In 1984, the day our Prime Minister Indira Gandhi got assassinated, I was in Calcutta. I had gone there to take part in the national conference of the Indian Peoples Front—the only attempt of its kind—of a Communist Party sponsoring a democratic-peoples party in India—made under the leadership of Late Comrade Vinod Mishra—the then general secretary of the CPI-ML (Liberation).
Since I was also part of an agit-prop Street Theatre group—the Dasta Natya Manch (DNM)—we were performing a play on Calcutta streets—when the situation rapidly deteriorated after the news of Ms. Gandhi’s assassination. We were told to run and hide as Police vans were coming our way for a total clampdown on any movement on foot or tyres. Yet, after about half an hour, I saw a mob attacking a Sikh truck driver. After a while, the driver was on the streets, begging for his life. Thrashed mercilessly by the mob, the Sikh was soon burned to death, a tyre hanging around his neck.
The Police were nowhere in sight.
Back then, I was only 18 years of age; the incident traumatized me so deeply that after I got back to Allahabad I fought with everyone—including my close relatives—who—as per the norm those days—were abusing Sikhs incessantly.
For several days, I was unable to sleep; I was full of rage; it is good that I did not have access to a gun those days—I would certainly have used it on some right-wing, communal/anti-Sikh element in Allahabad-Uttar Pradesh.
I am expressing my inner most urges to make a point—that during desperate/unjust times—a sensitive human being—belonging to the majority community—can be driven to anti right-wing violence. Being a ruling class Brahmin—whose family had protected Muslims during the 1947 riots—and who took any violence against minorities as a challenge to his sense of honour directly—also must contributed a lot to my aggressive stance.
So, imagine the plight/mindset of minority communities who saw unspeakable crimes—raping of daughters and mauling of children—being committed on their kith and kin.
Then in 1986—communal Police officers of the Uttar Pradesh Police—unleashed—even on respectable Allahabadi Muslim citizens like the Delhi based journalist Zafar Agha—working for India Today—a prestigious weekly—massive State sponsored violence. In the 1980s, much before the Ram Mandir movement, communal/right-wing forces used the Police and the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), to butcher Muslims in Meerut, Muzffarnagar and Aligarh.
Slowly, I began realizing that in India—sometimes—one can survive—even thrive—as an upper caste Naxalite. But it was impossible to live life with dignity as a member of any minority community.
The Babari Masjid was pulled down in 1992; as narrated by several Mumbai cops openly—and included in the Srikrishna Commission Report—Muslim children were given milk laced with poison—by Mumbai Police officials themselves—who were supposed to protect them. I have narrated the terrifying tale of 4th degree torture on Muslims—perpetrated by senior Mumbai Police officers during in the post-1993 Mumbai blast phase—in a recent article (http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/the-mainstream-maverick/entry/pune-blasts-the-story-behind-the-story).
By the time I learned about the 2002 Gujarat genocide and the brutal, day light killing of Ehsan Jafri in Ahmedabad, I had already realized that unless a revolution shakes the system in India minorities are destined to live as second class citizens.
There was some hope when Congress came to power in 2004 on a strong anti-communal plank. Manmohan Singh, while assuming the office of India’s Prime Minister in 2004, promised an end to the divisive era of communal conflagrations seen in the 1990s.
During the years of the UPA I regime, violence against Christians in Orissa and elsewhere made national headlines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_violence_in_Orissa#December_2007); to me, it became obvious that had the Maoists—most of them upper caste Hindus of Orissa like Sabyasachi Panda—not intervened to beat back Bajrang Dal-RSS-VHP activists/leaders—Orissa would have witnessed several more Graham Staines type murder cases.
Things came to a head in 2008. With just an year left before Parliamentary elections in 2009, bomb blasts began rocking Indian cities with alarming frequency. Security agencies and Police forces of different States blamed an unknown outfit—the Indian Mujahideen (IM)—for the blasts. From July to September 2008—in a span of just three months—more than 100 blasts—killing innumerable men, women and children—tested the patience of Hindus and Muslims—to the outer most limit.
The electronic media began playing the `breaking news’ card after 2008 blasts. Hundreds of Muslims too died in 2008 incidents. But instant media trials—which earned media houses the rap of the Supreme Court—blamed Muslims—and Muslims alone—for the blasts. Imagine the kind of anger Muslim and Hindus must have felt against each other back then; so, whoever was behind the 2008 blasts, isn’t it obvious that the detonations constituted part of a conspiracy to divide the nation along communal lines for someone to achieve power in 2009? We have only two national parties. Who would benefit more—Congress or BJP—in a communally surcharged electoral atmosphere is anybody’s guess.
Further on, 19th September 2008 saw the Delhi Police Special Cell gunning down two Muslim youths in the now infamous Batala House encounter; October 2008 saw blasts in Malegaon and several other places. Then almost by divine intervention—Hemant Karkare—the Maharashtra ATS Chief—brought out—for the first time in the history of post-Independence India—concrete proof of Sangh Parivar involvement—in bomb blasts.
With this one act, Hemant Karkare foiled the entire game-plan to communalize the polity. Perhaps, because of this reason Karkare—along with Kaamte and Salskar—was killed mysteriously, during the 26/11 operations. At the time of his assassination, Hemant Karkare was close to implicating top RSS-BJP leaders in terror acts (http://rivr.sulekha.com/amaresh-misra-exposes-headley-us-cia-israeli-mossad-ib-rss-role-in-26-11-mumbai-atrocity_470519_blog).
After all the name of Indresh—a top ranking RSS leader—did crop up as a perpetrator—in the Samjhauta Express blast case (http://www.milligazette.com/news/562-rss-leader-indresh-kumar-paid-for-samjhauta-blast-terror).
On hindsight, Karkare’s martyrdom halted the dangerous, communalization of Indian politics that would have brought BJP to power for sure in 2009.
In 2012, the first thing that came to my mind when I heard of violence in Assam was that communal/right-wing forces had begun their game of preparing for 2014 Parliamentary elections.
But 2012 is not 2008. In the 1960s and 1970s, communal riots between rival mobs used to be the norm. 1980s were home to the Police Vs Muslims/Sikhs/minorities syndrome. Bomb blasts `planted by Muslim perpetrators’ replaced old type of communal conflagrations in the 1990s and 2000s.
But after the 2008 exposure of Sangh Parivar terrorism, the efficacy of bomb blasts achieving communal polarization became doubtful.
So, this time around, it seems that ethnic riots with a communal slant—between minorities—are replacing bomb blasts. Instead of a minority-majority clash, the game plan seems to be of pitting one minority against the other. This explains the way Bodo militants—belonging to an ethnic minority group—first attacked Bengali Muslims—a religious minority. Then an issue of Bangladeshi infiltrators was inserted in the script.
Soon doctored images of violence on Muslims, pamphlets, SMS’ mushroomed out of nowhere—and before one could gather one’s wits—a `Muslim backlash’ was seen first, in Pune, Mumbai and Karnataka. Then, Allahabad, Lucknow and Kanpur saw mild protests and violence.
Lucknow violence happened in front of me on 17th August 2012—I happened to be in the city for some personal work. In the afternoon, I went into town to meet some Muslim friends.
My friends were coming out of the Teelewali Masjid in the heart of Lucknow city after the Friday Namaaz when stones started flying—one hit a friend of mine on the head. Suddenly, the cry of Bajrang Dal activists on the prowl went up. Though incidents in Assam and Burma were being avidly discussed, Muslims who went to the Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha on 17th August 2012 to protest actually wanted to voice their anger against stone pelting by Bajrang Dal activists.
Not a single newspaper wrote about what I saw...
In Allahabad, Muslim community leaders had cancelled the scheduled protest on 17th August. The Lucknow pattern was repeated—Muslims coming out after rendering the all important `Jume (Friday) ki Namaaz’ in old Allahabad—were provoked by Bajrang Dal activists.
On 11th August in Mumbai too, the initial violence occurred when MNS activists taunted Muslim youths for `sitting idle’ after Assam and Burma incidents. Not many people are aware of the fact that till recently, Raj Thackarey’s MNS had a lot of Muslim activists as well.
In Mumbai, after the initial flare-up, some professional elements—revealed to me by Mumbai Police sources as being under contract (supari) to create violence on 11th August 2012—to defame Muslims—took over. They were the ones who beat up the Police and molested women constables. I was surprised when I saw comments on the net by some noted secular-social activists condemning Mumbai violence without taking into account genuine Muslim grievances or probing the criminal-mafia-supari angle.
The North-East exodus began from Pune and Bangalore, Karnataka. The infiltration in Pune by RSS-ISI-Mossad type elements is well known in Maharashtra Police circles. In fact, three Muslims—Sarfaraz, Imran Khan and Arif—have been arrested by the Pune Police for sending fake SMS’. According to the Pune Police, Imran received the SMS from Sarfaraz—the former then forwarded the same to Arif. Now while Imran Khan runs, a small business, Arif sells CDs. But—here is the best part—the Police are unwilling to reveal anything about Sarfaraz!
In the light of Qateel Siddiqui’s murder inside Pune’s high security Yerawada jail premise—the framing of several Muslim youths of the city in terror cases by the Maharashtra ATS headed by Rakesh Maria—a known Muslim baiter—Maharashtra Police sources claim that the attack on students of the North-East—and the circulation of SMS’—might have been the work of some Muslim youths who actually are Police informers! Now Sarfaraz is saying that one Kanjeel Sheikh of Ahmednagar forwarded the SMS’ to him!
A front page report in Indian Express, published on 22nd August 2012, quotes the Karnataka Police in saying that Anees Pasha, a cell-phone repairman, might have sent the inflammatory SMS’ that led to the exodus of North East students from the State.
Now, who is Anees Pasha? The Indian Express report goes on to report that “Police Sources (Karnataka) said that Pasha is a highly skilled cell-phone repairman...Police had often sought his assistance in retrieving software data during their investigations in the past”!
Isn’t this shocking? How come Muslims arrested in terror cases turn out to be either Police informers or collaborators? RK Singh, India’s Home Secretary, talked of a Pakistani hand in the circulation of SMS’; is Anees Pasha a Pakistani? If yes, then how was he working for the Karnataka Police? As the charge-sheet filed by the Maharashtra ATS against Raj Kumar Purohit and other accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts shows, is there really a connection between ISI and the RSS?
Again, only an impartial investigation can reveal the true picture. But, it is apparent that as the 2014 elections draw closer, the cycle of violence will only increase. Tens of thousands of Muslim and Hindu men, women and children—belonging to the poorer/lower middle classes—or ethnic/religious minorities—will be sacrificed like proverbial lambs. Communal/right-wing forces—backed by foreign agencies (not just ISI)—have a high—do or die—kind of stake in 2014. Any definitive secular government—even of the Third Front type—is alien to their interests. They will stop at nothing to achieve power. A fascist government under Narendra Modi following widespread anarchy—and the killing of minorities by minorities—form part of their grand scheme of things.
This time, perhaps, even divine intervention will not be able to save India.