9 Is Not 11 [2 of 5]

Muslims are not the only one in the gun sights of the Hindu Right, Dalits and Christians have also been the target of Hindutva extremists. In the picture above, a hapless Christian victim of Hindu violence looks on at a relief camp in Bhubaneshwar, India



by Arundhati Roy


Side B believes that though nothing can ever excuse or justify terrorism, it exists in a particular time, place and political context, and to refuse to see that will only aggravate the problem and put more and more people in harm’s way. Which is a crime in itself.

The sayings of Hafiz Saeed, who founded the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (Army of the Pure) in 1990 and who belongs to the hardline Salafi tradition of Islam, certainly bolster the case of Side A. Hafiz Saeed approves of suicide bombing, hates Jews, Shias and Democracy, and believes that jehad should be waged until Islam, his Islam, rules the world.

Among the things he has said are:

“There cannot be any peace while India remains intact. Cut them, cut them so much that they kneel before you and ask for mercy.”

And, “India has shown us this path. We would like to give India a tit-for-tat response and reciprocate in the same way by killing the Hindus, just like it is killing the Muslims in Kashmir.”

But where would Side A accommodate the sayings of Babu Bajrangi of Ahmedabad, India, who sees himself as a democrat, not a terrorist? He was one of the major lynchpins of the 2002 Gujarat genocide and has said (on camera):

“We didn’t spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire…we hacked, burned, set on fire…we believe in setting them on fire because these bastards don’t want to be cremated, they’re afraid of it…. I have just one last wish…let me be sentenced to death…. I don’t care if I’m hanged…just give me two days before my hanging and I will go and have a field day in Juhapura where seven or eight lakhs of these people stay…. I will finish them off…let a few more of them die…at least twenty-five thousand to fifty thousand should die.”

And where, in Side A’s scheme of things, would we place the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh bible, We, or Our Nationhood Defined by M.S. Golwalkar ‘Guruji’, who became head of the RSS in 1944. It says:

“Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening.”


“To keep up the purity of its race and culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races—the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here…a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

Of course, Muslims are not the only people in the gun sights of the Hindu Right. Dalits have been consistently targeted. Recently in Kandhamal in Orissa, Christians were the target of two-and-a-half months of violence which left more than 40 dead. Forty thousand people have been driven from their homes, half of whom now live in refugee camps.

All these years, Hafiz Saeed has lived the life of a respectable man in Lahore as the head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which many believe is a front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. He continued to recruit young boys for his own bigoted jehad with his twisted, fiery sermons. On December 11, the UN imposed sanctions on the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Pakistani government succumbed to international pressure, putting Hafiz Saeed under house arrest. Babu Bajrangi, however, is out on bail and continues to live the life of a respectable man in Gujarat.

A couple of years after the genocide, he left the VHP to join the Shiv Sena. Narendra Modi, Bajrangi’s former mentor, is still the chief minister of Gujarat. So the man who presided over the Gujarat genocide was re-elected twice, and is deeply respected by India’s biggest corporate houses, Reliance and Tata. Suhel Seth, a TV impresario and corporate spokesperson, has recently said, “Modi is God.” The policemen who supervised and sometimes even assisted the rampaging Hindu mobs in Gujarat have been rewarded and promoted.

A young activist of one of the many Hindu militant outfits in India

The RSS has 45,000 branches, its own range of charities and seven million volunteers preaching its doctrine of hate across India. They include Narendra Modi, but also former prime minister A.B. Vajpayee, current Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani, and a host of other senior politicians, bureaucrats and police and intelligence officers.

And if that’s not enough to complicate our picture of secular democracy, we should place on record that there are plenty of Muslim organisations within India preaching their own narrow bigotry.

So, on balance, if I had to choose between Side A and Side B, I’d pick Side B. We need context. Always.

In this nuclear subcontinent, that context is Partition. The Radcliffe Line which separated India and Pakistan and tore through states, districts, villages, fields, communities, water systems, homes and families, was drawn virtually overnight. It was Britain’s final, parting kick to us.

Partition triggered the massacre of more than a million people and the largest migration of a human population in contemporary history. Eight million people—Hindus fleeing the new Pakistan, Muslims fleeing the new kind of India—left their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Each of those people carries and passes down a story of unimaginable pain, hate, horror, but yearning too. That wound, those torn but still unsevered muscles, that blood and those splintered bones still lock us together in a close embrace of hatred, terrifying familiarity but also love. It has left Kashmir trapped in a nightmare from which it can’t seem to emerge, a nightmare that has claimed more than 60,000 lives.

Pakistan, the Land of the Pure, became an Islamic republic, and then, very quickly a corrupt, violent military state, openly intolerant of other faiths.

India on the other hand declared herself an inclusive, secular democracy. It was a magnificent undertaking, but Babu Bajrangi’s predecessors had been hard at work since the 1920s, dripping poison into India’s bloodstream, undermining that idea of India even before it was born.

By 1990, they were ready to make a bid for power. In 1992, Hindu mobs exhorted by L.K. Advani stormed the Babri Masjid and demolished it.

By 1998, the BJP was in power at  the the Centre.

(Left) Bajrang Dal flag with emblem of the Nazis
It shouldn’t surprise us that Hafiz Saeed of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba is from Shimla (India) and L.K. Advani of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is from Sindh (Pakistan).
In much the same way as it did after the 2001 Parliament attack, the 2002 burning of the Sabarmati Express and the 2006 bombing of the Samjhauta Express, the Government of India announced that it has ‘incontrovertible’ evidence that the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba backed by Pakistan’s ISI was behind the Mumbai strikes. The Lashkar has denied involvement, but remains the prime accused. According to the police and intelligence agencies, the Lashkar operates in India through an organisation called the ‘Indian Mujahideen’. Two Indian nationals—Sheikh Mukhtar Ahmed, a Special Police Officer working for the Jammu and Kashmir Police, and Tausif Rehman, a resident of Calcutta in West Bengal—have been arrested in connection with the Mumbai attacks. So already the neat accusation against Pakistan is getting a little messy.
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12 replies to “9 Is Not 11 [2 of 5]

  1. Arundhati Roy has hit the nail on the head.

    Islamist terrorists and Hindu extremists are just as bad as each other. It is high-time that the general public, irrespective of their religious faith realised that.

    The root of the problem, I believe, is the hatred that people have for those who practise a religion different than their own.

    How can the hatred be rooted out of people’s hearts? I have no answers. After all, better men have tried to find answers and failed.

    The recent violence directed against Christians was meant to garner Hindu votes in the forthcoming general elections in India, I believe, as most communal violence in India is. The carnage can stop only when people stop voting for the political parties that resort to such nefarious activities, in order to win elections.

  2. You are perfectly right when you say this.

    Unfortunately, the politicians and their cronies who mostly depend upon vote / note* catching factors (*the rupee notes) utilize the religious sentiments – creating false patriotism and the caste / creed / ethnic rivalries which they fuel first and then exploit later, to have bags full of votes first and then notes later.(There are ample stories known to all of us in Pakistani as well as in Indian political circles).

    The solution to all these nefarious tactics by politicos everywhere is to create an awakening / mass awareness amongst common, downtrodden people, the have-nots of the society who always become a prey to this politics of hate. And its again they who suffer most. A politician never looses. Even in opposition, he has enough armor to fight and earn dividends out of this politics of hate.

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  4. In your issue of March 2009, you serialized posts by a world renowned writer from India (Arundhati Roy) wherein she comments on different issues which according to her are the possible root cause of 26/11 Mumbai attacks. Whereas by and large her analysis appears near to truth, she however, falters’ in her opinion when she comments on Jamaat-ud-Dawa [JUD] Chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. While doing this, she has been led away with the propaganda launched by the Indian government and the mainstream media in India which has become a hallmark of their policy.

    Here I would like to quote extracts of the letter sent by Prof. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed to Hamid Mir, an eminent columnist and anchorman. The letter has been sent on the first anniversary of the tragic event of 26/11 in Mumbai, India.

    In his letter, Hafiz M. Seed categorically affirms as follows:-

    “Its exactly a year now (the letter appeared on 26th November in the daily Jang of Lahore. Its titled Shukriya Hafiz Muhammad Saeed!) and I quote:

    “Hundreds of families were shaken by the tragedy on 26/11. Definitely the effected families should still be in a state of mourning. However, in Pakistan itself almost 5000 families were targeted and have been affected in much the same way as those in the Mumbai tragedy. However, it is a pity that India has utilized this tragedy so callously and branded JUD as a force responsible for these attacks. India though has no proof to do so yet with US blessings and short sightedness of Pakistani authorities, succeeded in getting the JUD banned. Resultantly here in Pakistan the JUD came under a severe crackdown; many of my colleagues including myself were arrested – and with that all such activities as charities, welfare work and educational services we were rendering to the poor of this country, all of a sudden came to a standstill. Particularly hit were the families who depended upon a stipend of Rs. 5000 – 6000 every month from Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a direct outfall of which were also the teams of doctors, engineers, technicians and welfare staff volunteers who became jobless overnight; what to speak of persons who were getting help through such activities.

    While remembering those innocent people who lost their life in 26/11attacks, I myself have had a deep shock and am grieved for the pain borne by those people who lost their near and dear ones in this tragedy.

    It was however quite unasked for to forcibly malign me or the JUD to link up that event to my person or the JUD. The Indian media indeed succeeded in their endeavor, yet in spite of their maximum efforts they have not been able to prove this in any court of law. Lahore High Court in an appeal by me and my colleagues against detention orders announced a historic decision when it declared that they did not find any evidence of mine or that of JUD involvement in the tragedy. Still the Indian government and their media are harping on the same tune. They claim to have provided many dossiers to the Pakistan Government [GoP] blaming them that they haven’t taken any action against us. They just want the GoP to punish me for an act which has not been committed by us at all.

    Meanwhile, the several dossiers that they handed over to the GoP, supposedly carrying evidence against me, yet the Pakistani government has itself admitted that these dossiers do not contain any evidence against me.
    As I have stated earlier, the truth is that these dossiers do not contain any evidence against me. May I ask what then is the purpose of this entire hullabaloo?

    The fact is that India desires to suppress the Kashmir issue, which is the real dynamic behind all this Indian propaganda. My real ‘crime’ is that I vociferously and comprehensively highlight India’s involvement in terrorism within Pakistan, which is going on in both overt as well as covert operations. Today this is known to every one in Pakistan. My crime is that I unveil the secret games played by Indians as I do not issue sugar coated statements and call the spade a spade.” Unquote.

    Most important part of Hafiz Saeed’s letter is the one where he mentions and laments the attitude of certain journalists and a few persons in the intelligentsia as well of Pakistan who blindly follow everything that is reported in the Indian media and start maligning the JUD for harboring and sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan, even though the GoP in spite of their day in and day out efforts have not been able to find any proof against JUD or its chief.

    “We were the first one” continues the JUD chief, “to condemn any type of terrorism in Pakistan. We straightaway condemned suicide attacks in Pakistan. We consider any such activity against Islam and against Pakistan. Islam is a religion of peace and Jihad in the name of Allah is an important pillar of our faith. But to wage Jihad is not the business of every tom, dick and harry; specific stipulates have been laid down to launch Jihad. Just to kill people in the name of Jihad is neither Islam nor our code. In Islam its also not allowed to attack public places (like bazaars, shopping centers, community halls and so on.) or use explosive devices to cause terror and destruction. We do not believe in killing people in non Muslims states. We believe as part of our faith: it is the duty of all Muslims to protect the property and the life of each and every non Muslim living in an Islamic state.

    Jihad is allowed only in circumstances where non Muslims wage a war on Muslims. We call them infidels at war. This precisely is the reason, last year when UN Security Council imposed a ban on JUD, the Hindus of Karachi and interior Sindh as well as the Christians of Pakistan took out protest rallies against this ban.

    As far LET center at Muridke in the Kerry Lugar Bill, it’s a mere propaganda blitz. . Markaz-e-Tayyaba, Muridke is an educational and public welfare complex where, apart from the educational institutions for boys and girls, an excellent hospital also exists. Nor has it ever been a no-go area in the past. Journalists from every corner of the world have toured and surveyed it, yet western media, with its agenda of promoting certain interests and objectives, continues to spew propaganda against this educational complex.

    The object of writing these lines is to call for an end to negative propaganda against Jamaat-ud-Dawah and to allow it to fully resume its humanitarian and public welfare projects. Perpetual negative propaganda against us, despite our evident past and our open present is beyond our comprehension. We obviously do not expect anything from others, but we do believe we have a right to expect that the Pakistani media will support us against the innumerable injustices committed against Pakistan’s major humanitarian relief organization and will cooperate with us in presenting the truth to the international community.

    Muhammad Wasi, Kundian, Distt. Mianwali

  5. Now the entire world know the identity of a terrorist organization and their modus operendii .The secret informations about all those organization is available based on which the action of DRONES will be decided .The Pak journalist can’t help them any more .

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