The most common jargon we hear is, “All Muslims are not terrorists but why are all terrorists Muslims”. Well the truth is, “No”, not even remotely true. The reason is that ‘terrorism’ is today accepted only that which is Islamist. The media today has made terrorism synonymous to Islam & Pakistan thus concocting a dangerous recipe of Hindu Nationalism mixed with some amounts of jingoism.
Truth about Islamist Terrorism
The Oxford Dictionary of Law defines terrorism as ‘The use or threat of violence for political ends, including putting the public in fear.’ This doesn’t factor in the religion that the terrorists come from or the political ideology they are driven by. One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. So let’s look at the terrorism figures objectively.
The data below is extracted from, “The South Asian Terrorism Portal” lists fatalities and incidents across India. Quite helpfully, it also lists them by Conflict Theater.
|North East||Left/NaxalExtremism||Kashmir||Others||Total Deaths|
This shows that violence stems mostly from Hindus whom we conveniently call Maoists and the Christian dominated North Eastern Regions. But Muslim/Islamist terrorism is nowhere close to as high as is projected in the Media or by the majoritarian Fundamentalists.
Tyranny of the majority
A term used in Classical and Hellenistic Greece for oppressive popular rule was ochlocracy. The phrase “tyranny of the majority” was used by John Adams (second President of USA) in 1788. In 1835 Alexis de Tocquevillepopularized it in his book “Democracy in America”.
Alexis says, “The majority’s moral power makes individuals internally ashamed to contradict it, which in effect silences them, and this silencing culminates in a cessation of thinking.”
Most alarming to him was the power of the majority, which he thought would distort every sphere of human life.
Despots of the past tyrannized through blood and iron. But the new breed of democratic despotism “does not proceed in this way; it leaves the body and goes straight for the soul.”
That is, the majority reaches into citizens’ minds and hearts. It breaks citizens’ will to resist, to question its authority, and to think for themselves. The majority’s moral power makes individuals internally ashamed to contradict it, which in effect silences them, and this silencing culminates in a cessation of thinking. We see this happen almost daily: to stand against the majority is to ruin yourself.
It’s not about Hindu Terror vs Muslim Terror. It’s about majoritarian terrorism vs minority terrorism. In Pakistan or Middle East of course we should be most concerned with Islamist terrorism more than anything else as they are in majority in these places.
If the political environment and especially the ruling party seem to give a vibe of being soft or as much as being supportive of a certain kind of terrorism then the majoritarian terrorists get further encouragement to carry out their lumpant activities.
People say in the last 14 years there have been no riots or terrorist activities in Gujarat. That is the biggest lie being fed to you. According the figures of Ministry of Home Affairs, casualties in Gujarat has been 83% more than the national average and 48% higher than UP. Still the bigger point is not the numbers but imagine if you have destroyed a family, killed a man, raped a woman and burned down their house then will the remaining people in that family have a voice for their entire life? Everyday subjugation will become that much easier. Isn’t that the plan of the RSS and the other Hindu Fundamentalists? They unlike the ISIS do not have any intention of wiping off the race but wants to create an India where the Muslims become second class citizens without any voting right and do all the menial work in the nation building, benefits of which their Hindu masters will enjoy.
Story of the Sadhvi
Sadhvi Pragya came into news after she was alleged to have played a role in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast which killed 7 people and injured 80.
8 years since the incident, she was cleared of her offenses by NIA. Within 2 years of the BJP government coming in, a right wing, alleged Hindu Terrorist getting let off. Coincidence? Maybe not. Let’s explain the discharge in 4 simple steps:-
- Step 1 (June 2015): Public Prosecutor pressurized to go slow on terror accused Pragya&Purohit:
RohiniSalian, Special Public Prosecutor in the case related to the Malegaon 2008 blasts in which four Muslims were killed during Ramzan and in which Hindu extremists are the accused, has said that over the past one year, since “the new government came to power,” she has been under pressure from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to go “soft” in the case. Soon after the NDA government came to power last year, she said, she got a call from one of the officers of the NIA — the agency investigating all the alleged Hindu extremist cases — asking to come over to speak with her. “He didn’t want to talk over the phone. He came and said to me that there is a message that I should go soft,” Salian told The Indian Express. Matters came to a head, on June 12, 2015, she said, when just before one of the regular hearings in the case in the Sessions Court, she was told by the same NIA officer that “higher-ups” did not want her to appear in the court for the State of Maharashtra and that another advocate would attend the proceedings. Salian, 68, a leading prosecutor who has handled important cases like the J J shootout, Borivili double murder, the Bharat Shah case and the Mulund blasts amongst others, said: “The meaning (of that message from the officer) is very clear — don’t get us favorable orders.”Hemant Karkare the decorated officer of Maharashtra ATS started investigating this case. The probe — later given over to the NIA that was constituted after the 26/11 terror attack in which Karkare was killed — led to a relook at other cases: Malegaon blasts of 2006 (31 killed, 312 injured); 2007 Ajmer blast (3 killed, 15 injured); 2007 Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad (9 killed, 58 injured); and 2007 Samjhauta Express attack (68 killed, 13 injured). The probe found many common accused in these cases.
- Step 2 (Dec 2015): The witness in the Malegaon blast goes missing:
The 29-year-old electrician had been picked up by Maharashtra ATS from Indore’s Shanti Vihar Colony on November 10, 2008. The ATS wanted to question him about Ramji Kalsangra, an accused in the blast case, in whose house he was staying as tenant. Dilip never returned from Mumbai. His family alleged that he was eliminated while the ATS insisted that he had returned to Indore. After indicating that Dilip could be dead, the CBI wanted to prosecute two ATS officials. In November last year, however, it filed a closure report in the high court, saying that the Maharashtra government was not giving it sanction to prosecute the officials. When the matter came up for hearing before the special court in Indore on Wednesday, advocate Mohan Patidar filed an application seeking a probe by the NIA. The application said the CBI investigation was not proper and that the NIA should probe the case because it was investigating the Malegaon blast.
- Step 3 (April 2016): After the witness, the statement of the key witnesses go missing:
In a major setback to the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, seven statements of witnesses – all recorded in the presence of a magistrate and admissible as evidence – have gone missing from the Special NIA Court. An embarrassed NIA has formed three teams to look for the missing statements, while the court officials have also joined in the search. Among the witness statements gone missing is that of Dharmendra Bairagi, a close aid of Ramji Kalsangra, a key accused in the case who is absconding. Bairagi, in his statement recorded before a magistrate, had said that he was witness to a meeting between Kalsangra and Pragya Thakur in Ujjain just months before the 2008 blasts. He had also said he had heard the two discussing a plan to engineer blasts. Another key statement that is missing is that of the founder of Abhinav Bharat HemaniSavarkar. Savarkar’s statement details a meeting between Lt Col Purohit and Pragya Thakur in Nashik in 2007. It also accuses Lt Col Purohit of misusing Abhinav Bharat’s name to raise funds.
- Step 4 (May 2016): Pragya Thakur gets clean chit, charges against others are diluted.
Along with Sadhvi, charges against other major co-accused persons, such as Col. Srikant Purohit under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA), were dropped by the NIA in its chargesheet.
Later Berating the NIA, a special court court said charges against Sadhvi Pragya under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act would stay.
Let’s never again blame Pakistan on letting Hafeez Saeed and Lakhvi go scott free. We here do exactly the same it seems.
Why this murder of democracy & the subsequent maligning of the image of the 26/11 martyr Hemant Karkare is significant for the democracy of India, is because try and look at how minorities are living around us, and not just the religious minorities.
Look at the Hindus in Pakistan & Bangladesh and let’s delve into the LGBT killings in Bangladesh.
Situation in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has a population of about 160 million. 8th most populous nation in the world. 89.5% of them being Muslims & 9.6% of them being Hindu. Which religious terrorism is more threatening to a country like Bangladesh? Hindu Terrorism? No.
Ansar al-Islam, the Bangladeshi division of al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent, has claimed responsibility for the killings of two LGBT-rights activists who were hacked to death in Dhaka. The two LGBTI activists were XulhazMannan&TanayMojumdar. These two were openly gay men doing remarkably good work for the queer community. They were hacked to death using machetes by 5-6 young men disguising as delivery agents. In the last 12 months 6 bloggers/writers have been killed- NazimuddinSamad, Faisal ArefinDipan, Ananta Bijoy Das, Niloy Neel, Washiqur Rahman and Avijit Roy. Not just bloggers and Queer people, Christians, Hindus and Sufi, Ahmadi and Shia Muslims as well as Atheists have also been killed since. The grip of the Al Qaeda and the ISIS is growing to a dangerous proportion in these regions and India has already become an asylum especially for people of the Queer community. But do we want India to become like a Bangladesh?
Situation in Pakistan
Pakistan’s vanishing Hindus is the most tragic and real story out of Pakistan. During independence in 1947, Hindu & Sikhs made up 20% Pakistani population, now it’s down to 2%. The Hindu population have been persecuted, raped, converted forcefully married into and systematically cleansed out. The Hindus in Pakistan are now scared of their own shadows. The Christians are also suffering. Gunmen carrying AK-47 assault rifles stand guard on a tiny, dusty street, but they’re not protecting a military installation or a prison. They’re armed volunteers guarding a church. This is the area of Youhanabad on the outskirts of the city of Lahore. It’s the most densely-populated Christian neighborhood in the whole of Pakistan. Last year, two bombers struck local Catholic and Protestant churches killing more than a dozen people, injuring many more. Protests by the Christian community only led to more violence rather than security.In recent years, Pakistani Christian communities have been regularly targeted with violence.More than 100 homes were set on fire by outraged Muslims in BadamiBagh, Lahore, in March 2013 after a Christian man was accused of speaking against the Muslim prophet Mohammad.In September of the same year, 81 people were killed and more than 100 injured in twin explosions outside a church in Peshawar.
Roots of radicalization are in successive governments who have made space for extremists and says the roots of radicalization in Pakistan are in its biased laws. Ex- Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws have often been manipulated to persecute minorities, including Christians.In 2014, a Christian couple accused of desecrating the Quran was beaten by a mob, then pushed into a burning brick kiln.And in 2011, in a highly publicized case, Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian mother of five, was sentenced to death for blasphemy.
Does it sound familiar to the story of Akhlaq who was hacked to death on allegations of eating beef? The last thing India wants to be is to become a Hindu Pakistan and unfortunately maybe we are going towards that route.
- Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967
- The Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA)
- TADA : the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987
- Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA)
The above laws are as draconian as Indian Penal Code, 1860, Section 124-A- Sedition as well as the AFSPA (The Armed Forces Special Powers Act).
In 1967, India introduced a Black Law, known as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which allowed the State to curtail the following rights of citizens who it deemed were not acting in the national interest:
- Freedom of speech, and expression.
• Right to assemble peaceably, and without arms.
• Right to form associations, or unions
The Congress Party introduced the UAPA at a time when the State of India was in turmoil. Indira Gandhi’s grip on power was under threat. India had only just emerged from wars with both China, and Pakistan, the economy was in crisis, the political system was in crisis, and the Congress Party itself was in crisis. There were new strands of opposition emerging, and gaining in strength. The Congress Party could not see how to avoid their inevitable failure at the next election, so they created an atmosphere whereby, anyone who raised a voice was labeled as an enemy of the State, and then could be booked under the UAPA.
In 1985, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) was introduced, and used to suppress anyone who raised a voice against the Indian State’s actions, specifically in Punjab. The Act gave wide powers to law enforcement agencies for dealing with so called terrorists, and socially disruptive activities in the following ways:
- An accused person could be detained up to 1 year.
- Confessions made to police officers were admissible as evidence in the court of law, with the burden of proof being on the accused to prove his, or her, innocence.
- Secret courts were set up exclusively to hear the cases, and deliver judgments, pertaining to the persons accused under this Act.
- A person could be detained under this act, with no evidence required, on the mere suspicion that an individual may have performed an act not in the national interest.
- An appeal lies against a conviction under the Act only to the Supreme Court, which is a very costly affair given that litigation costs over there are one of the highest in the country and the fact that the Supreme Court is located at Delhi, also makes it tougher for the convicted persons to carry on fighting an appeal given its distance from most corners of the country. An appeal or even a revision to any other court, including the local High Court is barred under the provisions of TADA.
TADA effectively gave Police the power to accuse anyone of being an enemy of the state, without need of any evidence. A government who puts its citizens first would not grant such powers, even to a police force with an exemplary human rights record. In India, where the police are known for their corruption, the outcome of TADA was predictable and brutal, yet politicians enthusiastically endorsed it. In the decade that TADA was in force, the Punjab Police imprisoned, tortured, and used blackmail to illicit money from, victims, and their families. The fact that their Police actions could not be questioned under TADA, further emboldened them to rape, torture, murder, and commit other atrocities against, large numbers of Sikhs in the Punjab. The Act was scrapped in 1995, but many Sikhs charged under the TADA still remain in prison today.
In 2002, India introduced the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), and after strong opposition, it was removed in 2004. The same provisions as TADA applied, except for the fact a person could not be convicted of activities not in the national interest, on mere suspicion, without evidence.
In 2004, the UAPA which still remains on the book of statutes, was given more bite. In 2008, and again in 2012, further amendments were made, which contain many of the provisions of POTA. Each time such Acts are introduced, the Government gives assurances that there are in-built safeguards against abuse, but given India’s abysmal human rights record, their primary use is to target anyone who raises a legitimate voice against the activities of the Police, or the endemic corruption of Indian society.
On the other hand, the AFSPA empowers the Governor of a state or the administrator of a Union Territory or the Central Government to arbitrarily declare “undefined” disturbed areas in parts of or the entire state or Union Territory.
Further, it also empowers the non-commissioned officers of the armed forces to fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death, against anyone perceived to be acting in contravention of the law, whether by being in an assembly of five or more persons or purportedly carrying anything which is capable of being used as a weapon. It further empowers them to arrest without warrant, to destroy any structure without any verification on the suspicion that it may be hiding people absconding from the law and to conduct search and seizure without warrant. No legal proceeding against abuse of such arbitrary powers can be initiated without the prior permission of the Central government.
The laws of Sedition on the other hand has been used to jail cartoonists as well as crack down on India’s premiere Universities, branding them as Anti- Nationals.
Popular regimes turning Fascist
Often Communists are branded as mass murderers citing examples of Stalin & Mao or even the socialist Hitler. But the truth is mass murders can only be branded as Fascists be it left or right, they exist on both sides. The United States of America for example has killed way more people across the world than the entire death toll caused by Hitler, Mao & Stalin put together.
Mao Tse-tungwas elected Chairman of the Central People’s Government on September 30th, 1949, the founding father of the People’s Republic in China, was the greatest mass murderer of all time. Unlike other political mass murderers in the 20th century, such as Stalin and Hitler, Mao openly gloated about killing people. He ultimately caused the death of anywhere between 40 – 80 million people over the course of his regime.
He incidentally was a very popular leader, yet a psychopath. One of his famous quotes are- : “He (Ch’in-Shih-huang, the first emperor of China) only buried alive 460 scholars, while we buried 46,000. In our suppression of the counterrevolutionaries, did we not kill some counterrevolutionary intellectuals? I once debated with the democratic people: You accuse us of acting like Ch’in-shih-huang, but you are wrong; we surpass him 100 times”. (Mao’s First Speech to the Party Congress, May 17, 1958)
He came to power through the CPSU and it was an elected body.
Political Opponents: 1934: Kirov, a rival to Stalin, was murdered. Although he probably ordered the assassination, Stalin used it as a chance to arrest thousands of his opponents.1934–1939, Stalin’s political opponents were put on ‘Show trials’, where they pleaded guilty to impossible charges of treason (e.g. Zinoviev and Kamenev 1936/ Bukharin, Tomsky &Rykov 1938).
The Army: In 1937, the Commander-in-Chief of the Red Army and 7 leading generals were shot. In 1938–39, all the admirals and half the Army’s officers were executed or imprisoned.
Ordinary People: Were denounced/ arrested/ sent to the Gulag (the system of labor camps). 20 million Russians were sent to the camps, where perhaps half of them died. People lived in fear. ‘Apparatchiks’ (party members loyal to Stalin) got all the new flats, jobs, holidays etc.
Almost 20 million people were arrested under the tyrannical rule of Stalin, half of whom were executed.
Wiping off 6 million Jews and the Holocaust is very well known to one and all. If there was a competition between Stalin & Hitler on who could kill more, then Hitler sure won that battle. All in all, the Germans deliberately killed about 11 million noncombatants, a figure that rises to more than 12 million if foreseeable deaths from deportation, hunger, and sentences in concentration camps are included. For the Soviets during the Stalin period, the analogous figures are approximately six million and ten million. But was Hitler democratically elected? Contrary to popular belief he wasn’t. Hitler was not elected by the people, he was appointed to Chancellor by Hindenburg to whom Hitler lost the election to in 1932. In the 1932, German Presidential Election Paul von Hindenburg secured over 19 million votes (53%) and beat Hitler who secured 13 million votes (36.8%). Hindenburg detested Hitler and contested for a second term just to keep Hitler out as President. But the NSDAP, Hitler’s Nazi party won 43.9% of the votes and formed a coalition government with the Deutschnationale to govern Germany. Hindenburg was forced to make him Chancellor of Germany in January 1933 because of coalition pressures.
On February 27, Hindenburg paved the way to dictatorship and war by issuing the Reichstag Fire Decree which nullified civil liberties. Hitler succeeded Hindenburg as head of state upon his death in 1934, where after he abolished the office entirely, and replaced it with the new position of Führer und Reichskanzler (“Leader and Reich Chancellor”), cementing his rule.
In all the above cases Democracy turned into autocracy/dictatorship not completely against the will of the people but rather with consent of the people. Mao took over from the reigns of the King (very popular at that time). Lenin gave way to Stalin &Hitler’s party won the largest number of seats despite their fascist views and criminalities they committed before the election which the masses ignored.
Socio-Economic Reason behind Terrorism
Do you know that among the top 500 companies which are listed either on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) or the National Stock Exchange (NSE), not even one per cent are owned by Muslims?
Muslims Are India’s Poorest And Worst Educated Religious Group. According to a government survey. Muslims, whoaccount for about 14.4 percent of India’s vast population, according to data from Pew Research, spend, on average, only 32.7 Rupees ($0.52) per day. At the other end of the wealth spectrum, on average, India’s tiny minority of Sikhs spend 55.3 Rupees per day, Christians (51.4 Rupees)
Looking at the state of West Bengal in Northeastern India, a province with a sizable Muslim population, accounting for about 25 percent of the total, the NSSO study revealed that urban Muslim boys and girls have the highest drop-out rates in the state. The gap is widest at higher education levels, for every 1,000 Hindu males, 30 go on to complete post-graduation, while the figure for Hindu females is 32. But for every 1,000 Muslim boys, only 10 enter post-graduation; and for Muslim girls the figure is just 2.
Data shows Muslims tend to form the bulk of casual laborers and the self-employed class and Hindus tend to form the core of the salaried class. In rural India too Muslims tend to form most of the agricultural and other laborers. More Hindus are self-employed in agriculture, while more Muslims are landless laborers.
In this chart we must notice that the Hindu ST community is the worst off amongst all. Does this not explain the Naxalite problem?
Before branding people as violent, let’s understand the way they are living. Landless, jobless, uneducated, impoverished, beaten by the system, discriminated by the society. Doesn’t this seem enough to drive a man towards terrorism? Where he/she sees the Government in power as their enemies?
Now let’s look at the employment statistics:
To be a self-employed person in the primary sector you need to own your agricultural lands and as we previously mentioned the Muslims are generally the landless laborers in the primary sector. In the secondary and tertiary sector however see the huge difference between the number of Hindu UC in regular jobs (salaried employees) and the same for the Muslims. This isn’t a choice but a compulsion. With poor education and discrimination on religious grounds during hiring this is what is has come to.
The ISIS Situation
Socio- Economic condition is directly related to Terrorism. We cannot kill our way out of this war. While a naive hearts-and-minds military strategy might not be applicable in this particular situation, an awareness of ongoing socioeconomic challenges in zones of conflict is essential. Europe, a central pool of Islamic State group, or ISIS, recruits, has a staggering youth unemployment rate of nearly 25 percent.
Why the fake surprise that the largest streams of recruits hail from France (1,200 recruits) and the United Kingdom (600 recruits), when these countries fail to manage a mix of rampant racism, diverse migrant populations and high youth unemployment—which equals too many restless, disgruntled kids (many from disadvantaged populations) languishing about in advanced Western economies? Middle Eastern despots unwilling to spread their oil wealth play with fire as they allow their 27 percent under-age-25 unemployment rate to fester, joined by spin-cycled North African countries where the youth unemployment rate is near 30 percent. In Nigeria you could see Boko Haram on the horizon years before it was kidnapping schoolgirls, flattening entire towns and disrupting whole regions. Despite its vast accumulated oil wealth, a ridiculously corrupt Nigerian government simply ignored the fact that it was ranked third on the World Bank’s Global Poverty Index while hoarding billions of needed dollars from economically crushed citizens in the nation’s north.
Eliminating the terrorists who confront us today actually only solves part of the problem. Pushing anti-poverty agendas that few poor people would know about. We have to do more to avoid an endless cycle of violent extremism. We have to transform the very environment from which these movements emerge.
It’s not a surprise that the Naxal Belt in the country is also the belt which is densely populated by the Hindu Tribal.
Tribal Population in India: (Major Epicenters)
- Chhattisgarh (30.6%)
- Madhya Pradesh (25.7%)
- Orissa (22.8%)
- Jharkhand (26.2%)
- Arunachal Pradesh (68.8%)
- Sikkim (33.8%)
- Nagaland (86.5%)
- Manipur (35.1%)
- Tripura (31.8%)
- Mizoram (94.4%)
- Meghalaya (86.1%)
Source: Ministry of Tribal Affairs
This Tribal population mix puts the figures we obtained from The South Asian Terrorism Portal into perfect perspective now. That data was mere number of fatalities listed according to conflict area. But the population mix of these areas, the socio economic position of the Tribal population as explained earlier above and the presence of AFSPA in most of these states well explains why these zones are major conflict zones.
It’s easy to brand people terrorists. But it’s important to look behind the veil of mass media and propaganda as to what the real reason is. Also to carry out any form of terrorist activities you need funds? Where are the funds coming from? Who’s sponsoring the terror and what is their vested interest? Because if these people had the money to buy arms, they would have bought food instead. These are poor, discriminated, preyed upon people be it the Muslims of India, the Tribals who are called Naxalites or the unemployed, disenchanted, discriminated youth of Europe joining ISIS. But depending on the epicenter the importance of the Terror increases and WE CANNOT KILL OUR WAY OUT OF IT.
Author : Avik Ghosh.
A Graduate from Calcutta University in Bcom (Hons) , Avik is currently pursuing MBA from Vanguard Business School , Bangalore. He is an aspiring film maker too and an active member of Civilian Welfare Foundation advocating and contributing to the various right based activities with respect to child rights, disability, sports and LGBTIQ rights.