, by DR. M. IQBAL SIDDIQUI
“We should have moral courage of speaking the truth,” said Mr. Asghar Ali Engineer while addressing as the keynote speaker at a seminar on State, Society and Terrorism organised jointly by the IRADA Society of Jaipur and Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) of Mumbai, at the Indiana Classic Hotel in Jaipur.
He said, “You cannot find the term ‘terrorism’ before 9/11. It was coined by the US after 9/11. It is not the business of the weak to coin terms and hold anyone responsible for the acts of violence. It is the ‘sole authority’ of the powerful to decide terms and impose them on an individual or nation. It is they who decide who are terrorists and who are the victims. If there is Israel that kills innocent Palestinians, it is said to be a matter of security of Israel. When the US destroys Afghanistan and Iraq without anything to prove against them, it is called ‘war on terror’. The term ‘fundamentalism’ was also coined by America when Islamic revolution began in Iran. Similarly, ‘suicide bombing’ was first used by the LTTE.
“Violence is always condemnable unless you are attacked and it is always justifiable while defending yourself and your family. The term ‘terrorism’ must not be attributed to a religion. The term ‘Islamic terrorism’ was also created by America whereas the word Islam means ‘Peace.’ There are a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions about Islam; one of them is that it has been spread by sword. This concept was generated by the west to create hatred towards Islam. ‘Jihad’ is another misunderstood term which in fact means to speak the truth before a tyrant ruler. It is taken nowadays for ‘war for Allah.’
“The biggest ‘jihad’, according to a Hadith of the Holy Messenger (may Allah bless and greet him) is to fight against yourself, your desires. The word ‘jihad’ has been used in 41 verses in the Holy Qur’an, but not at a single place it is meant for war. Jihad in terms of war is absolutely ‘post-Qura’nic’ in origin. The terms used for war in the Holy Qur’an are ‘Harb’ and ‘Qitaal.’
“The Qur’an does allow war, but with several conditions and only when it becomes indispensable. There is more stress on peace in the Holy Qur’an than on war, though it is permissible with conditions.
“Who should be blamed is another thing. The matter to ponder over is what compelled someone to resort to the blasts? After every bomb blast our police give statement that it is HUJI or SIMI behind the blasts, but in not a single case the real culprits have been caught. Even the parameters of suspicion are different with the investigators. When a blast occurs in Malegaon, a battery mechanic is lifted and when it happens to be Makkah Masjid, 40 Muslim youth, all of them innocent, are picked up. When it happens in the house of a Bajrang Dal leader in Nanded while making a bomb, and lungees, caps and replica of beards are found in that house, no one is held responsible and absolutely no arrests. In fact, a kind of mindset is prevailing among our agencies of probe, that is, ‘only Muslims do blasts.’ By this notion we actually help the real culprits escape. Investigations must be done with utmost honesty and without any prior mindset then only we can nab the actual criminals.”
Er. Muhammad Saleem, State President Jamaat-e-Islami Hind said, “The problem of terrorism cannot be solved unless we resolve to adhere to honesty and justice. The state should come out of prejudices and find out the root cause of the problem. In Jaipur, we are facing a complex situation after the serial blasts. At least seven persons were picked up by the Special Operation Group (SOG) on charges of connection with blasts and more or less, 600 people have been interrogated either at their own premises or at the police stations and even a JIH member was interrogated in a closed car. The police officer asserted without any hesitation that it can be a ‘craft of a Muslim only’ and when beckoned about the open militants who spread hatred and trishuls among the people, he instantly came to defend them: ‘they cannot do such things for they are desh bhakts (loyal).’
“Out of the seven persons picked up and detained by the SOG, five were released when no evidence of any crime found on their part and two were handed over to the local police on charges of other minor crimes. More than a hundred Bengali speaking people were arrested at the same time on pretext of being Bangladeshis. This was only to demonstrate that they were doing something.
“Indeed, the real objective of the blasters is not merely killing people, these acts of violence are executed in order to justify what they plan to do aftermath. In the case of 9/11 it was evidently carried out by the US to justify the attack on Afghanistan; similarly, to justify the mass killings in Gujarat, the Sabarmati Express was set ablaze in Godhra and likewise they wanted to justify a riot in Jaipur after the blasts which could not be carried out thanks to the vigilance of the local administration and the harmony and brotherhood exhibited by the citizens of Jaipur. However, we must be vigilant enough, not to allow the conspirators to shatter peace and harmony and also pursue the state to tackle the situation honestly and justly having no prejudices and biases.” The illegal detention of the innocent people was condemned at large by the participants.
Professor Mrs. Pawan Surana, a well-known woman activist, said, “A conspiracy of branding the Muslims as terrorists is going on globally. We should see things in wider perspective and the state should also act without any bias.”
Satya Vrat Samvedi of Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha was of the opinion that the Hindus and Muslims should come hand in hand to combat terrorism just like we fought the independence war where Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan both sacrificed their lives for their beloved country.
Comrade Waqarul Ahad was surprised to see the ‘friends’ in their prescribed uniforms i.e. knickers and shirts, at the site of blasts in advance and also in the hospitals to ‘help’ the victims of the blasts. He wondered how they came to know that their help will be needed at the hospitals and what they were doing at the sites of blasts beforehand.
Professor Madhukar Shyam Chaturvedi disagreed with some speakers when they blamed the state of sponsoring terrorism. He also didn’t agree that innocents are arrested after every incident of blast. He was of the opinion that arresting and detaining of the ‘carriers’ was not unjust, however he didn’t make it clear as who were the ‘carriers.’
Ved Vyas, a renowned columnist, poet and former director of All India Radio Jaipur as well as President of Hindi Sahitya Academy, stated that the venture of ascribing Muslims as communal began in 1924, when the RSS was formed in Nagpur. He asked, “Who are they to demand a certificate of loyalty from the Muslims?” Professor Sheela Choudhary and Dr. Mrs. Jasbeer Jain were of the opinion that the terror conspirators get our youth as their tools because they are void of moral values or idealism. We have good technocrats and doctors but not good human beings. Mrs. Shrilata Swaminathan, state president MCP M, was firm on her view that the rulers are always keen on dividing people and ruling them by imposing terror.
Concluding the seminar, Mr. Asghar Ali Engineer said, “Education today is more a part of problem than being a solution to violence. We need a value based education system. In order to combat terrorism we may adopt seven values, 1. Truth, 2. Equality, 3. Justice, 4. Compassion, 5. Love, 6. Human Dignity, and 7. Help in Human Suffering. The vested interests behind the terror acts should be unveiled and honest investigations be resorted to. Certain politicians are looting the country in the name of desh bhakti. They use religion to inculcate hatred among people to fulfil their vested interests. The so-called attack on the RSS headquarters at Nagpur may be recalled in order to expose their mal intentions, where three corpses were brought by the police and arms laid by their side then fired here and there to blame it ultimately on the Muslims.
Many other scholars and intellectuals expressed their views.