Saturday, November 22, 2008

‘Hindu terrorism’ debate grips India

Hindu devotee in Nasik
It’s argued that Hinduism and terrorism are incompatible

A new and highly controversial phrase has entered the sometimes cliche-riddled Indian press: “Hindu terrorism”.

As with the term “Islamic terrorism” and “Christian fundamentalism”, this latest addition to the media lexicon is highly emotive.

It was in the aftermath of the 29 September bomb blast in the predominantly Muslim town of Malegaon in the western state of Maharashtra that the term “Hindu terrorism” or “saffron terrorism” came to be used widely.

That was because the state police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested 10 Hindus following the blasts and has said that it wants to arrest several more.


One of those detained was a female priest, Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur, aged 38, who has been accused by the ATS of being involved in the Malegaon blast. Her detention shocked members of the faith.

So too did the arrest of a serving Indian army officer, Lt-Col Prasad Srikant Purohit, who the ATS says is the prime accused in the case.

Site of the Malegaon blast
Police said the Malegaon attacks were the work of ‘terrorists’

Police are investigating whether some of those arrested are members of a little-known Hindu outfit called Abhinav Bharat (Young India).

At least three of those held have some links with a prestigious college in the city of Nasik, the Bhonsala Military Academy.

ATS investigators have questioned two of the academy’s former office bearers several times.

One of them was Col Raikar, who retired from the Indian army some months ago.

Both he and Col Purohit served in the same unit of the army and became friends.

The ATS claims the meeting in which the plan for the bomb blast was hatched was held in the Bhonsala school.

Another retired army officer, Maj Prabhakar Kulkarni, is also under arrest. He too was an office bearer at the school.

In addition, the ATS says that at least one of the 10 suspects received military training here.

Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur, Col Purohit, Maj Kulkarni and Col Raikar have denied any connection with terrorism, as has the Bhonsala Military Academy and its parent organisation, the Central Hindu Military Education Society (CHMES).

Founded in 1937, the sprawling Bhonsala campus is run by the CHMES, an organisation established in the 1930s by Dr BS Moonje, a former president of the militant Hindu Mahasabha (Hindu Assembly) organisation.

His vision was to militarise India to fight the British Raj.

Military-style training

As the name suggests, this is not an ordinary college.

Its aim, as its website claims, is to “encourage students to take up careers in the armed forces of the country”.

Elephant in Nasik
Many Hindus are bemused at claims their faith is linked to terrorism

Military training involves teaching students how to fire guns.

The students are prepared for the National Defence Academy, the central government’s premier military college.

The branch of the academy in the city of Nasik has many impressive buildings.

One of them is used to impart military-style training to students, aged 10-16 years.

Its secretary, Divakar Kulkarni, laments the fact that his school is getting a bad press these days.

He says that besides military training, students are taught Hindu philosophy and scriptures.

Mr Kulkarni accepts it’s primarily a school for Hindus, but he adds that there are two or three Muslim and Christian children in every class of 45 students.

‘Tea and biscuits’

“Even Muslim students study the Bhagwat Gita and the Ramayana [Hindu scriptures],” he says proudly.

So how does he respond to the ATS allegation that the bomb plot was hatched at a meeting in the academy?

National defence Academy branch Secretary Divakar Kulkarni
Mr Kulkarni concedes his school has recently had ‘bad press’

“Col Raikar let out a hall to Abhinav Bharat for a meeting for two hours, but we don’t know what transpired in the meeting,” Mr Kulkarni said.

The ATS believes Col Raikar was also present in the meeting. But according to Mr Kulkarni he went there just for a few minutes “to ask if they wanted tea and biscuits”.

The ATS says that it has also found the aims and objectives of Abhinav Bharat downloaded on the computers of the two men.

Mr Kulkarni insisted that there was a perfectly innocent explanation for this: “They downloaded the outfit’s aims and objectives without knowing much about its work,” he said.

Meanwhile, most Hindu organisations believe India’s Congress party-led government is playing politics by defaming Hindus.

They argue that the very term “Hindu terrorist” is not only a creation of the media but also a contradiction in terms - because the faith explicitly renounces violence.

“The government, with an eye on the general election next year, is trying to woo Muslims by maligning Hindus,” says Datta Gaikward, chief of the right-wing Hindu Shiv Sena party in Nasik.

Hindu political parties are also staunchly defending Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur, the arrested female priest.

They have hired lawyers to represent her and at every legal hearing in Nasik supporters of right-wing parties gather outside the court and shout anti-government slogans.

All eyes will be now be on the court proceedings - whenever they start in earnest - to find out whether “Hindu terrorism” really has taken root or not.


Capt S B Tyagi said...

There is nothing called Muslim Terrorism or Hindu Terrorism

There were reportedly jubilations in the Muslim world that a ‘Hindu terrorist’ has been found after the arrest of Sadhvi Pragyan Singh! More then sense of exhilaration, there should have been gloom all over the world. The oldest and most tolerant religion has not produced even a single Hindu terrorist so far! In fact there was not even a muslin terrorist from India and this was the influence the Hinduism has over all the citizens of Hindustan!

Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims hold true in most of the blasts. While most Indians think the issue of the bomb blast is way above Hindu Muslims problem, Muslim people and organizations should come in large numbers and show protests to the attack. People taking the name of Islam and killing innocent people is Un-Islamic. And if there are no protests from the Muslim Community, it somewhere shows that it is tolerant to these attacks!

But just even for a second we assume (without believing!) that the trend of Hindu militancy is there to stay then Muslims instead of rejoicing must fear it most. The sheer number of Hindus in Hindustan must impress the Muslim militants (if there is any such term!) and they must realize that it is just impossible to eliminate or over power the Hinduism. Has Muslims not ruled us for more then 500 years? What happened thereafter? Has not Hinduism rebounded? They would be better advised to see the ground realties and come to terms – live and let live! There is no point fighting and getting killed when battle is already lost before it began!

prabhakar said...

First thing nobody is Muslim from Afaganistaan Pakistan Bangladesh and India. All the people here were Hindus one time.So now also they are Hindu only. By force and sometimes by mistake of Hindus themselves they became Muslim.They are most welcome back in main stream Hinduism.Second thing Hindu terrorism was never there and will never be there. But yes all Muslims are terrorists. It is very wrong to say that all terrorists are Muslims and all Muslims are not terrorists.All Muslims are terrorists were terrorists will remain terrorists. It is very big problem.In Hindus many have got enlightenment.Hinduism is real religion.It is only an excellent religion.Muslim religion was spread with the power of sword.Look at Shia and Sunni. Both of you are Muslim.Still why do you kill each other.This is Muslim religion.Hindustan got freedom after sacrifce of so many Hindus.At the time of freedom Muslims seperated. That became Pakistan East and West.Now Bangladesh.Both the countries are Muslim. There there is no life for Hindus.Where as in reality all there are forcibly converted Muslims.They were Hindus.That is why they are Hindus.Baby of tiger is baby.You call that tiger a cat.Still it is tiger.It's baby is tiger.your ancestors were Hindus . So you ara are welcome back as it was not your mistake.Let rest world be what it was. Then you see who is terrorist.If a person is Muslim he is terrorist only.If Muslims kill Hindus , Hindus should sit calm.If Hindu killed Muslim them it is wrong.The culprits got caught.To kill people of other religion is permitted to Muslim by their religious books.DO not try to fool others.Yes EVERY MUSLIM IS TERRORIST.IF NOT THEN HE IS NOT MUSLIM.

prabhakar said...

Nasir Khan,
you r not Muslim.If you r telling a langauge of peace and co-existence of people means u r not muslim.or u r showing it outwardly so as to live happily in non muslim world. to those people ur books call kafir.and it orders that every muslim must kill 4 kafirs in their life.that way he can go to heaven after death. u r talking of co-existance means either u r not muslim that is kafir that means u deserv death penalty at the hands of muslim or u r lying.U go and tell this thing in Pakistan . Bangladesh.U are a muslim no? u ask Saudi Arabia to allow to build 1 church,1 Ram temple,1 gurudvara, 1 jain temple , 1 budhdh mosastary beside ur mosques there. Let me see what u r?U r Hindu.U were Hindu.that is why u r thinking like Hindu.IT IS ALTOGETHER WRONG THAT MUSLIM WILL TOLERATE OTHER MAN.IT IS ONLY THE FEAR OF CHRISTIANS BECAUSE THEY ARE NOW STRONEST OF ALL THAT MUSLIMS ARE TALKING THIS LANGAUGE.OTHERWISE MUSLIM HAVE THIER OWN RULES LAWS.IN THAT LAW NOBODY OTHER THAN MUSLIM DOES NOT SIT. DO NOT TRY TO FOOL OTHERS. BUT WHY U MUSLIM FIGHT BETWEEN URSELVES? SHIA IS MUSLIM,SUNNI IS MUSLIM. WHY THEY FIFGT? THE PROBLEM IS IN RELIGION ITSELF.NO OTHER SECTS OF RELIGION FIGHT WITH EACH OTHER.

Dr Nasir Khan said...

Mr Prabkakar,

I understand your views and your perspective fully well. I have published your two comments even though I deeply disagree with everything you say. I am sure you will be able to find some other website for highlighting your concerns and views. But I do not use my blog to spread hatred against any religion and its followers or propagate any faith. If you are a fighter against Islam and Muslims, then that is your choice. You seem to be an enlightened person (your comments show that) and I think many will be pleased to hear what you have to say. India needs people like you who can make India a non-sectarian, anti-fascist and a peaceful country.

Best regards,
Nasir Khan