Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Congress' soft Hindutva rolls for BJP's benefit

Congress' soft Hindutva rolls for BJP's benefit

The other voice: M Burhanuddin Qasmi | Editor, Eastern Crescent

The Congress' two-faced secularism helped the BJP's rise to power in the 1990s. Now, we are seeing them do another favour to the Hindutvavadis by opening up the Amarnath issue

The Amarnath shrine is claimed to be some thousand years old and is an important destination for Hindu pilgrims. Hindu legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of creation in a cave in Amarnath, situated at an altitude of 12,760 ft, about 141 km from Srinagar and 44 km from the town of Pahalgam in present-day Jammu and Kashmir.

According to Hindu beliefs, the Amarnath cave was first discovered by a Muslim shepherd, Buta Malik, and to date, a percentage of the income through donations made by pilgrims to the shrine is given to the descendants of Malik. It demonstrates that Amarnath has been a solid bond between Hindus and Muslims in the Kashmir valley since its inception. Hindus travel from far places to unknown hilly tracks of Himalayas to attain religious virtues and local Muslims provide them with logistic support either to meet their commercial end and give credence to the spirit of Kashmiri hospitality.

The reasons for Muslims support apart, the organised Amarnath yatra has been peacefully trekked since 1858 with mutual cooperation from both Hindu yatris and local Muslims. Baring a few incidents beginning 2000 in which at least 30 and in the succeeding years 2001 and 2002 another 13 and two innocent pilgrims were respectively killed by separatist Kashmiri militants to prove their presence in the Valley, nobody has ever used Amarnath to gain political mileage so far.

For that matter, extremists anywhere in the world and more so in J&K, never distinguish between religious places as Hindu, Muslim or Sikh when they find a suitable target. One may reflect to 1995 when 150 militants took over the 15th-century mausoleum of Shaikh Nooruddin Wali, considered Kashmir's patron saint, and an adjoining masjid at Charar-e Sharief. Our army had laid siege to the shrine for two months but the shrine and most of the surrounding town including the masjid was smoked down with each side blaming the other for the damage.

In fact, the common Kashmiris are protesting aloud that they have never been against Amarnath yatra and that they would continue to support it. One newspaper column from Kashmir reads, "We are not against the Yatra and have not harmed or harassed any pilgrim undertaking the journey. We arrange langars and free accommodation for the stranded yatris each year and will continue to blow the harmonious religious breeze that fragrances our paradise -- Kashmir".

Their protest against land allotment to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) was completely against the local government, which has according to the protestors 'illegally' and unnecessarily transferred 40 hectares of forest land to SASB causing ecological imbalance.

The protestors claim is based on facts. Even before July 1, 2008 when the Government of Mr Gulam Nabi Azad revoked its earlier decision in the wake of strong protests in the valley, the Amarnath yatris got free passage from the protestors to enable them continue their journey to the cave. This is also proved by the record turnout for this year's Amarnath yatra despite the violence. "Compared with last year's 2.5 lakh pilgrims who went to the cave in a period of two months, this year, more than four lakh devotees have turned up in the first two weeks alone", reported CNN-IBN.

Recounting their past, one comes to the obvious conclusion that Congress politicians are Ph.D holders when it comes to creating communal tension in India. Their creative use of selective secularism has mostly proven to be suicidal for them as a political party and the nation has heavily for their follies. For, in the first instance, it was a Congress Government which had virtually inaugurated the tension leading to the eventual demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, followed by communal rioting on a massive scale and the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. Credit must go to the Congress for all bombs till date exploding across Indian cities, mandirs and masjids.

The Babri show was a soft Hindutvavad creation of the Congress. But, to their dismay, all the fruits went to saffronised political establishment. In a way, the Congress wrote out the script for the Babri drama, and the BJP, along with the Sangh Parivaar, implemented it and got the legitimate credit that is due to principal actors of any production. I, for one, am sure that the Congress has offered one more attractive script in the shape of the land allotment dispute to the Hindutvavadis and they will perform to the best of their abilities. The call for a Bharat Band by the BJP and VHP on July 3, 2008 over the Amarnath land dispute was just a beginning. Just wait and see how many more lives would be sacrificed in the years to come.

The BJP has always been successfully manipulating majority sentiments over religious issues. Their present Prime Ministerial candidate, Mr Lal Krishna Advani's rath yatra catapulted them to the throne in Delhi in 1996. Their divisive propaganda is now communalising the atmosphere over the land dispute so that Jammu and Kashmir in particular, and India in general remains turbulent till such time as elections are held. Once again, the BJP will emerge victorious and the Congress will end up the loser.

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