HT Image
HT Image

The dirt beneath Babri ruins

There was nothing anti-Hindu in Rahul Gandhi’s statement on Babri Masjid writes Khushwant Singh.
None | By Khushwant Singh
UPDATED ON MAR 31, 2007 12:12 AM IST

I am inclined to agree with Rahul Gandhi’s conjecture that if his great grandfather Pandit Nehru, his grandmother Indira Gandhi or his father Rajiv Gandhi had been around, the tragedy of the demolition of the Babri Masjid would not have taken place. There was nothing anti-Hindu in his statement. Some BJP leaders like Vijay Kumar Malhotra have deliberately distorted what he said to serve their communal purpose. I am also pretty certain that neither would Morarji Desai have allowed mischief-makers to touch the dilapidated mosque. What other prime ministers would have done to avert the disaster no one can be sure. All of them were at the mercy of ambitious party-hoppers among their supporters and unable to take firm decisions. P.V. Narasimha Rao, during whose tenure the mosque was demolished, was without doubt the most non-performing of prime ministers we have had. To hold on to his prime-ministerial chair he bribed three JMM MPs to switch sides. Operation Blue Star and the massacre of Sikhs in northern India, following the assassination of Mrs Gandhi, occurred during his tenure as home minister. The explanations he gives in his memoirs for his doing nothing sound hollow.

All this is past history but the bitterness created between communities by vandals who took part in knocking down the mosque still lingers because perpetrators of the crime remain unpunished. They strut about like peacocks, proud of what they did, and make no secret of their plans to return to power. Most of them belong to the Sangh Parivar: L.K. Advani, Kalyan Singh, M.M. Joshi, Uma Bharti, members of the RSS, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal etc. Does anyone dare to take them on today? We cannot get away from facts: the mosque was demolished, we knew who did the dirty job. We are also aware that these evil-doers have swept the dirt under the carpet in the hope that people will forget what they did. Justice has been delayed for 15 years because there was no one strong enough to enforce it. Now that Sonia Gandhi has acquired stature of the top leader of the country and her son Rahul is fast rising as a political entity, is it too much to expect that they will see that justice is done?

The communal divide

Last week I referred to Sudhir and Katharina Kakar’s analysis of the sense of self-esteem ingrained in the Indian mind. In the same book, The Indians: Portrait Of A People (Penguin Viking), they also analyse the psychological reasons behind the Hindu-Muslim divide and why it continues to bedevil us.

They quote Gerhard Roth, neurologist and philosopher, to the effect that “once someone has grown up in a particular culture and, let us say, is twenty years old, he will never acquire a full understanding of other cultures since his brain has passed through the narrow bottleneck of culturisation.” In the context of the Hindu-Muslim divide, our minds are moulded from the time we begin to comprehend things. We are no longer able to change our opinions. Friendships between adults of both communities tend to remain superficial and can easily turn to hostility. This is evident in two cities where communal violence is endemic: Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. Both communities have mischief makers who keep feeding flames of religious prejudice: Muslims are bullies and back-stabbers; Hindus are cowards and only fight when they outnumber their adversaries 100 to one; then they don’t spare women or children etc. These prejudices were not born out of the Muslim demand for a separate homeland, Pakistan, but predate it by centuries. If Muslims like Sir Saiyad Ahmed Khan, Allama Iqbal, Chaudhary Rehmat Ali and M.A. Jinnah were votaries for a separate Muslim state, there were Hindu leaders who also wanted India to be Hindu, conceding Muslims secondary status: Veer Savarkar, Hedgewar, Golwalkar and the entire Sangh Parivar including the RSS, BJP, the Hindu Mahasabha, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal and their offshoots. The contending communal forces have made our motherland a fertile field for sowing seeds of discord. And there are many who feed them with compost to ensure they grow into poisonous weeds. The Kakars quote two of them, Obaidullah Khan Azmi on the Muslim side and Sadhvi Rithambara on the Hindu. Both come from the same district of Uttar Pradesh.

Azmi, a compulsive party-hopper, is contemptuous of Hindus. “It was the believers in the Qoran who taught you (Hindus) the graces of life, taught you how to eat and drink. All you had before us were tomatoes and potatoes,” he says. The Sadhvi spews more venom. “How can unity ever come about?” she asks. “The Hindu faces this way (when praying), the Muslim the other. The Hindu writes from left to right, the Muslim from right to left. The Hindu eats with the right hand, the Muslim with the left and the Hindu worships the cow, the Muslim attains paradise by eating beef. If you want to do everything contrary to the Hindu, then the Hindu eats with his mouth; you should do the opposite.”

How can any civilised Indian swallow such garbage? Perhaps the Kakars have not watched the Sadhvi’s programmes on TV. She portrays herself as a loving mother surrounded by children. She cuddles them, plays with them and coos to them. The programmes end with her and the children walking into the sunset — she in the middle with her massive buttocks swaying gently. That’s the only time I find her attractive.

George’s U-Turn

George Fernandes is a veteran leader Who says he is a brainless bloke?
First, he told something about Vajpayee
Then he said it was just a joke

(Contributed by GC Bhandari, Meerut)

Story Saved