I would have ignored the Mahatma theatrics as Modi’s persistent foible except that the Prime Minister chose to go public with only one statement on the jihadi violence in Kashmir soon after he returned with Gandhi magic still misting his eyes—advising the army to show restraint and to ensure that no “innocent civilian” faced hardship because of army action. This Modispeak is Gandhispeak par excellence and I am enraged on two grounds: I do not like Hindu political leaders thrusting the Gandhi coffin on the shoulders of the Hindu nation and I strongly condemn any adverse remark by the Prime Minister or any minister even implying that our men and women in uniform must battle terrorists and insurgents with hands tied behind their backs which is precisely what “restraint” means. – Radha Rajan
Prime Minister Modi immediately after returning to India after his tour of African nations chaired a high level meeting with some members of his cabinet, the PMO and the National Security Adviser to take stock of the latest bout of jihadi violence in Srinagar. The nation does not know what they discussed, what was their analysis of the violence and what is going to be the plan of action; the only salient thing made public by the Prime Minister was exhorting the army and para-military forces in the Kashmir valley to observe restraint. America and its extended arm of foreign policy, the United Nations, and of course Gandhi, could not have put it better.
On his visit to South Africa, Modi made the theatrical journey “retracing” as he said, the “Mahatma’s mahatma-making journey” by train. Of course, Modi did not go so far as to get someone to throw him off the train as the first history-making step in the making of the Mahatma, but Modi did say the train journey was akin to a pilgrimage. I would have ignored the Mahatma theatrics as Modi’s persistent foible except that the Prime Minister chose to go public with only one statement on the jihadi violence in Kashmir soon after he returned with Gandhi magic still misting his eyes—advising the army to show restraint and to ensure that no “innocent civilian” faced hardship because of army action. This Modispeak is Gandhispeak par excellence and I am enraged on two grounds: I do not like Hindu political leaders thrusting the Gandhi coffin on the shoulders of the Hindu nation and I strongly condemn any adverse remark by the Prime Minister or any minister even implying that our men and women in uniform must battle terrorists and insurgents with hands tied behind their backs which is precisely what “restraint” means.
So I will begin this series of unraveling the Mahatma with Gandhi’s outrageous prescriptions for Hindus when faced by jihad. This is necessary because not only did the Mahatma have arrogant and insulting views about the character of our men in uniform but also to demonstrate how the return of Kashmiri Pandits to their homeland is closely linked to the army and para-military forces in the Kashmir Valley. I will quote Modi’s Mahatma only from the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi which I have reproduced abundantly in my book Eclipse of the Hindu Nation: Gandhi and his Freedom Struggle, NAPL, 2009.
Political sagacity versus political blindness culminating in genocide of Hindus
Let me begin by quoting Savarkar who had no illusions about the Muslim League and about Muslims generally. Readers are requested to bear Savarkar’s prophetic and farsighted words in mind to understand why I reject Gandhi’s politics totally and reject too Modi’s persistent efforts to resurrect Gandhi in the nation’s turbulent political arena. Had Gandhi restricted himself to khadi, temple-entry for untouchables, cleaning latrines, promoting Hindi, and devoted his life in the service of Hindu society like Madan Mohan Malaviya, Thakkar Bapa, Acharya Vinobha Bhave, Ghanshyamdas Birla and Jamnalal Bajaj, without seizing control of the Indian National Congress and the political movement in its entirety, I would have no objections to the Mahatma; but Gandhi’s manic control of the polity of the times vivisected the Hindu nation and caused irreparable harm to the re-scripting of Hindu-Muslim relations and the nature of post-independence Indian polity.
The political expositions of both Tilak and Aurobindo failed to address the question of how Hindus could undertake all-round rejuvenation of their society, religion and nation without state power and with colonial structures and separatist Muslims in their midst. Savarkar however confronted the issue frontally and in his presidential address at the 21st session of the Hindu Mahasabha in Kolkata in 1935, stated his apprehensions bluntly and with startling foresight:
No realist can be blind to the probability that the extra-territorial designs and the secret urge goading on the Moslems to transform India into a Moslem State may at any time confront the Hindusthani State even under self-government either with a Civil War or treacherous overtures to alien invaders by the Moslems. Then again there is every likelihood that there will ever continue at least for a century to come a danger of fanatical riots, the scramble for services, legislative seats, weightages out of proportion to their population on the part of the Moslem minority and consequently a constant danger threatening internal peace.
This was Savarkar in 1935. Now let us see how Gandhi responded to jihad and jihadis and his generous advice to Hindu victims of jihad. Gandhi had four broad prescriptions for dealing with Islam, Muslims and jihad:
- Muslim good conduct is predicated on Hindu generosity, self-sacrifice and willingness to suffer pain.
- Hindus must die in large numbers as proof of non-violence, their willingness to suffer pain and death and their commitment to the Congress Creed which will not pick up arms against jihad which threatened their women, their way of life and vivisection of their janmabhumi or the Hindu Nation
- Hindu women threatened with rape, conversion and other vile acts of jihad must bite their tongues and commit suicide.
- No Congress government, no Indian government must call in the military when jihadis unleash violence against Hindus and in situations of “communal riots” which is polite for Muslim violence.
And this is Gandhi’s prescription for government which in essence is liberal Christian political doctrine, a doctrine into which he had been indoctrinated in all those years in London and South Africa when the dominant influence on Gandhi was Christian missionaries of all hues.
Hindusthan belongs to all those who are born and bred here and who have no other country to look to. Therefore it belongs to Parsis, Beni-Israels, to Indian Christians, Muslims, and other non-Hindus as much as to Hindus. Free India will be no Hindu-raj, it will be Indian raj based not on the majority of any religious sect or community but on the representatives of the whole people without distinction of religion. I can conceive a mixed majority putting the Hindus in a minority. Religion is a personal matter which should have no place in politics.
Gandhi was actually propagating a political theory of Hindus as religious minorities in their own homeland! When Hindus are weak and politically disempowered or when Muslims enjoy active state support, the first targets are Hindu festivals. Muslims attacked Ganesh Puja processions and festivities in 1893 which caused Lokmanya Tilak and Aurobindo to begin the process of Hinduising the Indian National Congress which was still in the thrall of white British citizens, rich and influential Parsees and politically ambitious Hindus who were members of the Viceroy’s Council. Muslim proclivity to attack Hindu processions remained intact when on July 1, 1946, jihadis unleashed violence in Ahmedabad on Ashad Sud or rath yatra. Morarji Desai, as Minister for Home and Revenue in the Government of Bombay, called in the army to contain the violence and Gandhi in typical, dismissive, contemptuous and belittling style not only demeaned the army but asked Morarji Desai to die in the flames of communal violence instead of calling in the army. Gandhi refers to Indian soldiers as “monkeys” and like Prime Minister Modi advised “restraint” to the army and told Morarji Desai that he would not mind if our soldiers died because they chose to exercise restraint.
I was somewhat alarmed on hearing about the incidents at Ahmedabad. I was aware of the Rathyatra day. They must have anticipated a skirmish. Why did the police not take precautionary measures? Does not the police now belong to the people? Why did they not seek the people’s cooperation before hand? Our real defense force ought to be the people. Why call the military for such tasks? The people ought to have been forewarned that they would not get the help of the military. The State too may not rule with the help of the military. This could not be. Now realize your mistake and start afresh. Withdraw the military if you can. If you find it risky to withdraw the military immediately let them do policing. They may not carry rifles, and if they carry bayonets these should be used sparingly. Don’t mind if a few have to die. They have been trained to act like monkeys. Under your administration they should cease to be monkeys and become human beings. Think about all this. Don’t do anything only because I am saying it. Do what you are convinced about. Remember one thing, viz., the [British] Government’s rule will take deeper root the more use you make of the military. Till now it has only been shaken, it may soon entrench itself securely. Well, “a word is enough for the wise”.
“Mathatma Gandhi said that the outbreak of communal riots in Ahemedabad had pained him deeply and he had told Mr. Morarji Desai, Bombay’s Home Minister, who had come to see him before his departure for Ahmedabad, that he, (Mr. Desai) must go to meet the flames under the sole protection of God, not that of the police and military. If need be, he must perish in the flames in the attempt to quell them as the late Mr. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi had done.” Terrorism has no religion, all Muslims are not terrorists and Hindus must choose to die but not fight back
Gandhi at different times in his life, in different circumstances has said he knew the Jains better than the Jains, he knew the Rajputs better than the Rajputs knew themselves, he knew the women of Bengal better than the women knew themselves, and if we go by what Gandhi is saying when the country was burning in the fire lit by Muslim League’s call for Direct Action, Gandhi knew Islam and the Koran better than the Muslims knew their religion.
I can never subscribe to the view that because certain members of a particular community have indulged in inhuman acts, therefore the whole community may be condemned outright and put beyond the pale. The Muslim League may call Hindus names and declare India to be Dar-ul-Harb, where the law of jehad operates and all Muslims who co-operate with the Congress are Quislings fit only to be exterminated. But we must not cease to aspire, in spite of this wild talk, to befriend all Mussalmans and hold them fast as prisoners of our love. It would be a present possibility if Hindus in their lakhs offered themselves to be cut to pieces without retaliation or anger in their hearts. The Muslim Leaguers have today raised the slogan that ten crores of Indian Muslims are in danger of being submerged and swept out of existence unless they constitute themselves into a separate State. I call that slogan scare-mongering pure and simple. It is nonsense to say that any people can permanently crush or swamp out of existence one-fourth of its population, which the Mussalmans are in India. But I would have no hesitation in conceding the demand of Pakistan if I could be convinced of its righteousness or that it is good for Islam. But I am firmly convinced that the Pakistan demand as put forth by the Muslim League is un-Islamic and I have not hesitated to call it sinful. Islam stands for the unity and brotherhood of mankind, not for disrupting the oneness of the human family. Therefore, those who want to divide India into possibly warring groups are enemies alike of India and Islam.
Women of Bengal should commit suicide and more Gandhi fairy-tale about non-violence
Gandhiji advised the women in East Bengal to commit suicide by poison or some other means to avoid dishonour. Yesterday he told the women to suffocate themselves or to bite their tongues to end their lives. But two doctors, B. C. Roy of Calcutta and Sushila Nayyar, had informed him that such means of suicide were impossible. The only way known to medicine for instant selfimmolation was a strong dose of poison. If this was so, he, the speaker, would advise everyone running the risk of dishonour to take poison before submission to dishonour. He had, however, heard from those given to yogic practices that it was possible by some yogic practice to end life. He would try to inquire. His was not an idle idea. He meant all he had said.
“The tragedy is not that so many Muslims have gone mad, but that so many Hindus in East Bengal have been witnesses to these things. If every Hindu in East Bengal had been done to death, I would not have minded it. Do you know what the Rajputs did? They killed their womenfolk when they issued forth to sacrifice themselves on the battlefield. The surviving ones immolated themselves by mounting the funeral pyre before the fortress fell rather than allow themselves to be captured and dishonoured. There is nothing courageous in thousands of Mussalmans killing out a handful of Hindus in their midst, but that the Hindus should have degraded themselves by such cowardice, i.e., being witness to abduction and rape, forcible conversion and forcible marriage of their womenfolk, is heartrending.”
More Gandhian gobbledygook
Notwithstanding the fact that what Gandhi was seeing in Bengal was naked jihad, he told the Hindus of Bengal not to retaliate by picking up arms against the Muslims because the Muslims had assured Gandhi that they wanted peace and also that Islam did not permit abduction of women or forcible conversion; the inference being that if some Muslim League politician told Gandhi something to get him out of Bengal, Gandhi expected the Hindus of Bengal to trust the Muslim League or else trust Gandhi’s faith in the Muslim League and his interpretation of Islam. Historically there has always been a small section among the Muslim community which has condemned jihad and jihadi violence but that has never deterred Muslim terrorists from their mission to transform Hindu India from dar-ul harb to dar-ul Islam. Gandhi admits here he “did not worship idols.”
The Hindus, said Gandhiji, might say: did not the Muslims start the troubles? He wanted them not to succumb to the temptation for retort but to think of their own duty and say firmly that whatever happened they would not fight. He wanted to tell them that the Muslims who were with him in the course of the day had assured him that they wanted peace.
I have heard nothing but condemnation of these acts from Shaheed Suhrawardy downwards since I have come here. Words of condemnation may tickle your ears, but they are no consolation to the unfortunate women whose houses have been laid desolate or who have been abducted, forcibly converted and forcibly married. What a shame for Hindus, what a disgrace for Islam! He had heard of forcible conversions, forcible feeding of beef, abductions and forcible marriages, not to talk about murders, arson and loot. They had broken idols. The Muslims did not worship them nor did he. But why should they interfere with those who wished to worship them? These incidents are a blot on the name of Islam. He said: I have studied the Koran. The very word Islam means peace. The Muslim greeting ‘Salam Alaikum’ is the same for all, whether Hindus or Muslims or any other. Nowhere does Islam allow such things as had happened in Noakhali and Tippera. Shaheed Saheb and all the Ministers and League leaders who met me in Calcutta have condemned such acts unequivocally.
As Hindus and the Hindu Nation burned, Gandhi continues to ask Hindus to die in the hundreds
Gandhi goes to Bengal only in the last week of October 1946, three months after Direct Action and only long after the fires of jihad had burned down Hindus and their homes. He traveled across Bengal allegedly to end communal riots and in one such talk to relief workers in Chaumuhani, he had this to say:
I know the women of Bengal better than probably the Bengalis do. Today they feel crushed and helpless. The sacrifice of myself and my companions would at least teach them the art of dying with self-respect. It might open, too, the eyes of the oppressors and melt their hearts. I do not say that the moment my eyes are closed theirs will open. But that will be the ultimate result I have not the slightest doubt. If ahimsa disappears, Hindu Dharma disappears.
Question: How can we create a sense of security and self-confidence?
Gandhiji: By learning to die bravely. Let us turn our wrath against ourselves. I am not interested in getting the police substituted by the military or the Muslim police by the Hindu police. They are broken reeds.
Q: To whom should we appeal—the Congress, the League or the British Government?
Gandhiji: To none of these. Appeal to yourselves, therefore to God.
Relief workers: We are men—made of flesh and blood. We need some material support.
Gandhiji: Then appeal to your own flesh and blood. Purify it of all dross.
A woman worker: What is your idea of rehabilitation?
Gandhiji: Not to send them to Assam and West Bengal but to infuse courage in them so that they are not afraid to stay in their original homes.
Q: How is that possible?
Gandhiji: You must stay in their midst and say to them: “We shall die to the last person before a hair of your head is injured.” Then you will produce heroines in East Bengal.
Worker: That was once our idea too.
Gandhiji: I do not mind if each and every one of the 500 families in your area is done to death. Here you are 20 per cent of the population. In Bihar, the Muslims constitute only 14 per cent.
Prime Minister Modi, Hindus are not prepared to roll over and die to strengthen the myth of Gandhi’s Mahatmahood which rested on Hindu powerlessness. The country’s government must either deal ruthlessly with all threats to Hindus, Hindu temples and the Hindu way of life or be prepared to see the rise of the Hindu kshatriya in defence of the Hindu Nation.
(To be continued)
» Radha Rajan is a political analyst and animal rights activist living in Chennai.