The riots

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Neil Ozman

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Jun 11, 2002, 6:01:24 AM6/11/02
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11. The riots
11.1 Reporting vs. comment
"The 'progressive' people in this country show a remarkable eagerness to see
communalism even in the most harmless observations of [Hindu] religious
leaders, while overlooking such outrageously communal and provocative
statements as the one made by the former government official Syed
Shahabuddin, that contact with the Hindus debased the Muslim, or the one by
Syed Abdullah Bukhari, the Imam of the Jama Masjid in Delhi, that the
Muslims would resort to a civil war." This observation by Subhash Chandra
Sarkar149 is quite correct, and it explains the peculiar features of press
reporting on communal riots. The progressive pressmen attribute every riot
to "Hindu communalism raising its ugly head", while justifying or explaining
away the undeniable cases of Muslim communalist violence.
When reading the press reports about communal riots, one should make a
distinction between two stages of riot reporting. The day after a riot
breaks out, the press will just write what happened, in some detail. The
report will be a little bit blurred by the obligatory usage of non-definite
terms for the communities involved : "As members of one community passed
through an area dominated by another community, stones were thrown at them",
etc. But the experienced reader can mostly understand who is who.
However, the editorials devoted to these instances of communal carnage are
not interested in the details of the matter, and in their effort to allot
guilt and suggest remedies, they often implicitly start from a riot scenario
which is totally unsupported by the factual details that appeared in the
first report. The autumn of 1990 has offered some striking examples of this
recurring press phenomenon.
For instance, about the Hyderabad violence of December 1990 there could be
no doubt whatsoever about who was the aggressor and who the victim. The
violence was, according to press reports, started by revenge action of
Muslims against the police, for killing an influential Muslim goonda,
Mohammed Sardar. This man was a convicted murderer, and while free on
parole, he had killed a policeman, and gone underground. When the police
caught up with him, he was killed in an exchange of firing.150 This
encounter triggered a wave of stabbing by people belonging to the same
community as this Mohammed. Not only in Hindu-Muslim terms it is very clear
who started, but also in miscreant-police terms: the first victim was not
the Muslim goonda, but a policeman. it is not the partisan anti-Hindu police
who killed the victims for whose murder Mohammed Sardar was convicted, it
was not they who killed the policeman that was killed by him, and it was not
they who started the stabbing.
Moreover, while in many riots Muslims take the initiative but then lose it
to the more numerous Hindus, here it was the Muslims who were on the attack
all through the weeks of violence.151 The Statesman reported : "An unusual
feature of the current clashes was the heavy toll inflicted on the majority
community, forcing many of them to flee their hearth and homes south of the
Musi, which were immediately occupied by members of the minority community."
The inserted comment that heavy suffering on the part of the Hindus is
unusual, is of course based on secularist estimates. The report continues:
"House-to-house searches in the [predominantly Muslim] old city yielded a
rich haul of weapons, imported from the north."
But in the same issue, the editorial has heard nothing of Muslim attacks,
Muslim goondas, Muslim arms caches. Under the caption Spark from Ayodhya, it
writes : "If the trouble in Aligarh followed the stabbing of a policeman [by
a member of an unnamed you-know-which community], it is not yet clear what
caused the eruption in Hyderabad. Nor is it worthwhile any longer to look
for specific reasons since a focal point already exists."152 The focal point
is (guess once) the BJP/VHP's "cynical, vote- catching policies relating to
the disputed shrines in Ayodhya".
If one would believe the columns in the national English- language press,
Mr. Advani's Rathyatra has left a trail of bloodshed. But when one turns to
the actual reports of the riots, this very serious allegation turns out to
be totally contradicted by the facts.
During the Rathyatra, which was underway for about a month until it was
stopped on October 22, there were some riots in Karnataka, and many very
serious riots in Uttar Pradesh in the first state, Advani had only tipped
the North-East corner on his way from Maharashtra to Andhra Pradesh, in the
second he had not set foot at all. Now, those who are biased and perforce
need to blame Advani, can say that at least he created the atmosphere that
led to the riots. But then they should explain how he managed to cause riots
five hundred miles distant from his Rathyatra, and none in its vicinity.
Where he could personally impress his atmosphere on audiences, there was no
violence, but where it was only a distant echo, it would have moved people
to utter barbarities like those that took place in Gonda, U.P.: a strange
explanation. To my mind, it would seem that such an explanation does not
spring from the scientific temper which secularism seeks to inculcate, but
rather from a political compulsion to blame the Hindu campaign at any cost
and/or to shield the real culprit.

11.2 Inspiring and starting riots
A far more logical explanation for the non-occurrence of riots in or near
the Rathyatra, and the large-scale occurrence of serious riots in Uttar
Pradesh, is this. For the common Hindu, the passing of the Ram Rath was a
joyous religious event, perhaps compounded by a sense of relief or even
victory because it announced the symbolical righting of the centuries of
persecution inflicted by Muslim rulers upon the Hindus. At any rate, it was
a happy affair that sweetened the atmosphere rather than create bitterness
and violence. Moreover, mr. Advani in his speeches called on all Indians to
celebrate and to cultivate harmony. That his speeches were not inflammatory,
I know for certain even though I heard not one of them : mr. Advani has many
enemies who watch him for discrediting mistakes, and if he had made any
objectionable statement, it would have been splashed across the front pages.
It may be true, as some papers have written, that some local BJP leaders did
make inflammatory speeches. but at least the starring speaker called for
peace and harmony, and the very invoking of Ram created a positive
atmosphere good enough to yield the actual result that no riots place.
By contrast, in Uttar Pradesh the ubiquitous public speaker was chief
minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, a man with an impressive crime record
(highlighted in Illustrated Weekly after the 1989 elections, but now
forgotten thanks to his uncompromising secularism), who gave very
inflammatory and confrontationist speeches : "Not even a bird shall be able
to enter Ayodhya", for "We will crush them". The power of the word was
demonstrated once more : while the man who called for self-restraint and
harmony had a peaceful Rathyatra, the man who called for confrontation, got
confrontation.153 In spite of unprecedented police deployment and curfews in
many towns, riots broke out.
A recurring scenario, in conformity with the general pattern of Hindu-Muslim
riots in the twentieth century, was that Hindu processions, especially the
Ram Jyoti processions, were attacked when passing through Muslim- dominated
areas. These attacks were largely a materialization of all the fiery curses
that Mulayam in his mass rallies had cast upon the Ram processions. In many
cases, the Hindus retaliated by attacking any Muslims they could find, which
unfortunately were mostly innocent bystanders. Or villagers who got involved
in a riot in town went back to their village and attacked the Muslims they
could find there (that was the scenario of the huge Bhagalpur carnage of
1989, this repeated on a smaller scale in Gonda).
However, it seems it was not only by the power of the word that those riots
got going. The Gonda riot started when actual bombs were thrown at a Hindu
procession. According to press reports as well as the report by a BJP
fact-finding team, at least one of them had been thrown from the local
Janata Dal office by people working for Munnan Khan, the local MLA. This man
is a friend of the chief minister : with the latter's support, he was
elected in 1989 as an independent candidate (though a JD member) against the
official candidate of the anti- Congress combine (a BJP man). After people
had been killed in this unilateral attack on the procession (officially six
; according to Congress MP Anand Singh, one hundred), mutual fighting broke
out. And still later, some Hindu hotheads took out revenge parties to Muslim
quarters outside the city.
Many papers have, in their final overview of the riot, consciously blurred
the first stage of the Gonda riot, and highlighted the last stage in order
to absolve the Muslims and put the blame on he Hindus, i.e. on the
Janmabhoomi movement, i.e. on L.K. Advani who was far away.
Consider this report in the Times of India :"The procession numbering about
5000 people was wending its way through the narrow streets of Colonelganj
shouting some slogans which could be deemed provocative in an atmosphere of
tension, when it was attacked with stones, bombs and other missiles. The
attack allegedly began from the roof of the Janata Dal office, according to
some shopkeepers whose shops were gutted."154 This suggests that
slogan-shouting on the part of the processionists has caused the violence.
But of course, bombs are not picked up and thrown in an emotional reaction
to inflammatory slogans, as too many journalists would like us to believe.
Bombs are quite certainly purchased or made beforehand, and a bomb-attack is
definitely premeditated. In fact, on rooftops not even loose-lying stones
are that readily available for impulsive acts of stone-throwing.
It is very clear to an unbiased reader that the Gonda carnage has started
with a pre-meditated attack on the procession. Going by the original
newspaper reports, some Janata Dal miscreants affiliated with Muslim party
leaders were the aggressors, and the processionists were the victims.
However, it is in the nature of aggression that the victims get the blame.
Thus, a rapist will usually say that the girl had asked for it, that she had
provoked him. Here too, it is not stated simply that the processionists were
attacked. Rather, it is said in goonda-speak, approvingly broadcast by the
secularist press, that the procession has provoked violence and caused
riots.
In the same newspaper report, mention is made of an earlier incident: "It
all began with a girl being teased by anti-social elements owing allegiance
to one Talukdar Khan." Even for this earlier stage of the communal conflict,
the paper does not hide what side started. And then it goes on to say that
"the other side was provoked and mobbed his house", without specifying how
exactly they were "provoked" by the Muslims, upon which "he drew up plans
with his supporters to attack the procession on September 30".155
So, at every stage of the escalation, you see Muslims starting, Hindus
merely reacting, and Muslims pre- planning large-scale violence. And it is
not me who says so, I read this in the reporting of secularist newspapers
(though not on their Opinion page). These are indications from unsuspected
sources that members of the Muslim community take a disproportionately large
part in starting communal violence.

11.3. Received wisdom on riots
As a foreigner, I have no access to certain archives, much less to police
records. But going by the riot information generally available, I do find
that there is truth in the received wisdom that
1. a clear majority of the riots are started by Muslims,
2. a clear majority of the victims are Muslims, at least in the final count
3. a clear majority of the victims shot by the police (not including the Kar
Sevaks) are Muslims; the police in most of these case claims self-defense
against attacks by mobs or snipers.
To start with an unsuspected source, Mufti Mohammed Saiyid, Home minister,
made a statement on communal riots between January and April 1990. It lists
nine riots, with their causes. The monthly Muslim India reproduces the
list156, but omits parts of the stated causes of five of the riots, e.g.:
"Clash between anti-social elements...on black marketing of cinema tickets".
This leaves the reader guessing what was omitted. The causes of two other
riots are stated in the well-known indeterminate terminology: "Alleged
misbehavior with a girl of the other community". but the two remaining riot
causes, the only ones clearly saying which community was attacked (and
leaving little doubt as to which community attacked), are these : "Stoning
of Holi procession passing a place of worship", and "Alleged murder of the
president of VHP, Kheda District, by persons belonging to other community".
One might of course start blaming any possible (I hasten to prefix alleged)
provocative slogans uttered by the processionists and by that local VHP
leader; but normally, people who start the violence, like throwing stones or
committing murder, are held responsible for these acts, and at least partly
responsible for the reactive violence which they may trigger. It is humanly
quite feasible to listen to objectionable and insulting slogans without
having a knee-jerk reaction of throwing bombs. It is a free human decision
to react with violence. At worst, slogans can be a reason for violence ;
given human freedom, they can never be the cause.
This take excuse of the provocative slogans leading mechanically to
stone-throwing and worse, is used routinely by biased reporters. For another
example, on October 30 there was a riot in Bijnor, with officially 14 people
killed, others say 55. A procession with about 100 women members of Durga
Vahini had gone out to the Ghanta Ghar area. "There they raised communal
slogans, resulting in stone-pelting and bomb-throwing."157 This cheap excuse
for a pre-planned bomb attack is even contradicted by other information in
the same article. Superintendent of Police Praveen Singh arrested Municipal
Chairman Javed Aftab Siddiqui, alleged to have masterminded the riot.
District Magistrate Ramesh Yadav confirmed that the violence was instigated
by J.A. Siddiqui. This case proves that newspapers keep on blaming the
slogan-shouters even when it is crystal-clear from their own information
that the violence was premeditated and engineered by the other side.
Let's hear some examples of newspapers inadvertently reporting that Muslims
have started riots, in late 1990. On October 29, "members of two communities
indulged in heavy brickbatting, stabbing and exchange of fire. The whole
trouble started when Kar Sevaks shouting anti- government slogans burnt the
effigy of the chief minister, mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav [so far, no-one hurt],
and members of the other community objected to this."158
In Lucknow, BJP people "marched towards Moulviganj shouting slogans. Seeing
the frenzied mob advancing towards them the members of the other community
took up positions and pelted stones and missiles, resulting in a violent
clash."159
In Bulandshahr, near Aligarh, a bomb factory was discovered when it
exploded, due to uncareful handling of the precious factory output. Since
many riots, including the big ones of Bhagalpur and Gonda, have started with
bomb attacks on processions, many Hindus believe that Muslims have started
to manufacture bombs illegally. That may not be a communalist prejudice, for
the owner of the factory, who died in the explosion (with three of his
friends wounded) had at least a Muslim name.160 In the same mohalla, "nine
countrymade bombs and a huge quantity of explosives were recovered".161
An article titled Anatomy of Carnage reports: "In Ganj Dundwara in Etah, the
spark was provided by a minor injury to a Muslim girl caught in a melee of
100-odd two- wheelers escorting BJP MP Uma Bharati."162 So, this says that
the Muslim girl had not been attacked, not even while Uma Bharati was
whipping up communal passions, but then the Muslims retaliated to this
non-attack by attacking the Hindu crowd. And in Hyderabad, "the latest about
of violence broke out after a leader of the Majlis- e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen
(MIM) was injured on December 5 following a private land dispute. Within
minutes of his admission into hospital - [it] was not serious -- MIM
supporters killed a Hindu traveling in an autorickshaw." So, the dispute was
neither communal nor serious, and then Muslims made it communal and serious
by attacking and killing a non-involved Hindu.
While this article lists a number of riots that had a precise local cause,
the whole wave of violence is attributed in one sweep to, of course, Ayodhya
: "There is no denying that the flames of communal hatred which scorched the
towns of Uttar Pradesh and Hyderabad were the consequence of state impotence
in responding to the message of revenge and hatred that echoed with every
frenzied call for a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya."
BJP leader V.K. Malhotra has aptly ridiculed this facile allegation in a
speech in the Lok Sabha :"The country has witnessed 2500 riots between 1950
and 1990. Godhra city had communal riots in 1947, 52, 59, 61, 65, 67, 72,
74, 80, 83, 89 and 90. Were all of these caused by the Rathyatra ?" He
pointed out that those who were painting a grim picture of the minorities
being massacred, were doing a great disservice to the country and giving it
a bad name. The fact was that 90% of the people killed in Hyderabad were
Hindus. The riots in Delhi (Sadar Bazaar, on November 14) had been
engineered by Muslims, as even the Shahi Imam had admitted (even while the
report by the Leftist IPF had sophisticatedly blamed economical rivalries
and the Congress-I).163 In Sambhal (Moradabad, U.P.) all those killed were
Hindus, and yet the BJP was being blamed.
Mr. Malhotra also reminded his colleagues that the ex- chief minister of
Andhra Pradesh, Chenna Reddy, and Andhra opposition leader N.T. Rama Rao had
said that the BJP had had no role in the Hyderabad riots. That M.J. Akbar,
spokesman of the Congress fact-finding team (some called it a fault-finding
team), kept on blaming the BJP, only added to the widespread suspicion that
a Congress faction had fomented the riots in order to make Chenna Reddy step
down and make room for a Chief Minister more agreeable to the party
leadership. The same explanation has also been given for the October riots
in Karnataka, which had equally forced a Congress Chief Minister to step
down.
On the U.P. riots, Mr. Malhotra said that they had been caused by the
inflammatory speeches delivered by the Chief Minister:"It was he who had
asked Muslims all over the state to were these irresponsible utterances that
caused the trouble in that state."164
We may conclude that the whole business of blaming Hindu organizations and
political parties has little to do with the actual responsibility. While
this dirty and futile game may be forgiven to politicians, it is
unacceptable from newsman and independent intellectuals. But it is not only
the automatical blaming of the Hindutva organization that has lost its
credibility. The blaming of politicians in general only touches the surface
of the problem. It is quite possible that the Congress has used communal
riots in order to get its own Andhra and Karnatka chief ministers replaced;
and if is not true, at least some other party-political ploys are surely
behind some of the riots. But then, that is only possible because a
riotproneness already characterizes the communal co-existence in India. The
unscrupled and cynical use of communal friction by politicians is bad
enough, but this problem is just a parasite on the more fundamental problem:
the communalism inherent in India's Hindu-Muslim relation.

11.4 Muslims and the police
The mutual enmity between the Muslim community and the police is a
well-known feature of India's communal friction. Both parties say the other
one always starts. This is what newspaper reports say: "A head constable was
killed in an assault in Mirzapur area [of Ahmedabad] while a brother of a
constable was stabbed to death in Gomitpur area. Another person was also
killed in stabbing... The head constable was stoned to death by a group of
rioting mob..."165 Whatever the name of you- known-which community that
stabs and stones policemen and their family members: at any rate, the police
clearly have a point when they claim they are often put in a situation of
pure self-defense.
In the Hyderabad violence,"police were finding it difficult to enforce
curfew in the lanes and by-lanes of the [predominantly Muslim] Old City.
People on the roof- tops were pelting stones on the police. On Friday
morning, about 200 people gathered... at around 11a.m. and began pelting
stones at the houses of members belonging to one [i.e.Hindu] community,
besides indulging in stabbing, looting and torching houses and shop. to
quell this mob,police opened fire...resulting in the death of one person and
injuries to three others. In view of the seriousness of the situation,
police clamped curfew at around 12.30 p.m... By this time, nearly 15 persons
had been stabbed."166
In Aligarh, "miscreants spread the rumour that two constables had been
stabbed by AMU student". These terrible rumour-mongers fortunately had it
all wrong: "Senior officials, however, said that the two constable were only
beaten up with hockey sticks". Ah, so the aversion of Muslim students for
policemen is not that bad after all. Even more reassuring is the explanation
given by the AMU vice-chancellor, prof.M.N.Farooqi: "The students have
formed vigilance groups. One such group stopped two or three constables when
they were entering the university in plain clothes. And a fight ensued."167
After stating that the AMU vigilance groups routinely beat up people dressed
in plain clothes, he doesn't add what would have been the procedure if they
had been in uniform. Stabbing instead of hockey sticks?
In fairness, Hindu students of BHU have also taken on the police, albeit
only with some stone-throwing, and only after being provoked by a ban on the
demonstration they wanted to take out against the Aligarh killings. A
lathicharge was enough to control the situation, and on one got killed.
In Aligarh however, the situation must have been very grim for the
policemen, for they went to the unusual length of not resuming duty on
October 13, after their two colleagues had been attacked. These attacks had
by far not been the only ones, and now the policemen were not even allowed
to defend themselves anymore. That at least is pro-Muslim. "So he has
ordered us not fire on them even as we are being attacked by them every day.
We can't even fire in self-defense." The policemen even quoted him as
saying: Go die, but don't kill.168
A BJP spokesman said that the violence in Aligarh had started when a Friday
mob [i.e. coming from the mosque] assaulted a policeman and snatched his
rifle. "The violence spread to other areas of town including AMU, which has
always been a hotbed of communalism." The BJP spokesman, J.P.Mathur, also
alleged that in Badaun two boys were caught throwing a bomb at a mosque and
turned out to be Muslims: a genuine case of provocation. He also reported
that a murderous assault had been made on BJP MP Uma Bharati, known for her
fiery Ayodhya speeches.169
Another version of the Aligarh eruption says that on December 7, "some
youths came out of a mosque after the Friday prayers and confronted a PAC
picket in the Kotwali area. From all accounts the PAC overreacted, and thus
began an orgy of violence..." Thus ? We have not been told anything precise
about how it began. What does confronted mean ? Further on in the article,
about the same incident we read that " when the PAC men were confronted by
the Muslim youths, they first fired plastic bullets but resorted to firing
when three of their men, including the senior superintendent of police, were
injured."170 This makes sufficiently clear that the PAC had a point when
they invoked self-defense as a legitimate ground for firing.
Nevertheless Muslim leaders and secularists go on blaming the police Local
Congress leader Haji Nooruddin said :"Had the police shown a little more
restraint, the slogan-shouting youths would have dispersed without any major
damage." From the reports, it is clear that the Muslims youths attacked the
police. But even if Haji Nooruddin is right in equating this attack with
mere, we may remind him that according to Muslim and secularist
commentators, slogan-shouting mechanically and irremediably (and therefore,
excusably) provokes bomb- throwing or other lethal reactions. So these
Muslim youths who confronted the police, even if it had been with mere
slogans, should not complain ; just like the Hindu processionists who get
killed by Muslim bombs without any secularist editorial to weep for them.
Janata Dal leader Ajit Singh reportedly charged the PAC with collusion [with
the Hindus] and has questioned its presence "in a cent per minority locality
in Aligarh". And he attributed the violence to Uma Bharati's speeches and
L.K. Advani's Rathyatra. With that "he indirectly admits that the minority
community was provoked to attack first", comments reader Sahil Brelvi. 171
And he adds a report of another riot : "I was in Bareilly on December 7 and
the facts ascertained from authentic sources and reported widely in the
local newspapers point to a pre- planned mischief by the minority community,
in collusion with the Janata Dal and the Left parties to teach a lesson to
the VHP. The trouble started immediately after Friday prayers when the mob
fanned out on a killing spree in all directions shouting jihad. One crusader
snatched the rifle of a policeman on duty signaling the trouble and punitive
action by the police." If Muslim bomb-throwing has to be glossed over on the
ground that it was provoked by slogans, then why all this uproar about
police action which, after all, has merely been provoked by jihad ?
So, rather than blaming the police, mr. Ajit Singh and many other
secularists should answer mr. Brelvi's questions : "Why the communal trouble
starts on Fridays after jama prayers, as in Aligarh, Hyderabad and elsewhere
? How can the police succeed in flushing out the illegal arms and check the
attackers without being posted on the troubled spot ? Why is it that illegal
arms are mostly recovered from minority areas ?" M. Brelvi also makes short
work of the reports blaming the PAC :"Not long ago in Meerut, the earlier
reports of PAC 'excesses' in Maliana on the minority community were found
baseless, when handgrenades and bullets with Pakistan Ordnance Factory
markings were recovered by the same PAC."
And this is what happened in Kanpur on December 12 :"In a major flare-up on
Wednesday, armed mobs came on the roads in curfew-bound areas on Chamanganj
and Beconganj following provocative speeches on loudspeakers mounted atop
some religious places, and mounted an attack on a police picket at the
Phoolmati trisection and surrounded the Heerman ka Purwa police outpost.
According to [director-general of police] dr. R.P. Mathur, the police
personnel facing the threat of being lynched or murdered, opened fire
resulting in the death of four rioters and dispersal of others."172 So it is
true that the police has killed Muslims. The statistics will correctly say
that more Muslims than Hindus got killed : four to zero (though elsewhere in
town some Hindus got stabbed to death). Yet, they have no one to blame but
themselves.
So, there is no truth in the picture given by secularist commentators, that
the PAC decided one day to start a genocide against the poor and defenseless
Muslim community. That is not to say that police crimes and atrocities have
never occurred.173 But they cannot completely explain the systematic attack
on the PAC by Muslim goondas on the streets and by secularists in the press.
A better explanation can be found in the statement by a Muslim leader to
Tavleen Singh : "Once Muslim feel that the state is not going to protect
them and they are on their own, it is only a question of time before they
start doing what the Sikhs are doing in Punjab. As it is, when we visit a
town after a communal riot, people say : if the police wasn't there, we
could take the Hindus on."174 The militant Muslim want the PAC out of the
way, to have their hands free.
And this is what Imam Bukhari has said : "We will look after ourselves. Let
there be a direct confrontation between communal forces. The world will
witness the battle, but let the police forces keep out."175 A section of the
Students Islamic Movement (SIM) threatened direct action if a fresh attempt
was made to touch the Babri Masjid.176 Syed Shahabuddin declared that he
could understand the young Muslim who had told him : "Let us blow up this
bridge, let us do something. If the state can kill us, we have the right to
rebel against it."177
On December 18, 1990, prominent members of the Indian Union Muslim League
submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister, demanding, among many other
things, the disbanding of the PAC and the constitution of a special
anti-riot force with 30% Muslims. This more-than- proportional grip on the
police is really the punch line. The demand to just get the police out of
the way (voiced by Imam Bukhari and by Tavleen Singh's spokespersons) will
not be readily conceded, so the next best thing is to get a friendly police.
Of course, Muslim demands for a more-than-proportional reservation in a
number of sectors of society were a central feature of pre- independence
Muslim League politics, and we know to what it has led.178
N.S. Saxena has devoted a two-part article to Riots in U.P. the
questions.179 He attacks the cheap explanations and cheap solution proposals
that are being repeated again and again in the press as well as on the Lok
Sabha floor. Thus, no matter how crude and inflammatory the rhetoric of
Mulayam may have been, it has not pushed the number of riots and riot
victims spectacularly higher than in other years. Under Mulayam's
predecessors, U.P. was about equally riot-prone. Similarly, Advani's
rathyatra, if at all a factor, has also not managed to make much of a
difference. After all, U.P. was already riot-prone under the totally
different administration in unpartitioned British India.
If we look for other factors that are now falsely mentioned as decisive, but
that have not made a difference in the past, we see that in the ten years
preceding independence, the percentage of Muslims in the U.P. police was 30
to 35%, and yet there were hundreds of riots every year. The insecurity
among Muslims was so big that they opted for the creation of Pakistan. In
the communal-riot-free year 1970, Muslims formed only 2% in the PAC.
SO, the solution for communal violence lies not in a communalist recruitment
policy (reservations for Muslims in the police). The most immediate need is
that all people guilty of communal violence in any of its stages be brought
to book without exception. If riot-mongers do land in jail, they may not
start again, and it may deter their colleagues. Also, riot investigation
reports should be taken serious, instead of ending in a drawer. On the basis
of real impartisan investigation (instead of these partisan fact-finding
missions with their all too convenient conclusions) and court proceedings,
fingers must also be pointed at the culprits behind the scene. The cloud
around the communal identity of both killers and victims should go. Now,
everyone thinks his community has suffered worst. There are even Muslims who
believe that riots are mostly started by Hindus, and Muslim communalists
actually stage dharnas to protest the communal violence which they
themselves have fomented, without feeling ridiculous. At any rate, the truth
must be told, the causes of the riots diagnosed without secretiveness, and
the culprits should bear the consequences through judicial prosecution.

11.5. Who starts ?
One phase of the 1990 Aligarh violence was the attack on a train on December
8. "Four passengers were killed when a 600-strong mob stopped the Gomti
Express at Daud Khan near Aligarh, stoned the train and set on fire the
Second Class bogey in which the passengers were traveling. Five passengers
were also injured."180 The unofficial death toll was eleven. I have it from
one of the passengers in that ill-fated train, that the attackers were a
Muslim mob. Papers reported tellingly that an earlier attack on a train had
been attempted "close to a Muslim locality".181
The violence on November 7 had started, according to a Frontline report,
with "an attack on a group of people bound for Etah from the house of
Manawwar Hussain, ex- chairman of the Nagar Palika, and from a nearby
Masjid. A similar incident was reported on November 16".182 The police has
lodged a criminal case against mr. Hussain.
We may as well continue to read this report :"On December 4, the motorcade
of the BJP MP, Uma Bharati, who was supposed to address a public meeting,
was reportedly attacked from the house of Manawwar Hussein... Trouble
started again on December 7 when some PAC men were attacked by a group of
people belonging to the minority community while returning from a masjid in
the Upper Court area. One of them snatched the rifle of a PAC jawan and
stabbed him. The jawan's colleague who tried to save him, was also attacked.
Bombs were reportedly thrown on the PAC men who retaliated by opening fire
killing some of the assailants. The news spread like fire and clashes
between the two communities began."
The same report quotes the vice-chancellor of AMU, Mohammed Nasim Farooqi,
who traces the violence to the Ram Janmabhoomi issue :"It is wrong to say
that the minority community had a hand in the violence. Why should they be
insecure when they are in the mainstream of public life ?" He mistakenly
links riot starting with the secularist concept of "insecurity among the
minorities", as the standard explanation if not justification for all kinds
of anti-social behaviour.183 Instead of denying the proven facts of the
Muslim initiative in every single round of the Aligarh violence, he should
question his own dogma (now contradicted by the facts) that the secure
Aligarh Muslims are incapable of starting riots ; this at least is what a
man of scientific temper would do.
This report I have been quoting, was published in a secularist paper, and
the reporter is in sympathy with the anti-PAC elements, as will be clear
from the italicized words: "The people's hatred for the PAC knows no bounds.
They have been demanding for a long time that the PAC be removed". But PAC
men aver that once they go out the town would go up in flames. "The PAC's
presence is as good as its absence', said one of the saner elements in the
town." Our reporter, K. Kannan, thinks that the aversion against the
communalized PAC has somehow remained uncommunalized, and that it is the
people who want them to go. In fact, it is just the Muslims and the
secularists who want to expel or disband the PAC.
So, here we have one more case of a press report giving facts that just
don't allow any other explanation than that Muslims started the violence,
and yet it ends with supporting the Muslim demands and blaming the police.
While such a single case does not give a conclusive picture of who is most
riot-prone, it does prove the tendency in the press to gloss over Muslim
violence and to blame those who get blamed by the Muslims be they the police
or L.K. Advani.
Let us formulate a working hypothesis for further research. Not using any
esoteric information, just carefully reading the newspaper reports, I think
there are strong indications that riots are in a majority of cases started
by Muslims, often after Friday prayers ; that Hindus commit large-scale
reactive violence, mostly against weaker and less organized Muslim
communities; and that the high incidence of confrontations between police
and Muslims is also often started by Muslims, so that the police perceives
its own action as self-defense.
These provisional conclusions are based on a limited number of cases. So
they can be amended once positive proof for alternative generalizations is
offered (but not earlier). However, these few riot reports and comments have
furnished some striking cases of blatant distortion sneaking in on the way
from news to views. When the report left no ambiguity about Muslims having
started a riot, still the editorial (or even the peculiar terminology in the
riot report) would blame the Hindus or the police.
If taken seriously, the systematic blaming of the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign
for all the riots should make us very happy. Because, if all the riots are
caused by this one factor, then that means that there are no longer any
riots being caused by all the other factors that used to cause riots in the
past. So, most riot factors have been eliminated : remove this one Ram
factor, and there will be communal harmony. Unfortunately, the secularist
blame Ram explanation has little to do with the real forces behind the
continuing communal violence in India.

11.6. Riot strategy
As for the latter-stage attacks by Hindu goondas on innocent Muslim
villagers, which took place in the huge riots of Bhagalpur 1989 and Gonda
1990, both in reaction to the initial attack by Muslims on a Hindu
procession, these are equally hideous crimes as the original attack on the
procession. But the responsibility for this stage of violence is shared with
those who created the entire riot in the first place. For, there is a system
in the seeming madness of Muslims starting a riot in which they know Muslims
will be killed.
Syed Shahabuddin has once rhetorically asked how people could believe that
riots are most often started by Muslims, when in fact substantially more
Muslims get killed in riots than Hindus. Indeed, such suicidal behaviour
needs a good explanation. The paradox only exists when we accept Syed
Shahabuddin's communalist assumption that it is the Muslims who get killed
in riots. In reality, there are two very distinct groups of people involved:
those who start riots, and those who bear the consequences.
Goondas have of course their own imponderable reasons for creating trouble.
But the assumption we must make in order to make sense of crimes such as the
communal riots, is that those who commit them expect some real benefit from
them. Now the benefit that communalist politicians may expect from a riot in
which people of their own community get killed, is quite substantial. It
makes the ordinary people, who have no specific animosity against people of
the other community, perceive the latter as the enemy. You thereby
strengthen their feeling of being a community, in which the members have to
depend on each other against a hostile environment. This can go as far as a
physical migration from mixed neighbourhoods to pure ones. Moreover, you
make them feel they need a strong protector: in politics the communalist MP
or MLA, on the ground his goonda gang.
This scenario is not a hypothetical construction. It has been staged on a
very large scale in 1946, when the Muslim League felt that it was not yet
sufficiently supported by the common Muslims, and that the Hindus had not
yet unambiguously conceded Pakistan. To convince the former that only the
Muslim League and Pakistan could protect them, and to terrorize the latter
into the big concession, the Muslim League government in Bengal organized a
mass killing of Hindus (the Direct Action Day). They knew fully well that
the Hindus would end up retaliating by killing innocent Muslims. Upon which
more Muslims would kill Hindus, etc. The important effect was that Muslims
suffered at the hands of the Hindus , lost all faith in co-existence with
them, and joined hands with the communalist leaders. The pogroms against the
Hindus caused a lot of deaths among the Muslim population, but for the
Muslim League this brought resounding success.184
This scenario is being repeated on a small scale in many of the communal
riots in independent India. When in these riots Muslims get killed, it is at
least partly owing to a design by another class of Muslims.
What makes creating riots even more attractive, is the sympathy you get for
them from secularist politicians and intellectuals. When the Muslim League
killed thousands of Hindus in Calcutta, Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru
looked the other way. But when Hindu workers staying in Calcutta fled to
their villages in Bihar and started killing Muslims there, the same Nehru
proposed to bomb those villages from the air. When Hindus got killed, he
didn't move a finger, but the killing of Muslims was enough to blow off his
Gandhian facade and make him demand indiscriminate killing. When mass
killing accompanied the Partition, mass killings which both sides equally
committed, and for which the ultimate responsibility lay with those who had
wanted Partition in the first place, communist writer Bhishma Sahni wrote
the novel Tamas, in which the Hindus are painted as the villains.
When today Muslim goondas create a riot in Bhagalpur or in Gonda, the
secularist press will obscure this beginning (in both cases bombs thrown
from Muslim establishments at Hindu processions) and highlight the ensuing
Hindu part of the violence. Some M.J. Akbar will poignantly describe the
suffering of some Muslim villagers, and then blame the atmosphere created by
the Rathyatra in some distant town, without even mentioning that the riot
started with a pre-planned armed attack on a Hindu procession. That is how
the secularists assure communal riot-mongers double fun : first the proper
aim of the riot is achieved, and then on top of that, your very enemies are
covered with abuse for provoking the riot.
Not only do you gain on the propaganda front, the press may even come out in
support of your demands. For some time, Muslim communalists have demanded a
ban on processions. More than 95% of religious processions are Hindu
processions anyway, for processions are a thoroughly Pagan practice which in
Islam can only be a heterodox oddity. Now, on 14 November 1990, Muslim
communal groups together with Sikh communal groups took out a demonstration
through Delhi's Sadar Bazaar, and went violent, killing several people.
Oddly, the next day several editorials opined that this spate of violence
proved the need for a ban on processions. The violent demonstration was a
sadbhavana yatra, a goodwill march. It was of course no procession, in fact
it had nothing to do with religion (it was neither a Sikh nor a Muslim
festival, and they don't have common festivals anyway). And yet, the
secularists have made it an occasion for support to the Muslim communalists'
long-standing demand for a ban on Hindu processions.
With its distorted representations of communal riots, with its guarantee to
Muslim communalists that they will never get the full load of exposing and
condemnation which they deserve, the secularist press, for all its bla-bla
about communal harmony, is effectively giving a measure of encouragement to
riot-fomenters.

11.7. A case study in riot comment
For one more example of secularist analysis of the riot problem, let us take
a look at the article Making a Lebanon of India? by Prem Shankar Jha.185 The
article's object is to show that the more compromising position of the new
Chandra Shakhar government towards the Ram Janmabhoomi campaigners, has been
the cause of more communal riots than V.P. Singh's and Mulayam Singh Yadav's
confrontationist policy had been (P.S. Jha had been V.P. Singh's spokesman).
It advocates a hard stand against the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and all that
goes with it.
"For four years, the VHP has sown the wind of communal hatred. We are now
reaping the whirlwind. In a sustained blast of propaganda, each and every
real or fancied grievance of the Hindus has been pulled out of the closet
and aired till it has begun to look respectable." For almost a century,
Muslim communal groups have been articulating their demands mostly in terms
of grievances. If four years can make us reap a whirlwind, what about forty
years, or ninety ? For more than a thousand years, every Muslim has been
drilled in the belief that all non-Muslims are his enemies, that he should
fight them, because Allah has said so dozens of times in the Quran and the
Prophet has set this example. If four years of propaganda can make us reap a
whirlwind, what about a thousand years ?
Here come the real or fancied Hindu grievances. Referring to an article by
mr. K.R. Malkani, member of the BJP national executive, mr. Jha sums up :
"India was partitioned on Muslim insistence. India is having to spend
thousands of crores of rupees every year on defending itself against
'Islamic' Pakistan. Every census shows a Muslim population growth well above
the national average. They would not agree to a uniform civil law, commended
by the Constitution. The Muslim would not agree to the relocating of a
mosque or grave -- to widen a road or right an old wrong -- something common
in Muslim countries. And on top of all this, they are complaining all the
time." This propaganda it is, that has been causing communal riots,
according to mr. Jha.
Actually, each of the contentions made by mr. Malkani, are pure fact. Of
course India was partitioned on Muslim insistence, no amount of
history-rewriting can change that. Of course this partition and the
immediate invasion by Pakistan in Kashmir, has forced India to spend a lot
on defense. It is a fact verifiable from the census figures that the
percentage of Muslims has been constantly rising since 1881, in British
India, in Pakistan, in India, and in Bangla Desh, in each of these states
and in each decade without exception.186 It is a fact that the leaders of
the Muslim community, supported by many secularists, have defended the
Shariat as the sole Muslim personal law, and go on refusing the
implementation of the constitutional recommendation of a common civil code.
It is a fact that in at least one case, the Muslims have been refusing the
relocation of a mosque structure. And it is a fact that they are complaining
all the time, witness the papers of each of the Muslims parties big and
small.
In this complaining, they are supported by secularists like mr. Jha. Further
down he writes : "Muslims too have their grievances against the majority
community, several of which have far more substance than those articulated
by mr. Malkani." Personally, I think that mr. Malkani has not even mentioned
the most serious grievances of the Hindus. Anyway, let's hear those of the
Muslims.
Muslims are poor, under-represented in the bureaucracy, the armed forces and
the private corporate sector, over- represented in unemployment, and very
vulnerable to the effects of riots when self-employed as craftsmen or
shopkeepers.
These are grievances, but are they "grievances against the majority
community" ? Where Muslims live together with other communities, they are
often the poorer community, even if they are in power and declare an Islamic
republic. In Malaysia, the non-Muslim Chinese are far better off than the
Muslim Malays. In Egypt, the Copts are a prosperous business community,
though they often live in fear of the poorer Muslim majority. Muslim poverty
in India is largely due to factors unrelated to the Hindus, such as large
families, little education (these two are related), and the fact that many
rich Muslims in 1947 chose Pakistan. It is a socialist mistake that economic
inequality is the "fault" of the government (here assumed to be a largely
Hindu government).
The educational backwardness of the Muslims is again not the fault of the
Indian Constitution and laws, which give all due safeguards and even
privileges, it is not the fault of other communities. But the educational
backwardness itself is the single largest factor in the Muslims'
underrepresentation in the bureaucracy and the corporate private sector, and
their high unemployment rate. That it is not the Hindus who keep the
minority underrepresented in any sphere, can be proven from the situation of
the other minorities : Sikhs are quite over-represented in government and
army posts, Christians in education, Parsis and Jains in business.
That Muslim shopkeepers are very vulnerable during riots, is a fact. It also
counts for Hindu shopkeepers. But I agree with mr. Jha that Muslim craftsmen
and traders have been singled out for attacks and destruction of their trade
equipment in many communal riots, the motive being more economical than
communal.
Now the riots themselves. Mr. Jha says that Rajasthan hardly knew any riots
until October 1989. The blame is of course on the VHP. They came in with
their propaganda "in preparation of the centenary year of dr. Hedgewar,
founder of the RSS", so before 1989. They were followed by Muslim activists
who "began to sensitize the Muslim masses of the threat that the Ram
Janmabhoomi posed to their religion". Can you believe it ? This secularist
is repeating, without any distancing or questioning, the BMAC claim that
Islam is in danger due to the Ram Janmabhoomi ; a danger to which the Muslim
masses have to be sensitized. Anyway, these Muslim activists began arriving
as late as 1988. And by the time they were all there, in 1989, the communal
riots started.
Then mr. Jha sets out to disprove the Hindu assumption that nine out of ten
riots are started by Muslims.187 He gives the list of communal clashes
between 1 p.m. of 29 October, and 6 p.m. of 30 October, a time-span of 29
hours. No doubt he carefully selected a time favourable to his case. He
could have chosen any of the days of the Hyderabad carnage, or any Friday,
to disprove his own suggestion that Hindus are more riot-prone. But no, mr.
Jha wants to pull our attention away from those more representative
occasions, and towards this one day when he counted more Hindu than Muslim
violence.
In different places in Karnataka, four Muslims were attacked, one of whom
died, some Muslim property was set on fire, an attempt to damage a mosque
was stopped by the police, and an Idgah was damaged. A one-sided struggle,
indeed, but no proof that Hindus are just as good at starting trouble :
communal violence had been going on in the state, not too intense but rather
widespread, for most of October. Mr. Jha has merely selected a time when it
was the Hindus' turn.
In Andhra, a person was assaulted, and a workshop belonging to a Muslim was
burnt. Since Muslims are named as such, can we make an inference about the
religion of the person ? Further, a Muslim was killed and an Idgah and a
Dargah attacked. Then follow a number of explosions and acts of arson not
specified as to community, which experienced readers tend to see as a strong
pointer in a certain direction.
In Jaipur, a Hindu succumbed to his injuries, stones were thrown at a
mosque, a Muslim was assaulted, a Muslim's shop set on fire. Alleged BJP/VHP
workers set four (empty) State buses on fire. A Muslim was stabbed and two
Dargahs desecrated.
In Ahmedabad, police had to open fire, killing a Hindu. A mosque was
damaged, two Muslims set on fire, of whom one died. In Baroda, two bodies of
Hindus were recovered. "Two Muslims were Killed and four injured in police
firing", an event bracketed with an anonymous "spate of stabbing, mercifully
not fatal" (the toning- down and the anonymity are unmistakable pointers).
Elsewhere, "the police had to open fire on another mob, and one Hindu was
killed". When Hindus get killed, it is because the police had no choice but
to fire on the mob. But when a Muslim gets killed, it is a different story :
"No one needs to be reminded of the outrage committed on Muslims by the PAC
in Meerut, Bhagalpur, or now in Aligarh". About Aligarh, I have fairly
complete information, and it is quite clear that the PAC was the target of
unsolicited attack by Muslim mobs on several occasions.
I cannot check the correctness and especially the completeness of this
overview of a day of riots. Though following the national press closely,
including the paper in which mr. Jha's article appeared, I have not heard of
a number of these incidents. But I have heard of ten or so more people
killed (and an unknown number injured) in communal violence during the 29
hours under consideration, in a very well-known incident : the shooting of
unarmed Kar Sevaks in Ayodhya by the infantry of the ruling secularist sect,
around noon on 30 October. In spite of mr. Jha's attempt to conceal it, most
victims on his chosen day were Hindus, not Muslims. Apart from that, one
cannot fail to notice that mr. Jha's interpretation of what happened and the
terminology he uses, are far from neutral.
"Throughout the weeks that preceded the Kar Seva, the pattern had remained
unvarying from day to day. While miscreants of both communities were active,
the majority of the attacks took place on Muslims. There was a pattern to
the sustained provocation: mosque were attacked, Idgahs and Dargahs
desecrated, provocative and insulting slogans shouted, until mayhem broke
loose." Like so many times before, a secularist builds up this pre-riot
crescendo, all the way up to the provocative slogans stage, and then
disappoints the reader by hiding in a cloud of impersonal vagueness :Mayhem
broke loose. What does he have to hide ? If the slogans were provocative,
does it mean that they effectively provoked violence ? In that case, the
implication would be that the violence came from the other side. And that is
precisely what so many riot reports suggest : when Hindus appear in public
and do something that some Muslim care to consider provocative, they get a
violent welcome.
And in fact, mr. Jha almost concedes as much. If not in October, then
certainly in December. He says that the Muslim youth "have slipped the leash
of their elders, and decided, as they see it, to defend themselves. The
lumpen and the criminals belonging to the Muslims have therefore come into
their own. That is why the death toll is so high now. For unlike October,
both sides are now [mid-December] indulging in retributory murder."
According to mr. Jha, the reason for the increasing resort to armed struggle
among the Muslim youth, is that the unflinching defense of the Babri Masjid
by V.P. and Mulayam, had been replaced with a policy of "compromise with
Hindu communalism". Chandra Shekhar was in effect pressuring the Muslims
into giving up the Babri Masjid, or so it seem to these Muslim youngsters.
And now that he was working out a compromise, rather than taking a 100%
pro-Muslim and 100% anti-Hindu stand, the country will have to face the
consequences :"Worse, far worse, is yet to come. Hot-heads among the Muslim
youth are already saying that the only way to deal with the PAC is with
AK-47s. They are talking of dying with honour rather than waiting to be
extinguished. The search for Ak-47s may well have begun, and the first signs
of a link-up with Sikh extremists have already appeared."
So, the Janmabhoomi campaign is not taking India towards Ram Rajya, but
towards "another Lebanon, Cyprus or Ethiopia, a country torn apart by
unending civil war". Incidentally, the comparisons are telling. In Lebanon,
the civil war started as an attempt by the Christians to stop the
progressive take-over of their country by the Palestinians (who had tried
this before in Jordan, but had been driven out). In Cyprus, it started with
a Muslim demand for a partition and a larger-than- proportionate piece of
the territory, which they got, by force. Ethiopia is more complex, involving
Communist as well as Muslim separatism in Eritrea and a decade of Communist
misrule and oppression.
But let us mention the more straightforward case of Sudan, which mr. Jha
somehow overlooked even though it is as much tormented by communal violence
as Lebanon is. In Sudan, a Muslim majority in the North has imposed the
Shariat on the non-Muslim South. Faced with this Islamic oppression, the
non-Muslim Dinkas and other peoples in the South want a separate secular
state. With Lybian aid, the Muslim North fights an all-out war to keep the
South down. When Muslims are in a minority, they want partition; but when it
is a non-Muslim minority that wants a separate state, the Muslim rulers
don't let their booty escape.
What is the practical conclusion of this article ? Does it condemn the
people who take up arms because they don't like a political compromise on
Ayodhya worked out by a democratic government ? No, it wants the Hindus to
make the concessions demanded by those who threaten with Ak- 47s. Mr. Jha
writes in his conclusion that "the only way to tackle communalism is to
tackle it head on, never, never compromise with it... Compromising with the
aggressor gives him legitimacy... Thus, paradoxically, compromise hardens
positions, increases self- righteousness, and raises the level of violence
in society." I agree with him, but for me that implies the opposite of what
it implies for him. He thinks it means no compromise with a basically
non-violent mass-movement for the symbolic redress of an old crime,
systematically inflicted on Hindu society by invaders who came with the
medieval equivalents of AK-47s. For him, it also means a pre-emptive
compromise with those who may take to the AK- 47 in the near future, in
order to deal with the police force and the majority community.
In my opinion, an essential part of any successful anti- riot policy is that
no compromise whatsoever is made with those who start or threaten riots. If
they find they can extract concessions by starting or threatening riots,
they are encouraged to continue and perfect this strategy. It must be made
clear to riot-mongers that their strategy will not yield them anything. The
Shah Bano decision, the ban on The Satanic Verses and other books, the
non-recognition of the Hindu rights over Ram Janmabhoomi, have all been
obtained by Muslim extremists by means of actual or threatened agitation.
All these concessions to extremist threats have encouraged the same
extremists to continue stoking violence for new demands.
In autumn 1990, they knew perfectly well that riots would be used by the
secularist press to blacken the BJP/VHP and to intensify its opposition
against the Ram Mandir. When we see who gets systematically blamed by the
press and the politicians for any and every riot, then we know who has no
objective interest in fomenting riots. And when we see who gets all the
sympathy, and the support for their demands, whenever riots occur, we know
who has an objective interest in continuing the riots.
A very good illustration is the next and very important demand of the Muslim
communalists : a larger than proportionate reservation for Muslims in the
army and the police. With every clash between Muslims and the PAC, we see
secularists plead for the disbanding of the PAC, and the granting of
reservations of the Muslims (the minorities, as they say), either in the
existing forces or in a new anti-riot force, amounting to some 25% or even
30%. In other words, we see those who started the carnage in Bhagalpur '89,
in Gonda '90, in Aligarh '90, in Hyderabad '90, being rewarded with
secularist support for their demands, and more support with every riot.

11.8. Hindu riots
For good measure, I must not let the Hindu riot-mongers go scot-free either.
In the typical riot cases where Hindus merely react to attacks by some
Muslims, it is certainly possible to keep the quantity of violent revenge at
a lower level than is now the case. If the Hindu organizations, when a
communal crisis breaks out, immediately apply themselves to limiting the
damage, immediately move in to calm people down and to effectively prevent
the anti-social elements in their own ranks from attacking Muslims, then the
death toll could be far lower. I have so far never heard from a Hindu
activist being thrown out of these Hindu organizations for irresponsible and
violent behaviour. Yet, such miscreants certainly exist, and if the RSS etc.
fail to stop them or to formally punish them, these organizations are
co-responsible.
A plea which these Hindu organizations often make, is that goondas with no
affiliation to the VHP, RSS or BJP, merely use the riot, after others have
started it, to get their share of looting and raping. I cannot judge in what
percentage of the cases that this was what happened188, but suppose that it
really goes like that. Even then a determined move to restore order and
discipline within all sections of the local Hindu community would make a
substantial difference. That this is not being done on anything like a
sufficient scale, is clear to me from the fact that the apologetic
literature189 of the RSS, while making a rather strong case for this
organization's non-riot-prone character, does hardly say anything about the
constructive role they have or have not played in the process of stopping
the violence once it has started, or in the healing process afterwards.190
In my opinion, the virginity which the RSS spokesmen claim concerning the
start of riots, and their unimpressive record (relative to their numbers and
level of discipline and organization) in actively intervening to stop
violence against Muslims191, are the result of one and the same fact
concerning the RSS: it is not a militant organization of vanguard troopers
(as they are portrayed by some secularists who like to clamour about Hindu
fascism), but an organization of quite ordinary people, shopkeepers and
schoolboys, who have no inclination to start real fights or to enter the
battlefield once the fight has started, even as peace- makers.
While RSS workers are killed by the dozens by the Khalistani terrorists
(and/or by Pakistani provocateurs dressed as Sikhs), we never hear of any
violent retaliation. This lack of retaliation is not just because of a
policy of not aggravating tension between Sikh Hindus and other Hindus, but
simply because the RSS doesn't have the capability to strike. Incidentally,
this frustrates the Khalistani and Pakistani calculations : believing the
secularist propaganda about the RSS as a fascist militia ready to terrorize
the minorities, they had hoped to get another Direct Action Day going, with
mutual killing of common Hindus and Sikhs.
Apart from reactive violence against Muslim attacks, the Hindu groups cannot
disown some cases of unprovoked aggression on their own part. While the
Rathyatra had been peaceful, mr. Advani's arrest was the occasion for a more
grim and militant line of action on the part of BJP workers. In Jaipur, the
Bharat bandh on October 24 generated a series of riots.
As any communist or trade-unionist can tell you, a strike is seldom a
collectively voluntary action. Most often, a motivated minority forces the
strike on the majority. In the Bharat bandh also, the BJP workers went
around the city to check that all the shopkeepers downed their shutters.
According to their own explanation, a shopkeeper refused to comply with
their demand that he close his shop, took out a gun and shot at them. And
that was the beginning of a week of communal violence. If one analyzes the
responsibility, one might say that the demand to close shop was an
encroachment on the shopkeeper's constitutional rights : already more of a
provocation than the legitimate though insensitive use of free speech to
utter provocative slogans. That doesn't justify the use of firearms yet.
The readiness to retaliate against the most defenseless classes among the
Muslims, in reaction to well-planned Muslim goonda violence, betrays that
trait stereotypically attributed by Muslims to Hindus : cowardice (not that
the Islamic behaviour of throwing bombs at processions is all that
courageous). But it also betrays two things about which the Hindu
organizations can readily do something : despair, and a lack of education.
It is out of despair that people attack just whoever they can get, feeling
that they can not leave the Muslim attacks without a fitting reply.
This irrational tendency to take revenge on just anyone belonging to the
Muslim community, can only be cleared away through education. The short-term
necessity in solving the riot problem is a more effective police force and
most of all an effective judicial prosecution of the culprits (which implies
breaking through the nexus of politicians and criminals). But the long-term
necessity for reducing the communal violence is education.
I don't mean education with moralistic campaigns to tell them not to do such
ugly things, sadbhavana yatras and human chains for communal amity : those
things only convince the already-convinced, and they have no impact once a
crisis breaks out. What Hindu leaders should teach their followers (and
first of all imprint on their own minds), is that the Muslims are not to
blame for communal violence. Even when it is established that a far more
than proportionate amount of the communal violence emanates from Muslim
quarters, it should still be upheld as dogma that he Muslim people are not
to blame.
"The Muslims" are just people like the rest of us, but they happen to be
open to the influence of the Quranic ideology propagated by Islamic
religious personnel. In fact, the common Muslim is hardly aware of Islamic
theology. For him, being a Muslim means being what he himself is. And for
his, the Muslim are not so much the followers of Mohammed, but simply the
community to which he belongs. And he will intensify his bond with his
community whenever it is in confrontation, offensively or defensively, with
another community. Not because of a theology of Momins vs. Kafirs, but out
of a natural tribal instinct. Unfortunately, there are leaders who take
these common people with them, in actions inspired by this theology of which
the common people know so little.
The common Hindu has so often heard of or been confronted with Muslim
violence, that he has come to associate Muslims with violence. On the other
hand, he is taught by his leaders to only see the face value of this
violence, not the ideology behind it. An RSS man told me that one day Guru
Golwalkar gave a speech, saying that Mohammed was a great prophet, and that
Islam is a great religion, but that, inconsequentially, the Muslims are big
fools. What nonsense : the one thing that defines Muslims as a group, is
their adherence to Islam and the Prophet. How can you make a collective
allegation against the Muslims if you first praise that which makes them
into one collectivity ?
One should look for the reason for the apparently typical Muslim proneness
to riots, in that which defines the Muslim collective identity, the Islamic
ideology. It would have been more fair, and historically more accurate, to
explain Muslim violence by saying that the Muslims are our brethren, but
they or their leaders are mentally in the fangs of "Islam, that religion of
jihad" created by "Mohammed, that prophet of icon-breaking". That way, you
distinguish between the human and the ideological level, and then you can
educate the people and make them see the key formula that will take the
sting out of Hindu vengefulness against their Muslim countrymen : the
problem is not the Muslims, the problem is Islam.
Of course, once a procession is being attacked, it is too late to say to the
crowd :"Hey, don't attack the Muslims, attack Islamic ideology". At that
time, they are confronted with a physical enemy, and they will react
physically. However, in the longer run, some education in comparative
religion is the solution, or at least a central part of the solution.
Today, Hindus have to swallow all kinds of negative image-building
concerning Hinduism. Islam, by contrast, is depicted as a liberator from
inequality, a religion of peace and brotherhood, and more such fictional
terms of praise. But then, after being fed all these nice things about
Islam, they find that their procession is being attacked by Muslims. This
anomaly they cannot understand. So they are left to the immediacy of the
situation, and even afterwards they cannot comprehend what happened, as long
as they are not informed about Islamic doctrine.
Well, some secularist Swami may tell them that all prophets are great, that
it is only their followers who err. In fact, this sweet little lie is the
worst contributor to the communal violence on the Hindu side : it is not
true that the Muslims err and "mis-apply the teachings of that great prophet
Mohammed". Most of them just follow the lead given by fanatical Imams, and
these fanatical Imams can at worst only be blamed for not erring and fully
applying the doctrine of the Prophet. So, Hindus should know that these
Muslims are only sincerely applying the teachings of the real culprit of
most of the communal violence in India : Mohammed.
There is every reason to tell them the truth about Islam. Hinduism should
not be painted in rosy colours, but evaluated in a fair and truthful way.
The treatment Islam receives, should be the same. Now, a fair and truthful
presentation of Islam will include : the absolute inequality of believer and
unbeliever, the boundless self-righteousness of the Prophet and the
believers who imitate him, the crudely physical nature of the Islamic
precepts (the complete lack of a consciousness dimension), the strongly
political and anti-secularist objectives of Islam, and the logical absurdity
of the very idea of prophethood.
Once this distinction between Muslim human beings and anti-human Islamic
doctrine is clear in people's minds, you can demand from them a Gandhian
self-restraint in the face of terrible provocation. When your procession
gets attacked, you will still not set the Muslims' shops on fire. This
distinction between the ideas working through some people, who in turn can
set entire crowds and gangs in motion, and on the other hand the people
themselves, will make a crucial difference.
Secondarily, the curbing of Hindu retaliation will also have its effect on
the propagandistic and political front. At present every riot, regardless
what the facts and who the victims, is held up as a proof of the rabid and
fascist character of the Hindu communal forces who are stirring the communal
cauldron. The secularist agitprops should be starved of every semblance of
evidence. In this respect, it is better to get killed than to kill.
Or at least, anything is better than to kill innocents. Against terrorists,
using force is the most effective way to stop them, because it is the
language they understand. But that job should be left to the legitimate
security forces.
This work at the level of thought should also deal with the communal
attitudes that have crept into Hinduism during its confrontation with the
Muslim onslaught. Islamic thought has deeply influenced the Indian
intelligentsia, including champions of Hindutva. Thus, Dayananda Saraswati
espoused monotheism, denounced idol- worship, and treated the Veda like a
revealed, complete and final Scripture. V.D. Savarkar thought that Hindus
have to borrow forms of organization and lifestyle from the Muslims in order
to overcome them. He has been accused by the secularists (and with him, the
entire Hindutva movement) of reducing Hindu identity to an us vs. them
pattern of enmity against the Muslims. The secularists correctly denounce
such an attitude, while glossing over the fact that this enmity is intrinsic
to Islamic doctrine, and has only, crept into Hinduism reactively, during
the long self-defense of Hindu society against Islam. Anyway, they do have a
point when they perceive this enmity as a strong factor in the current
activist Hindu identity.
So, Hindus should weed out these Islamic attitudes of us against them from
their thought. Their Hindu identity should not be centered around their
attitude towards another doctrine, but on Hinduism's own genius and
effectiveness as a cultural framework for social integration and individual
happiness.192 And they should not define people in terms of their communal
identity, which is but the Islamic game of judging people on their being
Momins or Kafirs, rather than on their merits. Unlike Islam, they should
dis-identify and distinguish human being from the religion they profess ; so
that, if ever the need arises, they can attack and expose Islamic doctrine
without any mental or physical hostilities with the Muslim people.
To sum up, the communal problem in India is largely the Muslim problem, or
rather, the Islam problem. Islam is communal through and through, preaching
a total abyss between its own community members and the rest of humanity.
So, very generally, the cause of communal riots is Islam. The cure is
Sanatana Dharma. It teaches that everything is generated by thought. While
seemingly a difficult notion, in this context it is very easy to understand
: the physical problem of communal riots is but the materialization of
communal thinking. This communal thinking should be identified : its most
potent and consistent form is the Islamic doctrine of the struggle between
Momin and Kafir. Other communalisms like Sikh separatism and the anti-Muslim
animus among some Hindu people, are but the indirect effects of this Islamic
doctrine. Then, this communal thinking should be removed through dialogue
and education. No matter what law and order measures will further be needed
before the age of communal riots is over, at any rate it is this work at the
level of thought which will ultimately solve the problem.

11.9. Riots in Muslim countries
In order to keep an assessment of riot patterns in perspective, we should
compare with the situation in Pakistan and Bangla Desh. The general pattern
there is :
1. Roughly 100% of Hindu-Muslim riots are started by Muslims.
2. Roughly 100% of the victims in the actual communal confrontation are
Hindus.
3. Those few times the police intervenes, it does have the decency to stop
the attackers rather than their fleeing victims, so the vast majority of
those killed in police firing on the e occasion of riots, are Muslims. But
like in India, the police often fails to intervene, which may get
interpreted as a form of passive connivance with the majority community.
The secularist theory that there is no ideological (as opposed to
socio-economical) explanation for the different degree of riot-proneness
between the different religions, and their denial of this very difference,
both fall apart when called on to explain the riot pattern in the Islamic
republics that used to be parts of India. If Muslims are not more riot-prone
than Hindus, then why do you never ever hear of a Hindu attack on mosques in
Bangla Desh, but a lot of the reverse ? Or, for that matter, why not
Christian attacks on mosques, even while Christians do get their share of
attacks and harassments from the Muslims? In these Muslim-majority
countries, communal violence is a completely one-directional affair. Even
when Muslims destroyed hundreds of Hindu temples on the pretext of protest
against the Shilanyas in Ayodhya, there has not been any report of similar
retaliation by the Hindus.
We may safely say that in Bangla Desh, the Muslim participation in the
starting of riots, is more than their percentage of the population : about
100% as against some 87%. In Pakistan also, even though Muslims form about
97% (including Ahmadiyas) of the population, they still manage to have an
even larger share in the starting of riots.
The secularist theory that whatever slight Muslim over- representation in
riot-starting they are willing to concede, is attributable to the insecurity
to which Muslims are subjected, can also not hold. Firstly, in India there
are minorities who simply don't start riots (Jains, Parsis), or only few
(Christians), and yet they are fewer in number than the Muslims and
consequently more insecure. Secondly, in Pakistan, Bangla Desh and Malaysia
they have Islamic republics, and still that doesn't stop them from
maltreating the non-Muslims and attacking their places of worship on the
slightest pretext. Moreover, within Pakistan there are also a lot of attacks
by the majority Sunnis on minority Shias and Ahmadiyas, and that again
cannot be attributed to insecurity.
As a general rule, in communal conflicts the world over, you will find
majorities attacking minorities, seldom the reverse. Have you ever heard of
pre-1940 Jews attacking the German or Polish majorities in Central Europe ?
Have you ever heard of the Coptic minority in Egypt attacking the Muslim
majority ? They form about 6% of the population, but furnish 0% of the riots
and other forms of harassment. And have you ever heard of the Hindu
minorities in South Africa, the UK, Singapore, the US, starting riots ?
But in India, you do see one of the minorities on the offensive even where
it is clearly outnumbered. Even if their percentage of starting riots was
only proportional to their percentage of the population, i.e. about 12% (and
no secularist so far has been dishonest enough to suggest this), then that
would still be more than what minorities elsewhere, and especially in
Islamic countries, would dare to do. It becomes hard to evade the conclusion
that there is something in Islamic doctrine that incites people to
non-integration and even violent struggle with their neighbours.
"bipin.patel" <bip...@virgin.net> wrote:
TOLERANCE OF ANY INTOLERANCE IS ALSO BAD FOR DEMOCRACY!

http://newstodaynet.com/2002cd-a/060602.htm


The hallmark of the profession of journalism is the spirit of
inquiry. You remove the curiosity-itch from a journalist ' s psyche and his
place of work becomes a mortuary with he being the lifeless resident there.
Of course, there is the other extreme of this urge becoming a raging
obsession so much so that objectivity and credible evidence are thrown to
the winds and the printed words take on a yellow hue. But that is one
problem the media has to reckon with by itself if it values credibility and
which it will be forced to by its own readership or the lack of it. Under no
circumstance would it be tenable or acceptable for the media to shelve the
spirit of inquiry simply because of a misadventure here or a mis-judgement
there. Worse is the case when the alleged error of reportage is a matter of
debate, falling as it does within the permissible limits of analysis and
surmises with no motives involved. And worst is the scenario where the media
is being censured, curtailed, cornered and then committed to apologies, oral
as well as written, with a warning to be wary in future. All newsrooms will
then become veritable mortuaries with journalistic corpses dishing out
soulless stories.

It is unthinkable for the media to concede that any public
institution or individual could be beyond recourse or above criticism. One
may employ restraint or show reverence in practice but it is well nigh
impossible to declare so as a blanket guarantee. This is because by its very
genetics any media has to be inquisitive and the biggest enemy for such
inquisitiveness is the presumption of impregnability or infallibility of a
subject under study, howsoever sacred or powerful it is purported to be. And
when the Constitution of the country is itself subject to criticism and
comment it is indeed puerile to believe that its offshoots are beyond the
gaze of the critical eye. It is the bounden, suo motu duty of the media to
keep the populace informed and mould public opinion and the biggest threat
or obstacle comes in the form of intolerance, which is only expected. But
any kind of intolerance has to be fought, if not out of indignation at least
for the sake of self defence, and the perpetrator of such intolerance, be he
even God, has to be exposed, even if it entails getting incinerated by the
proverbial Third Eye. The moment the media surrenders this faculty to be
critical to the forces of intolerance, it loses its very purpose of
existence. This is not to say that those in the media are saints endowed
with the moral power to sit on judgement. But the profession most certainly
is saintly and it ordains its practitioners to perform the ritual of
informing religiously.

Although politicians and the establishment have always been at
loggerheads with the media, recent tendencies displayed by another watchdog
also seem to strike at the very foundations of the Fourth Estate. Emotional
intolerance prompted by indignation rather than dis-passionate and
enlightened interpretation of law and justice seem to be gaining ascendency,
particularly when dealing with the media. It is a matter of grave concern
that the feeling of hurt, call it contempt, could be so sweepingly invoked
and used not only as a camouflage to shield itself from even cursory
scrutiny but also to deliver body blows to the media. And the media can't
even fight back in this unequal battle. It is nobody ' s case that the
constitutional watchdog has to stand the test of journalistic certification
but at the same time it is also difficult to stomach pompous announcements
like ' no body in the world ' can question the conduct of that watchdog.
Indeed, owing to such untenable proclivities the ground is being laid for a
clear confrontation between two of the pillars of democracy; while the one
with its genetically programmed spirit of inquiry, is unlikely to take
'third party' strictures lying down, the other which is increasingly showing
signs of ' press paranoia ' , can truly be expected to take offence and
brandish the contempt-weapon at the drop of a hat. And there is no clear LoC
here!

There is a more sinister angle to the ensuing trend. Mere oral
apologies rendered before the offended person are passe. After dire warnings
that the affected person who also happens to be the adjudicator could ' do
anything ' to the hapless and defenceless 'offender', these latest media
tormentors go on to order that the newspapers carry the apology on the front
page forthwith and then submit them as a symbol of compliance, also
forthwith. Now, this is not only a calculated assault nay insult to the
profession of journalism but at a baser level, is a clear usurpation of the
legitimate rights of the Editor of the paper, after undermining the same.
Now, how could any ' outsider ' decide what should appear on the front page
of the next day ' s newspaper? For that matter even the Editor himself,
unless he is Nostradamus incarnate, would not know what would be on his
front page tomorrow, in order to give an assurance today itself. What if the
day turns out to be very newsy with Indo-Pak war breaking out or Osama being
caught or some top leader getting assassinated or all of these happening and
the pressure on Page one is mounting like the tension along LoC? Should the
editor be pressured into throwing all his professional wisdom, rights and
news priorities to the dustbin just to accommodate a third party stricture,
which too has been put beyond appeal? What about the larger accountability
he has towards his readers? Could there be anything more ignominious for a
newspaper editor than to be dictated to by a super-editor from outside, for
the sole reason that the former had offended the sensibilities of the
latter - something that remains in the realms of the abstract and the latter
in turn thinks he is vested with unbridled powers to dictate to the former,
which again is debatable?

Even if one were to accommodate the piqued party's preference for
page one, yet how does it justify the deadline of ' tomorrow and not later '
as is being meted out by very learned lamentors? Is not the editor entitled
to some time, say a week to tender apology, on the front page to be sure,
but keeping in mind the daily flow and pressure of news or the right to
appeal to a higher fora? Will any of the other pillars put up with such
battering at its very base? For instance, will a court oblige if someone
were to ask for a judgement within a time frame, because it would be
inconvenient later for the litigants? The argument may sound ludicrous for
its odious comparison but the underlying question of fairplay is the same.

Unlike the courts, the media do not rely on hard evidence or
Exhibits A,B, C and X to write its stories. An element of surmise and
conjecture is unavoidable and this most certainly poses the greatest
challenge to the media, a professional hazard that one learns to live in
dread of. But errors of judgement are also possible in other institutions,
even in the judiciary where objective interpretation of law is supposed to
be the sole beacon. Otherwise why would decisions of one court get wholly
reversed by a higher court, when there is absolutely no change in the facts
of the case or the evidence? This being so, how can anyone hide behind the
contempt-camouflage and put himself beyond recourse, not to mention endless
sermonising and disproportionate penalties! Why go nuclear when just a
pistol shot in the air would have sufficed? Again, how can the right to
appeal be denied and why the unseemly hurry in getting apologies published
forthwith and so desperately at that?

Any criticism of a decision will certainly reflect on the decision
maker too in these days of info-boom where even the court clerk and duffedar
' s name are not left out of print and now, if they were to get touchy about
it, the courts would be flooded with frivolous litigation, many of which may
be contempt cases with the courts themselves as plaintiff! Of course, this
does not absolve the media of responsible reporting and in no way can it be
deemed as a license to scribble any thing that comes to mind. But just as
the media should know its limits, the other pillars too should. But first, a
limit has to be clearly set! And with due apologies to all Honourable men,
it must be stated that only 'someone in the world' will have to do it!


------------------------------------------------------------------------
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do
nothing." --- British Parliamentarian Edmund Burke
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
"The problem is that Hindus seem to have inherited a dominant "ashamed
to be Hindu" gene from our parents and it is the pride that we need
to restore."---- Anupasyati, in a discussion board.


Do You Yahoo!?
Sign-up for Video Highlights of 2002 FIFA World Cup

TOLERANCE OF ANY INTOLERANCE IS ALSO BAD FOR DEMOCRACY!

http://newstodaynet.com/2002cd-a/060602.htm


The hallmark of the profession of journalism is the spirit of
inquiry. You remove the curiosity-itch from a journalist ' s psyche and his
place of work becomes a mortuary with he being the lifeless resident there.
Of course, there is the other extreme of this urge becoming a raging
obsession so much so that objectivity and credible evidence are thrown to
the winds and the printed words take on a yellow hue. But that is one
problem the media has to reckon with by itself if it values credibility and
which it will be forced to by its own readership or the lack of it. Under no
circumstance would it be tenable or acceptable for the media to shelve the
spirit of inquiry simply because of a misadventure here or a mis-judgement
there. Worse is the case when the alleged error of reportage is a matter of
debate, falling as it does within the permissible limits of analysis and
surmises with no motives involved. And worst is the scenario where the media
is being censured, curtailed, cornered and then committed to apologies, oral
as well as written, with a warning to be wary in future. All newsrooms will
then become veritable mortuaries with journalistic corpses dishing out
soulless stories.

It is unthinkable for the media to concede that any public
institution or individual could be beyond recourse or above criticism. One
may employ restraint or show reverence in practice but it is well nigh
impossible to declare so as a blanket guarantee. This is because by its very
genetics any media has to be inquisitive and the biggest enemy for such
inquisitiveness is the presumption of impregnability or infallibility of a
subject under study, howsoever sacred or powerful it is purported to be. And
when the Constitution of the country is itself subject to criticism and
comment it is indeed puerile to believe that its offshoots are beyond the
gaze of the critical eye. It is the bounden, suo motu duty of the media to
keep the populace informed and mould public opinion and the biggest threat
or obstacle comes in the form of intolerance, which is only expected. But
any kind of intolerance has to be fought, if not out of indignation at least
for the sake of self defence, and the perpetrator of such intolerance, be he
even God, has to be exposed, even if it entails getting incinerated by the
proverbial Third Eye. The moment the media surrenders this faculty to be
critical to the forces of intolerance, it loses its very purpose of
existence. This is not to say that those in the media are saints endowed
with the moral power to sit on judgement. But the profession most certainly
is saintly and it ordains its practitioners to perform the ritual of
informing religiously.

Although politicians and the establishment have always been at
loggerheads with the media, recent tendencies displayed by another watchdog
also seem to strike at the very foundations of the Fourth Estate. Emotional
intolerance prompted by indignation rather than dis-passionate and
enlightened interpretation of law and justice seem to be gaining ascendency,
particularly when dealing with the media. It is a matter of grave concern
that the feeling of hurt, call it contempt, could be so sweepingly invoked
and used not only as a camouflage to shield itself from even cursory
scrutiny but also to deliver body blows to the media. And the media can't
even fight back in this unequal battle. It is nobody ' s case that the
constitutional watchdog has to stand the test of journalistic certification
but at the same time it is also difficult to stomach pompous announcements
like ' no body in the world ' can question the conduct of that watchdog.
Indeed, owing to such untenable proclivities the ground is being laid for a
clear confrontation between two of the pillars of democracy; while the one
with its genetically programmed spirit of inquiry, is unlikely to take
'third party' strictures lying down, the other which is increasingly showing
signs of ' press paranoia ' , can truly be expected to take offence and
brandish the contempt-weapon at the drop of a hat. And there is no clear LoC
here!

There is a more sinister angle to the ensuing trend. Mere oral
apologies rendered before the offended person are passe. After dire warnings
that the affected person who also happens to be the adjudicator could ' do
anything ' to the hapless and defenceless 'offender', these latest media
tormentors go on to order that the newspapers carry the apology on the front
page forthwith and then submit them as a symbol of compliance, also
forthwith. Now, this is not only a calculated assault nay insult to the
profession of journalism but at a baser level, is a clear usurpation of the
legitimate rights of the Editor of the paper, after undermining the same.
Now, how could any ' outsider ' decide what should appear on the front page
of the next day ' s newspaper? For that matter even the Editor himself,
unless he is Nostradamus incarnate, would not know what would be on his
front page tomorrow, in order to give an assurance today itself. What if the
day turns out to be very newsy with Indo-Pak war breaking out or Osama being
caught or some top leader getting assassinated or all of these happening and
the pressure on Page one is mounting like the tension along LoC? Should the
editor be pressured into throwing all his professional wisdom, rights and
news priorities to the dustbin just to accommodate a third party stricture,
which too has been put beyond appeal? What about the larger accountability
he has towards his readers? Could there be anything more ignominious for a
newspaper editor than to be dictated to by a super-editor from outside, for
the sole reason that the former had offended the sensibilities of the
latter - something that remains in the realms of the abstract and the latter
in turn thinks he is vested with unbridled powers to dictate to the former,
which again is debatable?

Even if one were to accommodate the piqued party's preference for
page one, yet how does it justify the deadline of ' tomorrow and not later '
as is being meted out by very learned lamentors? Is not the editor entitled
to some time, say a week to tender apology, on the front page to be sure,
but keeping in mind the daily flow and pressure of news or the right to
appeal to a higher fora? Will any of the other pillars put up with such
battering at its very base? For instance, will a court oblige if someone
were to ask for a judgement within a time frame, because it would be
inconvenient later for the litigants? The argument may sound ludicrous for
its odious comparison but the underlying question of fairplay is the same.

Unlike the courts, the media do not rely on hard evidence or
Exhibits A,B, C and X to write its stories. An element of surmise and
conjecture is unavoidable and this most certainly poses the greatest
challenge to the media, a professional hazard that one learns to live in
dread of. But errors of judgement are also possible in other institutions,
even in the judiciary where objective interpretation of law is supposed to
be the sole beacon. Otherwise why would decisions of one court get wholly
reversed by a higher court, when there is absolutely no change in the facts
of the case or the evidence? This being so, how can anyone hide behind the
contempt-camouflage and put himself beyond recourse, not to mention endless
sermonising and disproportionate penalties! Why go nuclear when just a
pistol shot in the air would have sufficed? Again, how can the right to
appeal be denied and why the unseemly hurry in getting apologies published
forthwith and so desperately at that?

Any criticism of a decision will certainly reflect on the decision
maker too in these days of info-boom where even the court clerk and duffedar
' s name are not left out of print and now, if they were to get touchy about
it, the courts would be flooded with frivolous litigation, many of which may
be contempt cases with the courts themselves as plaintiff! Of course, this
does not absolve the media of responsible reporting and in no way can it be
deemed as a license to scribble any thing that comes to mind. But just as
the media should know its limits, the other pillars too should. But first, a
limit has to be clearly set! And with due apologies to all Honourable men,
it must be stated that only 'someone in the world' will have to do it!


------------------------------------------------------------------------
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do
nothing." --- British Parliamentarian Edmund Burke
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
"The problem is that Hindus seem to have inherited a dominant "ashamed
to be Hindu" gene from our parents and it is the pride that we need
to restore."---- Anupasyati, in a discussion board.


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