If Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is guilty of violation of human rights of religious minorities, as alleged by the US, so were Narasimha Rao, Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, D.P. Mishra, and Kamaraj. Why did the US, in its hypocrisy, choose to act against Modi, and never in the past against the others? There are several reasons for this.
One of them is that the Christian influence on US policy-making and its political leadership was not as strong in the past as it is today. Another is that till now, no Indian, whether living in India or in the US, has ever thought of seeking the intervention of the US to teach a lesson to another Indian whom they dislike strongly.
The Left lobby in India and the US, most of them known for their pro-terror stance, who cannot stand the sight of any party which seeks to articulate the feelings of Hindus and give them a sense of pride in their identity as Hindus are in the front attacking Modi. These sections vie with one another in visiting Islamabad and getting themselves photographed with President General Pervez Musharraf as a certificate of their secularism. Has any one of them ever condemned Musharraf for his murder of democracy or for the continuing massacre of Shias and Baluchis under his rule? Never. For them, Musharraf, or for that matter a Muslim or a Christian can do no wrong. All the wrongs in this part of the world are done only by the Hindus.
Christian fundamentalist organisations in the US played an important role in ensuring the re-election of President Bush and he owes them a political debt. They have made it appear that their action in demanding that Modi be barred from entry into the US was motivated by their outrage at the plight of Muslims in Gujarat. The real reason is their anger at his alleged action to prevent foreign Christian missionaries from indulging in proselytisation.
For the so-called secularists of India and of Indian origin in the US, Christian or Muslim fundamentalism is alright but Hindu assertiveness is a sin.
Those who opposed visa to Modi today are the same who supported the US invasion and occupation of Iraq; those who strongly opposed any action or even an inquiry against Rumsfeld and his senior officers for the gross violation of human rights of Iraqis; those who justified or rationalised the inhuman treatment of Muslims by the US in the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba; those who are supporting the call for a regime change in Iran.
One has to see the riot, which was provoked by the gruesome killing of a large number of Hindus at the Godhra railway station in Gujarat, in the proper perspective, without trying to rationalise the incident. We have had riots involving not only Hindus and Muslims, but also different castes among Hindus. When I was working as a sub-editor in the Madurai edition of the Indian Express in the late 1950s, hundreds of Harijans were massacred by their co-religionists belonging to the so-called upper castes. Many were burnt alive by the upper caste Hindus, with the police watching helplessly.
The late K. Kamaraj, one of the most distinguished leaders produced by the Congress party, was then the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. He came in for strong criticism initially for failing to protect the Harijans and subsequently for permitting the police to use ruthless force to put down the rioters.
In the early 1960s, following rumours of the molestation of a Hindu girl by a Muslim boy in Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, violent Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in the city that lasted for days. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Muslims were killed by rioting Hindu mobs. I joined the state as a young assistant superintendent of police a few months after the riots and was posted in Jabalpur for training. My junior police officers, who took me round the town, told me it took them days to remove the dead bodies of Muslims which had clogged the town'sdrainage system.
When the police could not control the violence, Nehru himself flew to Jabalpur and camped there to supervise the handling of the situation. He as well as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Dwarka Prasad Mishra, came in for criticism for failing to prevent the riots
In the mid-1960s there were widespread anti-Hindu riots in then East Pakistan. Hundreds of Hindus were massacred, young girls were raped and their breasts cut off by rioting Muslims. This led to an exodus of Hindus into West Bengal. Nehru decided to re-settle the refugees in a special camp called Dandakaranya created for them in the Bastar district of Madhya Pradesh.
The refugees were moved by special trains from Kolkata to Raipur in Madhya Pradesh.
In 1984, after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, there was an outbreak of anti-Sikh riots in Delhi which continued for two or three days before the police acted against the rioters, many of them belonging to the Congress party.
The destruction of the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh by a Hindu mob in December 1992 led to widespread riots by Muslims in and around Delhi and in Mumbai. Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao of the Congress party was strongly criticised for failing to protect the mosque and not preventing the subsequent riots. But, it would not have occurred to any of us to seek the assistance of a foreign power to teach him a lesson.
Ever since the Gujarat riots of 2002, Modi has been the target of a campaign of criticism and condemnation by many sections of Indian civil society for failing to protect the Muslims and for exacerbating the situation through his oratory.
How does one judge whether the police acted firmly or not in the riots between members of two religious communities? From the number of people killed in police firing, it was reported that more Hindus died from police bullets during the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002 than during the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in 1994 and during the anti-Muslim riots in Madhya Pradesh in the 1960s.
These are the elements which are closest to the US Administration, and their intervention against Modi at the urging of the so-called secularists, led to the humiliation of an Indian by the US at the instance of other Indians. They have not so far been able to succeed in their attempts to drive him out of power in Gujarat. So they sought America'sintervention.
Have they taken their case to a foreign government or court to teach him a lesson? No. And they never will. They would consider it unpatriotic. Not in India and among sections of Indians abroad. If one Indian stabs another Indian in the back with the help of a foreign power, he is considered a progressive, a liberal, a secularist.