Pseudo-secular activists and politicians are raising questions about the Jamia shootout to shroud the facts they are afraid of facing, writes Ravi Shanker Kapoor
In the wake of the September 18 Jamia shoot out, every grandee of the liberal Establishment has fallen in love with the enterprise of asking questions.
Now, there is nothing wrong in asking questions. In fact, philosophy begins with queries. The boy Moolshanker would never have become Swami Dayanand Saraswati had he not raised fundamental questions. As Paul Tillich wrote, ?Being religious means asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt.?
In his seminal work, The Problems of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell summed up the discourse in these words, ?Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers, to its questions since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves, because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of the union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.?
But we digress?from the disgraceful to the sublime. For the people who are raising all sorts of questions about the encounter have nothing to do with philosophy or the enrichment of ?intellectual imagination?; they are throwing up questions not to diminish any ?dogmatic assurance?; they are doing this just to perpetuate and disseminate their own dogmas. At this moment, their biggest dogma is: The Jamia encounter was fake. Therefore, as prominent journalist MJ Akbar recently wrote, ?There are questions galore.?
And he inundates his readers with questions so that somehow they could divert their attention from the crucial fact that Jamia is indeed a hotbed of fundamentalism. Akbar wrote, ?We do not know the full truth, but there is enough that is murky in the events of September 19 when Delhi police surrounded and killed two students of Jamia at Batla House, while two others apparently escaped. There are questions galore, not least being the manner of the ?escape?: if there was only one entrance, how could the two ?escape??… Did anyone see them in the daylit skyline??
He is not the only one trying to shroud facts with questionable questioning. Jamia Vice Chancellor Mushirul Hasan has also made a covenant with mendacity. He said, ?We are completely secular.? But the experience of former Union Minister Arif Mohammad Khan is quite different. He wrote in The Indian Express (October 1), ?During the war in Afghanistan, public expressions of solidarity with Osama bin Laden were made and posters in his support were pasted in the area by some self-appointed champions of Muslim interests. This was done despite the knowledge that Osama and Al-Qaeda were directly involved in Terror activities in Kashmir.?
But our liberals continue to ask questions. Vir Sanghvi wrote in Hindustan Times (October 5), ?I mourn the death of Inspector Sharma but the official story of the circumstances leading to his death simply does not add up. Even if you dismiss eye-witness accounts as being biased, there are too many anomalies: why does Inspector Sharma not have the bullet wounds that were supposed to have killed him in pictures taken after the shooting? Why was he shot from the back at close quarters if he died in a gun battle? Where are the bullets that killed him? How did two ?terrorists? escape when there was no way for them to have got away??
Then there are human rights groups who religiously question any police action. Head Constable Balwant Rana, who was injured in the September 18 shoot out, said, ?Those who don'twant to believe the encounter was real will not believe even if 10 of us die. It was just fate that MC Sharma did not survive.?
Rana is not a political analyst but he hit the nail on its head by underlining the self-righteousness and dogmatism of questioners: they do not want correct answers to establish the truth; they want to make queries so that they could peddle their own lies.
It is not just the media stars who are raising questions. Even the Congress leaders have caught the contagion. All India Congress Committee general secretary Digvijay Singh said that ?questions have been raised which have to be addressed.? He said this even though he acknowledged that this matter was ?too sensitive for the party to take a political stand? in the absence of complete facts.
But are the questioners really interested in facts? The answer is a big ?no.? They are asking questions not because they don'tknow the facts; they are asking because they want the facts to get buried in a flood of queries. This is an old technique. The anti-Semites in Europe and anti-Israelis in the Muslim world deny the existence of something as gigantic and indubitable as the Holocaust.
Our questioners are quite similar to the Holocaust deniers.
(The author works with The Political and Business Daily.)