Pseudo-Secularism

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.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Freedom Gagged

by François Gautier

Ganga Sagar, located on the western edge of the Sunderban Delta in West Bengal, is for many Hindus a very renowned Place of Pilgrimage, because there the Ganga river has a confluence with the Bay of Bengal. At the edge of Sagar town - adjacent to the beach - is an ancient temple dedicated to Kapil Muni, the sage responsible for initiating the chain of events that ultimately resulted, according to the legend, to 'Mother Ganga' descending to the earth from heaven and giving mankind an opportunity to wash away its sins in her pure water. The earliest mention of this place is found in the Mahabharata where a sage explains to Bhishma the significance of taking a dip at the confluence of Gangasagar. Thus, millions of Hindu pilgrims visit this holy place all year round to take a dip in the Ganges, particularly during the Kumbha Mela and Makara Sankranti festivities.

Last Thursday, a Hindu social group, named the Hindu Sanghati, led by its National convener, Sri Tapan Kumar Ghosh, had started conducting there for 180 men, women and children, a three-day Yoga and meditation camp in a building close to the confluence owned by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. After attending the first Yoga and meditation session in the morning, the group went to take a dip in the Ganga Sagar confluence, and thereafter to pay obeisance in the Kapil Muni shrine. On its way, the group chanted "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" and "Jai Sri Ram". This was enough to anger the local people, mostly immigrant Bangladeshi Muslims. Later in the day, led by Sheikh Ismail, who happens to be CPI(M)'s Panchayat Samiti seat winner in the area, about 3000 men reached the building were the pilgrims were put up, and started throwing gas cylinders and petrol bombs (Molotov cocktails) and kept on attacking incessantly for a few hours, till all 180 of the camp were trapped inside this burning camp along with Tapan Ghosh.

The local police-appeared to side more with the Muslims than the Hindus, maybe just out of plain fear, and only very small posse of 15 policemen was sent, totally inadequate for resisting such a huge armed mob. The police could not control the mob of Muslims even after firing several rounds.

As a result, quite a few Hindus attending the camp have been injured in the carnage, and at least 7 of them are in critical condition, apart from 2 others who could not be identified because of serious facial burn injuries. 2 policemen have also been seriously injured due to the assault by the Muslim mob. Apart from throwing petrol bombs to incinerate the camp building, the mob also attacked and seriously damaged some nearby houses of the local Hindus as well as an adjoining Kali temple and a 'Yatri Nivas' (Travellers' Lodge) run by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

In a travesty of justice, 15 of the pilgrims were arrested by the local police, and booked under Sections 147, 148, 149, 307, 310 and 323 of IPC (Indian Penal Code) for inciting "communal disharmony". Out of these 15, the organiser of the camp, Tapan Ghosh, and one other have been remanded 7 days' police custody in Kakdwip Thana (Police Station) in West Bengal and it is feared they will be tortured. A pilgrim who was injured in the clash, said: "We got beaten up only for chanting religious slogans; Jayanta Mukherjee, the SDPO of the area also abused us and arrested many of our members." Ironically, not even one of the attackers was arrested by the police.

It seems like a reverse logic: instead of punishing the attackers, you penalize the attacked! The communists, by allowing knowingly hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis to settle in West Bengal, out of ideology (Muslims are our allies), but also for electoral purposes (they are furnished fake identity cards, so that they vote for them) have created a monster that will come back to haunt India, not only in Nandigram, but other places, such as Jaipur or Varanasi, though communists, once more have shown that they will side with Muslims if they attack Hindus.

One has to laud Nehru's concept of protecting the oppressed and the minorities, but is it not now going overboard, with the police seeming to side increasingly with minorities, at the expense of the majority community of India, the Hindus, who have been known throughout their history to be extremely tolerant and to accept diversity?

Is it a common pattern? Yes ! the same thing happened in Chennai when on the 7th March 2008, the Tamil Nadu police vandalized an exhibition on Aurangzeb and threw some paintings on the ground, shattering them. Yet it was an artistic exhibition on the great Moghol emperor using his own records and firmans (edicts), many of which are still preserved in Indian museums, such as the Bikaner archives. Aurangzeb was truly a pious Muslim, copying the Koran himself, stitching Muslim skullcaps and enforcing strict laws. Nevertheless, according to his own documents, he was a very ruthless and cruel emperor. Forget what he did to Hindus : re-imposing the humiliating jiziya tax, forbidding them from riding horses, elephants or palanquins and ordering all temples destroyed (Among them the Krishna's birth temple in Mathura, the rebuilt Somnath temple on the coast of Gujurat, the Vishnu temple replaced with the Alamgir mosque now overlooking Benares and the Treta-ka-Thakur temple in Ayodhya), he was also a monster to his own family, having his father poisoned, his two brothers killed, and imprisoning his own son.

The day before the Nawab of Arcot, local Muslim leader, had visited the exhibition and had been enraged by two miniatures -- the first depicted Aurangzeb's army destroying the Somnath temple and the second showed the destruction of the Kesava Rai temple in Mathura. Soon, the nawab sent a group of Muslims from TMMK (Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam) and MNP (Manitha Neethi Paasarai) to pick up arguments with the volunteers, most of them elderly women from decent family backgrounds. They came back again on 7th afternoon, screaming on top of their voices in Tamil and in English that this exhibition was absolutely false and that unless it was closed immediately they would come back in force tomorrow (Friday) to break it down. The volunteers tried to reason with them, that these were all documents from Government archives, that they could explain everything to them, that they could even debate on TV, but they shouted even louder and got more threatening. Then the police openly sided with the TMMK, vandalized the exhibition and closed it down.

This raises the question of what kind of freedom exists in India at the moment. We understand that without the support of the communists the present Government would collapse. But does that mean that the Congress leaders have to turn a blind eye to what the communists are doing to the social fabric of India and South Asia? There is such a thing as Karma. By allowing hundreds of Bangladeshis to settle in India, or having helped the Maoists to take over Nepal, or letting artistic freedom be gagged, these people, who soon will be out of power, will hand over to the next government extremely difficult situations to handle.

François Gautier

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