Book Name: Malegaon to Ajmer, The Trail of Terror. A compilation of Articles/Essays on acts of terror by Hindutva outfits, with an Introduction by Ram Puniyani
Publisher: All India Secular Forum, Mumbai, India
Year of Publication: 2010; Pages: 128; Price: Rs. 100
Reviewed by: Mushtaq ul Haq Ahmad Sikander
After 9/11 attacks, the witch hunt of Muslims started all over the world. Different countries to appease Uncle Sam began to target innocent Muslims. There is no doubt about the fact that certain fringe elements among Muslims were obviously carrying out terror attacks, but such elements and groups are prevalent in other religions too, but Media and government only targeted Muslims amass for every terror related activity, which marginalized the Muslims further. The best case study of the witch hunt of Muslims can be witnessed in India, where in the aftermath of series of bomb blasts numerous innocent Muslim youth were arrested, tortured, imprisoned, some of whom are still languishing behind the bars despite proving innocent in the court of law.
The present book under review is a compilation of articles and essays on the acts of terror by Hindutva outfits, with a powerful introduction by Ram Puniyani. Targeting innocent Muslims continued even after certain clues about the hand of various Hindutva outfits was discovered behind the attacks which spilled the beans about the conspiracy of the bomb blasts carried out by the cadres of Hindutva brigade but being blamed on hoax non existent Muslim organizations, thus making scapegoats out of innocent Muslims. In this process the Media, Police and State machinery all played an active role to manufacture terrorists out of Muslims.
In his Preface to the collection Ram Puniyani deplores the shrinking democratic space and targeting the minorities in these words “Politics in the name of religion, politics aimed to abolish democratic space, politics aimed at reversing the process of struggle for achieving caste and gender equality, presented in the language of religion also came up. This vitiated the social atmosphere and religious minorities faced insurmountable problems related to security and consequently to the equity related issues. Sectarian politics and terrorism go together, tormenting the weaker sections of society and delivering body blows to the democratic ethos, to the plural foundations of Indian society. For too long the formulations demonizing minorities, particularly Muslims ruled the roost. With terrorism being linked to Islam and Muslims the scene became much worse”.
In his strikingly powerful Introduction titled “In Lieu of Introduction Terrorism: Scapegoats and Holy Cows”, Puniyani says that “In both Malegaon and Hyderabad Mecca masjid, like many other places, what is evident is that Muslims had been the main victims and later main suspects, showing the track followed by the officials that all terrorists are Muslims, which has been their line of thinking in all cases of blasts”. (P-9)
The official line is biased against Muslims and they were targeted amass, and bomb blasts and Muslims became synonymous and now diffidence was exhibited to this norm as Ram too says “By now a pattern is emerging where not only that Bajrang Dal activists are carrying guns and swords and publicly display their arms but are also active in undertaking the acts of terror. It is likely that in many cases their role has remained uninvestigated. There is a deliberate cover up of these incidents. Some of these leads are not being pursued while the police are hyperactive in cases where suspected Muslim youth seem to be involved and that too just on the basis of their confessions. This is a biased attitude of the authorities involved”. (P-19)
The ramifications of this witch hunt on Muslims are varied, deep and long lasting, “Firstly, among the larger sections of society, that the Muslim terrorists are a huge threat to the nation. Secondly, among the Muslims the feeling is that State is totally prejudiced and deliberate injustice is being done to them because of their religion. Two sets of mechanisms of investigation norms are coming to be rooted. One, Muslim youth are picked up after every blast and are subjected to torture till courts pronounce them non guilty. And two, to treat the blast accused who are Hindus with kid gloves”. (P-20-21)
The articles and essays in this collection unveil various facets of Hindutva terror, how funds are channeled for philanthropic work from the Hindu Diaspora and used to fund terrorist activities, as well as the missionary work of RSS. There were accidental blasts in April 2006 and February 2007 in Nanded at the houses of Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena activists, but the Media maintained silence over the same, and even Police closed the cases after a little amount of investigation, pointing towards a sinister nexus between Police and Hindutva Terrorists.
The reason for this apathy can also be discerned from the fact that there is no Muslim in Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and National Technical Research Organization (NTRO), though IB has certain Muslims. The politicians too in the aftermath of blasts are always ready with statements which they issue from their cozy drawing rooms even before reaching the blast site and claim the hand of some clandestine non existent Muslim organization behind the blast thus narrowing down the probabilities for the Police and investigating agencies. Hindutva outfits strike in silence, and use the cloak of culture to carryout their sinister designs as pointed out by Ram Puniyani in his article “Is RSS a Terrorist organization?”, as “The only point of overt confusion sometimes can be that unlike Osama, or the AK 47 wielding terrorist in parts of the world, RSS volunteer will appear to be the apostle of quietness. This is the cleverest part of RSS operation- to achieve its goal, to get the minorities attacked and killed without taking up the arms themselves. Violence is leased out by clever social and psychological manipulation. In that sense AK 47 may miss the target but a mind poisoned and initiated by hate propaganda by RSS will come out as violence some time or the other, here or there it is just a question of time. Culture, the cloak of this organization is the most subtly disguised cover for the terrorist goals of this organization. This terrorist outfit kills many birds in a single stone, the birds being minorities and weaker sections of society”. (P-83)
David Headley, Abhinav Bharat, killing of Hement Karkare and Advocate Shahid Azmi and the infiltration of Hindutva elements in IB are discussed threadbare. Overall the book is a welcome read and a new addition to the literature of Hindutva Terrorism and the book is a must read for those who wish to acquaint themselves with the demon of Hindutva terror. The price and quality of the book make it easily available for all.