Posts Tagged ‘Arundhathi Roy’

How many years before the secularists use the same yardstick?

March 29, 2009

In the past few weeks the mainstream and western media seem to have upped the ante by publishing articles which have a strong under-current of anti-Hindu bias. I will write about these in my next post but the current post is to specifically discuss about the article that appeared in the Hindu on 22nd March.


The article Forgetting Slaughter by Harsh Mander did not leave me amused at all.  The rancor with which Mr. Mander describes the current events in Gujarat shows the qualification required to be a “secularist” in India. How else can we describe:

a.)    “Seven years after the engineered communal hate and carnage” is clear how the truth is portrayed. For sure Gujarat communal clashes are one of the saddest events in the recent past, the way these activists describe the unfolding of events as if the Hindu goons woke up one fine morning and started killing Muslims. Why do we never mention about Godhra? Now that Justice Nanavati commission mentioned that the attack on Kar Sevaks was pre-planned how come the “secularists” not take up the issue with a more balanced view point or can we discard the commission report? The same mindset is reflected  in an article in the Atlantic (more about that in my next post)


b.)    When Harsh Mander talks about Muslim youth being picked up randomly is he speaking with facts or is there a pathological hatred towards parties like the BJP? While There are a lot of failings with BJP but shooting off the hip with such generalizations is repulsive and these are called the liberals – for me their refusal to see that there have been no more communal riots in Gujarat or the economic development in the state that is all inclusive cannot be a possibility is another pointer on how prejudiced they can be. These statements are similar to what Arundhathi Roy made up a nice little story for which JK has a very interesting analysis.


c.)    For me the best part of the article is when the author says: “many who argue that the efforts of human rights groups (including those that I am engaged with) which strive to secure justice for the survivors, are actually blocking efforts at reconciliation, or the spaces for forgiveness. Such enterprises are seen to be akin to scraping the scab off old wounds and not letting these heal naturally: they are seen as not letting the survivors forget their suffering. Those opposed to such efforts dispute: “What is achieved by reviving memories of what is done and over with? We should let the people affected by the admittedly unfortunate mass violence move on, without being constantly pulled into the quicksand of a painful past”

It is significant that rarely do such suggestions emanate from those affected by the violence themselves, or from those who belong to the Muslim community and suffer intensely even if only vicariously from the continuing injustice and persisting gruesome outrages like mass graves and evidence of killings in false encounters in Gujarat. There are some among the affected communities in Gujarat — usually traders or better-off victims and mostly men — who choose not to fight for legal justice, but this is not because they do not value justice or because they suffer no anguish for the injustice and betrayal of the past, but as a practical act of individual survival by surrender and compromise, in a climate of persisting hate and fear. The suggestions for hastily closing the past come mostly from people of the majority community who have not suffered directly or even vicariously the torment of the survivors of the carnage, or from persisting insecurity and contested citizenship rights, or indeed from the impact of a drift into a re-moulded majoritarian social and political order.

Of course as a nation and as a people, we need to move on, pushing decisively behind us chapters of collective shame and tribulation, such as what unfolded in the killing fields of Gujarat in 2002. But the decision to impatiently surge ahead without looking back cannot justly be imposed on women and men, boys and girls who live with not only with the memories of the trauma of unspeakable loss and violence, but the daily lived realities of continued persecution, boycott, expulsion, fear and hate. They should not feel coerced into a spurious amnesia, imposed on them by those who did not suffer and by their absence of remorse and compassion. It is only when the survivors are able to deal voluntarily with this painful past, and when they are assisted to rebuild their homes, livelihoods and social relations, that they will be able to look to the future with optimism and confidence. Traditions like the annual ritualised mourning of Moharram or the commemoration of the Holocaust in gut-wrenching museums acknowledge the importance of remembering, even while forgiving and letting go. Only when there is remorse and healing, it is possible that hand in hand, “they” and “we” will together be able to authentically “move on”. Else, as philosopher Santayana wisely prophesised, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. We have repeated the history of communal violence and pogroms too many times already in India to risk its further repetition through forgetting the unhealed wounds of our recent history. “

I reproduced such a long part of the article as it has quite a significant point. Firstly when Harsh Mander talks about we should not accept or cover up what has happened in the past and usually this he hears not from the affected community why does the same yardstick not apply to the Hindus of J&K who were ethnically cleansed from their homeland. The number of people affected from J&K is much more than what happened in Gujarat but the same secularists do not even bother to talk about it forget helping these families come over the trauma. Going back a few centuries why do the secularists not  let us know how the Islamic invasions left millions of Hindus killed and temples looted; why are we not allowed to look at the past as it is and accept that the Muslim rulers  were responsible for the biggest ever genocide in the history of mankind. Why do people like him tell us not to open up the past while asking us to do so in the above case. I am all for what Mr. Mander says that we should look at history in its face and ensure such mistakes do not happen but the only problem is it seems to apply when Muslims are involved and not of other instances where Hindus were the victims. The rut is so evident that when Francois Gautier organised an exhibition on Aurangazeb and his misdeeds that it was vandalised by the police in Chennai – I am left amazed that none of the liberals ever raised a word against gagging of freedom of speech!

While Harsh Mander talks about the holocaust museum I am sure he is aware that negating the holocaust is a crime in Germany but we are grown up by being taught exactly the opposite in Indian history viz. there was no Islamic genocide and here the book by Koenraad Elst “Negationism in India: is a must read for people wanting to know about history as it was.

The biggest problem is these “liberals work overtime to stamp people who make such statements as fundamentalists and narrow-minded while it is they who are blinkered in their approach and never ready for a free and open debate. If we do not agree with their point of view then that is it we are fundamentalists and anti-minority. It has to be noted here that Hindus are the only race in the World that gave shelter to all persecuted groups including Jews, Syrian Christians and Parsis.

To extend the argument further, it is shocking to see “historians and liberals” go to the extent of saying that the Muslim rulers were benign and they never razed down temples. The two-part book by Sita Ram Goel “What Happened to Hindu Temples” that methodically captured the number of temples destroyed by Muslim rulers is a grim reminder of what our history which the same “;liberals” squirm to accept.

d.)    When Harsh Mander goes on to mention “saga of their lives seemed like the spaces between various communal riots, often starting with the cataclysmic upheavals of 1947”  I am keen to know whether we Hindus have no work but to keep attacking Muslims? To start with 1947 the Hindus did not ask for partition but the Muslims did and does Mr. Mander know how the Hindu population on the other divide – both the East and West – has dwindled and will I hear him say that these guys wilfully converted to Islam as Hinduism does not provide equality! And to single out Muslims as the victims is either being naïve or sinister the way he mentions about how these people will move to Muslim ghettos when a communal riot will break out only shows how uni-dimensional the thinking is. Why is the violence in Assam never talked about or the ethnic cleansing that is taking place in the North East: the simple fact is that Hindus are at the receiving end as in Kashmir. I really want facts to be spoken of and not such generalised statements made.  


As I mentioned above it is not to say that there are no Hindu elements that spoil the social fabric but the essence is to take a balanced view and put issues in context: can we expect this Mr. Harsh Mander or am I one more of the Hindu fundamentalists at work….