In a large-scale human tragedy today, a series of bomb blasts in Mumbai has taken lives of more than 150 people. However, these blasts are no aberrations for the financial capital of India. Mumbai—a city governed by Hindu right-wing fanatics of India—has faced such calamities several times in the recent past.
What’s unique about the blasts in the western India –Gujarat and Maharashtra—is their etiology. Invariably all the blasts have been religious in nature, targeted to create heightened communal tension in the region. And today was no different.
So, if communal violences have such a pattern of occurrence and regularity in frequency, how is it that the administrations turn conveniently indifferent towards their recurrence? Who are benefited in the process?
The usual suspects:
“Terrorists” is one-word explanation given as being the perpetrators for every systematic violence these days. Of course, this word has gained coinage and credibility through the usage by the ruling class. What is important to note here is that the more one uses this word, the more one tends to align with the interests of the ruling class.
A violation to the law and order necessarily is handiwork of the people who desire instability. Without going into the logistics regarding needs of instability (which could be desirable for various reasons too), one can assume that the ruling power draws sympathy wave from people by projecting an ‘external’ element to be cause of innocent peoples’ deaths. Interestingly, the structural instability actually happens only with killing of the politicians, whereas their structural “stability” takes place when innocent lives are lost!
Of course, it usually happens during the days when the ruling powers are apparently most unstable themselves. By every account, any war in the world is also caused at times of uncertainty for the ruling powers. Think of any cold war interventions by the US (spread of communism was the factor), or later on Clinton in Yugoslovia (Monica Lewinsky) or Bush in Iraq (September 11 orchestration). Or take for account, India’s own trysts with regional instability resulting in massive operations in Assam, Punjab, and Kashmir.
More often than not, these take shape of communal violence (just as every war has been fought by religious fanatics). In India, bomb blasts in Maharashtra or genocide in Gujarat are cases of Hindu fanatics attacking Muslim minorities in the name of their own misplaced insecurities.
In the past, the allegations by Hindu Mafia of India against the Muslims were based on myths such as: “Muslim population is increasing in rapid pace to overtake Hindu majority”, “Muslims of India are Pakistani loyalists, and since Pakistan is an enemy state, Muslims must be declared so too” etc. Practicing neo-nazi tactics of training Hindu youths to take up violent means to eliminate Muslims from India, the Hindu militant groups have traditionally enjoyed quite a presence. From propagandizing religions in school education (Saraswati Vidya Mandir) to promote Hindu businesses (Swadeshi Jagran Manch), the right-wingers of India have stopped at nothing in overcoming their insecurities.
Clearly all these insecurities of Hindus fundamentalists have led to loss in lives and property of Muslims (Gujarati Muslims are usually attacked more, because of their prosperous business) and fellow Hindus (who clearly in majority reject these fanatics except for once when they elected BJP to a considerable tenure). But of course, these tactics are carried out most surreptitiously, and at times with blatant disregard to actual circumstances.
Why Mumbai? Why now?
In continuance with this power ploy, the recent tragedies in Mumbai started since last three days.
First, someone defaced the statue of one woman in Mumbai. But this woman was not BR Ambedkar or for that matter, Mahatma Gandhi. Because in Mumbai, and elsewhere in India, on a regular basis, statues of these two giants of Indian freedom struggle are subjected to desecration.
Ironically, this woman was way more powerful. As the late wife of the Hindu supremacist Bal Thackeray, the figure in statue commanded respect. Hence all political parties instead of looking into maintaining law and order of the state so that no publicly installed statues are defaced, and the ‘actual’ culprits are caught, they came forward to apologize for the shameful incident.
The sainiks, allegedly representing the majority religion of India, decided to react in their traditional manner: in a purely Hindu supremacist way. So none less that the executive president of the party (whose mother’s statue this was) decided to take law into his own hands. He declared proudly: “If derogatory cartoons appearing in a newspaper in far-off Denmark can have repercussions in India, this incident is bound to provoke reactions from Shiv Sainiks.”
What a shame!
First off, no one knows who defaced the statue. In all possibility, it might have been a handiwork by the right wing plotters themselves. The desecration took place in wee hours of early morning. The police in Mumbai say the incident took place when there was no activity on the street. In other words, it was not an organized effort by motivated party. To further incite tensions, an empty tourist bus from Gujarat was burnt down in front of the Hindu bosses’ office. It was also found out that this could have been a result of short-circuit, and not done by any motivated party.
Mumbai Joint Commissioner (Police) Arup Patnaik said, “Video footage suggests that the flames started inside, so we are also probing whether it could have been caused by a short circuit. Our priority is to quell the disturbances and maintain order.” The police said they had no leads on the incident that sparked off the day’s disturbances.
So basically, there was no reason to suspect that any Muslim groups or “terrorists” or Pakistan might have been behind such incidents. On the contrary, going by the way, the statue was chosen (to rouse sentiments), the bus came from Gujarat (Hindu violent prone state) and the location (Shiv Sena office), one could investigate the hands of the Sainiks in these events.
But, even as the state police clearly said they had absolutely “no lead”, the leader of the fanatic party declared a war. Throughout the state, widespread violence was let loose. Thackeray, after visiting the spot, told reporters that there was likely to be “ramifications”.
The dark humor
When the majority religions take stock of the situation, the communal racism just takes over. Because of the sheer majority of people that lead the war, they confidently go on attacking like mad dogs. Such rampage has been going in India since decades now.
Just three days back when on July 9, Thackeray warned the country that severe reactions from Shiv Sainks was inevitable, one was apprehending the attacks. Unfortunately it turned out to be even more serious. Closely on the heels of the attacks in Kashmir, where American interests lie, the attack in Mumbai has been planned in premeditated fashion so as to draw international condemnation: against Islam.
To appease American obsession with anti-Islam movements throughout the world, the Indian group of loyal foot soldiers have indeed given fuel to the fire. There was no international coverage of the violence let loose by Shiv Sainiks which had paralyzed the city of Mumbai since last three days. And to draw further attention, innocent lives had to be sacrificed.
This is an old political trick that has always helped Indian communal leaders. When the government at center has been doing absolutely nothing to agitate Pakistan into a war, the war mongering Hindu fundamentalists had no better excuse than looking towards Kashmir and Mumbai.
What needs to be done?
First and foremost, none of the persons on that local train deserved to die this way. Enemies could be well within the same people who are staging a drama of violent protests. There must be through investigations to that effect. Not biased investigations. The Indian intelligence sources need to be smarter than they are now.
Corporate leaflets pretending to be newspapers, like Times of India have already created headlines regarding the perpetrators even before the investigations have begun! One report already says, “LeT, SIMI hand in Mumbai blasts”. Highest form of irresponsible journalism can only result in such news stories. The report without naming any sources, says in the first paragraph itself that the “terror attack on Mumbai trains was carried out by Lashkar-e-Toiba and local Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists and was designed to trigger communal conflagration in the country’s financial capital.”
And in the body, it says, “While still waiting for clues to emerge, top intelligence sources in New Delhi seem pretty sure the blasts on the trains were plotted by Lashkar modules which are increasingly collaborating with activists of SIMI, which boasts of strong pockets of influence across Maharashtra.”
For such serious violence that causes hundreds of valuable lives, the press, the government and the so-called intelligence sources are highly irresponsible, and criminal in their misconducts. Times of India owes a public apology for displaying such highest form of carelessness. It’s entirely lost on me as to how someone can be “pretty sure” of the blasts while “waiting for clues to emerge”! As in the past, this time also, the official propaganda machine of India might prove successful and they may even go and nab some people with Muslim surnames (a recent popular Bollywood cinema “Khakee” (2004) dealt with this tragic issue).
In the past, everytime there have been communal violences in India, the administrations have found easy scapegoats in a) Pakistan, b) Pakistani-funded terrorists. Alas, they have never provided any evidence to support these claims. (while on the contrary, independent findings by filmmakers and judicial bodies have always found the homegrown communal parties to be the root causes). These blame-games are perfectly orchestrated tricks by the Government of India to maintain its supremacy in the subcontinent. And in the process the communal politicians have never cared to think of the lives lost.
At times, facts of life are too obvious to be missed. One of them tells me about the complete absence of deaths of lives of the politicians who are ‘protesting’ the most. It’s always usually the innocent commoners who lay down their lives. The people who are responsible for maintaining law and order (the politicians themselves) fail to own up to their responsibilities (barring perhaps Lal Bahadur Shastri in case of a rail accident). They never seem to resign from their powerful positions for not having been able to provide their people any sense of security. On the contrary, while adamantly glued to their seats of power (or of opposition power in the parliaments), they keep blaming some or the other external factors, so that in times like this, they can scare enough people to get united for their own sake.
This time, it should be enough.
Well, this time….
No more reasons to call mayhem
Not one more life in your name
Not another death to uphold your religion
No more such violent catch 22 situation
Not to secure your mother’s dormant statues
Nor to pay back for your father’s power abuse
No more thought controls by government bureaucrats
Not once more will we believe in your tactics of attacks
No time to agitate, its time to step down from power
No press conferences, no indomitable statues or tower
In such times, politicians of the world must unite
You have everything to lose, including your might
For once, walk with the people, feel their agonies
Set examples of selves, write accords for peace
Stop the blame-games with Pakistan and Muslims
Or against one’s poor, the backward, and their miseries
Now is the time to act, to promise just one thing:
Stop playing communal, ‘tis just one life for rejoicing.
(Saswat Pattanayak, Peoples’ Poet, 2006)