Terrorism - Varanasi,
Jama Masjid Show the Way
By Ram Puniyani
21 April, 2006
April14th, Friday two blasts immediately after the Arsa namaz injured
more than 15 people at Jama Masjid, Delhi. The Maqrib namaz which followed
saw undeterred devotees offering their prayers, and next day was no
exception when the usual number turned up to offer their prayers. Shahi
Imam Syed Ahmad Shah Bukhari's statement acted as the glue of harmony
and peace when he stated that "Emulate the people of Varanasi,
who did not react in anger and defeated the plans of communal forces".
The calm and usual chores followed in the city of Delhi, the city with
rich syncretic traditions and heritage.
The Varanasi example which
the Shahi Imam quoted has become a good deal of landmark in how to respond
to terror attacks. In the aftermath of the dastardly attacks, the Mahant
of Sankat Mochan temple of Kashi, Dr. Veer Bhadra Mishra upheld the
traditions of inclusiveness and tolerance. He shooed away the traders
of hate politics, who are out to politicize and communalize every conceivable
opportunity to strength their divisive agenda, and saw to it that the
temple continues to be the hub of harmony amongst the two major communities.
The efforts of Joshis and Katiyars from Sangh combine drew flak and
Hindus and Muslims, holding each others hands ensured the peace in the
city; at the same time continuing the glorious traditions of Varanansi.
The Muslim traders observed bandh to express their sympathy and solidarity
with the victims of blasts, and the Mufti of Varanasi and many other
Muslims alims issued fatwa's condemning the terrorist attacks, while
the Muslim men and women, along with others lighted the candles for
peace and condemned the terrorists who tried to disturb the fabrics
of amity in this temple town.
Varanasi, like many other
cities of the country is the city where Hindus and Muslim of the city
are interwoven like threads as in the lovely silk saris for which Kashi
is so famous for. This town has hundreds and hundreds of Muslims artisans
weaving the beautiful silk apparels, which are sold by the Hindu traders.
This is also a city where on one hand we see the likes of Munshi Premchand,
who wrote in Urdu as Nawab Rai and also crafted the acme of Hindi literature,
which is not only progressive but is also a celebration of composite
traditions of the country. This is also the city of the likes of Ustad
Bismillah Khans, whose Shahanai begins with devotion to Hindu deities
and hums the pleasant enchanting music into the ears of the whole nation.
It is also the city which like most of the cities of the country, highlights
the intercommunity amity in its most pleasant flavor.
The response of RSS progeny
was totally contrary to the spirit of the Indian national spirit, the
nation belonging to people of all the faiths. Sulking in the backyard
of political lanes after the defeat in the last general elections, it
saw this as an opportunity to build up its political capital on the
dead of the bomb blasts. VHP gave a call for Varanasi Bandh, which got
a lukewarm response. At political level they did state that it is due
to the soft policies of UPA (the current Congress led coalition) that
the terror attacks are taking place. They conveniently ignored that
number of terrorist attacks which took place during the NDA (BJP led
alliance) regime were much more in intensity and impact. It was Jaswant
Singh of BJP who had traveled with the terrorists and negotiated with
them. But some people presume that public memory is short and one can
go on making any allegation against the other to gain political benefits.
While the religious leaders
and people of Varansi put their best foot forward to create peace in
the society, the BJP declared of two rath yatras, spanning different
parts of the country, called as Bharat Surakhsha Yatra (Secure India)
and also to highlight the appeasement of Muslims by UPA government.
Can terrorism be eradicated by such moves which give a subtle message
against the minority community? How does one deal with the terrorist
attacks, the way people in Delhi did after the Jama Masjid blasts, the
way people of Varanasi did in the aftermath of blasts or the way Advani
and Rajnath Singh of BJP are doing through their yatras?
The War on Terror is the
popular slogan of US and its cohorts. US in a way are the central cause
of terrorism today. Its imperialist ambitions for controlling the oil
wealth, its support to Israel's violation of UN resolutions, its propping
up of Al Qaeda for intervention in Afghanistan, its launching of attacks
on Iraq and Afghanistan are the main cause for the phenomenon of terrorism
at global stage. In India the complex problem of Kashmir has added up
to the militancy, terrorism in Kashmir. Here the problem began with
Indian Governments' efforts to suppress the autonomy of Kashmir, which
had formed the basis of Kashmir's accession to India. The imprisonment
of Lion of Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah initiated process of stifling of
democracy and the turn of section of youth to terrorism. Pakistan was
waiting for such an opportunity and played the role of supporting these
terrorists. The terrorism of Al Qaeda, the West Asian issues and Kashmir
got intertwined together and are being projected as if they are due
to Islam, due to Muslim. With this the irresponsible use of Islamic
concept of Jihad, by the CIA to train terrorists of Al Qaeda played
the spoilsport and Muslims and terrorists started being used as synonymous.
The other type of terrorism
came up in the aftermath of Mumbai riots and Gujarat carnage. Mumbai
riots were followed by bomb blasts, which again were an insane 'reaction'
to the massive anti Muslim violence of Mumbai. In the aftermath of Anti
Muslim pogrom in Gujarat, the Gujarat Muslim Revenge group came up to
unleash four blasts in Mumbai. One hears that recently, in the first
week of April 06, one Bajarang Dal activist died due to explosion of
the bomb in Nanded district of Maharashtra and police is investigating
Surprsingly this was not much reported in the media.
People become terrorists due to many reasons and they again are of various
types, those spontaneously going in rage like after Mumbai or Gujarat
violence, and there are others who are/were systematically trained by
organizations that have a political agenda. Al Qaeda falls in the second
The Bajrang Dal activists
making bomb has ominous portents. Is it in response to Sankat Mochan
temple attack? Again the organizations which are illegal (Al Qaeda and
the ilk) and the legal (Bajrang Dal for example) and resort to terrorism
have to be dealt with differently. The so called war on terror is a
bogus thing as they are not dealing with any defined enemy. The terrorist
camps set up by CIA to train Al Qaeda can be easily strangulated once
their life line is withdrawn. It is also true that terrorism is like
a cancer, coming up as a disease/ or being promotes consciously, but
than the control mechanisms on this is not effective. While dealing
with this phenomenon, it is imperative that the core reasons of terrorism
are taken care of, without that it cannot be eradicated. The points
of dissatisfaction have to be dialogued and sorted out, those outfits
terrorism have to be dealt with firmly, sinister designs of legal organizations
like US and Bajrang Dal have to be opposed at political level as well.
The Rath Yatras are no solution
to the problem of terrorism. These only intensify the identity politics
and spread hate against minorities. The right way to deal with the situation
is that apart from symptomatically dealing with the issue in a firm
manner, we also have to look at the deeper reasons, the US lust for
oil, the dissatisfaction of Kashmiri youth after the arrest of Sheikh
Abdullah, the marginalization of minorities. The violence against minorities
has to be stopped if we are serious about eradicating terror. The Rath
Yatras and War on Terror, neither do they address the issue at symptomatic
level nor at the level of eradication of the basic issue. The efforts
of people of Varanasi, the Mahant of Sankat Mochan temple, the statements
of Mufti in case of Varanasi, and the one of Shahi Imam hold a great
promise at symptomatic level.