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Monday, November 26, 2012

[] India: Dream for secular republic unfulfilled

India: Dream for secular republic unfulfilled

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

The terror attack on Mumbai in the night of November 26th was an attack on India killing innocent people but it also confirmed the weakness of Indian state in tackling the communal agenda.  The police and administrative set up were communalized and Muslim became more isolated in this propaganda war. Isolation of Muslims in India is defeat of the vision of our constitutional forefathers.

Today is a landmark date of Indian Republic as on this day in 1949 our constituent Assembly settled for the current constitution of India. With different divergent views, India finally adopted a Republican Democratic Constitution despite the tragic and disastrous accidents due to partition in which thousands lost their lives for no fault of their own and millions were displaced.

Paradoxically, the same day on November 26th, 2008, terrorists stuck the financial capital of India and bled it in full force in an open defiance to republican common sharing dream of a united India. Hundreds of innocent lost their lives and many their whole world. The incident changed the total perception of people in India and forced the governments to adopt more such strategies which actually were anti-democratic and against the basic preamble of our constitution. In the name of fight against terrorism, innocent Muslim youths were arrested in different parts of the country and thousands of them are still languishing in jails waiting for their trial to take off.

Therefore, it is time for introspection as where our republic failed and why? It is a well-known fact that despite partition in the name of religion, Indian leadership chose to adopt a secular constitution which means despite our prejudices we still attempted to overcome those through constitutional measures. For a country which bore the brunt of partition in the name of religion, it was a huge compliment and challenging task. While the leadership which fought for the nation was by and large secular at least till Nehru was there at the helm of affair, it started appeasing Hindu fundamentalists more and more subsequently after his demise in 1964. The country had seen communal disturbances in number of places and almost all the inquiry commissions had pointed the involvement of RSS in the communal riots. Meerut, Moradabad,, Aligarh, Kanpur, Bhivandi, Malegaon, Jabalpur, Mumbai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad saw communal riots in different phases which bled the nation.

In 1975 Mrs. Indira Gandhi imposed emergency on the country and suspended all our rights including freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly. All the political leaders were arrested and newspapers were not allowed to publish news items which were against the 'interest' of the government. She lost in 1975 resulting in the formation of first non-Congress government of Janata Party under the leadership of Morarji Desai which undemocratically used its power and dismissed 7 congress ruled government immediately without allowing them to complete their terms. The argument was that they have lost their mandate. It was naked dance of dictatorial leadership who were elected in the name of democracy. Indira Gandhi repeated it when she returned to power in 1980 by dismissing the Janata governments in the states.

1980s was a tumultuous phase in Indian democracy when power started slipping out of the brahmanical domination and Congress played shamelessly though, the Hindu card in Jammu and Kashmir and later in Punjab. The results were disastrous. To counter the demand of more powers to the state raised by the Akali Dal, Indira Gandhi promoted Bhindaranwale who used the opportunity to establish himself as the biggest leader of the Sikh Panth. The Sikh Hindu divide grew in Punjab resulting in the disastrous decision of the government to raid the golden temple in June 1984 under code name 'Operation Blue Star'. It hurt the Sikh psyche tremendously and government did nothing to remove them. They were isolated. Every Sikh became a suspect in the eye of others. This was one of the most uncertain periods of Indian republic. They were deeply hurt with the turn of events at the Golden Temple where huge number of militants had gathered. The mix of religion and politics could be best seen in Punjab and Akali Dal was no less responsible as it was they who used it to the best and Congress was only trying to consolidate the non Jats as well as Hindus in the state. The dirty game of the political parties created an unbridgeable divide.

On October 31st, 1984 Mrs. Indira Gandhi was brutally assassinated by her own security staffs who happened to be Sikhs. The entire country saw the violence against Sikh community and each one of them were considered as a threat to the country. The national capital took the lead in violence against the Sikhs and the might Indian state did not do anything. Instead, it used the opportunity to consolidate the Hindu vote bank further which resulted in the massive mandate to Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 when elections were held in the country. It is essential to examine the 1985 electoral mandate to Rajiv Gandhi where he became the symbol of Hindu nationalism and the Sangh Parivar openly came in his support. He used those symbols too to consolidate his position yet he also initiated different political processes in various parts of the country including Punjab and Mizoram. The results were positive yet Rajiv lost in 1989 because he was surrounded by the coterie which enjoyed his innocence. With a massive mandate in his pocket, he ignored President Jail Singh who was loyal to his mother and sworn him as a prime minister without even waiting for the Congress Party formally electing him as leader.

Rajiv and his close associate Arun Nehru continued to play the Hindu Card which resulted in opening up the lock of Babari Mosque for Hindus. The government never challenged the local court order further to appease the Hindus. At the same time when Muslim fanatics raised the issue of Shahbano, the government over turned the Supreme Court order on the rights of a Muslim woman who is divorced. The congress as usual wanted a win-win situation for all the fundamentalists in the country and hence it covers extra miles to appease every one without addressing their social economic issues. The Ayodhya issue and Shabano case actually gave the Hindu fundamentalists a big handle to brow beat Muslims in the country. Under lot of corruption charges, Rajiv lost the next election resulting in the formation of another non Congress government under V.P.Singh which was supported from outside both by the left and the right.

In 1990, the prime minister announced acceptance of Mandal Commission Report giving opportunity to OBCs to share power. This was one of the biggest events of post independent India which shook the Indian power structure.  It developed a deep hatred towards the then prime minister V.P.Singh in the Indian middle classes. The forces of Hinduva felt the danger of OBC assertion and their alliance with Dalits for the hegemony of the upper caste in socio-political life of our country. They could not afford to openly oppose the Mandal commission reports yet clandestinely fomenting trouble in Delhi against the government decision.  After much thought, they launched the Ram Temple movement and under the grand design engaged the Shudra communities in it. They created an enemy in the form of Muslims and isolated them politically. The anti-Muslim feelings were created under the Ram Temple movement turning them the main villain. The Congress and the mainstream parties did not take them openly. In fact, Congress was in competitive mode for this Hindu communalism which resulted in more isolation of Muslims. The biggest casualty of this communalization process in India was the Hindutvaisation of administrative set up particularly police and administrative bodies. Unfortunately, media too became victim of it. In the post 1990s, media used all the propaganda of the Hindutva forces and actively supported by the police and intelligence services to defame and isolate Muslims further.  It culminated in violence against Muslims and systematic onslaught on their places of worship with demolition of Babari Mosque on December 6th, 1992. The then prime minister Narsimha Rao promised to the nation that the Babari Mosque but instead no political party including the secular ones dare to say that Babari Mosque should be rebuilt to bring it the status quo level. No culprit of that heinous crime against Indian constitution and secular ethos of the country ever went to jail except for one day symbolic punishment to Kalyan Singh who wanted to use this opportunity to garner their votes further.

Ram Mandir movement legitimized the communalization of the Hindutva brigade and brought them to power. It exposed the parties and outfits which claims to be secular and yet became part of so-called National Democratic Alliance. The culprit of the Babari demolition became senior minister and presided over the same ministries which were supposed to file cases against them.  Lal Krishna Advani became the Home Minister of the country and further communalized the entire bureaucracy.  Murli Manohar Joshi was made Minister for Human Resource Development and he shamelessly pursued the brahmanical agenda in education particularly in the school text books.

In Mumbai, the award of the communal riots in 1993 with active support of the Shiv Sena goons resulted in their attaining power in Maharastra when it went to polls, while in 2002, Narendra Modi outdid what Rajiv and his Congress had done to Sikhs in Delhi in 1984. The Muslims were the victims of Modi's hate agenda as he wanted to teach them a 'lesson' and finish their voices completely. Gujarat became the biggest laboratory of Hindutva and brahmanical forces. Despite all our war cries against him, Modi continue to become more powerful in the absence of a credible secular alternative. This further marginalized and isolated Muslims in Gujarat.

On November 26th, 2008 the terrorists from Pakistan attacked Mumbai. The country suffered and like all, many Muslims were also killed with other citizens of the country. The war against terrorism became a war against 'Muslims'. This was suitable for the Hindu right wing which always wanted to get legitimized in the din of 'war against terror'. Muslim and terrorism became synonymous terms with media actively participating in it and became propaganda machinery of the state for the same. It is ironical that while in all other matters particularly on the issues of corruption, the media never bothered about the state version but on the issue of Muslims, they became voice of the state and were thoroughly communalized.

Thousands of Muslims youths are languishing in Indian Jails in the name of 'war against terror'. Many of them have not even been brought to trial. It is shameful that a 'secular' administration and the state could do nothing. It is the biggest blot to Indian state that it has selectively made the state apparatus anti-Muslims. While identity politics has become hall mark of Indian political system, Muslim identity has become a drawback for the community. Any formation of political front in the name of Muslims will be out rightly termed as communal while the Hindutva-isation of our political set up is complete.  The Muslims youths are being detained for no fault of theirs.  It is not just state of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh where Muslim youths are in jail without any trials. It is tragic a state of Uttar-Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh where state government claims to be 'secular'.

War against terrorism cannot be won by putting innocents in the jail just because of their religious identity of being a Muslim. It is proved beyond doubt how the Hindutva forces are operating in the country and communalizing the government apparatus and media. Our republic cannot hope to achieve its dreams of a secular socialist India when its 'second majority' suffers the fate of being 'foreigner' and 'suspect' for every act of terror which is the case of individuals or politically motivated terrorist groups. As we do not blame all the Hindus for the fault of Hindutva organizations and their misdeeds similarly, it is time when the media should stop branding every Muslim as terrorist for the act and misdeeds of these unlawful outfits whose agenda is to ferment trouble in India.  The state apparatus will have to be developed in a secular way so that they do not suffer from prejudices. As long as we have political leaders without facing any trial for their involvement in hate propaganda and instigating communal violence, we will continue to have act of terror.


As long as the Muslim youths are arrested without their involvement for the troubles created by the terrorist outfits, we will not be able to bring peace in the country. The answers to today's problems are more engagement of the community in administration, social and political life. The day, Indian society become inclusive and our administration and judiciary secularized, the political goons using religious identity as a tool to climb up the ladder and become leader would be isolated. Communalism of all variety is dangerous for the country and can be tackled both with greater administrative reforms including secularization of it as well as a wider public debate on the issue of democracy and secularism so that fringe elements everywhere is  isolated. If the Muslims, Dalits, Aadivasis in this country do not get justice, it would be difficult for democracy to survive and then we will have nobody to blame but to ourselves and our faulty political system which is unfortunately strengthening status quo. The dreams of our constitutional forefathers remain unfilled as the shortsightedness of our current political class and legitimization of the communal organisations as 'nationalist' political parties .

Vidya Bhushan Rawat
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