Is there such a thing as ‘Hinduterrorism’, as Home MinisterShinde is heavily hinting at?Well, I am one of that rare breed offoreign correspondents – a lover ofHindus! A born Frenchman, Catholiceducatedand non-Hindu, I do hope I’llbe given some credit for my opinions,which are not the product of myparents’ ideas, my education or myatavism, but garnered from 25 years ofreporting in South Asia (for LeJournal de Geneve and Le Figaro).
In the early 1980s, when I startedfreelancing in south India, doing photofeatures on Kalaripayattu, theAyyappa festival, or the Ayyanars, Islowly realized that the genius of thiscountry lies in its Hindu ethos, in thetrue spirituality behind Hinduism.The average Hindu you meet in amillion villages possesses this simple,innate spirituality and accepts yourdiversity, whether you are Christian orMuslim, Jain or Arab, French orChinese.
It is this Hinduness thatmakes the Indian Christian differentfrom, say, a French Christian, or theIndian Muslim unlike a Saudi Muslim.I also learnt that Hindus not onlybelieved that the divine could manifestitself at different times, underdifferent names, using differentscriptures (not to mention thewonderful avatar concept, the perfectanswer to 21st century religious strife)but that they had also given refuge topersecuted minorities from across theworld-Syrian Christians, Parsis, Jews,Armenians, and today, Tibetans.
In 3,500 years of existence, Hindushave never militarily invaded anothercountry, never tried to impose theirreligion on others by force or inducedconversions. You cannot find anybodyless fundamentalist than a Hindu inthe world and it saddens me when I seethe Indian and western press equatingterrorist groups like SIMI, which blowup innocent civilians, with ordinary,angry Hindus who burn churcheswithout killing anybody. We know alsothat most of these communalincidents often involve persons fromthe same groups-often Dalits andtribals-some of who have converted toChristianity and others not.
However reprehensible thedestruction of Babri Masjid, noMuslim was killed in the process;compare this to the ‘vengeance’bombings of 1993 in Bombay, whichwiped out hundreds of innocents,mostly Hindus. Yet the Babri Masjiddestruction is often described byjournalists as the more horrible act ofthe two.We also remember how SharadPawar, when he was chief minister ofMaharashtra in 1993, lied about abomb that was supposed to have goneoff in a Muslim locality of Bombay.
I have never been politicallycorrect, but have always written whatI have discovered while reporting. Letme then be straightforward about thisso-called Hindu terror. Hindus, sincethe first Arab invasions, have been atthe receiving end of terrorism,whether it was by Timur, who killed1,00,000 Hindus in a single day in 1399,or by the Portuguese Inquisitionwhich crucified Brahmins in Goa.Today, Hindus are still being targeted:there were one million Hindus in theKashmir valley in 1900; only a fewhundred remain, the rest having fledin terror.
Blasts after blasts havekilled hundreds of innocent Hindusall over India in the last four years.Hindus, the overwhelming majoritycommunity of this country, are beingmade fun of, are despised, aredeprived of the most basic facilitiesfor one of their most sacredpilgrimages in Amarnath while theirgovernment heavily sponsors the Haj..They see their brothers and sistersconverted to Christianity throughinducements and financial traps, see aharmless 84-year-old swami and asadhvi brutally murdered. Their godsare blasphemed. So sometimes,enough is enough.At some point, after years or evencenturies of submitting like sheep toslaughter, Hindus-whom the Mahatmaonce gently called cowards-erupt inuncontrolled fury.
And it hurts badly.It happened in Gujarat. It happened inJammu, then in Kandhamal,Mangalore, Malegaon, or Ajmer.It may happen again elsewhere.What should be understood is that thisis a spontaneous revolution on theground, by ordinary Hindus, withoutany planning from the politicalleadership. Therefore, the BJP, insteadof fighting over each other as to whomshould be the next party president, orwho will be their PM candidate for the2014 elections, should do well to put itshouse together.
For, it’s evident that the Congresshas decided on this absurd strategy ofthe absurd, the untrue, the unjust, thetreacherous, only to target Mr.Narendra Modi, their enemy numberOne.It should also fight the Untrue withTruth: there are about a billionHindus, one in every six persons onthis planet. They form one of the mostsuccessful, law-abiding and integratedcommunities in the world today. Canyou call them terrorists? Let the BJPcompile a statistics of how manyHindus were killed by Muslims since1947 and how many Muslims byHindus. These statistics will speak bythemselves.
(The author can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org)