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SurferSpeak: Carrying terror to temples

Our surfer says Hindu patience should not to be misunderstood either for promiscuity or for cowardice.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2006 18:47 IST
KN Pandita

The Sankat Mochan temple in Varanasi is not the first to be attacked by the terrorists. Earlier they attacked important temples like Raghunath Temple in Jammu and Akhshardham Temple in Gujarat. Why do they attack worshipping places?

Obviously, the attacks are made with the purpose of provoking retaliation by the Hindu community and thus stoke the flames of communal clashes. However, no serious communal clashes took place in the aftermath of these attacks, thanks to the patience and sensibility of the Hindu community.

Surely, their patience is not to be misunderstood either for promiscuity or for cowardice in defending their places of worship.

India is a secular state. The affected community would not like to take the law into its hands but let the state do its duty. That is a visible mark of a civil society's maturity.

In this criminal case as in any other of this nature, the law takes its course. Law enforcing agencies will try to arrest the culprits and bring them to book. If they are arrested they will be given a fair trial in accordance with the law of the land.

It is a matter of great satisfaction that no Hindu politician or leader -- secular or non-secular -- has come out with irresponsible and senseless threatening to the life of the actual culprits and their conspiratorial cohorts plus a hefty prize money for their head.

Had it happened, then UP minister Qureshi's recent statement of putting a prize of Rs 51 crore for beheading the slandering Dutch cartoonist would have been vindicated. Here much needed sanity has prevailed.

Two points need to be given due attention in this matter. Firstly, the law enforcing agencies will have to unravel the role of those who provided logistical support to the attackers. Obviously, unless there are sympathisers and supporters in the locality where bombing has taken place, this murderous attack cannot materialise. It is the duty of agencies to identify the support structure, whosoever they are and wherever they are and bring them to book. Unless that happens, attacks on temples, mosques and shrines are not going to stop. We need a deterrent.

We are aware that as time goes by, and the law enforcing agencies go deeper into investigation, politics comes in and vote bank hungry politicians are activated. At the end of the day, the police find it convenient to say that no clues of supporters could be found. This happened in almost all previous cases. And that is the failure of administration.

At the same time, the law must be clear in regard to stipulating the punishment for the supporters and abettors when a case is established against them. Obviously only exemplary punishment will deter others from indulging in such activities. This was precisely what we had insisted upon when the former J&K Chief Minister Mufti Saeed took the reins of the government four years ago. We had then asked him to define the position of abettors when he was going to apply the notorious "healing touch" prescription.

Secondly, it is the moral and historical duty of Indian Muslim leadership of moderate school to come out in strong condemnation of such acts of vandalism. Foremost among the condemning persons should be the imam of Jamia Masjid in Delhi who was bold enough to call for a countrywide agitation against the Dutch cartoonist's reprehensible act of vandalism.

It is the broad sections of Indian Muslim society on whom the onus of restraining the militants lies. This is a crucial period of our nation's history and they have to play their positive role. They need to tell the extremists in very unambiguous words that the old mindset of fanning communal tension has to change and yield its place to progressive, forward looking ideology with international reach.

When Muslims are demanding certain privileges and the government as well as the civil sociality are responding, it becomes its moral duty to contribute to the law and order of the land that ensures safety and secularity of life too its citizens irrespective of caste, creed, religion and language. This is not something by way of putting an obligation on the nation. It is a matter of principle and the ideology of peaceful coexistence.

The time has come when the Indian Muslims will play an important role in shaping the destiny of the Indian nation and of the world. They have the chance and potential of leading the Muslim opinion and bringing new thinking to the entire Islamic world. They can show that there can be compatibility between Islam, Islamic ways and Westminster sort democracy and secularism. History has placed them in a unique position. They are at the crossroad of history where the Islamic and modern social-political systems converge in a happy and compromising mood.

If these two conditions are fulfilled, one can hope that terrorists conspiring to kindle the flames of hatred and animosity through communal clashes will eat the humble pie. This is one of the rational ways of combating the menace of religion-based terror.

The writer is the former director, Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University, Srinagar and can be contacted onknpandita@yahoo.co.uk.

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First Published: Mar 21, 2006 16:22 IST