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The danger posed by politics of hate

Protests taken out against the arrest of Vaibhav Raut, allegedly of Sanatan Sanstha, are worrying

mumbai Updated: Aug 23, 2018 19:31 IST
Sujata Anandan
Sujata Anandan
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Sanatan Sanstha,Anti-Terrorism Squad
Members of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) raid the house of alleged Sanatan Sanstha member Vaibhav Raut at Nalasopara in Palghar on August 10. (PTI)

Years ago, while still at school, I saw a documentary on student riots (I think it may have been at the height of Naxalism) which depicted a father having to go out to work amidst all that violence and mayhem.

His young college-going son too leaves home after him but returns before his father does and lies quietly in bed, not talking to his worried mother who is fretting about the safety of her husband.

Then All India Radio begins to announce the names of those killed in the riots. The mother screams as she hears her husband’s name among the dead.

The son continues to lie silently in bed, staring unblinkingly at the ceiling. He was one of the student rioters on the fringes of the mob that lynched his father.

His politics was more important to him than his family, which was destroyed forever, for the mother could never forgive her son for his role in her husband’s death.

I had goosebumps watching that film, over the years the horror did not lessen. But those were gentler, less polarised times when the student agitation soon died down and the story got pushed to the back of my conscious thoughts.

It came rushing to the fore when I saw friends of Vaibhav Raut (allegedly of the Sanatan Sanstha) protest against the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and take out a morcha against his arrest for making bombs and storing other explosive materials at home.

That ammunition, according to the police, was meant to be used to target people during Independence day, Bakri Eid and Ganpati celebrations in close proximity to Muslim areas so that the blame could be shifted on the minority community for the mayhem. For the targets would have been largely Hindu.

In some ways, the Sanatan Sanstha seems to be worse than some other saffron terrorists targeting Muslims. In Goa in 2009, the Sanatanis targeted the burning of the effigies of Narkasur as they said the practice glorifies the demon rather than his slayer, Lord Krishna. Wouldn’t those crowds have comprised many of their own – even friends and relatives perhaps at those Ganpati pandals they thankfully failed to target?

However, the fact that so many friends and neighbours could descend on the streets to protest against the authorities doing their job – and a commendable job at that – only goes to prove that many Hindus are now so radicalised and full of Hindutva rhetoric that they think nothing of protesting against the arrest of a potential terrorist, who could have killed them too, just because the eventual goal of his organisation was to secure a Hindu Rashtra.

What would they say if members of the minority community had similarly thronged the streets to protest the arrest of an alleged terrorist from their community?

I remember, Indian Muslim communities did not even offer six feet of space to the 26/11 terrorists who had to be eventually buried at sea.

But even presuming they were Pakistani and Indian Muslims were not obliged to offer them burial space in the country, what about those innumerous Muslim parents, shocked at the involvement of their children in terrorist or anti-social activities who ostracised them and cut them out of their will?

Then, again, I remember a similar cache of arms being uncovered by the Aurangabad police a few years ago which had been put together by some terrorists in the city with the specific aim of targeting the Ajanta and Ellora caves.

Although some parents were shocked and others were in denial, there was never any protest against the authorities in seeking their release.

Many Muslim boys have been wrongfully picked up by policemen across states for various acts of terrorism and later released by courts for lack of evidence. They lost precious years of their lives and careers, yet chose the due course of law for honourable discharge from the cases.

The difference in attitudes also shows that even before 2014, minorities had no protection in this country but for the Constitution and the Sanatanis and their friends seem to continue to believe they are above the law and the Constitution.

They seem to be worse than our home-grown Muslim terrorists who so far have targeted only their obvious “enemies” , sparing members of their own religion. In targeting Ganpati pandals and Diwali celebrations, they seem to be worse than Narkasura, who may have proved too much for the gods but spared people of his own.

First Published: Aug 23, 2018 19:31 IST