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27 October, 2015

Hindutva’s two-fold strategy

BRP Bhaskar
Gulf Today

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been going around talking about development, shadowy groups have been conducting murderous campaigns to overawe and silence the society.

The violence is directed not against political opponents but against writers, Dalits and Muslims. The game plan, it appears, is to clear the way to declare India a Hindu Rashtra (nation), the proclaimed goal of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, fountainhead of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s Hindutva ideology.

An atavistic element is discernible in the choice of targets. Hindu texts testify to violent attacks on Buddhist centres of learning by proponents of the Vedic religion in the medieval period. Dalits who were outside the Vedic society came under duress after Buddhism declined and a casteist society emerged.

Muslims were the ‘other’ whose presence helped the Vedic community to posit a Hindu society. According to VD Savarkar, originator of the Hindutva concept, a life-and-death struggle began the day Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, who had raided the subcontinent 17 times, first crossed the Indus.

Three eminent thinkers have been killed under a plot which was hatched before Modi came to power. Narendra Dabholkar of Maharashtra, a campaigner against superstition, was shot dead in 2013 when there were Congress-led governments at the Centre and in the state. Govind Pansare, also of Maharrashtra, and MM Kalburgi, of Karnataka, were killed after BJP-led coalitions took office at the Centre.

Police investigating the cases have said all three were killed by members of a Goa-based outfit called Sanatan Sanstha, founded 25 years ago to provide education in Dharma. A trial court had found six of its members guilty of planting bombs.

Atrocities against Dalits have been reported from several states. The BJP or its associates have not been implicated in any of the incidents but the party’s caste supremacist approach and failure to condemn the gruesome killing of two children and a youth in two separate incidents in Haryana, where it is in power, put it in the dock.

To make things worse, Union Minister of State VK Singh callously likened the killing of children to stoning of street dogs. Public outrage forced Singh, who is a retired Army chief, to tender an apology.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, last year 47,064 crimes against Dalits by non-Dalits were reported. This was 19 per cent higher than the previous year’s figure. More than half the cases were reported from the socially and economically backward BIMARU states – Uttar Pradesh (8,075), Rajasthan (8,028), Bihar (7,893) and Madhya Pradesh (4,151).

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, who visited the family of the deceased children, linked the incident to the Prime Minister’s attitude and accused the BJP-RSS combine of crushing the weak and the poor. However, his party bears as much blame, if not more, for the current situation in Haryana.

Based on official data, the National Confederation of Dalit Organisations recently said 3,198 cases of atrocities against Dalits were registered in Haryana during the 2004-2013 decade, which was 245 per cent more than in the previous decade. From 2005 to 2014 Haryana was under Congress rule.

The most ominous part of the Hindutva project aims at accentuation of Hindu-Muslim polarisation through campaigns on the sensitive issue of cow slaughter. After the lynching of a man at Dadri in UP on false allegations of killing a cow, a truck driver was set upon by a gang at Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir state, where the BJP is the junior partner in a coalition government headed by the People’s Democratic Party.

The driver died in a Delhi hospital a few days later. A protest by dissidents paralysed life in the Kashmir valley. In Jammu, members of the RSS held a route march, openly displaying firearms.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said the small incidents which had taken place would not dent the country’s prestige, which, he claimed, had gone up under Modi’s prime ministership. However, Modi himself found it necessary to break his long silence and talk of the diversity which was India’s beauty.

What rattled the government was the spirited protest of scores of writers in different languages who returned the awards they had received from the state or its agencies. Most of them pointedly referred to Modi’s silence on the Dadri lynching and the official literary establishment’s failure to condemn the murder of writers. It was protest of a kind with no parallel in living memory.

Some observers are of the view that the violent activities of small Hindutva groups are hurting Modi’s development agenda. But, then, Hindu Rashtra is also part of his agenda. --Gulf Today, October 27, 2015 

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