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December 30, 2007
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December 30, 2007

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Home > 2007 Issues > December 30, 2007


Mega crimes and Muslim apology

By Prafull Goradia

In the course of the Moplah riot of 1921 anything was practised from arson to conversion to pregnant women being cut into pieces with unborn babies protruding from the mothers? corpses. Smt Annie Besant, the Irish lady, and the 1913 president of the Congress, after her visit to Malabar, exhorted Gandhiji to see for himself the ghastly horrors.

Since 9/11, any number of blasts and explosions have been perpetrated by Islamist terrorists. On record since October 2001 are 13 bomb blasts in the different cities of India from New Delhi in the north, to Bangalore in the south, to Gandhinagar in the west to Guwahati in the east. The terrorists could well be misguided youth but what is particularly disturbing is that hardly ever does a responsible Muslim leader condemn the barbaric action. Nor does he apologise for any of them. For the people of India, that is rubbing salt by the Muslim elite on the wounds inflicted by their misguided fellow religionists.

A time has come when the major crimes of Islamists are enumerated and Muslim leaders are confronted with them along with a demand for their apology. There are nine mega crimes for which apologies are called for.

The governments in India have taken the boycott of vande mataram lightly although, in effect, the Muslims refusing to participate is an insult to the nation. Vande mataram was the song of the Independence movement and would have been the national anthem but for Jawaharlal Nehru?s weakness for Muslim prejudices, Jana gana mana was therefore chosen although it was originally written as a tribute to King George V.

Over the decades, Hindu Muslim riots were mostly started by the latter. If this were not so, why have there not been Hindu Christian riots even in districts where the latter are dominant as in Nagarcoil? Until the political advent of the British, the communal equation was so loaded that the Muslims felt secure. Once the Muslims were also reduced to subject status, their insecurity began the corollary of which were riots. In the course of the Moplah riot of 1921 anything was practised from arson to conversion to pregnant women being cut into pieces with unborn babies protruding from the mothers? corpses. Smt Annie Besant, the Irish lady and the 1913 president of the Congress, after her visit to Malabar, exhorted Gandhiji to see for himself the ghastly horrors which had been created by his beloved brothers, Mohammad and Shaukat Ali.

The success of an Islamic expedition to non-Muslim land was also judged on the basis of the number of slaves made and sold. But for the late Dr K.S. Lal who wrote his magnum opus Legacy of Muslim Rule in India and Muslim Slave System in Medieval India, this aspect of Muslim atrocity might have been completely forgotten. It began with the despatch of Parimal Devi and Suraj Devi, the two daughters of Raja Dahir to the harem of the Caliph, soon after he was defeated by Muhammad bin Qasim in 712 D. This was carried forward by Muhammad Ghauri, Khilji and Tughlaq. Even Emperor Jehangir traded in this export business.

The imposition of jazia on the Hindus on the excuse of protecting their life and property is legendary. The object of protection was called a zimmi. The subject was dealt at length by Dr P. Saran in his book Studies in Medieval Indian History whose introduction was written by Prof. Mohammad Habib. The purpose of jazia was three fold: to raise money for the state, to impoverish the Hindu and to remind him that he was an inferior subject.

London could not persuade either the Congress Party or the Muslim League to accept the 1946 Cabinet Mission plan of a loose federation to be created in the wake of the British departure from India. It was equally clear that the Muslim League could not dominate the all India political scene, nor could Mohammed Ali Jinnah be the prime minister of an undivided India. If therefore, he had to be the head of the government or the state; Partition of the country was essential. The surest way to precipitate Partition, in the wisdom of the League led by Jinnah, was to engineer riots. They would frighten the Hindus into realising that it would be wise of them to let go the Muslim League dominated areas into Pakistan. The riots would demonstrate to the British that the Hindus and the Muslims were incompatible co-citizens. They had to be allowed to go their separate ways.

The Muslim League Supreme Council met in Bombay and on July 29 declared for ?Direct Action?, August 16 was fixed as the day for the initiation of the movement. Fiery speeches containing thinly veiled threats of Civil War and drastic action against ?Quislings? followed. The League Press and the League spokesmen started a tirade against the Congress in particular and Hindus in general in Calcutta, the League papers started stepping up their programme of incitement causing great apprehension amongst all national circles.

The uneasy dawn of the 16th found large bands of ?processionists? armed with long sticks, iron rods, bludgeons and sharp weapons parading the city all over with League flags. Any shop that was even partially open was immediately stoned and the shopkeepers belaboured. Vehicular traffic was forcibly stopped and the passengers beaten up. Sikh taxi-drivers were a special target and even lone cyclists did not escape. Any resistance merely increased the fury of the ?peaceful processionists,? looted shops, cracked heads and stab-wounds being the reply given to protests or remonstrances. Police were significantly inactive, indeed the city was totally innocent of police protection.

Soon the city was ablaze from North to South and from East to West. The telephone wires were jammed with frantic appeals for police-aid from Hindus of all sections of the city, but these appeals were disregarded in toto. Even where by chance there were some police, they seldom did lift a finger, excepting in certain instances where they bestirred themselves in gleaning some loot. In some cases the police present are alleged to have said that they had orders not to interfere in such political demonstrations.

Mass butchery started with the early dawn of Saturday, while loot and arson spread like wild fire all over the city. The police had let the situation deteriorate till it was completely out of control and yet military aid was not called for. The carnage continued for two more days until the military took matters entirely into their own hands and very large forces were employed in penetrating deep over a widespread area. The situation was brought under control only after the direction and control of affairs relating to law and order had virtually passed out of the hands of the League Minister-in-charge of Law and Order, Mr. H.S. Suhrawardy, and his henchmen in officialdom.

Iconoclasm is a face of barbarism in the name of God. Which divine likes or dislikes icons or idols is a matter of opinion based on imagination or inculcation. But one thing is certain, for anyone to impose one opinion or the other is inhuman. My God is supreme as the Ten Commandments ordain in the Old Testament. My God is the only god and there can be no other god, the holy Quran contends. Both are wrong. Simply because there flourished civilisations for long before the holy Bible was penned and well before Prophet Muhammad had his visions, which means that either there are other Gods or there is no god.

God or no god, it is desirable for men and women to switch off from the material and to pray or meditate about the spiritual. To enable ordinary people to focus on the spiritual, it is useful to provide icons, idols or walls. A Hindu idol, a Parsee fire, a crucifix over an altar for the Christian or a mimbar for the Muslim are helpful. For a mimbar to claim that it is sacred but an idol is profane deserving to be destroyed, is patently wrong. Similarly for an Imam to feel fulfilled because a temple or a church has been desecrated is reprehensible. For him to worship in a mandir so converted to a masjid is more immoral.

Ignorant scholars often dismiss iconoclasm as being medieval; no point in wasting discussion on what happened centuries ago. If that be so, what is the need for pursuit of history which is always about centuries past. Medieval history is not myth. Iconoclasm is equally contemporary. A Buddha statue was destroyed at Swat in Pakistan as recently as September 2007 (red letters). The tragic fate of the Bamiyan Buddhas as late as 2001 is well known. The 20th century especially in its latter half has witnessed hundreds of desecrations. Unless the perpetrators are punished or retaliatory action taken, this barbarism will continue to prevail.

The biggest on going crime is terrorism. Since October 2001, post 9/11, there have been 13 major bomb blasts in India which have butchered hundreds of innocent people, women, children, ordinary citizens et al. The officially reported figures are low because they are announced soon after the incident and can only be based on dead bodies found. Those that are not recorded are not taken into account. What is shameful is that the acts of terrorism are seldom condemned by Muslim leaders probably because they are looked upon as episodes in jihad. How can anything sacred be condemned?

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