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A Probe Into Hidden Bullet

By M Shamsur Rabb Khan

24 December, 2008

Not long ago, a great majority of Indians were unhappy – just because for the first time some Hindu individuals like sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Major (Retd) Ramesh Upadhyay and Sameer Kulkarni from Hindu radical groups and Lt Colonel Prasad Purohit, the serving Army officer were found allegedly involved in the 29 September 2008 Malegaon bomb blasts. All hell let loose: people were puzzled as to how a Hindu could be a terrorist as if terrorism is synonymous with Muslim gene alone. Even stalwarts like L K Advani belligerently spoke in favour of a judicial inquiry, whose party was dead against any judicial probe into Batla House encounter.

We witnessed what we never witnessed before: unflinching support to these Hindus accused of Malegaon blast. Had any Muslim individual or organisation raised a slight whisper in support of any accused in all the bomb blasts that have occurred on Indian soil for the last three years, one can imagine the backlash. All – from political parties to individuals including media personnel – would have spent no stone unturned in branding every Muslim individual and organisation as traitor. Muslims have been coerced to live under the shadow of a belief that ‘all terrorists are Muslims though all Muslims are not terrorists’: hence, the burden of guilt. As a victim (not in all cases), it gave Hindu radicals a point to corner Muslims, and all the names appearing on TV screen and newspapers gave the community a sense of guilt they perhaps did not do. Instead of victims, Muslims were even accused for blasts in Mecca Masjid in May 2007 and cemetery at Malegaon on the eve of Shab-e-Barat night in September 2006. But what Hemant Karkare unearthed made Hindu radical organisations simply not gulping down the idea that a Hindu could be a terrorist.

But the revelation of involvement of Hindu individuals and groups changed the policy on terror. So, ‘Muslim terrorists are villains and Hindu terrorists are heroes’ culture emerged all on a sudden and terrorist perhaps no longer was a nasty word for a while. Even the president of organization like Abhinav Bharat, Himani Savarkar justified Hindu terrorism as fight against terror, i.e. terror attacks to kill Muslims. Can we imagine flowers being showered by cheering crowd on Hindus accused of terror on their way to the Nasik court and slogans being yelled in support of their ‘heroism’ (for the terror act has always been despised though) for Atif Ameen’s funeral, who died in the Batla House encounter? Surely, any such act by Muslims would have serious repercussion, possibly a wholesale riot in many parts of the country, with TV anchors shouting at the top of their voices to disseminate the message to every nook and corner of India that Muslims are carrying terrorists’ pyre.

Till the Malegaon accused were named, it was no surprising that among the 34 “banned organisations” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) 1963 by the Ministry Home Affairs, 18 are of Maoist or Naxalite inclination, three have links to the Khalistan movement, one to the LTTE and 12 are Islamic outfits. Not a single outfit is a Hindu extremist group though it is not that Hindu groups have not been involved in terror acts. On 24 August this year, two Bajrang Dal workers died while making bombs in Kanpour; In April 2006, two Bajarang Dal workers died when making bombs at Nanded; in June 2008, bombs exploded in Gadkari Rangayatan injuring seven people – all of them belonged to Hindu Janjagaran Samiti (HJS), an outfit of Sanatana Ashram in Panvel, in Raigad district of Maharashtra.

India was seething with silent rage till the Mumbai terror attacks occurred that changed the whole focus back to Indian Muslims again even though about forty Muslims have died in one of the brutal terror strikes country has faced in recent years: now while the whole country is angry at Pakistan for its misdemeanour, for those who were angry at Hemant Karkare for revealing the Hindu involvement in terror attack, Mumbai attacks came as catharsis. Now the anger is of a victim terror, not that of an accused: Muslims carry the burden of both. A section of Hindu population was unhappy with Karkare for his ‘good work’ that he did. And the BJP initiated an all out attack on Karkare for his ‘style of probe’ since it was against its political plan that had helped it not only in putting Muslims under ‘terrorist category’ but also in cornering the Congress and other political parties for their ‘appeasement policy. So, defending the Hindu terror accused was part of vote bank politics that the BJP has accused other parties for long.

Quite contrary, what the Deoband ulemas have done, the BJP and VHP should also have done in the aftermath of revelation that Hindus are also involved in terror acts. They did just the opposite. Unlike, Muslim ulemas and other organisations, the BJP went on to defend the terror accused – a trend that gives rise to the double standard on terror, and that points to the stereotyping of Muslims as the ‘sole perpetrators’ of terror attacks. Besides, this makes the case for a larger conspiracy to enforce a covert policy of subjugating Indian Muslims via continuing with terror tag hung on to their neck.

Every time there was a bomb blast – the TV channels, the investigating agencies and the leaders lost no time in pointing fingers at Muslim individuals and organizations even though investigation was not properly begun. Hundreds of innocent Muslim young boys have been picked up, followed by illegal detentions, torture, arrests, harassment of families, forcing the families and victims to sign blank papers, etc. For months, these helpless victims are tortured in jails, denied legal aid, even Muslim lawyers who tried to fight their cases, for example, in Lucknow, were beaten black and blue, as if the accused were actually proven criminals. Will the lawyers and their associations in Jaipur, Lucknow and elsewhere do the same solidarity vis-à-vis defending the Hindu accused of Malegaon blast? If the terror victims as well as accused are both Hindus and Muslims, then why this double stand on terrorism?

Terrorism is not a Muslims versus Hindu or vice verse, albeit it has been projected that way – all these years. For example, Maoists terror does not get equal attention as the so-called Islamist terror on prime time TV channels even if 54 policemen were butchered in one night in Chattisgarh in March 2007, or 16 policemen were slaughtered in Bijapur district of Andhra Pradesh in November last year. Terrorism is a global threat; anyone can be a terrorist, who is anti-Indian, anti-Hindu, and anti-Muslims, and since India has been its foremost victim, its people and politicians need to follow one policy – collectively and unanimously, without any prejudice towards a community. Without which, perhaps we may not be able to fight terror decisively and effectively.

One man – Hemant Karkare – used the possibility of taking the investigation beyond the pre-conceived notion and raised some hope of impartial probe and he is dead. In fact, the news of Karkare’s death startled many for a while, but any speculation and conjecture of foul play was smothered in the ravage of gargantuan tragedy. Along with 183 innocent lives, we have lost three most efficient officers in one go: it may be a tragic coincidence; it may be a conspiracy as well, as no one knows in what circumstances Karkare was killed. Along with a victim of terror, Karkare was a victim of hatred. Why are the BJP and the media making hue and cry over Antulay’s remark on Karkare? Why is this hullabaloo over a probe into Karkare’s death by those who were hell bent on the probe of Hindu accused of terror act? If the BJP does not believe Karkare was right in doing what he was doing, should Muslims not have the right to raise suspicion over scores of terror probes that have put unnecessary blame on the Muslim accused? If Advani was so vehement in asking for a probe against the ‘torture’ of sadhvi by ATS, should Muslims not go for a humble protest over inhuman torture meted out to hundreds of Muslims in terror related cases? Is it sacrilegious to ask for a probe into the circumstances in which Karkare died? After all, what is wrong in knowing the hidden bullets that killed Karkare.

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