Cook up in the cold | columns | Hindustan Times
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Cook up in the cold

columns Updated: Jun 05, 2011 17:18 IST
Indrajit Hazra
Indrajit Hazra
Hindustan Times
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The cold makes us extremely susceptible to illusions. On Friday night I could have sworn that there was news of eight people succumbing to violence caused by the ethnic clashes that have been going on in the Assam-Meghalaya border since January 1 and that have already caused the displacement of more than 20,000 people. But by Saturday morning, temporarily thawed by my electric blanket and not finding any mention of any such ghastly affair in print or pixels, I concluded that it must have been the chill that had made my mind, unreliable app, cook the whole thing up.

I believe such delusional thinking has something to do with the fall in body temperature. But that itself could be a nifty parlour trick attributed

to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India fudging numbers and making us believe that the mercury’s dropped while it has actually done no such thing. It’s like that old jungle saying: now you see R1.76 lakh crore missing, now you don’t.

Whatever be the case, over the last week of thigh-hurting cold, I could have sworn that along with my grandfather appearing and telling me, “You must know, your father lost a father; that father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound in filial obligation for some term to do obsequious sorrow,” I heard an outcry among the outcrying classes against the ‘policiticisation of terror’. Expanded, what they meant was that a grave and terrible matter such as terrorism should not become a tool for political one-downmanship.

I realised soon enough that the latter was not something I had cooked up in my chilled brain. Those demanding that politics be kept away from tackling terrorism — ‘Terrorism is terrorism, no matter which ideology it springs from’ — were suffering from a mass delusion. Because an overwhelming number from the outcrying class comes from the northern plains of India, I assumed that the cold had got the better of their thinking.

But keeping terrorism outside the clob room of politics? Think about it. Swami Aseemanand, one of the main accused in the probe into the 2007 Samjhauta Express, reportedly confesses that members of the RSS were involved in the Samjhauta Express blasts — and may have also played a part in the bombings at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad — and no one will drag politics into it? Come on! It’s easier to get a kid suffering from Attention Deficit Syndrome to keep his elbows off the dinner table than to keep politics out of terrorism.

The tag of Saffron terror© has already started to stick more firmly than the velcro on my old shoe. Before long, the media will, after being adequately fed by reactions from the Congress and re-reactions from the so-nervous-that-we-just-have-to-ooze-angry righteousness BJP, be taking us into that very zone where they apparently don’t want any political party to go: where politics and talk of terrorism mix like gin and more gin.

And how will they be able to achieve this even as they, as mouthpieces of the outcrying class, bemoan the ‘politicisation of terror’? By telling us — and the winter mood and mist make things so perfect — about the impending emergence of Hindu terror®. For, don’t underestimate how much the media have been missing ‘communal politics’ stories. They were a bit upset when, like in Waiting for Godot, ‘nothing happened twice’ following the Babri Masjid verdict in September.

Saffron terror©, if left at its current stage of simply getting a Crazy Swami Formerly Known as Jatin Chatterjee and his co-crazies behind bars (Hyderabad was apparently chosen as a target because its nizam wanted to join Pakistan before 1947), is little else but a few criminals who thought that Muslims are taking over India. Nothing less, nothing more — at least until someone ferrets out a Tulsidas Taliban network from nationwide foxholes.

But I fear the appeal of manufacturing Hindu terror® to counter the political force of a perceptible demand for tackling Islamic terror®. And if anyone gets lazy — or the BJP fails to shoot itself in the foot — there’s always Digvijaya Singh who’ll keep saying ‘I told you so’ until ‘so’ actually becomes real. And how can I blame the Congress for suggesting that “firm action” be taken against the RSS? After all, the shoe is on the other foot now and it’s not a saffron kolhapuri for a change. The National Investigation Agency and the CBI are thinking of questioning RSS leader Indresh Kumar, whose name Aseemanand mentioned in his statement to the magistrate, in connection with the Samjhauta blasts. The BJP is already crying ‘diversionary tactics’, the same way that its demand for a JPC into the 2G scam is still a ‘digressionary tactic’ for the Congress.

So this wintry illusion of keeping politics away from tackling terror is just that: a bad illusion.

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