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Godhra and our double standards

The reactions of 'secular parties' to the massacre at Godhra has once again exposed the double standards which define the contours of public life in independent India. The victims of the pre-planned and mindless violence were not criminals.

They were only 'guilty' of chanting 'Jai Sri Ram' and 'Jai Bajrang Bali' and such other socio-religious slogans. The opinion of people at large may be sharply divided on whether or not the Vishwa Hindu Parishad was right in taking up the temple agitation now. But none can contend the VHP's right to demonstrate for a cause that it considers right, regardless of what others might think. Democracy also allows every one to raise slogans in support of one's cause so long as it does not hurt anyone else. Nobody can claim that slogans in support of the construction of Sri Ram Mandir can be offensive to another community. Plurality of demands is the essence of democracy even when some of these demands might be in conflict with others.

Many 'secularists', including a top CPI(M) leader while expressing lip-sympathies with the victims, however, are practically trying to justify the gruesome incident. A former Governor of UP, a savvy Congressman, defined the incident as a 'but natural corollary of the VHP's temple movement'. According to these apologists, the behaviour of Ram Sevaks were 'provocative' and called for just retribution.

The CPI(M) leader's finding an excuse for the Godhra attack on the pilgrims is not surprising. For long Muslim communalism has found a niche in the lap of Communism and the two are intertwined. It was the undivided CPI that supported the demand for division of the country. The Communists have always held that India is a conglomeration of nations and not an integrated country.

In West Bengal, several discoveries of arms and ammunition in minority-dominated areas have been pushed under the red carpet by the CPI(M)-led government. The recent backlash when the Left Front Chief Minister called for the regulation of madarsas is another clear instance of this Communist-communalist collusion. The way the Marxists are going out of the way to cover up these communal incidents from Godhra to Kolkata is simply outrageous. Similarly, the endeavour of some other self-styled 'secularists' to whitewash the ISI's inroads into Indian society is dangerous.

The 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai and Coimbatore clearly indicate what such links can do. The ISI is depending heavily on this linkage to magnify its capacity to damage the Indian State. If political parties in India are prepared to turn a blind eye of this link to get some vote bank advantage, they would indirectly be serving the ISI's interests. Whether that will damage India is something I leave to their conscience.

Less than three years ago, a father and his two sons were torched to death in the darkness of night in the jungles of Orissa. It attracted immediate countrywide condemnation. Secularists went all over town to paint it red. Without any evidence whatsoever, the heinous crime was attributed to the Sangh Parivar and the face of the country was painted black as an intolerant nation. Why are they less than belligerent today in condemning the present carnage? Is it because the three were White, Christians, and were involved in the 'noble mission' of converting the 'rustic tribesmen'? On the other hand the Ram Sevaks were local Hindus, belonging to the lower middle classes of the society and returning from a pilgrimage. There is no doubt that the assault was carried out by the same forces that were responsible for the fidayeen attack outside J&K Assembly on October 1, storming of the Parliament on December 13 and the recent slaying of journalist Daniel Pearl. The attack at Godhra is a wake-up call for those who cherish the institution of civil society and believe in democracy.



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