The bombs which exploded in Gadkari Rangayatan on June 4 injured seven people. In one of the few cases of success in investigating such cases in Maharashtra or anywhere for that matter, the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) of Police, succeeded in nabbing the culprits.
As it turned out, contrary to the prevalent practice of pointing the finger to HuJI or SIMI or some such organisation, this investigation did lead to the real culprits, who happened to be part of Hindu Janjagaran Samiti (HJS), an outfit of Sanatana Ashram in Panvel. These culprits were also involved in other blasts, in Vashi, Panvel and Ratnagiri. In Thane the blasts were done to protest against the play Amhi Pachpute, a satirical play on Mahabharata. The allegation was that it insults Hindu gods. The earlier blast in Panvel was in a theatre where the film Jodha Akbar was being screened. In this film the Hindu princess is married to Akbar, a Muslim king, and that is regarded by these outfits as insult to Hindu religion.
One recalls that in a serious case of blasts in Nanded in April 2006 two Bajrang Dal workers died while making bombs. Similar incidents of bomb blasts were witnessed in many places like Parabhani, Jalna and Aurangabad around that time. Most of these were in front of the mosques. How far the Nanded investigation ‘leads’ were traced is yet to be known. ATS did investigate the links of the dead with Bajrang Dal, an RSS affiliate. At the same time the injured were visited in the hospital by the top brass of local BJP and associates. Local BJP MP told the police not to harass people, those linked to the culprits in the wake of the Bajrang Dal involvement in the bomb making. In Nanded, ATS also found fake beard, skull caps and sets of pajama kurta, the idea being that the culprits will disguise themselves as Muslims while doing these black deeds.
In most of the cases of blasts all over the country, as per the set pattern, the terrorists from across the border and local Muslims are named as culprits. For some days media carries the reports and some Muslims are apprehended. In case of Jaipur blasts the local Bangladeshis are being harassed to the limit as the report of Peoples Union for Civil Liberties shows. But after the first few days the real culprits and the definitive investigation is nowhere in sight. By now, in popular psyche it has been entrenched that all terrorists are Muslims, and the matter stops there. The Maharashtra ATS needs all the compliments for overcoming the social stereotypes and biases to unravel the truth.
In the wake of this comes the call for formation of suicide squads by the self proclaimed Hindu Hriday Samrat (Emperor of Hindu Hearts) of Maharashtra, Bal Thackeray. Earlier also he had exhorted Hindus to form the suicide squads, and now he repeats the same call. This shows the absolute bankruptcy of the social and political understanding of the real causes of terrorism or other social issues. His criticism is not that this act by the activists of HJS are condemnable, his call is why the Hindu terrorists are using low intensity bombs, they should use more dangerous ones and that they should blast “mini Pakistans”, i.e. Muslim majority localities. One has to understand that ghettoisation or what Thackeray derogatorily calls “mini Pakistans,” is itself due to the fear complex, physical insecurity induced by communal violence.
In the wake of the Thane blasts the HJS disowned those who were involved in the act, saying that they had nothing to do with the blasts and that they did want to protest against the play Amhi Pachpute, but peacefully. Nothing new, most of such organisations disown their trained cadre when caught in the act. Nathuram Godse, murderer of Mahatma Gandhi was quickly disowned by RSS. In an interview to Times of India in 1998, Nathuram’s brother Gopal Godse did confess that his brother and he were always part of the RSS and that they did not show the RSS connection in the court to shield the parent organisation. Dara Singh, murderer of Pastor Graham Steins, was part of Bajrang Dal, but this association could be undermined and bypassed in investigation.
How popular mind has been doctored into believing something becomes obvious from this act of terror. In a talk show, which took SMS poll at the same time, 97% respondents said that the organisation involved in this blast (HJS) should not be banned. Bajrang Dal, despite its involvement in Nanded case, faced no wrath from the authorities. SIMI, on the other hand, was banned for its alleged involvement in acts of terror. A case of double standards has been ingrained into the society and has been institutionalised over a period of time.
After the dangerous and insane call given by Thackeray, the student wing of Shiv Sena has been putting the posters that they endorse their chief and that acts of terrorism are justified. The question here is: can the cancer of terrorism, which has multiple reasons be contained by suicide squads or by acts which Thackeray and his ilk is propagating. The cure of the disease lies in the underlying aetiology.
Broadly, one can say that terrorism can fall in two major categories. One, those which take place semi-spontaneously, after an individual or group perceives that a wrong or injustice has been done to him or it and that chances of getting justice for this are remote. These are the acts which occur after pogroms against a particular community. The example of this is the attack on Adivasi procession in December 2006 being followed by the blast in Guwahati-Delhi Rajadhani Express. The acts of terror occurring after the communal violence in Mumbai and Gujarat can be clubbed in this category.
Two, when a conscious, calculated indoctrination is undertaken in pursuit of a political ideology or economic goal. The murder of Pastor Steins by Bajrang Dal’s Dara Singh, Nanded blasts, and their fallouts come in this category. In Nanded and Thane type of blasts, the underlying reason is the indoctrination of youth by RSS ideology, the misconception has been planted that terrorism is due to teachings of Islam and nature of the Muslim community. This indoctrination is resulting in acts like the ones in Nanded, Tenkasi and Thane.
While there is a veneer of nationalism in this RSS ideology, it essentially looks at people along religious lines, communal identities and teaches its followers to ‘hate others’ and this culminates in burning of Pastor Steins or massive pogroms against minorities. It is not for nothing that US-based Terrorism Research institute put RSS in the category of terrorist organisations in 2005. These types of organisations, RSS or Hindu Jagran Samiti may not give the direct training in arms but their ideology of ‘hate others’ leads to the indoctrination leading to terrorist acts. The success of these organisations lies in projecting that the Hindu community is under the threat from minorities. And that’s how Dara Singh is projected as ‘Hindu Dharm Rakshak’ (saviour of Hindu faith).
Another common factor is that though these individuals are part of such organisations their connections are kept discreet on purpose and they are quickly disowned by the parent organisation.
Coming to Bal Thackeray, one realises the limitation of our legal system. Bal Thackeray, in the wake of Babri Masjid demolition said he was proud if Shiv Sainiks demolished the mosque; he also gave a call that Hindus should become aggressive. Now he repeats the call for formation of suicide squads to attack minorities. We are helplessly watching that no action is taken against such spewing of poison! If the State cannot act against such ‘hate speech’ can communal harmony prevail in the country?
One has to come back to the understanding that there are different causes of acts of terror. Intolerance for others, orthodoxy in religious beliefs and sticking to narrow understanding of one’s history and indoctrinated mindset being the major causes. In different ways Al Qaeda, Taliban, Bajrang Dal and RSS fall in the same category. The double standards of social and legal norms are operative not only in the investigation but also in the way of dealing with those inciting the communities into ‘hate other’, into undertaking violence and divisive acts. One is sure the Government will make some noises that action is being contemplated against Thackeray, HJS etc. but when the crunch time will come, some convenient excuse will be found to back out from punishing/ banning them. Can crime be contained in such a society where society has come to ‘tolerate’ the selective inaction of the state apparatus? Can such crimes be eradicated without applying similar yardsticks to all of them? And finally can we prevent acts of terror by following these double standards?