Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Insulting a nation! Do secularists tolerate this?

By M.V.Kamath

Secularists and liberals let us drop the adjective `pseudo’ for the time being are besides themselves with joy at the thought that the United States has slapped Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi in his face, by denying him entry visa into its sacred portals. Modi, no doubt, will survive this insult as he has survived many others, but it is time for all Indians to sit back and wonder whither we are heading as a people.

The question is: have we learnt nothing from our history? Time was when Tipu Sultan was against Marathas, Marathas against the Nizam and the Nizam against everybody else. This, at the micro level. At the macro level every ruler in India was playing his own game.

The East India Company took full advantage of it, played one faction against another and in the end emerged victorious to rule the once-proud nation for almost one hundred and fifty years. Our secularists and liberals do not think like Indians. They are the successors of our old feudal lords in their hatred of each other.

There is rejoicing in our secular quarters that Modi has been slapped in his face. They do not realise that a slap on Modi’s face is a slap on every Indian citizen’s face and some day they may know the consequences if they care. Our intellectuals are good at bowing and scraping. Their ancestors did that to the British.

In turn they are doing it before the Americans. Modi has been tarnished as a villain who is “Nazi-inspired”, a “Hindu fundamentalist” whatever that means besides being an active participant in crime against humanity, no less. A vicious article in the Indian media by one Angana Chatterji, described as Associate Professor of Anthropology at California Institute of Integral Studies is an example of the depths to which our intellectual degradation can go.

Chatterji obviously does not know the history of riots in India, of their origins and of their consequences. He (or is Angana a `she’?) is obviously not aware that there have been scores of riots in different parts of the country at different times, some more gruesome than others, all occurring under Congress-ruled states and Congress Chief Ministers, without a single honourable exception.

If one were to describe them, as anti-Modi historians have attempted to describe the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat, they would come out more blood-soaked than the killings witnessed in Gujarat in 2002. Were Angana to get a full report on how innocent Sikh men, women and children were brutally killed by Congress goondas following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, for three continuous days without interference either from the police or the Army, Angana would possibly temper her language in cursing Modi.

And Angana would be surprised to know that more Sikhs were killed during those riots than were Muslims in Gujarat. Incidentally many Hindus were also killed during police firing. The point is not that Congress in some ways is a more criminalised party than the BJP. We in India are living in times of stress but what happens in India is our business, not that of the United States of America.

Angana would have been better employed had she sought to explain U.S. behaviour down the decades in different parts of the world, how for years, the United States has supported dictators whether in Latin America or Africa without so much as an apology to liberals, how it has arranged to have unfriendly politicians killed whether it was Patrice Lumumba in Congo, Salvadore Allende in Chile or an inconvenient general in Pakistan whose usefulness to Washington had come to an end.

Human Rights in all cases were blown away with profuse abandon. What harm did the poor Vietnamese do to invite American fury for over a decade when US planes ruthlessly bombed Vietnamese homes and killed literally lakhs of Vietnamese? What sort of Human Rights was the US observing? What sort of Human Rights was the US, again, observing when first it equipped Iraqi militia with poison gas to be used against Iran? What kind of Human Rights has the US been observing in killing thousands of Iraqis in the past few months? The US claims it is defending religious freedom.

Religious freedom? Is there religious freedom in Saudi Arabia? Will Riyadh permit a Hindu temple to be set up in forget Mecca or Medina even Riyadh itself? And yet Saudi princes get royal treatment when they visit the United States.

What sort of religious freedom is there in Pakistan where scores of Hindu temples have been desecrated and where, until a couple of weeks ago, not even a crematorium was allowed to be set up? And while we are at it, may one ask whether there is any chance for a Hindu who dies in Spain or Portugal to get cremated there? A dead Hindu in these states has to have his body flown over to London for getting cremated. Cremation is not permitted in Catholic countries.

A Report on Religious Intolerance in Europe, first drawn up around 1956-57 was quickly suppressed. It must be gathering dust in the United Nations archives in New York, considering that the report was commissioned by the world body. There should be a limit to hypocrisy.

The US has falsely implicated the National Human Rights Commission (India) for damning Modi. But a top NHRC official has denied condemning Modi. The news agency UNI quotes the official as saying, that the Bush Administration has blown its observations over the 2002 riots out of proportion.

As he put it: “Our approach was mainly limited to the Best Bakery Case.... there was no indictment in general of Modi or his government”. But the US Government obviously has no respect for facts just as it had no respect for facts when it charged Iraq with possessing weapons of mass destruction.

Washington lies through its teeth when it suits its purpose. It now claims that the decision to deny Modi entry visa was taken based on the Indian Government’s criticism of the Gujarat Chief Minister. But why doesn’t it take the same government at its word when it asks Washington to reconsider its decision?

The trouble is that the United States thinks that it can get away with anything since it is the only Super Power. Its officials had no regrets when they asked defence Minister George Fernandes to strip and remove his shoes to prove that he was not carrying any dangerous weapons on his person.

It was shameful and sickening. How would the US have reacted if Indian officials had asked US Defence Minister also to strip? And how would China have reached if its Defence Minister was subjected to such ignominy? Have any European Defence Minister been asked to to strip? Why are we taking these insults so casually?

Why can’t we spit in their faces and tell them where they get off! The manner in which US soldiers have been ill-treating Iraqi and Afghan prisoners of war is shocking beyond words. Some of them are not even POWs but plain detainees. One media report says that at a CIA-funded prison north of Kabul, a detainee was stripped naked, dragged across a concrete floor, then chained in a cell and was “frozen to death”.

That is how civilised Americans behave! Then there was a picture of a US woman officer compelling men to lie one above another. One presumes that this is the American concept of Human Rights. Iraqi soldiers have no Human Rights. They can be treated like dogs.

The California professor speaks of genocide. What the US under Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon practised in Vietnam was genocide, pure and simple. What Pakistani Jehadis are practising in Jammu & Kashmir is again, genocide. Thousands of Kashmir Pundits have been driven out of their homes and are living in utmost degradation because of sheer terrorism practised by Pakistani terrorists supported by successive Pakistani regimes.

Are the hands of General Musharraf clean? Why is he being honoured and feted? The Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is even now supporting terrorism in India’s north east and there has not been a single word of protest from Washington.

But what is it that Modi is charged with? If there was no Godhra, would there have been riots in Gujarat? What were those thousands of Muslims doing on the railway track as the two railway coaches were on fire? It is now claimed that a judge has noted that the fire was incidental and not deliberately set up.

If the fire was incidental isn’t it natural for those in the coaches to get off? Would any sane person continue to remain in a coach when fire is on? The plain fact is that they were not allowed to get off by Muslim crowds who were throwing stones at the coaches.

That is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It was the ruthless murder of over fifty five innocent women and children who were burnt into ashes that set the riots in Gujarat. Whether Modi will ever get his visa back is immaterial. Even if it is given to him again, he should throw it into gutters. But there is a moral to every event.

And this is that no one should ever again resort to violence, no matter what the provocation. The torching of the coaches at Godhra was a well-planned and executed event. There is enough evidence to prove it. Violence begets violence. Violence in Godhra is nothing new. The place is notorious for communal violence but the violence that followed the torching of coaches should be a warning to all concerned, whether Hindu or Muslim.

Violence does not pay. As for our secularists, the less said the better. By supporting the US government they have shown their true face. Cowards come in many colours. And they are the first ones to sell their country to a foreigner.

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