Review

Communal Offensive in Gujarat

Parvez

Gujarat: Minorities In The Storm of Communal Attacks. A Report from the RSS Laboratory of Religious Cleansing, CPI (M-L) New Democracy, New Delhi, 26 pp.

Reports of attacks on minorities in Gujarat had been appearing in the press for some time. These were alleged to have been perpetrated by organisations belonging to the Sangh Parivar. To get the factual picture activists of the Nishant Natya Manch, a street theatre group linked to peoples' democratic movements and the Progressive Organisation of Women, went there in August, 1998 for a week. They collected facts, performed street plays and organised community songs of a progressive nature. On the basis of their findings this report had been prepared. It lists various atrocities on the minorities especially the Christians, the Muslims and the tribals in various parts of Gujarat. Very often the immediate excuse for the provocation is a land dispute, an inter-community marriage, a distribution of Bibles or an alleged 'forced' conversion. All these are more so in those areas where the forces of Hindutva themselves sought to convert the tribals to their version of Hinduism. The report painstakingly highlights the atrocities on both the Christians and the Muslims which brings out the fact that the old enemy of Hindutva, the Muslims, are as much their target as are the Christians something that the media has not mentioned maybe because Muslim bashing is not newsworthy. Further, the report exposes the shameless role of the 'guardians' of the people the police, the bureaucracy, the press and the political leaders who have not just not done their job but have actively aided and abetted the thugs. Instead of diffusing the tension they instigate; instead of punishing the guilty they laud them as patriots; instead of bringing succour to the victims they humiliate, beat, rape, and jail them. While all the above points are brought out in detail in the report, it is done in a haphazard manner. The chronology is hazy with too much to and fro movement. The analysis, too, is weak. To reiterate the hatred the Sangh bears towards the minorities is not enough. It is also not sufficient analysis to label such acts as the old divide and rule policy, which it is, but it is something else too.

For a full and proper analysis, (which means a class analysis) these events have to be seen in the backdrop of the Sangh's objectives. An agenda exists which is well thought out. The point is to glean this agenda, to try and find out who they are and what is it that they stand for.

There exists a very strong element of fascism which has not been treated sufficiently in the report. That India is a fledgling semi-colonial capitalist state floundering on its very weak bourgeois democratic foundations should have been brought out in greater detail. We find L.K. Advani giving a clean chit to the Bajrang Dal when the latter was accused in the Staines murder. His clearance by saying 'I know them, they are not like that', is meaningless as he is part of the Parivar and as such a co-accused. In this context, it is to be noted that not a single person of the Parivar has been arrested let alone convicted.

The selective reportage by the media which ignores the atrocities on the non-Christian minorities indicates that it is only lunatics who are attacking various persons who only happen to be Christian missionaries. This helps in, wittingly or otherwise, hiding the Sangh's agenda of setting up of an undemocratic, unsocialist, fascist, theocratic, nuclear state based on principles as far from Hinduism as they are close to Hitler.

The original conclave of the parivar was that of Maharashtrian Brahmins Golwalkar et al. They wanted a mythical ancient Aryavart where the dalits were properly subservient to their natural masters, the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas. Golwalkar had equated the Muslims, the Christians and the communists as anti-national. The minorities are but extractions largely from the dalits. After the partition there was an influx to the north of displaced Hindus from across the border, persons with a deep hatred for the Muslims, the middle classes straining to do better in life.

The rank and file of the Parivar includes frustrated unemployed elements who have no possibility of increasing their slice of the national cake. The cake itself is gobbled up by the upper classes leaving very little for the others. These disgruntled elements have been misguided into believing that but for the anti-national minorities their place in the sun and a fistful of sky would have been assured.

May be they believe this myth or may be they do not. However, minority bashing is a pastime and an occupation which could be profitable especially when the organs of state are not committed to their jobs. Their grasp of Hinduism, history and complexities of Indian traditions is extremely weak. They are, therefore, ideal material for cannon fodder especial as there are no cannons aimed at them.

Conversion from the tribal stage to Christianity is not necessarily one from Hinduism to a minority. And even if it is the violent reaction of the Parivar to it amounts to lack of faith in the majority of their co-religionists who have kept their faith. This suspicion is natural because they have contempt for the majority backward caste Hindus. Their backwardness has evoked no sympathy from these self appointed guardians of faith. No anti-touchability campaigns have been initiated, no widow remarriages supported, no schools for the lower orders, no hospitals for the needy have been built by the unholy orders.

The Sangh Parivar wants a pristine brahmanical India. The subjects in this utopia will be the dalits, the minorities and the women who know their place the kitchen, the bedroom and the outhouse. Due to certain present day exigencies their Akhand Bharat has need of the Kalyan Singhs, the Sushma Swarajs and the women's brigade of the Shiv Sena. However, they are deeply suspicious of these tokens of theirs witness their dumping of Sushma Swaraj when she could not deliver the political goods. Their pseudo-vedic Akhand Bharat has a place for the minorities only outside the pale and for their women only inside the home.

Bankim Chandra's 'Anand Math' is their ideal. That this ideal is fraught with internal contradictions is not seen. Anyway, as in the novel they want a strong, read, nuclear, India. Interestingly, like the soldier-sadhus of Anand Math they will gift their newly-won kingdom back to the global giants 'as the day of our giantism is still to come; that we are not yet ready for it', just as the sadhus were not ready for sovereignty and calmly handed over the kingdom won from the Muslim kings to the British. Today they will take on Pakistan, even China, but first the Christians and the hated Muslims, not forgetting the dalits who have to be brought to heel.

Why this anger against conversions? Remember Meenakshipuram? Then it was petro-dollars that were the culprit. They would rather not believe that anyone would like to convert to Islam or Christianity despite the ignominies heaped on the dalits by upper caste Hindus. Education that equips the poor hapless backward to get a job is promised by the missionaries. Not to be dependant on the Patel, the mahajan, the village zamindar. Hence the ire at the Christian missionaries. The Christian schools in towns and cities do not evoke this anger. Why not? Precisely because the sons of the very same conscience keepers need that education; and surely the backwards need to be educated differently! They have to be taught subservience.

After Meenakshipuram the VHP had publicised with much tom tomming that the dalits had been converted on payment of money. That this was simply untrue was not considered important. The lie was repeated ad nauseum in the Goebbels fashion. However, recently P. Sainath has brought out very clearly that it was only after the conversions that the behaviour of the upper castes improved especially towards those who had not converted. Further, that it was the self-same VHP who had offered money for re-conversion!

Then, there are problems within the parivar too. As with the Nazis of yore within whom the under-privileged section had wanted the socialist aspect of Nazim emphasized and wished to have a 'second revolution' to end the power of monopoly capital. The result was the infamous 'Night of the Long Knives' wherein Hitler directed the assassinations of the 'left-wing' section of the Nazi Party.

Contradictions are being witnessed today within the Sangh Parivar, as may be seen by the forced resignation of Madan Lal Khurana. Clearly two factions exist, one represented by the Prime Minister followed by Madan Lal Khurana, Sushma Swaraj and the like, in a word the 'mask', and the kernel, the real thing, featuring the Shiv Sena, the Bajrang Dal, the VHP represented by L.K. Advani, Bal Thackeray, Ashok Singhal et al. The two are severe embarrassments to each other. The kernel is to the mask, in the latter's discussions with the Talbots of America Inc. as is the mask to the kernel, in their drive to build the Ram Mandir or in their attempts at replacing the skirts of school girls and substituting them with Salwar Kameez and certainly in the obligatory calls by the mask to bring the murderers of the revered missionary Staines and his sons to book. (Let us remember Nathu Ram Godse, the murderer of the Mahatma was a member of the RSS and he had resigned from the same. Similarly, the killer of the missionary Staines is an ex-member of the Bajrang Dal).

There is a difference from the Nazi scenario, however. Here, religion is a great binding factor. There may not be killings within the Parivar as with the Nazis, partly because none of them really abhors the killings of the 'other' as in Christians, Muslims or the Dalits (as was done by the Ranvir Sena). The mask can live with these with a clear conscience. It has to be noted that not a single person of note has been arrested from within the Parivar, but soon a fallout is to be expected between the two. Or may be a cementing will be attempted where necessarily the mask will become translucent if not completely transparent.

The question then that arises is: why is Gujarat the centre of communal attacks and why have Christians been targetted? The answer is that of the four enemies, the Muslims, the Sikhs, the Dalits and the Christians, the former three have become aware of their rights and they have this bad habit of retaliating they hit back and very hard. And these soldiers (not of conscience but more properly of fortune) are, as someone said, good at killing for their cause, but they are not interested in dying for it. The Christians are few, in fact in well-nigh two thousand years of proselytization in India, they form a mere two per cent of the population, and this figure has of late come down. This is a small figure and they can be harassed with little fear of retaliation. The problem is that the rest of India, Hindus included, and even the world has reacted sharply to the attacks on the Christians. Gujarat was chosen as the starting point of the attacks because, apart from the fact that the Parivar was ruling in that state, it was state with a weak working class movement which could not offset their reactionary plans.

Apart from anti-minorityism, the Parivar has no plans for the development of the country. No programme of action worth the name has been chalked out for improving the plight of the majority of the people just as the soldiers sadhus of Anand Math had done no groundwork and, therefore, were genuinely unready for independence.

This report is important as it highlights the deeds of the Parivar. This is required to unmask their nefarious anti-people plans. The national dailies' diffused and selective reporting does not serve this purpose sufficiently.

Click here to return to the April 1999 index.