Ever since the Mumbai serial bombing trial came to a conclusion, there is a concerted attempt on the part of the ?secular? crowd to divert attention and find justification for the series of bomb attacks in 1993 that killed over 287 people. It'san interesting situation: the ?secularists? while condemning the ghastly crime are busy sympathizing not with the victims but with those who mastermind and executed the macbre drama.
At first the focus was all on actor Sanjay Dutt. The media attention Dutt got due to his celebrity status also was an occasion for outpouring of sympathy for him. The sentence against him of a six-year rigorous imprisonment has been condemned as too harsh and even the finding of Judge Kode that Dutt is guilty under the Arms Act has been decried as not tenable.
The outpouring for Dutt was only a camouflage. Within days has come many political commentators? attack on the trial and sentencing of all the others too. The ?secular? crowd wants us to believe that the serial bombings were after all the result of inaction on the riots that preceded it in which many Muslims were killed. One editor turned columnist writes: ?Let'spause to consider whether the next time a bomb goes off in Bombay we should blame Osama bin Laden or whether we should consider our own failure to provide justice to those whose families, homes and lives were destroyed in the Bombay riots.?
Yet another so called ?secularist? goes into a hype over the sentencing of the guilty, which happen mainly to be Muslims, in the Mumbai bombings trial followed by the Coimbatore serial bombings trial. She is particular to note the number of Muslims involved and sentenced in both the trials. ?Muslim after Muslim has stepped up to be convicted and sentenced,? she writes. Then adds: ? Soon Indian jails will be choc-a-block with Muslims.? This columnist does not stop at that. She invokes the sufferings of the ?mothers and brothers? of the convicted. She warns that the country is getting smothered under the ?toxic cloud of silence? over the sufferings of so many (mothers and brothers).
Let us come to the facts first. The impression sought to be rubbed in by the so called ?secularists? that it is only Muslims who are suspected and only they who are convicted flies in the face of facts. Even as the Mumbai bombing trial scene was ending, the sessions court in Bhagalpur had sentenced a number of Hindus for the riots in that town back in 1988. That trial also was prolonged and heavy sentences have been pronounced. The long delay in such trials is deplorable but it could also be seen as giving adequate opportunity to the accused to defend themselves. At least things are not being done in a hurry.
Those who are seeing an anti-Muslim twist in the Mumbai bombings and Coimbatore serial blasts cases are deliberately faking the facts. No one has been arraigned because he was a Muslim. That those who have been accused and convicted happen to be mainly Muslims is because the communal linkages that draws in people of one community (in the Bhagalpur case it was the Hindus who were convicted) in a pre-meditated group violence. The trials about riots are still going on in Gujarat and those in the docks are mostly Hindus. It would be absurd to claim that they are all in the dock because they are all Hindus. Even more absurd to go poetic over these trials. If tomorrow all the accused in Gujarat trials are convicted should we say that the jails of Gujarat would be filled with Hindus and the people would merely watch this in silence??
Justifying serial bombings because the earlier communal riot has gone unpunished would be justifying murder because there was some dispute preceding it. The bombings and the riots are two different things. What the Mumbai bombings trial brought out was the involvement of a Mumbai based underground criminal net-work that was engaged in extortion and other crimes and had found a safe haven in Pakistan. The D-company that was behind the bombings existed many years before the 1993 communal riots in Mumbai.
The bombings were made possible because huge quantities of RDX and arms were brought in by the D-company with active collaboration with Pakistani ISI?a fact that is at the heart of the convictions. How far this Mumbai underground was involved with the film industry and what influence it had was also revealed in this trial that brought out how Sanjay Dutt got hold of the prized AK-57 rifles. The fact that the leaders of the bombings escaped into Pakistan immediately after arranging the killings reveals a lot behind the bombings.
To claim that the bombings were ?revenge? against the non-prosecution of the rioters is a travesty of fact. In any case it was a Congress government that was in power at that time. The Sena-BJP government came to power much later. There has been a Congress government afterwards for the last seven years anyway?enough time for it to take action on the rioters as per the findings of the Sri Krishna Commission.
Besides, whether the rioters would be punished or not would have been known only after investigation and framing of charges but the bombings took place soon after the riots. Factually also, the riots in which Sena leaders are arraigned themselves came after another riot in Mumbai that followed the Babri incident, in which the Hindus were the victims. No one can claim that one riot justified the other. But that is what the so called secular crowd does.
To justify the bombings by holding up inaction on riots is a convoluted exercise in sophistry. Action in all riots cases has been very difficult as convincing proof is not easy to obtain. This has been brought out in the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi where three commissions had probed the events and it took 20 years to frame charges at least against a few. Even after five governments came and went, the victims of the anti-Sikh riots have not all been compensated. The systemic problem cannot be seen in a communal light.
The ?secular? brigade refuses to recognise the danger of terrorism, the pan-Islamic cloud of jehadi enticement and the spreading virus of sick minds that hold that God had ordained them to shove their religion down the throats of unwilling others. The fact that such attacks have Islamic theological under pinning is sought be ignored. One contribution of the ?secularists? in the Independent India is that no debate has been possible on the various facets of Islamic theology. Any attempt to discuss the issues related to Islamic ideology are termed as ?anti-Islamic? aimed as weakening the secular fabric of the country? and treated as blasphemy.
It is also obvious that the so-called secular crowd glosses over the more recent Mumbai serial train blasts. If the bombings of 1993 in Mumbai was a (justified according to the ?secularists?) revenge against the inaction over the riots earlier, what justification or even excuse they have for the Mumbai train blasts? Extending this ?cause and effect? logic; what should the Hindus do? For the massacre in Akshardham temple? For the attack on Parliament House?? For the attempted mass killing of Indian scientists in IISc meeting in Bangalore? What would have been the consequence if the attack on Parliament House had succeeded? What would have been the impact if the Coimbatore serial blasts had succeeded in their target while the country was just in the throes of the general elections? If instead of one, fifty scientists had died in the Bangalore attack? No civil society can accept the sick logic of retribution and condone mindless violence against the innocent.
Sagarika Ghosh in The Hindustan Times could cry over the tears of the ?mothers and brothers? of the attackers, as if the victims whether the securitymen in Parliament House or the scientist in Bangalore or the 187 dead in Mumbai train blasts, had no ?mothers and brothers?! May be the next time similar blasts occur we must apologise to the attackers and their families and the country should wear sack clothes and ashes and appeal to them to give us more blasts and more bombings so that there would be adequate revenge for all the alleged killings of some Muslims in a riot or two.
But the sentiments of the so-called secular columnists are not just empty rantings in the air. The government of the day has become a victim of the spreading virus of this attitude?if it is a Muslim, don'tfollow up the trail against any terror attacks. That is why the trial of the Mumbai train bombings has gone cold. That is why the perpetrators of the Bangalore attacks on scientists have been terminated at the Nalgonda village. Now they are trying to generate public sympathy for the 150 and odd people found guilty by Justice Kode and the similar number found guilty in Coimbatore creating the miasma that they are being punished just because they are Muslims. Could there be more perverse logic?
One columnist has gone to the extent of saying that trying so many people the judge could have lost his of rational thinking. Does she want that these accused should have been tried in two or three batches by three different courts? Or is she driving to establish that merely because so many people were tried at the same time and all of them were Muslims, the entire trial is vitiated by bias?
Lastly, the Sanjay Dutt event also throws much light on the way public is sought to be misled on such issues. The so called ?secular? crowd had raised a hue and cry that the Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru did not get a ?fair trial? though his trial went up to the Supreme Court twice. But in the case of Dutt, not even this fig leaf is available. Dutt had all the money and influence to get the best legal talent to defend him but the defense could not establish any innocence on his part.
It is a sign of the distorted values of the so called secular crowd that it is baying at the accused in the BMW case in Delhi where the prosecution case is that the accused teenagers were driving the car under the influence of liquor when they mowed down some people, while it is seeking to rescue Dutt, a full adult though it is evident that he bought from the tainted sources illegal and dangerous arms and kept them with him in full knowledge of what he was doing. The Nanda boys may be guilty of rash action (and should be punished if proved guity) but at least they could plead that there was no deliberation to kill on their part while Dutt'sdeliberation is quite evident. It is no wonder that the same crowd is now rushing to defend the other guilty men and women by raising the bogey of anti-Muslim bias in their prosecution.
(The writer is senior columnist, Al India Secretary, BJP and former MP and can be contacted at [email protected])