Indian State’s ‘Racist Terrorism’ Through Application of
‘Hindutva’– A Detailed Appraisal
Brigadier (Retd.) Dr. Ahsan ur Rahman Khan
Two IOK Muslim children tortured by Indian occupying forces. Blood spots on the forehead and arm of the younger child can be seen. (Photo courtesy Kashmir Media Service) (1).
- The Underlying Cause of ‘Racist Terrorism’ – Philosophy of ‘Hindutva’
- RSS and BJP’s ‘tying governmental knot’ and Application of ‘Hindutva’
- The Current and Advanced Application of ‘Hindutva’ (IOK, CAB/CAA, NRC, Detention Camps)
- The Resulting Unrest / Uprising
- Inferences Drawn
The Underlying Cause of ‘Racist Terrorism’ – Philosophy of ‘Hindutva’
To clearly understand the current Indian State’s ‘racist terrorism’ applied trough ‘militantly-extremist’ policies of RSS/BJP Indian government, it is essential to get the grasp of the initiation in India (in the last century) of ‘militant Hinduism’ now known as ‘Hindutva’.
This aspect has been discussed in detail in my last paper titled ‘Kashmir Issue – Realities and Conflict Indicators’ (2) dated 27 August 2019. In that paper the researched data and inferences presented by the credible scholars, historians and writers were highlighted, including: (a) Ariel Sophia Bardi, an American journalist, academic and consultant, living in India; (b) Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a Delhi-based writer, journalist and author of books; (c) Palash Ghosh, Assistant Professor in Indian Institute of Technology Guwhati, India; (d) Sumanta Banergee, cultural historian and author of books; and (e) Britannica.
Ariel Sophia Bardi’s article “How ‘Hinduvta’ recast multi-faith India as the Hindu homeland” has been published in aeon which is an Australian digital magazine of ideas, philosophy and culture. In that article she has highlighted that the formulator of ‘Hinduvta’ philosophy was Vinayak Damodar savarkar (also known as Veer Savarkar) who was an Indian independence activist, politician, lawyer, and writer. And that, as a law student living in England, Savarkar was charged with plotting against the British monarchy after aiding in the assassination of a British civil servant. Extradited back to India in 1911, Savarkar received two life terms. During his confinements he formulated this philosophy and wrote his manifesto “Essentials of Hindutva”. Just two years after the release of Essentials of Hindutva, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was founded as a volunteer paramilitary organisation dedicated to advancing Savarkar’s platform of Hindu unity and promoting Hindu causes. It is often called the BJP’s ‘ideological parent’. Savarkar’s philosophy of ‘Hindutva’ is so relevant in the Indian political sphere now that Amit Shah who is President of India’s ruling party BJP and now Home minister also declared “Savarkar has become more relevant today” (3).
“Essentials of Hindutva”, which is the driving force of RSS/BJP policy-decision making, was written by Savarkar sometimes between the years 1921-1922 and was later published under the pseudo name ‘A Mahratta’. It spans 55 pages; and is a rather philosophical discourse proclaiming the supremacy of Hindu race and its culture. However, it is important to note that the meaning of ‘Hindutva’ given in certain encyclopedia/dictionary as ‘Hinduism’ or ‘Hinduness’ is different from the meaning given by Savarkar himself – and obviously only the meaning given by him is correct. He has discussed it under the heading ‘Hindutva; and is different from Hinduism’.
The actually ‘ingrained notion’ of this term can easily be discerned from Savarkar’s explanation “Hindutva embrases all the departments of thought and activity of the whole Being of our Hindu race” (p. 3 of his book). And, most importantly, the ‘ingrained aggressive spirit and objectives to be achieved’ are given on page 54 of his book, where he asserted “Thirty crores of people, with India for their basis of operation, for their Fatherland and for their Holyland with such a history behind them, bound together by ties of a common blood and common culture can dictate their terms to the whole world. A day will come when mankind will have to face the force” (4).
In essence, the researched data and inferences presented by the above mentioned credible scholars, historians and academics clearly make it evident that factually the philosophy of ‘Hindutva’ is a combination of the racial and religious extremism, Hindu supremacy, non-tolerance of non-Hindus, and an ingrained hostility against Muslims.
RSS and BJP’s ‘tying governmental knot’ and Application of ‘Hindutva’
While studying the rather brute application of ‘Hindutva’ by Indian state, a clearer understanding of the “tying knot” of RSS and BJP, along with other extremist Hindu parties like VHP, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, etc is essential. In that context, a better understanding has been presented by Paul Marshall Senior Fellow, Washington (US)-based Center for Religious Freedom. In his article titled “Hinduism and Terror” published on 1 June 2004 by Hudson Institute, he has explained that Hindu nationalist movement collectively known as the ‘Sangh Parivar’ (family of organisations) rose in agitation against the then British rule in India. It “proclaims an ideology of “Hindutva,” aimed at ensuring the predominance of Hinduism in Indian society, politics, and culture, which it promotes through tactics that include violence and terror. Its agenda includes subjugating or driving out Muslims and Christians, who total some 17 percent of the population”. “Sangh Parivar’s central organization is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)”; “Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)———- is tied to the RSS, VHP, and Bajrang Dal, and functions as the Sangh Parivar’s political wing”. Out of these, RSS became “major paramilitary organization with millions of members”; and “its educational wing ‘Vidya Bharati’ schools distribute booklets containing a map of India that encompasses not only Pakistan and Bangladesh but also the entire region of Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, and parts of Myanmar, all under the heading “Punya Bhoomi Bharat,” the “Indian Holy Land.” (5).
As for the rise to political power of BJP (the political organisation of ‘Hindutva’ Sangh Parivar), the record is available in Wikipedia (6). BJP entered India’s ‘Lok Sabha’ (lower house of parliament) for the first time in 1984, but it could only win 2 seats out of the 533 seats of Lok Sabha. However its number of seats, out the (subsequently increased) 545 Lok Sabha seats, kept on increasing fast with fluctuation only in 2004 and 2009. With 182 seats it formed coalition central government in 1998, 1999. Then with 282 seats it formed its clear majority central government in 2014; and subsequently, with 303 seats it has formed still stronger central government last year (2019).
This rise to massive political power of BJP has obviously been due to the spread of the ‘flame of Hindutva hatred’ (against minority Muslims, Christians, Dalits/low-caste etc), in the minds of the majority Hindu population of India, educated and uneducated alike. To this flame of Hindutva, fillips were also added by continuing violent anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim propaganda and actions by the ‘Hindutva parties’ like involvement of RSS in India’s creation of ‘Mukti Bahini’ resulting in the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971, destruction of 16th Century Babri Mosque in 1996, massacre of more than 1000 Muslims in anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat under the patronage of Narendar Modi who was then the Chief Minister of that state.
By now the ‘mafia muscle power’, especially of RSS, has become so strong that it has cowed down the state institutions, including even the once better performing supreme court of India, election commission, etc. It should also be kept in mind that Narendra Modi, now the second term Prime Minister of India, was associated with RSS from his childhood, became a full RSS worker in 1971; and was assigned by RSS to BJP in 1985. (7). It is because of this ‘mafia muscle power’ of RSS etc that India’s supreme court meekly dismissed the charges against Narendra Modi of fault/involvement in the Gujarat Muslims massacre, despite the fact that a senior police officer had submitted his sworn statement to India’s supreme court that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi deliberately allowed anti-Muslim riots in the state (BBC report 22 April 2011). (8)
In that context much clarity has been provided by Edmond Roy who is an Indian journalist and broadcaster since 1980s in India’s government and private sectors; then similarly worked in Australia; and is now back in India as ABC’s South Asia correspondent. His article has been published on 16 December 2019 by the Australian-based Lowy Institute. He asserts, “Under the BJP, history is being rewritten in the nation’s textbooks, once proud institutions are crumbling, the public service is compromised, universities hamstrung, media silenced, and the judiciary cowed” (9).
Having thus amassed the immense ‘mafia power’, the ‘Hindutva’ parties of India started showing the true religious-extremist face of Indian Hindu society, as also the further intentions of RSS/BJP government. Just to briefly quote only two examples:-
a. India’s “VHPInternational President Ashok Singhal described the Gujarat carnage as a “successful experiment” and warned that it would be repeated all over India”; and, “After the December 2002 BJPelection victory in Gujarat, VHP General Secretary Pravin Togadia declared, “All Hindutva opponents will get the death sentence, and we will leave this to the people to carry out” (10).
b.Thus emboldened, the ‘Hidutva’ parties launched Dharm Jagran Samiti (DJS) and ‘Ghar Wapsi’ movement to convert Muslims and Christians to Hindu religion. In 2014 the RSS leader Rajeshwar Singh, who was head of Uttar Pradesh DJS movement, declared “Our target is to make India a Hindu Rashtra by 2021. The Muslims and Christians don’t have any right to stay here. So they would either be converted to Hinduism or forced to run away from here”. It was published by media, including UK’s Daily Mail (11) on 19 December 2014. There is also a video recording (12) in which Rajeshwar Singh is repeating this declaration giving 31 December 2021 as the last date for completion of this declared action in India.
The Current and Advanced Application of ‘Hindutva’
Since those world powers (US, UK, France, Germany, etc), which are the claimants of being civilised and protectors of human rights, continually ‘turned a blind eye’ to these grave violations of human rights in the ‘Hindutva’ India because of their strategic and economic interests, the RSS/BJP government moved boldly ahead with its further actions. Those actions included military annexation on 5 August this year of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) in open violation of existing UNSC resolutions; the law of Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB); and the contentious document National Register of Citizens (NRC).
As for India’s military annexation of IOK, It is now about five months of India’s RSS-BJP government’s military annexation of the disputed Muslim-majority Indian Occupied State of Jammu & Kashmir (IOK) in blatant violation of UN Security Council (UNSC) existing resolution. And not only that, the Indian RSS-BJP government all through this period has kept IOK completely locked out under continuous curfew and complete blockade of all means of communication; as also meting out extreme inhuman brutalities to the majority Muslim population of IOK through extra-judicial killings, night raids in their houses to torture/arrest thousands of boys and men, and raping women, also denying them access to medical and food facilities, etc. For that purpose Indian government has deployed its 900,000 military force (out of the 1400,000 active service force) and thousands of its militant party RSS’ goons brought from India.
This current spate of Indian State’s ‘racist terrorism’ through the application of extreme inhuman atrocities meted out to, and ethnic cleansing of, IOK Muslims actually commenced in 1989. The recorded data compiled by Kashmir Media Service (covering the period January 1989 to 31 December 2019) of the sufferings of IOK Muslim men, women, and children at the hands of Indian forces shows following extremely horrible realities (13):-
- Total killings —————————– 95,475
- Custodial killings —— ——————-7,136
- Civilians arrested ———————-158,399
- Structures arsoned/destroyed ——- 109,451
- Women widowed ———————– 22,911
- Children orphaned ———————107,784
- Women gang-raped, molested ——-11,175
The most inhuman and barbaric mindset of the Indian occupying forces against Kashmiri Muslim, has also been reflected from the fact that Kashmiri Muslim children has been the worst victims of Indian State Terrorism in IOK. The title picture of this article shows the example.
According to the aforementioned Indian journalist Edmond Roy, the so-called Citizenship Amendment Bill or CAB, passed as a law by Indian parliament (and now termed as CAA) , will for the first time turn religion into a means of deciding whom to treat as an illegal immigrant. Edmond Roy has asserted, “CAB is a clever attempt at seeming to protect minorities from neighbouring countries. It says Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Christians, and Sikhs, who came to India from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, will not be treated as illegal anymore. These groups will have easy access to Indian citizenship. But there is one important group that’s been singled out for exclusion: Muslims. This is no accident. Ever since Narendra Modi was elected prime minister in 2014, his government has threatened, cajoled, bullied, and legislated its way to making a once secular, diverse democracy into a nation dominated by Hindu Majority” (14).
In that context, Derek O’Brien, an opposition lawmaker in the upper house (of India), has also confirmed the highly discriminatory nature of CAB law in his article published on 11 December 2019 by the Turkish media TRT World. In that article he has highlighted that “the legislation bore an “eerie similarity” to Nazi laws against Jews in 1930s Germany. In 1935 there were citizenship laws to protect people with German blood … today we have a faulty bill that wants to define who true Indian citizens are,” he said”. Modi’s government — re-elected in May and under pressure over a slowing economy — says Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are excluded from the legislation because they do not face discrimination in those countries. Also left out are other minorities fleeing political or religious persecution elsewhere in the region such as Tamils from Sri Lanka, Rohingya from Myanmar and Tibetans from China” (15).
However, India’s recent discriminatory scheme did not stop there. The Indian journalist Edmond Roy, in his aforementioned article has also explained the next step of this scheme. He highlighted, “All this leads to yet another contentious document: the National Register of Citizens, or NRC. The NRC was originally intended as an attempt by the federal government to identify illegal immigrants in the north-eastern state of Assam. India claims that many Muslim families came to Assam in the 1970’s from neighbouring Bangladesh and are therefore not rightful citizens. The NRC was first published in August, and some 2 million people found that their names were not on it. If they cannot prove their citizenship, they will be put in detention camps and deported. For the moment, the NRC has been confined to Assam. But the government has plans to take it nationwide” (16).
The grave problem is obvious. In countries with very low rate of literacy and social awareness like India, when a child is born the massive majority of people is least cautious of the requirement of getting the documents like birth certificate etc of that child prepared as the basic document of his/her citizenship. So even for the billions of India-born people, it will be too difficult to provide the necessary document (s) to qualify as a legal Indian citizen for entry in NRC. For all such people, as also for those who have migrated from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangla Desh, the CAB will come into play. According to CAB such people, if they are non-Muslims, there is a relief of getting fast track Indian citizenship within 6 years, faster than the normal 14 years; thus they will neither be jailed, nor kept in detention camp, nor deported. However under CAB all Muslims of such lot are not entitled to getting Indian citizenship, so they are liable to be jailed, or kept in detention camps, or deported.
About these ‘detention camps’, the American news and opinion website Vox in its report dated 17 September 2019, while discussing this problem in India’s eastern state of Assam, disclosed that “10 mass detention camps the government plans to build, complete with boundary walls and watchtowers”; and “The first camp currently under construction is the size of seven football fields. Even nursing mothers and children will be held there” (17). And, now that Indian government has announced its intention to apply this CAB/CAA+NRC all over India, the fate of those to be targeted for detention camps and deportation (obviously mostly Muslims, besides certain other communities) can well be understood.
In the case of India’s north-eastern states, the populace is against this CAB/CAA+NRC scheme on yet another point, i.e. induction of non-Muslim immigrants in their states as legal Indian citizen will have adverse effect on the indigenous culture and demography of which people of these states are very sensitive. To quote an example 1,900,000 Bangla Deshis had migrated to Assam during 1970s. If the non-Muslims of these immigrants are granted fast track Indian citizenship in Assam, it will definitely affect the local culture and demography of Assam, which is not acceptable to the government and People of Assam. And, if the Indian government gives any exemptions to these north-eastern states in the application of CAB/CAA+NRC, that will openly defy the slogan of “One Nation One Law” of the current RSS/BJP government, under which they have abrogated Indian Constitution’s Acts 370 and 35-A while militarily annexing IOK. This ‘camouflage’ aspect of the CAB/CAA+NRC scheme has been very succinctly explained by the well-known Indian journalist Ms. Burkha Dutt in her video take titled “Why the Citizenship Bill & NRC coupled together are blatantly Anti-Muslim” (18).
(Note that after being passed by Indian parliament and signed by Indian president, the CAB is now termed as Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
The Resulting Unrest / Uprising
Almost immediately after the imposition of CAB/CAA and NRC, protests erupted in most parts of India. It engulfed eastern, central, and western parts of India – i.e. the seven north-eastern states (Assam, Nagaland, etc), Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.
(Indian States – Map: Courtesy Indian website Top Tour Guide (19)
The information of massive dimensions of these protests were first reported by the foreign media; however subsequently the ‘government dominated’ Indian media also started publishing ‘some’ reports about these protests.
The hallmark of these protests is that these are still continuing despite the extreme brutalities of Indian police to crush these protests, especially brutalisng the Muslims living in the areas of protests. Police brutalities also included firing live bullets on the Muslim protestors. According to media reports, due to the brutalities against Muslims of Indian police and ‘government-patronised’ RSS goons’, so far 24 Muslims including an eight year old child have been killed, dozens have been wounded, hundreds have been jailed, night raids are being conducted in Muslim localities to beat up and arrest the boys and even children; as also houses and shops of Muslims have been looted and burnt by RSS thugs.
In this context it is worth noting that these protests are massive and wide-spread because almost the entire populace of the seven north-eastern states and West Bengal, as also most of the affected non-Muslim communities and even the Dalits/low-caste Hindus, are also part of these protests. All these protesters are also being treated with violent repression methods by Indian police and at places even by Indian Army troops. There are reports that in certain of these protest cases the protesters have also become violent and have burnt public and private transport and a railway station, etc. The only exception where these protesters do not have to face the police violence is West Bengal, where Chief Minister of the state Mamta Banerjee herself leads these protests repeatedly.