में नीचे लिखी तीन चीजें भी साफ़साफ़ हों:

  1. राष्ट्रवाद, हिन्दू-धर्म और सन्स्कृति पर लगातार आक्रमण भी करता हो, यह सिर्फ़ दुत्कारने से आगे जाकर उचित-अनुचित लनत-लमानत की बात है। दुत्कार कर तो आप सिर्फ़ अनदेखा करने भी बैठ सकते हैं। यहां सक्रिय जड खोदने के काम की बात है,
  2. कोई दूसर आप की फेंकी हुई उस सम्पत्ती को उठा कर झाडने-पोंछने लगे, उस में कोई मूल्य देखने लगे तो उसे विभिन्न विशेषण दे कर चुप करवादें, मीडिया पर अधिकार के कारण छपने नादें, कहीं गन्भीर चर्चा मेन ना आने दें और शिक्षा पर अधिकार के कारण उस तरह के व्यक्ति और उसके विचारों को विद्यालयों विश्वविद्यालयें से बाहर करदें। यह दूसरी चीज की,
  3. अपने भ्रमित उदारवाद के चालते आप मजहब के आधार पर भेदभाव भी करने लगें,

तो यह एक सैद्धन्तिक भूल के बजाय दुर्भावना लगने लगेगी।

ऊपर मैने जो तीन बातें कही हैं इन के सैकडों उदारहण हमारे आजके उदारवादी विमर्ष में सहज ही देखे जा सकते हैं। वर्तमान सम्प्रदायिक वतावरण के प्रमुख मुद्दों पर चलने वाली बहस और लिखे जाने वाले लेख इस का साफ़ उदाहरण हैं। नीचे लिखे मुद्दों का इस नजर से विश्लेशण किया जा सकता है।

  1. सरकारी शिक्षण सन्स्थानों में‌ हिजाब बैन
  2. हलाल प्रमाण पत्र का मशला
  3. अज़ान की स्वीकृत डेसिबल से ऊंची आवाज
  4. हनुमान चालीसे की धमकी
  5. जगह-जगह भडकाऊ भाषण
  6. रामनवमी पर हिंसा
  7. द कश्मीर फ़िलेस फ़िल्म पर बहस, आदि।

इन सब मुद्दों में दो पक्ष हैं। दोनों पक्षों में सच्चाई के कुछ अंश है। हम इन पर प्रोफ़ेसर अपूर्वनन्द की दृष्टि से भी विचार कर सकते हैं और प्रोफ़ेसर योगेन्द्र यादव की अधूरी झिककती दृष्टि से भी। या फ़िर सहस के साथ पूरी सच्चाई के साथ भी। पर कोई भी एकांतिक विचार हमें शान्ति और सौहारद्र के रास्ते पर नहीं ले जा सकेगा। किसी में भी पूरी सच्चाई नहीं है। हम जब भी दोनों पक्षों को ध्यान में रखे बिना कोई शख्त बात कहते हैं तो आग में घी डाल रहे होते हैं।

बहुत से लोगों को लगेगा की इन मुद्दों पर बात करना यातो समय की बर्बादी है या वर्तमान विभाजित और साम्प्रदायिक राजनीति की चपेट में आजाना। देश के सामने और हजार लोगों के जीवन से सम्बन्धित मुद्दे हैं उन पर विचार होना चाहिये। मुझे बहुत दिन से लग रहा है की इस देश की राजनीति एक गहरे सम्प्रदायिक भंवर में है। वह और मुद्दों पर विवेकसम्मत विचार को पनपने नहीं दे रही। जब तक आम आदमी इस साम्रदायिकता की जडों पर विचार करके विवेकशील निर्णय लेना आरंभ नहीं करेगा, अपनी बात खुले तौर पर नहीं रखेगा तब तक हम इसी भंवर में गहरे उतरते जायेंगे। मेरा ऐसा कोई दावा नहीं है की विवेकशील निर्णय का तरीका या रास्ता वही है जो इन नोट्स में लिखा है। पर इस में मुझे सन्देह नहीं है की लोकतन्त्र को सही दिशा आम आदमी का सुविचारिक विवेक-सम्मत निष्कर्श ही दे सकता है।


Moral obligations of Indians

April 13, 2022

Rohit Dhankar

Many of us remember the arguments advanced by Indian intellectuals that (1) terrorism has not religion, (2) that Muslim community is not responsible for the terrorist attacks allover the country, and that (3) the Muslim community has no obligation to show that they are not with terrorism by distancing themselves from it or criticizing it. Any one who argued against this line, was considered a Hindu bigot out to attack Muslims. Many pointed out that if there are so many incidents of terrorism in the country then there must be a section of the population which harbors and support these groups. But these people and thoughts had no room in the Indian liberal thinking and no place to be published.

The next step was, and still is, that each terrorist attack and Islamic terrorism in Kashmir is a reaction to injustice suffered by Muslims in India. The political, social and historical explanations of these attacks clearly sounded like ‘justifications’ of those attacks. And challenging this justification was, and is in the high intellectual circles even today, impossible. Once, 4-5 very enlightened university professors were talking about ganga-jamuni sabhyata with enthusiasm. I mentioned that on the ground where I work there is a very visible attempt by Muslims to mark themselves separate through changing traditional dress which was the same as Hindus, and changing language. Immediately I was told that this is because they are attacked. Which of course was completely wrong.

With such strong principle of terrorists and rioters not belonging to any religion, when one reads the current—newly minted principles—one wonders whether there is a relationship between consistency of through and memory with intellectual capability? A Delhi University professor and one of the foremost writers in The Wire1, tells us that “This politics of violence has caused immense cognitive damage to the Hindus. Their ability to comprehend the world and society is seriously impaired. They have also lost their sense of the self.” (emphasis added). Now, the Hindus, all Hindus, are not only responsible for the Hindu-Muslim riots and rifts in the society, but if they don’t feel this they have become stupid, they lost their cognitive ability and sense of self. Remember that sense of the self and cognitive ability to understand the world is what makes us persons and confers citizenship rights on us. But Hindus have lost both, thus they are no more persons and soon their rights should be consider an anomaly.

Pay attention to the self-righteous tone in which ‘what I and my comrades think is right. And that is the only right way of thinking.’ If the courts give a verdict which I don’t like, they are corrupt or toeing the government line. If people vote for the party ‘we the guardians of truth and morality’ do not like they have lost their mind, and are unfit to be citizens of a democracy. ‘What we believe is the only knowledge, truth and facts. What we want is the only moral principles worth thinking and obeying’. The article in question has expressed this idea very clearly and forcefully. The dictionary meaning of bigotry: “stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.” Who said it is confined to the religions alone?

The article also talks about how banning halal certification will harm Indian economy, will make Indian products unacceptable to Muslim majority countries and even to the Indian Muslims. Thus some Hindus by demanding ban on halal certification will harm Indian economy, and that it is an attack on Muslims. There are three issues any thoughtful Indian—irrespective of his/her religion should think about in this connection.

First, the extent of influence of the halal certification. The halal certificates are completely governed by Islamic perspective on what food and other items are allowed and forbidden to a Muslim. The certification business seems to be above fifty-thousand crores per year. A cursory look at the market reveals that there is almost no consumable item which is in the market and does not have a halal certificate. Just a few examples: Amul, Ramdev, Haldiram, Milky Mist, Nestley all have halal certificates. That means that in Bangalore market you can not buy chicken nuggets or even milk which is not halal certified. The author of the article does not mention that this makes the market controlled by Islamic choices, and a Hindu who does not want to buy halal has no choice.

Two, are the Hindus who oppose halal certification attacking Muslims? To understand this lets take the example of halal mutton or chicken. The concept of halal comes from Quran. And in practice guided by Quran and Hadith. Quran has several verses on halal food. In verse 2.172 the Allah tells believers to eat “good things” he has provided. Verse 2.173 further tells what is forbidden, “He has forbidden you only the Maitah (dead animals), and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah (or has been slaughtered for idols, on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering).” (Emphasis added)

Without going into other details lets note that halal non-veg has to be (1) slaughtered in the name of Allah, (2) it is forbidden if slaughtered in the name of any other divinity than Allah, particularly if “slaughtered for idols”, and (3) has to be performed by a believing Muslim according to a particular procedure. Thus, halal, actually is sacrificial meat. This is taught to a Muslim in his/her dini-talim, the halal certification houses mention that it is also their job to educate Muslims about the halal. Which means that there is active teaching designed for Muslims to convince them to eat or use only halal certified items.

Now, suppose a Hindu takes objection to the fact that slaughtered in the name of any divinity but Allah and especially for idols is forbidden. And such Hindus start a campaign (peaceful, I am not saying so far they have always been peaceful, but the argument being built here is only for peaceful campaigns) of informing Hindus about the nature of halal, and tries to convince them not to eat or use halal items. For this they take out peaceful processions, distribute pamphlets and give lectures. Why is this an attack on Muslims? Suppose some people call it so, then isn’t there built in ‘attack on Hindus’ in the very process and procedure of halal? The article which goes on to describe campaign for banning halal certification—which actually means controlling the market—does not bother to understand this aspect.

Three, should Hindus, then, campaign for ban on halal certification? I would say NO. Because Muslims want to eat only halal, and halal certification helps export to Muslim majority country; the Hindus should campaign for marking on the items whether they are halal or not, and force the market through their choice to keep non-halal marked items always in the shops. If there are no non-halal, they do not buy. That will automatically correct the tilt in the market. Any one who calls this an attack on Muslims deliberately ignores the inherent exclusiveness and exceptionalism built into the ideology of Islam, and condones it, but countering this is dubbed as attack!

Now I came to the last and most important issue in this article. The very title declares “Hindus Are Morally Obliged to Oppose the Anti-Minority Politics of Hindutva”. With this I completely agree. This Hindus should oppose and correct the excesses committed by Hindu individuals and organizations, and they are morally obligated to do that. However, like the example above, one has to carefully analyze what is anti-minority politics and what is exercising their own choices, keeping space for their on rights, and actions to defend themselves. I do think that Hindus are not as cognitively challenges and morally depraved as the author makes them to be. And they are actually opposing obnoxious actions of other Hindus, criticizing them strongly. In a way, many of the Hindus are actually fulfilling this moral obligation.

But then a question arises: are the Hindus only people in this country who have such moral obligations? And here I feel that the first group which should show some capability to think and some moral fiber in India are the so-called intellectuals. The intellectual who does not think about and expose in the halal issue what I have very briefly pointed above is either incapable of thinking or completely morally depraved. The so-called intellectuals have shown themselves lacking in clear thinking, acceptance of truth, and courage to speak against injustices and atrocities perpetrated by Muslims; and thus shown themselves lacking in moral responsibility. Another example form the same peace is the use of word “pogrom” for 2002 Gujarat riots. Pogrom means an organized massacre. Which implies it is one sided, organized and with clear intent. The Gujarat riots started with burning alive 59 Hindu pilgrims. According to official figures, the riots ended with 1,044 dead, 790 were Muslim and 254 Hindu. Taking into account the trigger point and death toll suggests it was no pogrom, it was a riot, where both communities participated with madness. Recent example of denying Kashmir genocide is another example of denying truth and this unfulfilled moral obligation by the so-called intellectuals.

Weaving these one sided stories brings us to the third issue of moral obligation. Do the Muslims of this country also have any moral obligation? Should they also oppose and criticize the excesses committed by Muslims mobs (stone pelting on Ramanavami), so-called blasphemy killings, the lectures by Muslim clerics and so on? But as soon as this issue is raised a completely different principle will be evoked: the terrorists, rioters and blasphemy killers have no religion! Well, Hindu hate speech givers, rioters and aggressors have a religion (that is Hindu-dharma) but Muslim counter part of all these and more have no religion? This is moral depravity of so-called intellectuals and one wonders whether one who does not fulfill his/her own moral obligation is worthy of giving lectures to others on moral obligation?



Gita again: Now in Gujarat

March 17, 2022

An article written in 2015 on a Haryana proposal, still relevant for Gujarat decision

Some thoughts on The Kashmir Files

March 16, 2022

Rohit Dhankar

It is neither a review nor a properly written article, but only some bullet points.

1. The people who consider themselves guardians of democracy and harmony are saying again and again that films should be made on other unfortunate riots and atrocities as well. THEY ARE RIGHT.

2. But they forget that there are many films on such issues. Mostly fictitious and to build a narrative that every time Hindus are aggressors and Muslims are at the receiving end. Any other views, even for the sake of discussion, are derided and blocked.

3. The Kashmir Files goes against this narrative. Its value is not in its cinematic merit, even if it is there. Its value is not even in bringing new information to light.

4. It’s value is in connecting the dots which brings out in the open the sinister elements of Islamism and one-sided narrative. The film might be faulted on several counts, yes. But it breaks a taboo.

5. The taboo that anyone hinting at the possible concerns of the majority community, even if they are misguided, is attacked ferociously to shut-up. An open dialogue is made impossible and a politically correct discourse goes on, that is in the liberal sphere.

6. Yes, this film should have talked about the killings of Muslims going on at the same points. AND SHOULD HAVE HIGHLIGHTED THE DIFFERENCE IN INTENTIONS AND NATURE OF KILLING OF HINDUS AND MUSLIMS.

7. The Muslims were killed as traitors to the creations of Islamic state, and needed to be silenced.

8. The Hindus were killed as undesirable elements on the Islamic state and were to be cleansed.

9. One to teach a lesson into submission.

10. Other as hated unbelievers to be given the choice of conversion, or leave or die. But not remain with the religion of their birth.

11. Pointing out this difference would have made the film more authentic and much more potent in challenging the narrative.

12. Not every Muslim in the valley was a party to this genocide. But at one time the powerful section of the community was. Otherwise the use of Mosques in blaring slogans of “convert, leave or die” would not have been possible. This powerful section scared the liberal Muslims into submission. The film should have shown this as well.

13. The most hurting aspect of the film for so-called liberals is the fact that they were a party to this genocide. They used some devices of narrative building that encouraged the bigotry, and they are still being used. Some of these devices are listed below.

14. WHAT ABOUT: repeated mentions of other unfortunate riots etc. like Godhara 2002 etc. It does a double job. One, re-established without going into argument that Godhara 2002 was a similar genocide of Muslims, which it was not. And two, makes a point that these killings are not the only ones, so pointing them out alone is biased.

15. THE MUSLIMS WERE ALSO KILLED: this is used to make the point that there is nothing Islamic and anti-Hindu about it. It hides the intentions of killers and nature of killing.

16. EXPLAINING AWAY: it has two prongs. One, the issue was not Islamic it was political. Hides the fact that any issue involving Muslims very quickly becomes Islamic. And two, that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes were people who faced injustice by the system or by the Hindus. Hinting without saying so that they were justified. This second one is a very specious argument used in all Islamic atrocities all over the world.

17. The real point, for me, of the film is to correct this bias in the present day so-called liberal discourse.

18. The most pernicious part of this discourse is that you can call out Hindu atrocities and criticize all that is deemed bad in Hindus, and I AGREE THAT IS HOW IT SHOULD BE. But as soon as you point out anything in Islam and Muslim politics you are attacked as a bigot.

19. If we want harmony and peace, we need to face truth and be fair. Or we will keep pitting Hindus and Muslims against each other to their mutual destruction.


Genocide and riots: Not the same thing

March 1, 2022

Rohit Dhankar

There is a campaign by some organizations including Hindus for Human Rights and Indian American Muslim Council very objectionably titled “India-on the-Brink” “Preventing Genocide”. It seems to me they are actually instigating riots, through not genocide. In response to their defamatory campaign I tweeted “Do these people realise that in India the only victim of genocide are Hindus. Most recent Kashmiri Hindus.”

A very socially conscious and genuinely secular (not a pseudo one) friend of mine asked “when you say ” Most recent Kashmiri Hindus. ” what is the time period you refer to?”

Me: “Particularly from early 20th century.”

My Friend: “The genocide in 2002 in Gujarat and 2020 in Delhi, are they not more recent? And with the complicit support of the police/govt?”

The following few paragraphs are a response to his last question.

According to UN Genocide Convention “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” (emphasis added) (International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences on the authority of OHCHR [1948] 1951. Second Edition, 2008. Volume 3, page 297)

I would like to draw your attention to “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part”. A riot is “a public act of violence by an unruly mob”. One needs to note that a riot is not necessarily with the intent to destroy a group as a whole or in part. It does not have the coordinating authority that direct the violence to achieve the intended end. It can be to ‘teach a lesson’ or expression of anger, or retaliation out of fear. None of it makes it a genocide unless the coordinated intent is there. It become a genocide when such a coordinating intent appears and violence is directed to fulfill this aims. Genocide also communicates that the act of attack is one sided, that the other side did not participate and did not start/trigger it. That it was planned. When we call a Hindu-Muslim riot a ‘genocide of Muslims’ we are communicating that it was one sided, started by Hindus, there was neither provocation/starting nor full blown participation from Muslims. That is Hindus and Hindus alone have been the ghastly perpetrators of violence in this.

The 2002 Gujarat riots were triggered by burning alive 59 Hindu karsevaks returning from Ayodhya. They included 27 women and 10 children. The death toll in the riots was 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus. It was a two way affair started by Muslims. It was not genocide as per the definition. It was horrible, heinous, should not have happened, there were perhaps excesses from Hindu mobs once it started. All that should be condemned. But it was no genocide, and it was started by Muslims.

Regarding the Delhi riots debate is still on who stared it and how it progressed. I think the first causality was a Hindu police constable. Again it was a riot. Bad, should not have happened. In this horrible riot 53 people died, 36 Muslims, 15 Hindus and 2 are said to be unidentified. Many report say that initially for a day the deaths were equal from both communities, then the situation changed. This may show retaliation by the Majority community, the Hindus. It was no genocide.

I do not like using words like genocide, pogrom, terror, hate, etc. lightly. Undue use of them may lend anger and rabble rousing ability to one’s speech but it also normalizes these words. And that increases the likelihood of their enactment. That is too heavy a price bargaining to malign some one.

As said above currently some organizations are continuously maligning India and Hindus through an ongoing campaign mischievously titled “India on the brink” as if a genocide is about to happen here. Reputed supposed to be intellectuals and activist are speaking in it and paddling lies and false theories. It of course will increase their visibility and reputation in certain circles but will harm India and Hindus by harming the truth. And to me India includes all citizens, whatever their religion, so it will harm all. My tweet was against this campaign.

These worthies do not realize that the level of tension is very high in the country presently. There are incidents of Hindus killing Muslims and Muslims killing Hindus. Each Muslim death justifiably generates a storm of articles condemning the act, India, Hindus and the government. But Hindu deaths generate a deafening silence. And that makes the crime hundred times more painful for the Hindu community. The so-called intellectuals do not realize that this condoning of barbarity of one community and heavy attack on the other angers people more than the act itself.


The hijab, secularism and identity politics

February 18, 2022

Rohit Dhankar

Part A: Display of religious or community-identity symbols in public educational institutions

  1. Indian public education institutions have Saraswati pictures, religious prayers and various religious symbols displayed in their premises.
  2. Most institutions which have uniform for students allow Sikh head-dress as part of their uniform.
  3. In most of the institutions students and teachers can use markings on their person which may be religious in nature or otherwise indicate a particular community identity.
  4. Therefore, from the point of view of display of religious or community-identity symbols banning hijab (nikab, burka) in these institutions is unjustified discrimination if any of the other such symbols are allowed.
  5. It is also against the constitution as far as I understand.

Part B: Right of the institutions to decide their uniform

  1. Any institution which either receives public funds or wants recognition should not be allowed such discrimination.
  2. Private institutions which do not take any grant or receive public funds in any other form and do not want recognition from the government can certainly decide their uniform code that may selectively allow or ban certain symbols.
  3. That however will be again discriminatory, but as far as I understand not against the constitution.
  4. An additional issue in a uniform allowing hijab could be difficulty created by full body and face coverage, as there may be issues of concerned with identification of the person, security and possibility of using unfair means in examination. But that has to be resolved by other means rather than through a ban.

Part C: The issue of religious necessity

  1. None of the symbols and markings displayed except Sikh pagri are religiously necessary as far as I understand.
  2. Therefore religious argument is bogus.
  3. Even if something is religiously necessary it will not constitute a sound argument. Simply, because the person claiming religious necessity on the basis of whatever authority is bound to ignore many other religious injunctions, recommendations and markings.
  4. That will make insistence on only one of many equally supposed to be important religious necessities an opportunistic stand for alterior motives.
  5. Bringing in Quran as the source of religious authority is very untenable and extremely dangerous. The hatred for non-believers, Christians, Jews and idolaters is in Quran is rather raw and undisguised. Making all that religiously mandatory would be untenable.

Part D: The issue of identity politics

  1. The issue to my best judgment is actually an identity politics issue and not at all religious.
  2. To my mind it emerges from two problems in our definition of secularism and state attitude to secularism.
  3. Secularism is absolute necessity for a democracy. Democracy presently is absolute necessity for equality and freedom. Equality and freedom are absolute necessities for respecting human dignity. Thus, we have to take secularism as an unnegotiable fundamental principle.
  4. However, secularism as ‘equal respect’ for all religions is becoming untenable in India. Simply because equal respect is practiced as free for all in grabbing public space.
  5. It gives rise to intense completion for public visibility, grabbing physical space, bending laws and so on. Thus becomes a handy and dangerous tool for identity politics.
  6. Hijab and flaunting of saffron scarfs is exactly the kind of activities it encourages.
  7. A stricter version of secularism which disallowed any and all religious transgression of public space will be more manageable and fair.

Part E: Some undue comparisons

  1. Many wise cracks are comparing hijab with bindi, ghunghat, and sindur in educational institutions and saffron attire in assemblies etc.
  2. These comparisons are either mischievous or simply mistaken.
  3. Gughat is patriarchical dominance like hijab is. But no one actually uses ghughat in educational institutions. It is not religious at all.
  4. Sindur is again a symbol of patriarchical dominance but more as a warning to males who might want to approach the woman. Not a hiding of her charms. That is a very big difference. It may have some religious significance as well.
  5. Bindi is religious, but not necessarily patriarchical. It is more a mark of spiritual aspirations.
  6. State Assemblies and parliament have no uniforms and every one is allowed to choose their own attire there, including hijab.
  7. And most importantly, no one is punished publicly for not sporting bindi, ghunghat, sindur etc. No one is imprisoned or stoned or killed.
  8. This kind of comparison, if not a result to abysmal ignorance, is certainly mischievous, deliberately made to equate a definitely patriarchical and often cruelly enforced practice with other religious or social practices.