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I don't like the term right wing terror, I prefer 'Hindutva' terror: Praveen Swami

Updated: February 8, 2013, 6:30 PM IST
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I don't like the term right wing terror, I prefer 'Hindutva' terror: Praveen Swami
Right wing terror: myth or reality?

India has long been a victim of jehadi terror but most of it has been sponsored from across the border. But the Samjhauta Express blast, the Hyderabad blasts, hate speeches by the likes of Togadia and disruption of art shows in the name of hurting religious sensibilities bring us to confront a bigger question? Has right wing terror come to stay in India? Analyst Praveen Swami shared his perspective in an interaction with IBNLive readers.

Q. How is Right Wing terror going to affect we minorities? Asked by: Ibrahim

A. Hi, thank you all for being here and posting your questions. Ibrahim, your question's first on my page, so I'll start with this one. It's a complex question, and I apologies for beginning with a caveat-I don't like the term right wing terror. I prefer the the term Hindutva terror, because, it describes what the perpetrators wanted-a Hindu state (just like Islamist terror, Maoist terror, etc.). To the main part of your question: Muslims in India have had to live with terrorism for many decades, though its mainly come in the form of communal rioting, with or without police backing. There weren't any Hindutva terrorists, because there were large riots which they thought were serving their ends. Now, the fact that you've have small Hindutva terrorist groups may be because its become harder, in an age of media scrutiny, to have large-scale riots. So, in a counter-intuitive kind of way, this may be good news-i.e., that communal violence is becoming more and more a fringe thing. Now this doesn't of course mean that all other problems of religious or ethnic minorities are over, but that's another story.

Q. How responsible is NDA for this? Asked by: Raviteja

A. Raviteja, hi. I'll answer both your questions in one go: the simple answer is that both the NDA and UPA are responsible, in different degrees, for the problem. All large parties in this country have pandered to religious fanaticism and communalism at one time or another. All of them have let violent-Hindu, Muslim, Sikh-quite literally get away with murder. This created a pool of resentment and hatred from which various terrorist groups could draw.

Q. Is there any truth/merit in the Right wing terror or Hindu Terror (Courtesy: HM....like LeT or JeM running camps in PoK...measn RSS running camps with AK-47, IEDs. It's kind of funny to believe the home minister. Your take on this. Asked by: Prithviraj Chavan Pune

A. I frankly don't know what the Home Minister was saying-and if he had any evidence of such training camps, its incumbent on him to make that public. It is true, though, that some of the members of Abhinav Bharat-the Hindutva terror group-did have links with the RSS. There is, so far, no evidence that I know of that RSS had a role in their terrorist activities. However, the RSS needs to introspect about what these people were doing in its ranks-and what in its message and ideas drew them to the organisation in the first place.

Q. The central government is definitely riding the minority appeasement wave. Is that a reason why the term "right wing terror" is coined? Asked by: Raviteja

A. Raviteja, I frankly don't think minority appeasement has anything to do with this-I think if you go through the charge-sheets and so on, you will find the National Investigations Agency has done a thorough, professional job. The term right-wing terror, as I said earlier, isn't a very useful one; I use the term Hindutva terror

Q. Is there any possibility of RSS top brass or middle level leadership condoning or patronizing the right wing violence? Asked by: Vibhu

A. There is a possibility, sure, but not a lot of evidence right now-so let's just wait and see what investigators produce in the courts.

Q. Don't you think that the lackluster approach of the UPA or NDA lead to feeling in the some sections of majority(Hindus) to have the retribution by trying to destabilize peace process. I mean myself feel there is no use having such fancy programs like People to people contact, dialogue process etc with Pakistan. Asked by: Prithviraj Chavan Pune

A. I think you're right that there are a lot of frustrated, angry people in this country-including, but not only, Hindus. I think they have some legitimate grievances and some imaginary ones. I'm not sure that blowing up innocent people solves any of those problems though.

Q. Why still not punished, lack of evidence or lack of interest or just political gimmick? Asked by: BANU KULKARNI

A. Well, trials in India take time-which is a sad thing, but is true for everyone, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian. A lot of guilty people also go unpunished, because the skills and training of our police services is often not very good. That doesn't make the Hindutva terrorism prosecutions a gimmick, though.

Q. Agreed, every community has extremists and one should condemn it. But the point is, is what the home minster calls 'Saffron terror' actually fueled more by the politics of today? Is it fueled by minority appeasement and caste-based politics? Isn't it true that a large chunk of the majority community feel disowned by the entire political class today. Has this feeling actually given rise to saffron terror? There might have been some who always had an extremist mindset, but has the growing dissent among the majority community somehow made them turn a blind eye to saffron terror or even support it? And how does the government expect people to believe about saffron terror when reports suggest there aren't enough evidence against those named by the home minister and home secretary? And isn't it time the government starts rolling out schemes on basis of economic criteria and not on basis of caste, creed, religion. Unless and until this happens, I believe each and every party in this country will remain communal. Asked by: Arun

A. Arun, this is a thoughtful question, and I'll try to give a full answer. Starting from the bottom, we have to accept that some religious and ethnic communities in this country-not just Muslims-have a historical legacy of backwardness. It is in India's interest-our interest-that these inequalities are addressed; we just cannot progress if chunks of our population remain excluded. Now, we can question whether the government's programmes are well-conceived and well-executed, but I think its wrong to criticise the principle of affirmative action intended to benefit particular communities. As for why Abhinav Bharat did what it did: we know the answer, because investigators retrieved audiotapes where they discussed these questions. They felt angry with the government for not doing enough to stop Jihadist terrorism. And, second, they wanted to create a Hindu state. On the first point, I also think the government should do more-but how killing innocent Muslims is a solution, I don't understand. And on the second, we have a Constitution, that we as a people agreed on. If someone wants to change it, there is a way to do that. Now, like all fringe extremists, Abhinav Bharat knew most Indians didn't support it-and hence they wanted to use terrorism to overthrow our Constitution.

Q. If so called secular parties blatantly support rank bad comunnal organisations like MIM, IUML, whom could you blame if fringe elements from Hindus take the terror route. Can't this country have a clear policy that appeases none? Asked by: bharat

A. True. Its outrageous that secular parties have-and continue-to support communal groups like the MIM. Its outrageous, also, that secular parties have-and continue to-support Hindu communal groups, and Sikh communal groups, and Christian communal groups. The consequences of these politics have long been clear-remember the story of Indira Gandhi and Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The sad thing about our country is that everyone is disgusted by everyone else's communalism-but not their own!

Q. Do you think RSS and other like them plan to this type of attack or it's just about some more excited people. Asked by: VIKAS

A. Its hard to say, Vikas - there's no evidence, as I noted, that the RSS was involved in Abhinav Bharat's activities, but there may be sympathisers and supporters still in its ranks.

Q. Is it not completely criminal for the home minister to accuse the principle opposition party of running terror camps without any proof whatsoever?(charges against RSS notwithstanding)Does this make the home minister legally culpable? Asked by: supratik

A. It's not criminal-there's no law against anyone saying incorrect things. Its irresponsible, though, and I hope the Home Minister will explain what he meant and what evidence he has to support his claims.

Q. No one knows if Right wing terror really exist or if its a mock up story. The point is what to classify as right wing terror. I want to ask to the person who has shown the nude pics of deities in the name of Art or his supporters that can they show nude pic of their relatives in the name of Art? If No then why are they linking the protests to Terror? Asked by: Sushanth Hyderabad

A. Sushanth, I can't answer this question, because I do not understand the connection between killing innocent people and nude pictures. Perhaps you could reframe this question so I can understand it, and post again?

Q. If right wing terror is a reality, give me to reasons that you think why Govt is dragging its feet in punishing those involved. Asked by: Rahul, Cochin

A. No-one is dragging their feet-the NIA is investigating the case, and trials will follow. As I said, criminal cases in this country take years to decide, because our system is very slow-but that's been true for decades, and a separate issue.

Q. Indian intelligence agencies continued to ignore leads points towards right terror network. Hemant Karkare bravely exposed their network after malegaon blast.Now it seems they have carried out lot terror attacks & escape the law.Do we have more upright officers like Karkare to expose complete right wing terror network so that innocents of other community are not victimised & real culprit are booked & their network is dismantled. Asked by: Samir Raj

A. If you do a little Googling, Samir, you'll see that Hemant Karkare's predecessor, KP Raghuvanshi, actually made the first arrests of Hindutva terrorists. Mr Karkare developed those leads and pushed ahead. Moreover, and *contrary* to the nonsense you'll have read here and there, no charge-sheets were ever filed against anyone in the Samjhauta, Ajmer Sharif, and Hyderabad-Mecca Masjid cases. Sometimes, it takes investigators a while to hit on the right leads. Sometimes, there are mistakes and dead-ends. I don't think anyone ignored the evidence-it just took a while for the truth to come out

Q. There is no doubt there is right wing terror but is it right to blow it up for political parties as this is a dangerous trend? Don't you feel that action should be fast tracked to ensure that the culprits howsoever high they be must be brought to book? The principal is that terror is neither Hindu or Muslim they are all anti national? Asked by: Anonymous

A. I think it's important for political parties to have mature, responsible discussions on these issues-not to use them has political weapons against each other in an immature way. Sadly, political parties in this country don't do that on any issue-so its probably silly to expect them to do that on terrorism, too :)

Q. Why is it that every time some organisation, which is doing great work to unite nation, questioned/blamed (for terrorism or other unjust acts)only to gain cheap publicity and vote bank politics? Asked by: ahmed

A. I don't know if that's true, Ahmad. I see lots of organisations that are doing great work across the country which aren't being blamed for terrorism-there are hundreds of organisations working in healthcare, education, rural empowerment and so on that no-one is targeting. Perhaps if your question was about a specific organisation, it would be easier to answer-but perhaps the organisations you're talking about are also using their good works as a cover for very partisan and divisive politics.

Q. In the topic itself has this line "disruption of art shows in the name of hurting religious sensibilities". So my question is related to this line of the topic. I hope it is clear now. Or correct me if my understanding is wrong. Asked by: Sushanth Hyderabad

A. The topic here is "right-wing terror: myth or reality". No art shows here! Possibly there's a web-glitch

Q. Don't you think this so called Hindu terror is playing into hands of Jihadis and Pakistanis like Hafeez Saeed. Asked by: chinmay

A. No-I think honest, credible investigation in fact strengthens India, and lends strength to our fight against Jihadist terrorism too.

Q. Digvijay sing is visiting families of Batla house encounter terrorists. Despite clearly said by former HM P Chidambaram that it was a correct operation, still Digvijay sing appease minorities after every quarter i guess.....now these kind of futile exercises will genuinely irks people who are concerned about terror attacks and that lead to the extreme views in the right minded people. Asked by: Prithviraj Chavan Pune

A. Yes, they will irk many people. The answer is not to vote for leaders who play politics with terrorism-Muslim or Hindu. The answer is to protest against them. The answer is not to become terrorists, too. Its a bit silly to burn your house down because you're angry with what one member is doing, no?

First Published: February 8, 2013, 6:30 PM IST
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