Government of Pakistan must convincingly raise the issue of Hindu extremism in the upcoming foreign secretary level talks. Moreover, it should be asked what measures the incumbent Indian government is taking to avoid such incidents to happen in future and current course undertaken in dealing with it.
By Bilal Zubair
It has been four years since the occurrence of Samjhauta carnage but the government of Pakistan still awaits official disclosure of findings by India. The Indian government is still reluctant to share the official findings with Pakistan on the pretext that the investigation is at premature stage. On February 19, 2007, in one of the most gruesome incidents of terrorism on Indian soil, 68 people, mostly of Pakistani origin, died in the Samjhauta Express bombing on its way back to Pakistan from India. Pakistan would table the matter at the upcoming foreign-secretary level talks scheduled to take place in the first week of February in Thimphu, Bhutan, next month. In October last year first official acknowledgement was made from Indian Government that the perpetrators of Samjhauta Express blast belong to Hindutva extremist outfit of Rashtriya Swayamesevak Sangh (RSS). In the most thrilling confessions by Swami Assemanand, a leader of RSS, arrested on Nov 18, 2010, the attacks were carried out by his loyalists. He admitted of planning, financing, and executing many other terrorist attacks including Jamia Masjid, Ajmer Sharif, Malegaon and the Makkah Masjid in Hyderabad. Pakistan has repeatedly stated its desire to get official information regarding the ongoing investigation by Indian investigation agencies on Samjhauta incident. The level of cooperation India seeks from Pakistan following the Mumbai terrorist attacks has to be similarly responded by informing Pakistan about the developments taking place in the investigations by Indian investigation agencies. The success of the joint terror mechanism between the two uneasy neighbours requires a parallel collaboration by Indian side so that real culprits could be brought to justice. Meanwhile, the ruling dispensation is under constant pressure on disclosing the findings of Samjhauta bombing from the opposition party BJP and its allied RSS. Therefore, Indian wariness could raise doubts that the ruling Congress party may fall victim to a political compromise at home following the telecom corruption scandal, high food prices and poor show at the state elections. The Indian government is well aware that these findings once disclosed will bring glaring ramifications for Indian political landscape. Since inception the conservative establishment and political hardliners in India are deeply imbibed with anti-minority mindset. Alienation of Muslims, Christians and other minorities is well known fact and way of life in India. Debate has already been triggered that has India intrinsically achieved the socio-political maturity needed to acquire its ambitious big power status? Similarly, concerns have emerged from various quarters how would India respond to the emerging Frankenstein of Hindutva extremism at home. In the past many incidents such as thousands of Muslims killed by Hindu mobs in Gujarat and in Mumbai in 1993 have been conspired by the right-wing Hindu groups. Growing tendency of religious intolerance is manifestation of Hindutva as state policy. This is undoubtedly a big blow to the so-called Indian secular identity. It is a matter of time when international fears will align the concerns shown by many across India. In a meeting with US ambassador Timothy Roemer, the Indian prime minister in waiting, Rahul Gandhi, expressed grave concerns regarding radical Hindu groups. According to WikiLeaks Rahul Gandhi spoke of these Hindu groups even greater threat than the militants involved in Mumbai attacks in 2008. Young Gandhi’s remarks can been seen in the backdrop of rising fears that how the menace of extremism has engulfed the Indian society. If terrorism is manifestation of extremism then it can not only be correlated with Muslims alone. Even in the wake of Mumbai attacks Muslim community feared a widespread reaction from the Hindu Right Wing parties. In 2008 the Coalition of concerned Indian Americans wrote a letter to the newly-elected President Barack Obama expressing serious emerging danger of Hindutva which says: “We are particularly sensitive to the status of Muslim and Christian minorities in India who have been facing growing hostility from Hindu nationalist groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and their various affiliates, in several states of India. Unfortunately, every terrorist incident directed against the people of India, like the heinous attack on Mumbai last week, seems to only strengthen the hands of these groups, who relentlessly propagate religious stereotypes and commit violent acts against minority communities with impunity. We are writing to you to share our deep concerns in this regard, before your administration shapes its policy priorities towards India.” However, minority communities in India remain in anguish that President Obama did not even give lip service to their growing agony by Indian extremists during his visit in November last year. One wonders how the acts of these Hindu holocaust have escaped the attention of western media and proponents of democratic pluralism in West. Perhaps on the one hand it is the result of preoccupation with so-called Islamophobia and on the other big powers converging interests on geopolitical issues with India. Political analysts on Hindu communal politics believe that the growing wave of Hindu extremism will be the flavour of everyone’s mouth in the coming years. This subject is currently intensely discussed in Indian media that give reflections of fear India is facing by this growing menace. The findings of Samjhauta Express bombing offer opportunity to counter-balance Indian accusation of maligning Pakistan in every act of terrorism. Government of Pakistan must convincingly raise the issue of Hindu extremism in the upcoming foreign secretary level talks. Moreover, it should be asked what measures the incumbent Indian government is taking to avoid such incidents to happen in future and current course undertaken in dealing with it.