History is witness to the fact that it has been Congress which continues to sow the seeds of religious hatred but it is RSS which reaps the harvest always. Which of these two should be adjudged as the real Hindutva force only time will tell.
PROF SHAMSUL ISLAM | Caravan Daily
RSS as a master communal polarizer has been working overtime since Independence for creating a nation-wide atmosphere of hatred against minorities specially Muslims and Christians in order to unsettle democratic-secular Indian polity. Sadly, it has often succeeded in its anti-national nasty project by the use of venomous propaganda on fabricated issues like conversions (Christian organizations converting Hindus and soon India would turn into ‘Padristan’), cow (slaughter of cow started after arrival of Muslims in India)[i], Vande Mataram (if Muslims want to live in India, they will have to chant Vande Mataram), Ram temple at Ayodhya (fight between Ram-zade and Babar-zade) and Muslim appeasement (Muslims who constitute 13-14% of the national population being pampered at the cost of 80% Hindus).
Denationalization of Indians in Assam
RSS and its political appendage, BJP, has found the issue of citizenship in Assam another god-sent opportunity to hype its anti-Muslim rhetoric. With the release of the draft (on July 30, 2018) of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) 40,07,707 people in Assam, more than 10 per cent of the state’s population, have been identified as non-citizens, RSS/BJP leaders are congratulating themselves for locating “ghuspethiye” or “infiltrators”. Amit Shah declared all of them as Bangladeshis. The BJP president, a senior RSS ideologue declared both in Parliament and outside that these “ghuspethiye” in Assam were “damaging the national security of this country”. Soon the RSS/BJP leaders started demanding the identification of “ghuspethiye” in other States also. Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria called upon all Indian States to follow Assam’s example in finding “traitors”. They did not leave anybody in doubt that the credentials of Indian citizens with Muslims names should be scrutinized. These Hindutva zealots skipped to confront the inconvenient fact that a large number of those who did not find mention in the NCR happened to be Hindus.
This was being attempted despite the fact that the main official behind the exercise of locating doubtful citizens in Assam, who was also the in-charge of preparing NRC draft made it very clear that “No, we can’t say all these 40 lakh are ghuspethiye.” Prateek Hajela, the Supreme Court-appointed coordinator for the exercise termed such descriptions as “too premature” and said that all the 40,07,707 people left out of the “complete draft” cannot be clubbed under that description, or as illegal migrants, merely on the basis of the register which was only a draft. Hajela acknowledging that “there could be errors” in finalising the draft NRC, as it is a “manual process” and all those who did not figure in the draft list would have the opportunity to “object to any entry”. He made it clear that “These people will get another chance to prove their credentials. Then we will come out with a final NRC. The NRC process will be over then. Even after that, whether a person is an illegal migrant or not is something that can be decided only by judicial scrutiny and that is through a certain set of codes, which has been established in Assam…called the Foreigners Tribunal”.
The bogey of infiltrators continues to be echoed in the corridors of power despite the fact that the highest court of justice of India, the Supreme Court, made it clear that “the Assam citizenship list is only a draft and no action would be taken on its basis” and reiterated the fact that “fair procedure will be used to settle all claims and objections”. Even the chief of the Election Commission of India, OP Rawat made it clear that those left out of a new list of citizens in Assam “need not worry” for now; they can vote if their names are on the electoral rolls and they meet all other conditions.
NCR has been ‘Congress baby’
It may be interesting to know that Amit Shah’s allegation that Congress supported infiltration from Bangladesh and used these infiltrators for ‘vote-bank’ politics is not based on historical facts. This polarizing issue was gifted by the Congress PM, Rajiv Gandhi to the Nation. The process of identifying the ‘infiltrators’ in Assam started with the Assam Accord of 1985. The Assam Accord was an agreement between Government of India represented by RD Pradhan, Home Secretary, Central Government, PP Trivedi, Chief Secretary, Government of Assam and non-state players Prafulla Kumar Mahanta (president All Assam Students Union), Bhrigu Kumar Phukan (general secretary AASU) Biraj Sharma (general secretary All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad) in the presence of the then PM Rajiv Gandhi. It is often known as Rajiv Gandhi Assam Accord.
Tarun Gogoi, the former Congress chief minister of Assam (2001-16) was honest enough to admit that NCR was “our (Congress) baby”. Eulogizing the Assam Accord entered by Rajiv Gandhi he said that “It is our baby. It is my baby. And it [process of identifying the foreigners] was started during Manmohan Singhji’s time”.[ii]
Under this Accord only those people who could prove to be on the electoral rolls of Assam prior to 24 March, 1971, or those who could prove to have ancestors in those electoral rolls prior to 24 March, 1971 were eligible to be in the updated NRC. The shocking part of this agreement was that “unlike international conventions on establishing citizenship, the burden of proof rests with the NRC applicant. To be registered in the list, people have to prove that they are descendants of Indian citizens by providing documents dating back to 1951 or 1971. That is an onerous pre-condition in a country with a none-too-good record of maintaining documents”.[iii]
Rajiv Gandhi Assam Accord let the bitchers of Nellie massacre get off scot free
The Rajiv Gandhi Assam Accord did not open the floodgates of ethnic/communal witch-hunting but also buried finally the issue of culpability of the perpetrators of one of the worst post-World War II massacre known as Nellie Massacre in Assam. It was 6 hour period in the morning of February 18, 1983, that around 10, 000 (officially 2191) Bengali speaking Muslims, including large number of women and children, were butchered in an area of 14 villages of Nagaon district. After the world-wide furor the then Hiteswar Saikia Congress Government of Assam constituted Tiwari Commission to investigate the Massacre. This Commission submitted its report in 1984. The report is yet to be made public!
Police filed 688 criminal cases, of which 378 cases were closed due to “lack of evidence” and 310 cases were slated to be charged. However, all these cases were dropped by the government of Rajiv Gandhi as part of the 1985 Gandhi Assam Accord, destroying all records of the massacre.
Anti-Conversion laws gifted by Congress
The RSS bogey of India turning into a ‘Padristan’ or Christian State due to Christians converting poor Indians to Christianity is one of the most important issues of RSS agenda of communal polarization. Interestingly, the population of the Indian Christians despite 200 years of the ‘Christian’ rule has been declining. This bogey originated courtesy the Congress. It was the Congress government of MP which constituted a Commission known as Niyogi Commission for investigating the conversion activities of the Christian Missionaries in the State.
‘The Niyogi Committee Report On Christian Missionary Activities’ formulated stringent conditions on conversion from Hinduism, bothering least about Article 25 of the Indian Constitution which guarantees “freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion”. The Niyogi Commission recommendations were adopted as anti-conversion laws by most of the Congress governments. It soon became a war-cry of the RSS and its political appendages like Bhartiya Jan Sangh and BJP. It was this bogey on the basis of which common Christians, their religious/educational organizations were destroyed, looted specially in Gujarat, Orissa and MP. The burning of missionary Graham Steins and his two children (January 23, 1999), massacre of Christians, burning of churches, rapes of nuns (2008-9) in Orissa were all justified in the name of stopping conversions.
Vande Mataram pitted against Jana Gana Mana by Congress
India is one of those rare countries where despite a National Anthem with no religious connotations we also have a Hindu religion loaded National Song. This Song penned by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee was, in fact, in praise of Bengal which was translated into English by Aurobindo Ghosh as ‘Anthem of Bengal’. It symbolized Mother India as Durga, the Hindu goddess. The singing of this Song has been regularly used by the RSS gang to attack Indian Muslims by raising the war-cry, “iss desh maen rehna hae tau Vande Mataram kehna hoga [if you want to stay in this country you will have to chant Vande Mataram]”. It has been used as a lethal weapon to attack Muslims, their properties and institution. Interestingly, in the pre-Partition literature of the RSS, since its birth in 1925, there is no reference or record of RSS cadres singing this Song against the British. This controversy was given birth again by the Congress.
Rajendra Prasad, a front ranking Congress leader, while presiding over the Indian Constituent Assembly on 24 January 1950, suddenly came out with the following statement which was also adopted as the final decision on the issue: “…the song Vande Mataram, which has played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honoured equally with Jana Gana Mana and shall have equal status with it. I hope this will satisfy members.”[iv] Though Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Arya Samajis and Christians were also against equating Indian nationalism with Hindu symbols, this is Muslim community which remains on trial for this song. Muslims face the brunt of Hindutva aggression on this Song, despite the Supreme Court of India declaring that there was no national song of India as per the Constitution.[v] RSS got this favourite Muslim whipping issue due to the Congress.
Razing of Babri Mosque by the Hindutva gang Facilitated By Congress
The demand of the Hindutva fraternity led by RSS of constructing a Ram temple at the place of Babri mosque in Ayodhya (demolished by the Hindutva goons on December 6, 1992) has been the main cause of anti Muslim violence in India for last three decades. It provided RSS opportunity to become rulers of democratic-secular India. Interestingly, there is no record in the pre-Partition documents of the RSS that it ever launched a movement for Ram temple at Ayodhya during the British rule.
This issue was also the gift of Congress to the RSS. It was on the night of December 22-23, 1949 that idols of Ram and Sita were placed in the Babri mosque when a senior Congress leader, Govind Vallabh Pant was the chief minister and Lal Bahadur Shastri was the home minister of UP. They took no effective action to remove the idols and mosque was put under lock. Later Rajiv Gandhi (PM 1984-1989) got the lock opened, allowed Hindus to pray and finally allowed shila nayas placing of bricks for construction of the temple. He thought of reaping the harvest of Hindu vote-bank but it was RSS and other Hindutva organizations which became the main beneficiaries of the anti-Muslim politics of Congress.
Thus history is witness to the fact that it has been Congress which continues to sow the seeds of religious hatred but it is RSS which reaps the harvest always. Which of these two should be adjudged as the real Hindutva force only time will tell.
[i] It is a brazen lie never countered by the Congress. Please look at the link: https://www.sabrangindia.in/article/cow-hindutva-some-myths-facts
[iv] Constituent Assembly of India Debates, vol. XII, 24-1-1950
(Shamsul Islam is a retired Professor of University of Delhi. The views are personal and Caravan does not necessarily share or subscribe to them.)