Terror – can the State and the Parivar face the truth ?

 

Recent efforts to create a distinction of allegedly “secular” terrorists and “religious” terrorists are rubbish.  Terror is terror. Terrorists are terrorists. To categorize them as “secular” terrorists and “religious” terrorists is to create an artificial dichotomy of two types of terror – one allegedly secular or nationalist and therefore acceptable or less condemnable, the other religious therefore unacceptable or more condemnable.

 This is actually stupid à once you cross the line and make some or a certain type of terror acceptable, then it is just a matter of what type that can vary.  The acceptability is taken as given value.  An illegitimacy, instead of being condemned, is, subject to circumstances, accorded the status of a legitimised action !

The terrorist is a person who uses terror as a tactic, and that is all. The tool  or means the terrorist employs can be a bomb, a uniform, a robe, or sheer numbers. The terrorist who explodes a device is no less a criminal than one who inflicts terror using other weapons à a mob, a uniform, a statute, anything.  They are all à  the bomb planter; à  the marauding mobs raping women, murdering hundreds, destroying and burning places of worship; à  the policemen who kidnap and torture innocents, fabricate evidence, or kill people in fake encounters; à  the politicians who through illegal use of statutory provisions give expression to their communal bias and vengefully retaliate for imagined abuses of 800 years ago à  the advocates assaulting other advocates to prevent them from defending an accused in Courts à they are all terrorists, make no mistake.  Falsely, people have come to think if two persons do something it is an act of terror, and if two thousand do it, it is a riot.  Both are actually terrorist acts, in the one case involving two terrorists, in another involving two thousand.  The second is actually worse, for it is accompanies not by the hiding that the numerically insignificant terrorists resort to, but by aggressive posturing, slogan mongering, intimidating acknowledgements and actual threats of more to come.  The State sleeps.

Projecting an ostensibly “fair” assessment, self-styled analysts and slant-affected spokesmen pronounce a grand verdict : “most Muslims are not terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims” !  This has an immediate appeal because of certain things it fallaciously and misleadingly attributes to those making the pronouncements, and is a devious misuse of the psychology of deductive logic and defective epistemology à these misleading fallacies are :

(i) they are fair enough not to say all Muslims are terrorists, therefore they must be fair persons, and therefore their assessment would not suffer from either bias or prejudice;

(ii) they are making an objective assessment based on data that is known to all from press and media coverage across the country, therefore they are not saying things referable to any agenda;

(iii) it is a fact that Muslims are what all arrested terrorists are known to be, therefore there is something wrong with Islam which makes its adherents alone take to terrorist acts;

(iv) “pseudo-secularists” talk of human rights only of the “perpetrators of terror”, and take no notice of the human rights of the victims of terror; therefore (a) they are pseudo-secular”, (b) they are affected by wrong thinking that places a premium on rights of perpetrators of terror rather than rights of victims of terror.

All four propositions are actually absolute communal rubbish. Here is why.

How many Muslims have been arrested under terror related laws so far ?  Thousands.  What does that prove ?  Only that the state agencies responsible for responding, have a strong tendency to suspect Muslims, and carry out witch-hunts.

How many Muslims have been convicted under terror related laws so far ?  Only a few.  What does that prove ?  This, that the state agencies responsible for responding, have been mistaken in their effort to suspect Muslims.

This also shows the focus on Muslims to be faulty, and as a result-seeking exercise, unproductive.  Had it been unproductive, things could have been left to set themselves right sooner or later. But it goes beyond that. It is counter-productive.  Let’s see :

How many Muslims have been tortured in custody on alleged suspicion of terror related offences ?  Hundreds.  What does that prove ?  This, that the state agencies responsible for responding, have an anti-human rights, anti-Muslim mindset, are communal, and are also confident that so long as the subjects of their torture are Muslims, they are protected from adverse action by any legal machinery of the State.

This means that hundreds of persons, ordinary law abiding citizens, have been denied freedom, incarcerated, abused, their family life, social life, academic life, businesses, reputations, health, mental equanimity, all destroyed, and then they are let loose without a thought as to either compensation or rehabilitative schemes.  With no money, no job, crippled in health, bitter in mind, angry at the way they have been treated, frustrated at not having any hope, where do they go ?  A polarised society is a guaranteed fall-out of the situation.  Not having any central leadership, a drift sets in that seeks the least effort-oriented expression.

How many non-Muslims have been arrested, charged or convicted under terror related laws so far ?  Hardly any.  What does that prove ?  This, that the state agencies responsible for responding, have a strong tendency to start with the premise that the non-Muslim is free from blame, do not really investigate aspects which suggest culpability of the non-Muslim, continue their anti-human rights, anti-Muslim witch-hunts.  This, that the state agencies responsible do not find real culprits, and those comprising malevolent mobs of hundreds and thousands who are actually terrorists, burning, pillaging, raping, murdering, intimidating, all presently roam free, putting innocents at continued risk.

Do we stop at seeing what is happening, or do we also take into consideration who is causing it to happen ?  Exit the capable state.  Enter the culpable state.

There is a power vested in the judiciary, meant to be exercised suo motu – of its own motion, without necessity for anything to be filed before it as a formal complaint.  What happened to that salutary power ?  What happened to the judges who deemed fit to exercise that power ?  When power vested for use is, despite its need being perceived, not used, it is referred to as dereliction of duty.  If there is such perception, and power lies unused, can it be said the judiciary is also guilty ?  If the very basis, that is, the perception of need, is absent, it can mean : either that there was no need to act, the perception being correct, or that the capacity or willingness to perceive correctly is itself on vacation.

There is another issue this last aspect raises : if the allegations of anti-Muslim bias are true, why does the community not bring the issues before the Courts ?  One answer is provided by the results of many habeas corpus writ petition results in recent times : person found, petition closed.  No inquiry into the allegations of illegal detention ?  None into the kidnappings, actually, the holding at farmhouses, the torture, the anti-Islam abuses ?  Message to citizen abused ?  No point in making a fuss.  Message to terror inflicting criminal policeman ?  Don’t worry, you won’t have to answer inconvenient questions.

Another issue : who is more in need of judicial activism : the one who has the wherewithal to bring issues to the forum and agitate for his rights, or the one who perceives himself as so low in the scheme of things that he does not even have that voice ?  Can the stand (excuse actually) that the complaints have not been filed before courts by adversely affected persons be used as a shield or a cloak by a court which is asked to exercise its plenary power of acting suo motu ?

Capable, incapable, or culpable ?

Now, are most terrorists Muslims ?  No.  They are Hindu.  Basis for the statement ?  Across the country, 15 Muslims are alleged to be involved in planting bombs. Its an allegation.  Not yet proved.  No evidence exists, except confessions, extracted under torture, therefore incredible and suspect.

In contrast, the Bajrang Dal leadership admits that murderous rampaging mobs that attacked Christians in a wave of terror attacks were its members, all naturally Hindu.  Thousands of terrorists, all Hindu.

Also in contrast, the Gujarat CM admits that murderous rampaging mobs that attacked Muslims in a wave of terror attacks were “the people of Gujarat” to whom he had given (abdicated, actually) “the right to do justice” (read the power to murder, rape, burn, loot), all of them targeting Muslims therefore in that situation naturally Hindu.  Thousands of terrorists, all Hindu.

Take Delhi, 1984.  Or any other, any time.  Hindu, every time, and in the thousands at that.

So which community has most terrorists ?  Shall non-Hindus sit back smugly and pronounce condescendingly “all Hindus are not terrorists, but most terrorists are Hindus” ?

Shall non-Hindus sit back smugly and pronounce condescendingly “since most terrorists are Hindus, there must be something seriously wrong with Hinduism which makes thousands of its adherents alone take to terrorist acts” ?

The fact that we don’t is testimony to the fact that unlike the few demons in the media that demonise us, we do not subscribe to false impressions, do not lose a sense of balance, a sense of proportion, when faced with a crisis situation.  We retain our national identity as we do our Islamic identity, and we speak the language of inclusive dialogue, not adopting the opposition’s destructive, hate-based aggressive and divisive posturing.

Finally : the allegation that “pseudo-secularists” talk of human rights of the perpetrators of terror, and take no notice of the human rights of the victims of terror. The allegation is as usual clothed in misleading language à Someone calling me an angel does not cause me to grow wings. Nor does someone calling me a devil cause me to grow horns.  The perception of “pseudo” secularism is just the poison in the mind of the speaker, finding expression.  And who said they are “perpetrators of terror” ?  No court has said so, so far.  Human rights are recognized by the State, founded on constitutional and legal obligations, and therefore their violation by an instrumentality of state is unacceptable by any legal regime, and that is what we object to.  We equally condemn violation of human rights by anyone, but notice that by definition a terrorist is hardly expected to uphold human rights of his victims, so the action of the terrorist, condemnable as it is, is to be faulted on other grounds, moral and ideological, not the legal grounds of treaty-based, constitutional or legal obligations requiring States to observe and uphold human rights.  As usual, a close examination of the nonsense that is thrown around in talk shows by Muslim-baiters, is seen as so much hot air.

Conclusion : (i) their assessment is faulty, (ii) their speech is agenda-oriented, (iii) their accusation is to deflect the realisation that thousands of Hindu terrorists roam the country freely spreading poison, and it is time the basic inclusiveness and tolerance claimed of Hinduism must be re-examined and preserved to ensure that militant concepts alien to it are not engrafted onto it adversely impacting its pristine glory in a misdirected attempt to seek a militant aggressive ascendancy, causing something to be seen as wrong with Hinduism, and (iv) human rights are to be protected against violation by all – when the terrorist violates human rights, it is the State that steps in to protect them; when it is the State that violates them, to its lasting shame the burden is lifted by us citizens who are genuinely secular.

Seen as a malfeasant State, the ruling parties have a tough time seeking votes from those it acted against : minorities.  What is different about a State perceiving the need for action  and yet  choosing not to act ?  The non-feasing, inactive State ?  Has it not then aligned itself with the marauding mobs ?  We ask it to own up to the abetment.

Will the State please wake up ?

Jai Hind.
Shafeeq Rehman Mahajir,

Advocate, Hyderabad

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