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December 30, 2007
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December 30, 2007

Page: 33/45

Home > 2007 Issues > December 30, 2007

The Moving Finger Writes

Secular hypocrisy

By M.V. Kamath

Consider this: A barbarian from Central Asia invades India and sets up his rule in the northern part of the country, including Ayodhya, a city holy for Hindus because of its close association with Shri Ram. There existed in the city a temple?among others?built on the site where Shri Ram was born, which attracted worshipful thousands. History has recorded that that temple was demolished by one of Babar?s generals, who then proceeded to set up a masjid at the very spot, no doubt to send a message to the locals that Islamic rule had come to stay and let everyone beware.

By 1875 that masjid had practically become redundant. The Hindus had never forgotten what it stood for and when the British established their sovereignity over India, Hindus started demanding the return of the temple site as rightfully belonging to them. The British did not want to disturb communal order and refused to let Hindus regain their heritage. In the 1990s the Hindus once again sought possession of what they considered was their legitimate property but the so-called secular government was reluctant to concede the demand on the theory that it is wise to let the past bury its dead. The controversy escalated to the point that some enraged people demolished the disputed structure. Secularists raised a hue and cry and in their eyes the BJP which stood for the resurrection of the Ram temple became an instant target of abuse.

Now consider this: Malaysia was once rule by British imperialists who, in the years following 1800 brought Indian, mainly Hindu ?indentured? labour in their thousands to work in the rubber estates in the country. Understandably, these workers multiplied. The British left Malaysia in the mid-20th century, leaving the descendants of such ?indentured? labour as Malaysia?s entitled citizens. Malaysia thus became the permanent home to 17.6 lakh Hindus, forming 8 per cent of the country?s population. The Indians?mostly Hindus?did not go to Malaysia as conquerors. They went there literally as bonded slaves. But over time they became free, decided to stay on and make Malaysia their natural home having substantially contributed through their labour the prosperity of the land. They did not destroy any masjid. They did nothing illegal. Indeed, linguistically they were not even one, considering that among the Indians were Tamilians, Malayalis and Punjabis. But they were in a tiny minority and allegedly, the majority Muslim population gave them no chance to prosper.

Presently ethnic Indians own less than 2 per cent of Malaysia?s national wealth. In 2003, they made for 14 per cent of juvenile delinquents, 41 per cent of beggars and a mere 5 per cent of university applicants. The majority Muslims reportedly discriminated against them for no fault of their own. The Constitution of Malaysia, according to reports, explicitly discriminates against the Hindu minority. Racism, it is charged, has been the prevalent sentiment and Indians have long been fuming at it. What has come as a shock in recent times is the large-scale demolition of temples, many of them pulled down even when Hindu devotees were in the very act of prayer!

Unlike the so-called Babri Masjid in Ayodhya which had been out of service for long, the Malaysian Hindu temples were alive in worship when they were being pulled down, the latest being the Mariamma Temple in central Selangor district which is hardly four decades old but was torn down in November when people were offering prayers. According to P. Uthayakumar, a Hindu leader, in the last year and a half, on an average, one temple has been brought down every three weeks. According to another source, as many as 79 temples have so far been demolished and there has been not a squeak from any quarter in the world. Indian secularists have been remarkably silent on this score. So have Indian Muslims. Live temples apparently can be demolished but not a dead masjid. The latter act would be dastardly communalism.

What is interesting is that hardly anyone in India or, for that matter, anyone anywhere in the world was aware of the insensitivity shown by Malay Muslims and one has to blame the international news agencies?should we name them??for suppression of news. The media blackout has been total. When Karunanidhi raised his voice against this apparent racial hatred shown by those in Malaysian authority, he was unceremoniously asked to shut up. The Government of India itself was told in no uncertain terms that the Indians in Malaysia were Malaysian citizens and were subject to Malaysian laws, which should be of no concern to India.

The large-scale demolition of temples has not been denied by Malaysian authorities. Indeed, Mohammad Nazri Abdul Aziz, an official in the Malaysian Prime Minister?s Office has been quoted as saying that it was ?stupid? of Malaysian officials ?not to think about looking into sensitive matters? such as temple demolition. There was no expression of remorse or apology, merely a statement that what had happened ?could have been done in a better way?. It took a mass rally of over 8,000 Hindus to mark their protest of the media to wake up. But we have not heard from our secularists in India or from Indian Muslim mullahs.

One must remember in this connection what a furore was raised when a minor masjid in Baroda had to be displaced to make way for the widening of a road. The Gujarat Chief Minister was damned and the Gujarat administration was condemned in no small measure. No ?official? figures are available of the number of temples or shrines demolished in Malaysia, and the reasons thereof.

The Government of India sounds as if it is scared. The Congress Party was busy electioneering in Gujarat and is still unconcerned about event in Malaysia. Does anybody care? Does the Human Rights Commission? Does the United Nations? According to knowledgeable sources, Malaysian Hindus live in a society that judges, rewards and punishes on purely race-based motives and under a political system ?that thrives on division and uses the threat of discord as a means of ensuring silent acquiescence?. According to one source, masjids are torn down in Muslim countries almost regularly for reasons of land development, and are not considered holy, an approach applied to Hindu shrines with equal disregard. If masjids are not holy, then what was the reason for condemning the Babri masjid demolition that was offensive to Hindu sentiments, in the first place? Perhaps our secularists will provide an answer. They always have excuses.

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