Home minister Rajnath Singh ripped into the Congress in Parliament last Friday (July 31) when it functioned amidst chaos for a short while. He accused it of diluting India’s fight against Pakistan-bred terrorism. He charged the party with falsely invoking “Hindu terror”. Hafiz Saeed, leader of terrorist group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), had even praised the Congress for using the phrase, Rajnath added.
Former home minister P Chidambaram was quick off the blocks. In a television interview the next day he denied that then home minister Sushilkumar Shinde had ever used the phrase “Hindu terror”.
Who is right?
The evidence is available in black and white.
The Hindu reported on January 20, 2013: “Taking on the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Sunday claimed that the two were promoting ‘Hindu terrorism’ through their training camps. Addressing the AICC session on the final day of the chintan shivir here, Shinde said investigations revealed that the BJP and the RSS were conducting training camps to spread terrorism.”
By denying on record that Shinde had invoked “Hindu terror”, Chidambaram was either being deliberately economical with the truth or had a memory lapse.
Shinde certainly knew what he’d said because he apologised for it. Again, The Hindu reported the apology in its edition dated February 21, 2013: “Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Wednesday expressed “regret” over his controversial ‘Hindu terror’ remark made in the Congress’ Jaipur conclave last month, a step aimed at pacifying a combative Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the crucial Budget session. In a statement, Shinde said his comments had created a misunderstanding. ‘It has been understood to mean that I was linking terrorism to a particular religion and was accusing certain political organisations of being involved in organising terror camps,’ he said. ‘I had no intention to link terror to any religion. There is no basis for suggesting that terror can be linked to organisations mentioned in my brief speech in Jaipur. Since controversy has been created on account of my statement, I am issuing this clarification and expressing regret to those who felt hurt by my statement. I will continue to perform my duties to the best of my ability to ensure harmony is maintained in the social fabric of India.'”
Chidambaram’s memory lapse is understandable. The Congress has lately become terrified of being branded anti-Hindu. Rahul Gandhi trekked to Kedarnath temple three months ago to establish his “Hindu” credentials. It was tokenism but showed that the Congress had belatedly realised the electoral consequences of seeming to be a party of minority appeasement (which of course it is).
More to the point: Does “Hindu terror” exist? And how does it stack up against Islamist terror which, as we know, does exist? What, too, about the homilies all parties routinely mouth that terror has no religion?
Soon after Shinde’s tirade about “Hindu terror” I wrote this in The Times of India:
Home minister and leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Sushilkumar Shinde has given Pakistan another excuse to justify terror-equivalence with India: We run terror camps but so do you. We did 26/11 but you did Samjhauta.
The matter of “Hindu terror” must not be allowed to slip into the crevices of our collective subconscious till another outrageous statement is made on the subject. How serious an issue is Hindu/Saffron terror? Examine the question rationally. Four specific terror attacks over the past several decades can plausibly be traced back to extremist Hindutva elements who were former members of the Sangh parivar: Malegaon (2006), Samjhauta Express (2007), Mecca Masjid (2007) and Ajmer Sharif (2007). All these cases are sub-judice. The accused have remained in jail for several years. Contradictory evidence implicating the banned SIMI and Indian Mujahideen (IM) has been produced by, among others, the United Nations.
The total number of fatalities in these four attacks was 127. In contrast, a single jihadist-underworld terror serial bomb attack in Mumbai in March 1993 killed 257 people. Just as terror can’t be identified with a religion, the number of terror strikes and fatalities is no basis for comparison of different ideological shades of terrorism. All terrorism is obviously bad – whether it results in one fatality or a hundred. But it is important to underline that unproven “Hindu terror” attacks have been just four over several decades. All four occurred between 2006 and 2007. There were none before. There have been none since.
The attempt to seek equivalence between Islamist and Hindu terror is as fraudulent as Pakistan’s constant attempt to achieve “terror-equivalence” with India on the basis of one unproven Samjhauta Express terror attack by Indians against dozens by Pakistani state-sponsored terrorists on India.
Bottom line: Terror truly has no religion. LTTE terrorists in Sri Lanka were Hindus. Irgun terrorists in Israel were Jews. Red Army Faction terrorists in Germany were Christians. The difference lies in degree and scale. Islamist terror is a global scourge. The others are or were local. Treating them on par is blinding oneself to reality. Chidambaram knows that. And yet the code of selective Omerta that guides the Congress will not allow him to say it.