By warning of “Hindu terror” at the Congress chintan shivir in Jaipur, Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde has stirred indignation in the BJP and in Hindu right-wing quarters. A Delhi resident has filed a defamation case against him for using a term linking terror to a religion, while the BJP has organised nationwide protests. Rajnath Singh, president-elect of the BJP, found the launchpad he needed: in his first statements as he got ready to lead the party, he tore into Shinde for targeting Hinduism. And Pakistan, as also the Lashkar-e-Toiba supremo Hafiz Saeed, have as usual pounced upon the opportunity and parleyed it to cause embarrassment to India (see main story) and to Shinde.
The unfortunate choice of words—some would call it a matter of habit with the minister—may have brought Shinde untold headaches, but his statement conveyed a firm intent to pursue cases of Hindu right-wing extremism. Here’s what he said: “We have got an investigation report that, be it the RSS or the BJP, their training camps are promoting Hindu terror. We’re keeping a strict vigil on all this. Bombs were planted on the Samjhauta Express, at the Mecca Masjid, and blasts were carried out in Malegaon. We will have to think about it seriously and will have to remain alert.”
In fact, the Congress’s soundbite warrior, Digvijay Singh, has been raising the issue of Hindu right-wing extremism since 2006. P. Chidambaram, too, had talked of it during his term as home minister. But according to sources, Shinde’s statement, faux pas notwithstanding, is backed by more stick: investigating agencies have been given the “political signal” to pursue cases of Hindu right-wing terror through a meeting between home secretary R.K. Singh and NIA chief A.K. Sinha. A key point discussed at the meeting was the possibility of implicating and interrogating Indresh Kumar, a top RSS funtionary, in cases of the Malegaon blasts (of 2006 and 2008), the Samjhauta Express blasts and the Mecca Masjid blasts in Hyderabad. However, Singh is learnt to have bought time to apprise Shinde before the NIA ferrets ahead. According to sources in the NIA, some suspects in those cases, such as Lokesh Kumar and Devender Gupta, have named Indresh Kumar, who might well be the “key mastermind”.
The blasts had been assumed to be the work of Islamist terror cells till the late Hemant Karkare, the Maharashtra ATS chief who died in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, followed a new line that led to right-wing Hindutva extremists. Some of these overlapping cases were investigated by the CBI, some by state agencies. It wasn’t until April 2011 that the NIA, created as a central agency to investigate terror cases especially, took over the cases. The outline for the investigation came from a confession Swami Aseemananda made in apparent contrition (but later retracted). The NIA’s findings, too, indicate that certain individuals linked directly or loosely to the Sangh parivar web may have resorted to extreme methods with the aim of either discrediting a minority or avenging Islamist terror attacks or achieving both ends. This also upturned the muddled investigations by state agencies that had led to the arrests of innocent Muslims.
This is a sensitive political issue for the government and such an investigation cannot proceed without a political go-ahead. The cases, ideally, should be investigated clinically. But which politician can help using such an issue to ratchet up the pressure on the opposition?
The insinuation in the report, Cases Full of Twists and Troubles (Feb 4, 2013), that the possibility of implicating and interrogating a top RSS functionary was discussed at a meeting between home secretary R.K. Singh and National Investigation Agency chief S.C. Sinha (not A.K. Sinha as mentioned in the report), is false and incorrect. Nor was any ‘political signal’ given to the NIA, as suggested by the report. The ministry of home affairs and the NIA strongly deny the insinuation and demand an apology “in person”.
The NIA is a professional investigating agency and any suggestion that it is working under political pressure is a slur on the agency and the government.
K.S. Dhatwalia, Addl DG (Media & Comm) Ministry of Home Affairs; Loknath Behera, IG, NIA, New Delhi
Toral Varia Deshpande responds: The NIA chief was asked about such a meeting at a press conference, when he replied that he could neither confirm nor deny it. I stand by my report. The possibility of interrogating the top RSS functionary was discussed not once but several times. The report nowhere suggested that the investigation was not being fair or that the NIA is an ‘unprofessional’ organisation. I am afraid the ministry is reading too much between the lines. All that the report meant was that the NIA was given the go-ahead to pursue the investigation fairly. I do, however, apologise for getting the NIA chief’s name wrong. That is an error I deeply regret.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
The problem is not that Shinde used the term "Hindu/Saffron" terror. It is that he made a specific allegation that RSS/BJP are running "training camps that promote terror."
If that is true, he should prosecute RSS/BJP. Lets see what he will have to show by end of his tenure.
This whole 'Hindu/Saffron Terror' issue is a lie and yet another act of muslim appeasement. Acts of terrorist violence committed by jehadi groups have been deliberately blamed on patriotic Hindus by the corrupt congress just to please their jehadi/pakistani bosses.
Oh My God!!! "Hindu Terror"?? All along we have been heraing from the Secular Liberal Intellectual Parrot Brigade, that "Terrorism has no Religion"!! What happened to that pet theory that it is Suddenly discarded?? How SECULAR!! Jai Ho
RSS has a violent ideology and the biggest fascist organization in the world.It has fomented riots that hae resulted in hudreds of thousands of lives being lost much more of the Muslims suffering.
It is well known that Mahtma Gandhi was assasinted by RSS and Vir Savarkar excaped the noose because to the RSS buracracy and Sardar Vallabhai Patel.With advent of JanSangh and BJP this has turned in to state terrorism where the perpatrators were RSS and the prosecusted were Muslims.Police,intelligence and the media largely controlled by RSS played its part.
Congress too played its role in keeping mum on this so that Muslims will be depndent on them.But if the RSS is not stopped then it is going to be the death knell for Congress.Unfortunately the same dishards are close to high command and are preventing the congress from taking a bold action and finally getting annihilated on their own intransigence.
I have no problem with anyone associating religion with terror. Just that we must be allowed to associate any religion with terror. This is where the cnogress fails.
Moreover, the number one internal security threat is Left wing terror and has been for the longest time.
The Maoists/naxalites are the number one threat. Good job ignoring them Outlook.
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