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RECIPROCITY and HINDUS

This starts as a beautiful story. Once upon a time, there was a tiny village in South Arcot’s district of Tamil Nadu, called Bampralayam. Now Bampralayam is like hundreds of villages in South Arcot: it is peopled with Hindu Vanniars, a caste slightly higher than the untouchables, poor, living off agriculture, usually a few meagre fields of cashew nuts. But then Bampralayam happened to be near Pondichery, where many westerners live.

Thus Bampralayam prospered: its inhabitants learned trades needed for Pondichery: carpenters, masons, craftsmen, a few of its children attended some of Pondichery’s schools and were educated along with western kids and in time graduated and went into white collar jobs. From a few cycles 40 years ago, Bampralayam has today motorcycles, tractors, cars, vans, cable TV, cell phones, etc. The main road of Bampralayam which used to boast only shady huts, became lined-up with fancy shops which sell everything, from vegetables to handicrafts.

And then the unavoidable happened: a Kashmiri Muslim from Chennai heard about Bampralayam and its new found prosperity, and understanding that he could make a packet with so many westerners passing though Bampralayam, he opened the usual shawls & carpets’ shop in the village. Now Bampralayam never counted a Muslim amongst its population in its 1200 years of recorded history; but in the true Hindu tradition, this one was welcomed and nobody raised an objection, although he was competition for some of the other shops. Our Kashmiri Muslim, seeing his success, called his cousin in Kolkata, who came and opened another shop; and that one phoned his friend in Mumbai, who also landed-up and opened a third shop. Still nobody found anything to say, even when it became known that they also dealt in drugs which they sold to the youth. Kashmiris are sociable fellows and they quickly made friends with Westerners, most of them blissfully unaware of the political situation in India, so business was booming, till they were twelve Kashmiri shops in Bampralayam. And again nobody complained, even when the fellows started doing their naamaz in their backyards. “Isn’t God everywhere and isn’t He Krishna, as well as Allah”, said one of the villagers?

But one day, Bhoumi, one of the young boys of Bampralayam, who had gone to study in Delhi, told his parents when he came back, about the fact that not only no Hindus were allowed to buy land or start a shop in the Valley of Kashmir, where the shopkeepers came from, but that four hundred thousand Hindus, were chased out of the Valley by terror, many of them having been murdered and that many were still living as refugees in camps in Jammu and Delhi. His parents started talking to their friends and there was the first hint of resentment against the newcomers.

Then some elders of Bampralayam heard that Muslims of Kashmir rioted when the Government allotted some land in Amarnath, one of the most sacred and ancient Hindu pilgrimages, high in the Himalayas. Bhoumi’s father went to see a group  of Bampralayam Kashmiris having tea, and told them that Hindus never complained about their government giving billion of rupees in  subsidies to Indian Muslims so that they can perform the Haj in their most Holy place, the Mecca. “But when Hindus, he continued, need shelters, toilets and basic facilities at height of 15.000 feet to worship at one of the holiest places of Hinduism, why do you Kashmiri Muslims deny it to us” ? The Kashmiris looked a bit uneasy, then replied “that anyway the Amarnath ice lingam had been discovered by a Muslim shepherd and that Muslims have always welcomed their Hindu brothers to Armanath”. But this did not convince the Bampralayam man who had heard from his son that many grenade attacks had happened over the years against the Amarnath pilgrims. And anger started mounting in Bampralayam.

So it is all a question of reciprocity. Most Hindus are peace-loving people. The average Hindu that you meet in a million Indian villages, such as Bampralayam, is easy-going and accepts you and your diversity, whether you are Christian, Muslim, Parsi or Jain, Arab, French or Chinese. He goes about his business and usually does not interfere in yours.

In fact Hindus take it a little further:  they hate trouble and go out of their way to avoid it. Have you noticed how every time there is a possibility of a strike or trouble, Hindus stay home? Or how – forget about rioting – Hindus never speak-up, complain or protest in a united manner. Not only that, but everywhere in the world, Hindus are hounded, humiliated, routed, be it in Fiji where an elected democratic government was twice deposed in an armed coup, or in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where Muslims indulge in pogroms against Hindus every time they want to vent their hunger against India (read Taslima Nasreen’s book “Lalja”). In Assam, Tripura, or Nagaland, Hindus are being outnumbered by Bangladeshi illegal immigrants and terrorized some of them, while local governments often turn a blind eye. Their temples are being taken over in many states like in Kerala or Karnataka, and the donations appropriated by the state governments.

Yet, in 3500 years of known existence, Hindus have never military invaded another country, never tried to impose their religion upon others, by force or even by induced conversions. No, it has rather been through peaceful invasions that Hinduism has stormed the world, whether in the East, witness Angkor Vat, or in the West today, where the by-products of Hinduism, yoga, meditation, ayurveda, pranayama, spread by great gurus such as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, have been adopted by millions.

Thus Hindus, who accept everybody, welcome all religions, allow Indians from other parts to trade next to them, as it happened in Bampralayam, do not receive in return any gratitude and the same respect. On the contrary, they get mocked at, bombs are planted in their markets, their trains; their temples, their five star hotels get attacked, they are chased out of their homelands; television and newspapers make fun of them, their own politicians ostracize them… Hindus recognize the fact that God may manifest at different times under different names, the concept of the avatar –  Krishna, Buddha, Mohamed or Jesus Christ. Indeed, Hindus gave refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world from the Parsis, to the Jews (India is the only country in the world where Jews were not persecuted, or killed bar the 26/11attack on the Nariman house in Mumbai) to the Armenians and the Tibetans today.

So recently, the elders in Bampralayam went back to confront the Kashmiris, but now in anger: “You people have been the most brutal and ruthless in our country: you razed our temples, killed our people, enslaved our women and children. But still, we accepted you – and at Partition, many Indian Muslims chose to stay here in India, for they knew that they would get the freedom of speech and religion that we Hindus are denied in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. Yet today, you continue to bully us, chasing our brother and sisters from the Valley of Kashmir, rioting and burning all over India, every time you are dissatisfied, keeping silent when Islamists attack our hotels or temples. On top of that, you portray yourselves as martyrs, like Shah Rukh Khan who is idolised by millions of Hindus, yet complains that because he is a Muslim, he is discriminated against. And lately, you deny the very truth that Vishwaroopam dared to depict,: that in the name of your Holy book, your coreligionists kill and maim all over the world and have just coldly executed 39 innocent westerners in Algeria”.

This time the Kashmiris kept quiet and looked down. But Bhoomi, who was present, saw that they did not agree at all and that they would not change…

François gautier

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The Hindu Rate Of Wrath

Illustration by Sorit
OPINION
The Hindu Rate Of Wrath
When the Mahatma’s cowards erupt in fury, it hurts. It isn’t terror. ......

Is there such a thing as ‘Hindu terrorism’, as the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur for the recent Malegaon blasts may tend to prove? Well, I guess I was asked to write this column because I am one of that rare breed of foreign correspondents—a lover of Hindus! A born Frenchman, Catholic-educated and non-Hindu, I do hope I’ll be given some credit for my opinions, which are not the product of my parents’ ideas, my education or my atavism, but garnered from 25 years of reporting in South Asia (for Le Journal de Geneve and Le Figaro).

In the early 1980s, when I started freelancing in south India, doing photo features on kalaripayattu, the Ayyappa festival, or the Ayyanars, I slowly realised that the genius of this country lies in its Hindu ethos, in the true spirituality behind Hinduism. The average Hindu you meet in a million villages possesses this simple, innate spirituality and accepts your diversity, whether you are Christian or Muslim, Jain or Arab, French or Chinese. It is this Hinduness that makes the Indian Christian different from, say, a French Christian, or the Indian Muslim unlike a Saudi Muslim. I also learnt that Hindus not only believed that the divine could manifest itself at different times, under different names, using different scriptures (not to mention the wonderful avatar concept, the perfect answer to 21st century religious strife) but that they had also given refuge to persecuted minorities from across the world—Syrian Christians, Parsis, Jews, Armenians, and today, Tibetans. In 3,500 years of existence, Hindus have never militarily invaded another country, never tried to impose their religion on others by force or induced conversions.

You cannot find anybody less fundamentalist than a Hindu in the world and it saddens me when I see the Indian and western press equating terrorist groups like simi, which blow up innocent civilians, with ordinary, angry Hindus who burn churches without killing anybody. We know also that most of these communal incidents often involve persons from the same groups—often Dalits and tribals—some of who have converted to Christianity and others not.

However reprehensible the destruction of Babri Masjid, no Muslim was killed in the process; compare this to the ‘vengeance’ bombings of 1993 in Bombay, which wiped out hundreds of innocents, mostly Hindus. Yet the Babri Masjid destruction is often described by journalists as the more horrible act of the two. We also remember how Sharad Pawar, when he was chief minister of Maharashtra in 1993, lied about a bomb that was supposed to have gone off in a Muslim locality of Bombay.

I have never been politically correct, but have always written what I have discovered while reporting. Let me then be straightforward about this so-called Hindu terror. Hindus, since the first Arab invasions, have been at the receiving end of terrorism, whether it was by Timur, who killed 1,00,000 Hindus in a single day in 1399, or by the Portuguese Inquisition which crucified Brahmins in Goa. Today, Hindus are still being targeted: there were one million Hindus in the Kashmir valley in 1900; only a few hundred remain, the rest having fled in terror. Blasts after blasts have killed hundreds of innocent Hindus all over India in the last four years. Hindus, the overwhelming majority community of this country, are being made fun of, are despised, are deprived of the most basic facilities for one of their most sacred pilgrimages in Amarnath while their government heavily sponsors the Haj. They see their brothers and sisters converted to Christianity through inducements and financial traps, see a harmless 84-year-old swami and a sadhvi brutally murdered. Their gods are blasphemed.

So sometimes, enough is enough.At some point, after years or even centuries of submitting like sheep to slaughter, Hindus—whom the Mahatma once gently called cowards—erupt in uncontrolled fury. And it hurts badly. It happened in Gujarat. It happened in Jammu, then in Kandhamal, Mangalore, and Malegaon. It may happen again elsewhere. What should be understood is that this is a spontaneous revolution on the ground, by ordinary Hindus, without any planning from the political leadership. Therefore, the BJP, instead of acting embarrassed, should not disown those who choose other means to let their anguished voices be heard.

There are about a billion Hindus, one in every six persons on this planet. They form one of the most successful, law-abiding and integrated communities in the world today. Can you call them terrorists?


Learning from History

 

Source: Kashmir Herald
Francois Gautier
The massacre of six million Jews by Hitler and the persecution they suffered all over the world in the last 15 centuries has been meticulously recorded after 1945 and has been enshrined not only in history books, but also in Holocaust museums, the most famous of these being the one in Washington DC. It has not been done with a spirit of vengeance: Look at Israel and Germany today, they are in the best of terms; yet, facts are facts and contemporary Germany has come to terms with its terrible actions during Second World War.
Hindus too have suffered a terrible Holocaust, probably without parallel in human history. Take the Hindu Kush, for instance; probably, one of the biggest genocides in the history of Hindus. There has practically been no serious research on the subject or mention in history books. The Hindu Kush is a mountain system nearly 1,000 miles long and 200 miles wide, running north-east to south-west and dividing the Amu Darya valley and the Indus valley. The Hindu Kush has over two dozen summits of more than 23,000 feet and historically its passes, particularly the Khyber, have been of great military significance, for they provide access to the northern plains of India. Most foreign invaders have used the Khyber Pass: Alexander the Great in 327 BC, Mahmud of Ghazni, in 1001 AD; Timur Lane in 1398 AD; and, Nadir Shah in 1739 AD. 
Yet, in the first millennium before Christ, two major Hindu kingdoms, those of Gandhaar (Kandahar) and Vaahic Pradesh (Balkh of Bactria) had their borders extending far beyond the Hindu Kush. The kingdom of Gandhaar, for instance, was established by Taksha, the grandson of Bharat of Ayodhya, and its borders went from Takshashila (Taxila) to Tashkent (corruption of Taksha Khand) in present day Uzbekistan. In the later period, the Mahabharat speaks of Gandhaari as a princess of Gandhaar and her brother, Shakuni, as a prince and later as Gandhaar’s ruler (the last Hindu Shahiya king of Kabul, Bhimapal, was killed in 1026 AD). Then came, in 3rd century BC, Buddhist emperor Kanishka, whose empire stretched from Mathura to the Aral Sea (beyond the present day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Krygzystan) and under his influence Buddhism flourished in Gandhaar. The two giant Buddha sandstones carved into the cliffs of Bamian, which were destroyed by the Taliban, date from the Kanishka period. In Persian, the word ‘Kush’ is derived from the verb ‘Kushtar’ – to slaughter or carnage.
Encyclopaedia Americana says of Hindu Kush: “The name means literally ‘Kills the Hindu’, a reminder of the days when Hindu slaves from Indian subcontinent died in harsh Afghan mountains while being transported to Moslem courts of Central Asia.” Encyclopaedia Britannica on its part mentions “that the name Hindu Kush first appears in 1333 AD in the writings of Ibn Battutah, the medieval Berber traveller, who said the name meant ‘Hindu Killer’, a meaning still given by Afghan mountain dwellers”. Unlike the Jewish holocaust, the exact toll of the Hindu genocide suggested by the name Hindu Kush is not available. “However,” writes Hindu Kush specialist Srinandan Vyas, “the number is easily likely to be in millions.” A few known historical figures can be used to justify this estimate. Encyclopaedia Britannica recalls that in December 1398 AD, Timur Lane ordered the execution of at least 50,000 captives before the battle for Delhi; likewise, the number of captives butchered by Timur Lane’s army was about 100,000. Encyclopae-dia Britannica again mentions that Mughal emperor Akbar ordered the massacre of about 30,000 captured Rajput Hindus on February 24, 1568 AD, after the battle for Chitod, a number confirmed by Abul Fazl, Akbar’s court historian. Afghan historian Khondamir notes that during one of the many repeated invasions on the city of Herat in western Afghanistan, which used to be part of the Hindu Shahiya kingdoms, “1,500,000 residents perished”. “Thus,” writes Vyas, “it is evident that the mountain range was named as Hindu Kush as a reminder to the future Hindu generations of the slaughter and slavery of Hindus during the Muslim conquests.”
Since some of the Muslim conquerors took Indian plainsmen as slaves, a question arises: Whatever happened to this slave population? The startling answer comes from The New York Times (May-June 1993). The Gypsies, who used to be wandering people in Central Asia and Europe since around the 12th century, have been persecuted in almost every country (the Nazis killed 300,000 gypsies in gas chambers). Until now their country of origin could not be identified, as their language has very little in common with the other European languages. Recent studies, however, show that their language is similar to Punjabi and to a lesser degree, Sanskrit. Thus the Gypsies probably originated from the greater Punjab.
The time-frame of Gypsy wanderings also coincides with early Islamic conquests; hence, it is most likely their ancestors were driven out of their homes in Punjab and taken as slaves over the Hindu Kush. Why does not the Government of India tell Indian children about the Hindu Kush genocide?
The horrors of the Jewish holocaust are taught not only in schools in Israel and the US, but also in Germany, because both Germany and Israel consider the Jewish holocaust a “dark chapter” in the history. Yet, in 1982, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) issued a directive for the rewriting of school texts. Among other things, it stipulated: “Characterisation of the medieval period as a time of conflict between Hindus and Muslims is forbidden.”
Thus, denial of history, or negationism, has become India’s official “educational” policy. Fortunately, the present Government of India has initiated a rewriting of History school books, although this policy has come under attack as “a dangerous saffronisation” of history.
This is why the Forum Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT), which sponsored the recent exhibition in Delhi on the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits – an exhibition which opened also in Bangalore on September 1, and will be in Poland on September 10, and then in Berlin on the 15th – would like to start a project aiming at having a Holocaust Museum in New Delhi. It will record not only the genocide of Hindus at the hands of Muslim invaders, but also the terrible persecution by the Portugese (hardly mentioned, too, in Indian History books), or of the British (nobody knows that 25 millions Indians died in famine between 1815 and 1920, a genocide in the true sense of the term, as the Britsih broke the agricultural backbone of India for raw materials like Cotton, jute, etc.
FACT needs the support of all Indians for this museum to come into existence, so that every Indian child knows his/her history and what his/her forefathers had to endure.
[FACT, which stands for FoUNDATION Against Continuing Terrorism HAS its registered office at 41 Jorbagh, New Delhi 110003 and this is where the cheques in the name of FACT can be sent,  to 41 Jorbagh, New Delhi 110003, India .  FACT HAS tax exemption.]

Donare online at www.fact-india.com

 
François Gautier

Website: http://www.francoisgautier.com

India, the land of refuge


By Francois Gautier

Indian Express – June 5, 2000

It is common for India’s enemies whether outsiders or, unfortunately, Indians themselves to harp on the “rise of Hindu fundamentalism in India” (while mentioning Muslim fundamentalism in passing) and the growing intolerance of “fanatical” Hindu movements (the RSS, VHP, and the Bajrang Dal) towards India’s minorities. This has become an accepted proposition among the India specialists, historians, and foreign correspondents.

Yet, everyone seems to forget that, for thousands of years, India has been the land of refuge for all persecuted minorities of the world, whether the Jews after the sack of their temple in Jerusalem, Arab merchants, Parsis from Persia, Syrian Christians, Armenians, or the early Sri Lankan Tamils fleeing Sinhalese persecution. Nobody mentions that not only is this tolerance a Hindu tradition, because Hinduism has always accepted the divinity of other Gods, but also that, in return for their goodness, Hindus have been for 2,000 years the target of innumerable persecutions, whether at the hands of Christians (the Portuguese, for instance, who razed temples and crucified Brahmins in Goa) or, of course, Muslim invaders (like Timur who, in 1399, is said to have killed 100,000 Hindus in a single day). And which religion in the world can boast not only of never having invaded another nation to impose its faith upon its inhabitants, but also never tried to convert anybody, even by peaceful means (as the Buddhistsdid)?

Today, India is still a land of refuge. Witness the Tibetans, persecuted by the Chinese, who have been able to recreate on Indian soil a mini-Tibet (in Dharamsala and other places), where they enjoy full freedom and even the right to travel abroad with Indian documents. Today, almost the whole world knows that, from 1950 onwards, when the Chinese invaded Tibet, 1.2 million Tibetans have been killed, either directly (through shooting, death squads and torture) or indirectly (in concentration camps, prisons, and famines).

As many as 6,254 monasteries, most of them ancient, have been razed to the ground. Sixty per cent of religious, historical and cultural archives have been destroyed. A quarter million Chinese troops are occupying Tibet. One Tibetan out of 10 is still in jail. There are today in Tibet 7.5 million Chinese settlers for six million Tibetans in many places such as the capital, Lhasa, Tibetans are outnumbered two to one. Yet, the western world is so wary of China, where they have invested huge amounts of money, that they keep being blackmailed by Beijing and very few world leaders dare to receive openly the Dalai Lama, the living symbol of Tibet’s non-violent resistance to Chinese holocaust.

Recently, India upheld this tradition of granting asylum, when it allowed the Karmapa, third in the Tibetan spiritual hierarchy, to stay in India, after he fled occupied Tibet. Initially, the-re was some suspicion that Karmapa might have been sent by the Chinese to sow disorder amongst Tibetan refugees, as there was another boy who claimed to be the Karmapa (he lives in France). But the Dalai Lama, whom the Indian Government trusts, has vouched for the boy’s integrity and the 14-year-old Karmapa himself, mature beyond his years, has told many (including this writer) that he fled Tibet “because he felt that he would be more and more used by the Chinese for propaganda purposes and because he refused to make statements against the Dalai Lama, as the Chinese wanted him to”. For the moment, the boy is mo-re or less confined to a small monastery near Dharamsala, but is eager to settle in the Rumtek monastery of Sikkim, the traditional seat of the exiled karmapas. The Indian Government is hesitant to let him gothere, as it does not want to offend the Chinese, when border talks are on and the President is in China.

But it should not be hesitant. For, the history of India-China relations since 1947 shows that it is always India which has shown goodwill towards the Chinese and always the Chinese who pretended goodwill while stabbing India in the back. Nehru’s policy of `Hindi-Chini-bhai-bhai’ was a disaster: China attacked India by surprise in 1962 and took away 20,000 square kms of its territory. Today, China has transferred one-third of its nuclear arsenal to Nagchuka, 250 kms away from Lhassa, a region full of huge caves which the Chinese have linked together by an intricate underground network and where they have installed, according to US estimates, 90 intermediate-range intercontinental ballistic missiles. Tibet is of a great strategic military importance to China as, being on a high plateau, it overlooks Russia and India. But Russia is no more a danger to China. Thus it is towards North Indian cities that most of the nuclear missiles are pointed!

By letting the Karmapa settle in Rumtek, India will show that Sikkim is an integral part of its territory and that the Chinese should forget about its territorial claim on Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. India should have learnt by now that the only way to deal with China is firmness. India should also help Tibet to regain its freedom, because as the Dalai Lama has often pointed out, a free demilitarised and denuclearised Tibet would be the ideal buffer zone between the two giants of Asia: India and China.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

Terrorism – Islam in India must be different

Terrorism – Islam in India must be different
Source: The Sunday Indian
Terrorist attacks in India will stop if Indian Muslims stop actively participating in them
Francois Gautier

French Journalist

Islam in India is different. It is the inheritor of a long tradition of Sufism – the blending of Vedanta and the best of Islam – and a certain philosophy of acceptance. I remember when I was covering Kashmir in the late seventies, one could still see remnants of that tradition and observe Hindus and Muslims worshipping in dargahs and visiting each other’s homes during their respective religious festivals.

Then the Sunni Wahabite influence, via the Paksitani and Afghan jehadis, who supplanted the early JKLF movement, seeped in and everything changed for the worst. I was there in 1995 when the last Sufi shrine – the magnificent Chrar-e-Sharif, tomb of Sheikh Nuruddin, which was a sumptuous brick-and-cedar building with architectural and aesthetic roots right out of Central Asia – was burnt to the ground.

Though it has been rebuilt now, its destruction signalled the end of Sufism and tolerance in Kashmir. The 300,000 Kashmiri Hindus who had to flee their ancestral homeland are the living testimony of it.

For a long time, the present Indian government has been able to blame the successive terrorists attacks – Jaipur, Varanasi, Mumbai train blasts, Hyderabad, etc. – on the ISI or Bangaldeshi outfits and get away with it. The Delhi blasts signal the end of the charade and for the first time – barring the Ahmedabad blasts, where the Centre did not have much to do with the investigations – it was recognised that they were the handiwork of Indian Muslims.

Yet, the Indian government went on with the same pattern it used repeatedly after a terrorist attack in the last four years: (a) condemn ‘in the strongest terms’ this ‘barbarous act’; (b) appeal for calm and ‘communal harmony’; (c) give a few lakhs each to the families of the deceased or injured, so that they shut-up; and (d) never catch the culprits and go on as before till the next terrorist act.

But look at America, the most hated and targeted country in the world: it has not suffered a single terrorist attack since September 11, 2001. Which Indian politician will have the courage to call a spade a spade and tackle terrorism with courage and determination?

Does the UPA think that the common citizen of India is a nitwit and does not understand that Manmohan Singh or Sonia Gandhi have never pronounced once the word ‘Islamic terrorism’ not only because of the matter of vote banks in times of coming elections, but also because of the fact that politicians in India want to keep a blindfold on their citizens and pretend that nothing is happening?

Muslims should also realise that their Hindu brothers and sisters are angry now. Hindus gave refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world – from the Parsis, to the Jews (India is the only country in the world where Jews were not persecuted) to the Armenians, and the Tibetans today. The first Christian community in the world, that of the Syrian Christians, flourished in Kerala, thanks to Hindu tolerance; Arab merchants were welcomed by Hindu rulers to do trade and live in India, while freely practicing their religion, from very early times. It’s a pity that these two communities turned against their Hindus brothers and sisters, the former by way of lured conversions, and the latter with bloody invasions.

Ultimately, Islam in India can still preserve its difference, show the rest of the world that Muslims can live in peace with their brother and sisters and practice an Islam which is faithful to its own creed, while accepting other religions. But for that, terrorists attacks have to stop in India – and they will if Indian Muslims stop participating actively in them.

Islam cannot be wished away. As Sri Aurobindo said, “Mohammed’s mission was necessary, else we might have ended by thinking, in the exaggeration of our efforts at self-purification, that earth was meant only for the monk and the city created as a vestibule for the desert”.

Thus, Indian Muslims have to keep their faith and any attempt by Hindus to convert them back is not only futile but counterproductive. But the question to be asked to them is: what kind of Islam do you want to practice? An Islam which looks westwards, towards a foreign city, the Mecca, swears by a scripture, the Koran, which is not only not relevant to India, but which was meant for people living 1,500 years ago, in a language which is not Indian ? Or do they want to practice an Islam which is ‘Indianised’, which accepts the reality of other Gods, as Hinduism and Buddhism accept that there have been other avatars than Ram or Buddha.

Do India Muslims want to worship Babar, a man who destroyed everything which was good, beautiful and holy and lived by the power of violence, or do they want to imbibe the qualities of Ram, who believed in the equality of all, who gave-up all riches and honours of the world because he thought his brother deserved the throne more than him?

HARVESTING HATE IN GUJURAT

HARVESTING HATE IN GUJURAT

This book is not going to help heal the wounds of Godhra

Swami Agnivesh is a respected figure in India, known for having saved countless children from bonded labour. His just published book, in collaboration with Reverend Valson Thampu, “Harvest of Hate, Gujurat under siege”, is a deserving attempt at recording in exacting details the plight of Muslims at the hands of raging Hindus during the Gujurat riots.

Unfortunately, this essay, which could have done so much to bridge the widening gap between the two communities, is all about hate, as its opening statement illustrates: “Even if we forget the Mahatma’s ideals, we should never forget who killed the Mahatma”. He rants against the the Sangh Parivar: “It is a medical analogy that explains the prevent convulsions (of the Sangh Parivar) best – that of de-worming –when the worms in their final twitch of desperation release their poison”. But the first mention of the burning of the Sabarmati Express only comes at page 37, merely giving the Muslim version of the story: “the so-called kar-sevaks would order tea from the Muslim vendors and force them to shout ‘Jai Shri Ram’, before serving the tea; and those who refused to oblige would be roughed-up”. Why does the good Swami not mention that in 1991, in a Godhra madrasa, all the Hindu teachers who were voluntarily tutoring the children, were massacred. Or that today the Electricity Board is afraid to go in the Muslim area of Godhra, where 80% of the electricity is illegally tapped ? The Bhajrang Dal might have created hate by the power of the sword, but this book will create more hatred by the power of the pen !

It is true that during these riots horrible things, which no human being should condone, happened. But Swami Agnivesh and the Reverend forget to mention that that 25% of the people killed during riots were Hindus; or that, according to police records, the 157 subsequent riots which happened in Gujurat were all started by Muslims. He is also unable to explain to us how 125.000 Hindus, many of them Dalits, tribals, or even upper middle class, came out on the streets of Ahmedabad with such anger after the Sabamarri burning. While condemning their terrible acts; one has to at least understand the cause of their deep-rooted rage, as Hindus throughout the ages have shown that they are patient and tolerant of others. There is also not a single mention of Hindus reaching out to Muslims after the riots, such as this Hindu business man who built ninety houses in Ahmedabad for Muslims whose homes had been destroyed by fire.

Swami Agnivesh seems to have taken blindly the cause of the Muslims: “it is incredibly sad, how the Muslim community seems almost wholly abandoned by the rest of the country”. Or: “Can we really blame the Muslims of Gujurat if they come to prefer Dawood Ibrahim to Narendra Modi” ? Ultimately, this book will only strengthen the Muslims extremists, incite moderate Muslims to become Jihadis, and is so anti-Hindu, that it might even prompt moderate Hindus to support the Bhajrang Dal, a most counterproductive result, which we are sure, the Swami did not intend at all when he set upon writing the book .

François Gautier

“Harvest of Hate, Gujurat under siege”,

Swami Agnivesh / Valson Thampu

Rupa & C°

NEGATIONISM AND GUJARAT

In the wake of the recent events in Gujarat, we have to look again at what Belgian scholar Koenraad Elst, has called “negationism”, which means ” the denial of crimes against humanity”. In modern history, the massacre by the Turks of 1,5 millions Armenians, or that of the 6 million Jews by the Nazis, the several millions of Russians by Stalin, or the 1 million Tibetans by the Chinese communists, are historical facts which have all been denied by their perpetrators in a thousand ways: gross, clever, outrageous, subtle, so that in the end, the minds of people are so confused and muddled, that nobody knows anymore where the truth is.

We have seen recently how some of the Muslim intellectuals, part of the English media and many western correspondents have negated the Sabarmarti Express burning by a Muslim mob: a few of them said it happened because the kar-sevaks insulted the Muslim vendors in Godhra, or even molested a young Muslim girl; others implied that it was the RSS which engineered the burning of the train (!); others have said that the kar-sevaks had it coming to them because they were “fanatic Hindus” (were the 38 innocent women and children who died in the most horrible manner, also fanatic Hindu “fanatics”?). The same thing happened during the 1993 Bombay riots, engineered by Muslims: it was – still claim many Indian intellectuals – “because they were outraged by the destruction of the Ayodhya mosque” (but whatever the rightfulness or wrongfulness of the razing of Babri Masjid, nobody was killed there, whereas hundreds of innocent Hindus were killed by the bombs planted by Indian Muslims, with the help of Pakistan and the connivance of Saudi Arabia).

In the same way, after the Akshardam temple massacre, quite a few editorialists, such as Shekhar Gupta, in his September 28th piece in the Indian Express, or Saeed Naqvi in the same paper, implied (as did Musharraf, by the way) that the massacre of innocent Hindus would not have taken place if there had not been pogroms by the Hindus against Muslims earlier in Gujarat. One could answer to Mss. Gupta and Naqvi that if it is new for Hindus to kill Muslims, there is nothing novel about Muslims killing Hindus, although this particular aspect has been constantly negated by most historians. On, thinks of course of Indians, such as Romila Thapar, but also foreign India-specialists such as Gaboriau or Christophe Jaffrelot, who have persistently written in official books and in prestigious newspapers that Muslim invasions in India were not as bloody as “nationalist” Hindus say, that Babar was a fine poet, that India was attacked because the “cunning” Brahmins had hoarded gold and jewels in their temples, or that Aurangzeb was not the butcher made out by “fundamentalists” Hindus.

It is thus good from to time to be reminded of the truth: in India, because of the staunch resistance of the 4000 year old Hindu faith, the Muslim conquests triggered one the worst genocides ever witnessed by humanity. Entire cities were burnt down and their populations massacred. Each successive campaign brought hundreds of thousands of victims and similar numbers were deported as slaves. Every new invader made often literally his hill of Hindu skulls. Thus the conquest of Afghanistan in the year 1000, was followed by the annihilation of the entire Hindu population there; indeed, the region is still called Hindu Kush, ‘Hindu slaughter’. The Bahmani sultans in central India, made it a rule to kill 100.000 Hindus a year. In 1399, Teimur did better: he killed 100.000 Hindus IN A SINGLE DAY. Professor K.S. Lal’s, in his “Growth of Muslim population in India”, has estimated that the Hindu population decreased by 80 MILLION between the year 1000 and 1525.

Negationism means then that this whole aspect of Indian history has been totally erased, not only from history books, but also from the consciousness of Indian people. Hasn’t M.N. Roy written “that Islam has fulfilled a historic mission of equality and abolition of discrimination in India, and that for this, Islam has been welcomed in India by the lower castes”. “If at all any violence occurred, he goes on to say, it was a matter of justified class struggle by the progressive forces against the feudal Hindu upper classes..” Jawaharlal Nehru himself said of Mahmud Ghaznavi, the destroyer of thousands of Hindu temples, who according to his chronicler Utbi, sang the praise of the Mathura temple complex, sacred above all to all Hindus… and promptly proceeded to raze it to the ground: “Building interested Mahmud and he was much impressed by the city of Mathura, where there are today a thousand edifices as firm as the faith of the faithful. Mahmud was not a religious man. He was a Mahomedan, but that was just by the way. He was in the first place a soldier and a brilliant soldier”…

Whereas the Jews have constantly tried, since the Nazi genocide, to keep alive the remembrance of their six million martyrs, the Indian leadership, political and intellectual, has made a willful and conscious attempt to deny the genocide perpetrated by the Muslims. No one is crying for vengeance. Do the Jews of today want to retaliate upon contemporary Germany? NO. It is only a matter of making sure that history does not repeat its mistakes, as alas it is able to do today: witness the persecution of Hindus in Kashmir, whose 250.000 Pandits have fled their homeland, or the present genocide of Hindus in Bangladesh. No collective memory should be erased for appeasing a particular community.

But at the same time, their historical crimes should not be denied by conveniently using the Gujarat riots, the one time in recent history where Hindus did actually retaliate against Muslim for atrocities committed.

And ultimately the real question is: Can Islam ever accept Hinduism? Can the Indian Muslim minority ever agree to be governed by the Hindu majority, even though they have more rights and freedom than in most Islamic countries ? Can Pakistan ever accept India ? Listen to what Sri Aurobindo had to say sixty years ago: “You can live with a religion whose principle is toleration. But how is it possible to live peacefully with a religion whose principle is “I will not tolerate you? How are you going to have unity with these people?.The Hindu is ready to tolerate; he is open to new ideas and his culture and has got a wonderful capacity for assimilation, but always provided India’s central truth is recognized”..

We will never be able to assess the immense physical harm done to India by the Muslim invasions. Even more difficult is to estimate the moral and the spiritual damage done to Hindu India. But once again, the question is not of vengeance, or of reawakening old ghosts, but of not repeating the same mistakes. Unfortunately, the harm done by the Muslims conquest is not over. The seeds planted by the Moghols, by Babar, Mahmud, or Aurangzeb, have matured: the burning of the Sabamarti express, the continuing destruction of temples in Kashmir, Pakistan or Bangladesh (see Prafull Goradia’s remarkable book “Hindu Masjids”), or the Akshardham massacre are the proof that many of the India’s and Pakistan’s (and Bangladeshi) Muslims have forgotten that they were once peaceful Hindus, forcibly converted to a religion they hated.

FRANCOIS GAUTIER