Bajrang Dal’s head talks to Tehelka.com. Some excerpts
What is it you are alleging Muslims and Christians are doing in India?
It is in front of you to see! Under whose shelter are the terrorists in India operating today? Who were the Muslims who gave patronage to the terrorists in Batla House (in Jamia Nagar, New Delhi)? They are not from Pakistan or Bangladesh, they are people born out of this very land. You tell me, why can’t the Muslims of this country forge a collective forum and speak against terrorism? Who is planting Pakistan’s flags on Kashmiri soil? During the Amarnath yatra issue, who were the people shouting, “Jo Bharat ka yaar hai, samjho woh gadaar hai” (Those who befriend India are traitors)? Who are advocating allegiance to Pakistan? Even if the Kashmiris were upset with the Jammu road blockade – I don’t concede it was a blockade – but if they felt it was one, why not march towards Delhi, why march towards Muzzafarabad? I believe Muslims have to come out and take on these questions frontally. Until they do, this question will remain in people’s minds: true, not all Muslims are terrorists, but why are all terrorists Muslim? Read the India Today story where three terrorists were interviewed. Hear the Sahara TV interview with Abu Bashr and note all their talk of jihad. Why do Muslims feel they have to stake all of India and the world with Islam’s flag before they can rest in peace? They have to give up this way of thinking. As Hindus, we tolerate everything. But you tell me, where in the Bible is it written – “Sarve bhavantu sukhinaha” – The universe should be happy. The Bible divides the whole world into believers and non-believers. So does the Koran. But not our shastras.
If that is the case, why do you want to change this tolerance among Hindus?
Who is trying to change it? I am saying they can be happy here because Hindus tolerate everything. But they don’t want peaceful coexistence, they want to instate Islamic rule. That is why their community rises up to defend terrorists like they have in Azamgarh and Batla House. See, Hindus believe god can have any name, and the paths to god can vary. We have 32 crore gods and goddesses; it won’t hurt us if one more Mohammaden or Christian is added to the ranks. So what difficulty do Indian Muslims have in saying they are “Mohammamed panthi Hindus” or Indian Christians have in saying they are “Christ-believing Hindus”? After all, this is a Hindu nationality.
You just said another path to god should not bother Hindus. Converting is an act of choice, Christians aren’t forcing it.
Choice? How can there be choice where there is deceit. And, of course, there is force. You tell me, what is so special about Christianity that the entire Hindu population of a district will convert to it? The proof is in your face. When Gujarat, MP, Orissa and Rajasthan brought in the Anti-Conversion Bill, why was there such uproar among Christians? If you are not robbing, why should you fear a law against robbery? People call us communal; it is the Christians who have communalised education, not us. 95 percent of Hindus pay fees and study in missionary schools, but just because the management was Christian, they closed schools across the country to protest the incidents in Kandhamal! Did they ask whether Hindu students wanted that protest?
Maybe that is because recently it has been proved that too many innocent Muslims are being falsely arrested. But let’s get back to your ideal society. Does it have any place for people of other faith?
I have already told you — we want a society in which everyone is prosperous. Our chant is, may the righteous prevail, may the unrighteous be destroyed. What is the anti-Muslim sentiment in this? Are we saying Muslims or Christians should be destroyed? We are only saying all traitors should be destroyed. Those who live on this land and kick its womb, those who live on this land and praise Sadaam Hussein –
You brought up Kashmiri Muslims leaning towards Pakistan, but that has a complex history. Why mix Indian Muslims with Kashmiris?
It is not at all a separate issue. When the Amarnath land transfer issue came up, did any influential maulvi or Muslim leader issue a statement saying this pilgrimage is a centuries-old tradition going on from a pre-Islamic time, so what is the problem if a mere 100 acres of land is given for two months to build temporary constructions that will make the yatra smoother? And this is not new. In 1996, terrorists had threatened to stop the yatra itself. It is because of the Bajrang Dal’s determination that 50,000 Bajrangis went for the yatra despite that.
But it is local Muslims who help the yatra as well.
What helping! It’s just a source of income for them. If there was no yatra, they would have no income. (Don’t mind me shouting – I am from the Bajrang Dal, so my voice automatically becomes loud.)
Your action-reaction theory has no end. By that logic, the Muslim girl eve-teased on the platform can excuse the burning of the Sabarmati. And if Muslim radicals are behind the blasts, one can excuse it by saying they are reacting to the Babri Masjid demolition, and Bombay 1992 and Gujarat 2002 riots.
There is a big and fundamental difference between action-reaction at a personal, local level and one that seeks revenge at a national level. If in reaction to what happened in Gujarat, Muslims want to create Islamic rule at a national level, there is a huge difference in the two reactions. The karsevaks were returning home, some locals burnt them, the reaction happened locally. If in revenge you use Pakistani money and guns, there is a huge difference.
You spoke with pride about our 32 crore gods and myriad ways of life.
No, no, it is because of conversations like this that our families and values are breaking down. Elopements are on the rise. Licentiousness has never been tolerated in our culture and this holds true for men and women. You talk of Valentine’s Day – do we have to import a foreign concept to teach ourselves how to love? There is love and love and only love everywhere in this country. Mother’s Day! Father’s Day! Are we going to learn how to love our parents from a culture that dumps its parents in old people’s homes?
(What happened to famed Hindu tolerance here??)
Let us move away from specific incidents. Which three or four big issues would you pick which, if addressed, would create peace in your eyes?
There is the Ram Janmabhoomi, Krishna Janmabhoomi and Kashi Vishwanath issue. There was a lot of discussion with the Muslims over this. They should have understood then that no Indian Muslims have come from outside of this soil. Several generations back, everybody’s ancestors were Hindu. So Ram cannot be compared with Babur; Krishna and Shiv cannot be compared with Aurangzeb. I think the Muslims squandered a big opportunity to create an atmosphere of goodwill at that time. If they had compromised over these three things, many issues today would have lost their teeth. Of course, we can still discuss things, but do any maulvis have the guts to come out and say vande mataram is not idol worship, merely an invocation to this land, Bharatmata? Do they have the guts to say, what is the need for Islamist jihad? Do they have the guts to say, everyone should respect the Indian flag unequivocally, especially Kashmir which enjoys special status under Article 370? We are ready to meet them halfway. I am ready to invite them to offer namaaz in the most holy temple of India. Our Ram or Krishna will not mind. But do they have the guts to invite us to read the Hanuman Chalisa alongside them reading the namaaz in any of their mosques? Where is the fight? Let them widen their hearts, our hearts are not small.
(Still stuck in old temples, cow issues? Grow up)
What are your other issues?
They must not challenge India’s sovereignity. They are welcome to pray and live in any way, but why must Indian Muslims take their directional cues from Arab countries? If Hindus live in America and look towards India for their cues, I will deem that wrong as well. If they are citizens of that country, they must abide by the norms of that country. Why do they revere Osama and Sadaam? Why was the ruling on Shah Bano subverted? All encounters are probed as a matter of routine to find out if the police made a mistake, what was the need to make Batla House a pilgrimage spot?