Hindus should stop worrying about Muslims and start worrying about themselves, their children, their youth. They need to worry about the attempts being made to criminalise their minds and hearts
Hindus need to worry. The Hindus of Dadri, Atali, Trilokpuri, Bawana, Muzaffanagar, Ranchi… the list is getting longer and longer. To make it even more precise, one should probably phrase it like this: Hindus everywhere in the world need to worry, especially after the mass violence in Dadri.
The usual argument against incidents like Dadri is that such violence would give legitimacy to those inciting the Muslim masses to take up terrorism – which would endanger the internal security of India.
In my view, Hindus need not worry about whether this latest instance of violence will fuel anger in Muslim hearts and drive them towards extremism.
When visiting the victims in Atali, who were Muslims, of course, one of us sanctimoniously warned them against yielding to the temptation of terrorism. It sounded obscenely jarring in the deathly silence of that room, crowded by young and old Muslim men, most of whom never raised their heads during the entire conversation.
This is the best argument we seem to have with us, while talking to other Hindus: do not allow such violence for it will invite retribution.
Hindus, in fact, should stop worrying about Muslim terrorism or communalism. It is high time they started worrying about themselves, their children, their youth. They need to worry about the attempts being made to criminalise their minds and hearts. They are being led into a trap from which it would be difficult to rescue them.
Hindus need to think about the pact some of their co-religionists have made with evil. If unchecked, this evil will enter their hearts and make them complicit in crimes against humanity.
Who did the killing?
What I am saying is very simple to understand. In Dadri, a man was killed. How many Hindus participated in this mass violence? If you believe the villagers, none. So, how was Mohammed Akhlaq killed? The villagers are angry that their children are being arrested as they were not guilty. Who were the killers then?
A few months earlier, there was Atali: Muslim houses were burned, looted. Who did this? The Hindus of the village feign ignorance. They shrug their shoulders.
In incidents prior to Dadri or Atali , for example in Muzaffarnagar, Muslims were killed, Muslim women raped. Who did it? The entire Jat, nay, Hindu community there, led by older women – usually the repositories of traditional Indian compassion – angrily denied the involvement of their youth in the crimes.
In Gujarat in 2002 we heard Hindus telling us it was the Muslims themselves who burned their houses for compensation. The same argument was repeated in Dhule.
Back in 1984: more than 3000 Sikhs were killed in Delhi alone. How many Hindus would it have taken to kill 3000 Sikhs? And how many more to ensure – with their silence, their apathy, their sabotaging of investigations – that those who did the killing were able to get away with the crime?
The list of crimes against Muslims, Sikhs and other minorities gets longer and longer. What does it really mean? That we have murderers, rapists, looters among ourselves, who have become husbands, fathers, teachers, doctors, even our leaders.
It is this mass criminalisation that should worry Hindus. They are clasping the hands of evil and it is devouring them.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has been successful in its campaign: it is not only making the common Hindu masses complicit in the crimes planned by its affiliates but by giving them a false sense of agency, it is seeking to criminalise them completely.
Godse’s act of killing of Gandhi alienated the RSS from the masses. Over the years, it changed its way of functioning. By involving Hindu masses in pogroms, it forced them to become party to the crime. And all actions need not be on a large scale.
The seriality of violence
Jairus Banaji has explained it well: Indian communal organisations are different from the European fascists they once admired. In India, violence against minorities has adopted a kind of seriality. The genocidal tendency is kept alive through regular attacks on Muslims and other minorities. So, even when there are one or two deaths, as in the case of the burning of Graham Staines and his sons or the killing of Mohammad Akhlaq, they are expressions of this genocidal impulse. The larger Hindu masses, not present on the scene, are encouraged by the sangh parivar’s propaganda to participate in these crimes by legitimising them or minimising their gravity.
In Europe, centuries of anti-semitism created ghettos to which the Jews were confined. In India, many Hindus do not accept Muslims as their neighbours. As a friend says, when Muslims from other parts of India come to Delhi, it is not Delhi which welcomes them but Okhla, where Muslims are in a majority, which gives them shelter.
Hindus are gradually turning into a community which believes in its superiority over other religious communities. An intellectual cover has also been provided to this process by claiming that since Hinduism is not a religion flowing from a central text, it is more open and catholic than Semitic religions. The so called naturalness of Hinduism makes it impossible to be introspective.
The caste question has been dealt with in a very opportunistic manner. It was not surprising when dalit leaders refused to speak to their constituents when they were attacking Muslims. For empowerment in parliamentary politics, the dalit tag is useful. But the same section easily turns into ‘Hindus’ once Muslims or Christians are presented to them as adversaries.
Through this process of making new Hindus and by inuring the Hindu masses to genocidal violence, the RSS has made them vulnerable to the politics of hate.
There is no Gandhi now to challenge them or arouse their ethical sense. Even secular parties have become scared of Hindus. No one is talking to them. We do not have a leader or an institution to warn the Hindus of the evil that will eat them from within once it enters their bodies.
A community which only demands from others and never thinks about penance – with no sense of remorse for what has been done to others, which is in a permanent state of denial – is in danger of losing its soul.
Rather than worrying about radicalisation of Muslim youth and religious conversions, this is what Hindus need to worry about – saving their humanity, before it is too late.
Apoorvanand teaches at Delhi University