Posts Tagged ‘Lal Krishna Advani’

Hindu leaders are blamed for mosque plot that led to carnage

November 24, 2009

The Times/UK, November 24, 2009

Hindu radicals climb on to the mosque hours before it was destroyed

Hindu radicals climb on to the mosque hours before it was destroyed


Rhys Blakely in Mumbai


The destruction of a mosque by Hindu radicals that led to some of the bloodiest religious riots in India since Partition was “meticulously planned” by politicians including a former Prime Minister, according to a leaked report of the official investigation.The razing of the 16th-century Babri mosque — in the northern town of Ayodhya, on December 6, 1992, by an estimated 150,000 Hindus — led to national violence in which about 2,000 people died, mostly Muslims.


The demolition also cemented the power base of the Hindu fundamen-talist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which came to power four years later. BJP hardliners had long claimed that the mosque stood on the birthplace of Lord Rama, the Hindu warrior god, and had campaigned for a Hindu temple to be built on the site.

The Indian Express newspaper reported yesterday that a longawaited official report would blame several BJP politicians for planning the destruction of the mosque with “military-like precision”. Those allegedly involved included Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the former Prime Minister, the newspaper said. He led the BJP and was Prime Minister for a brief period in 1996, and from 1998 until 2004.


Lal Krishna Advani, the party’s current leader, will also be named, according to the newspaper. In 1990 Mr Advani toured India calling for a temple dedicated to Lord Rama to be built on the site of the mosque — a tour the leaked report concludes was designed to incite the “emotionally charged common man”.

The Babri mosque was destroyed when an organised demonstration turned into a frenzied attack, which the BJP insisted took them by surprise. Mr Advani was arrested briefly for provoking the attack, but was released without charge.

The newspaper says that it has seen a report prepared by Justice M. S. Liberhan, the judge appointed by the Government to launch an investigation ten days after the attack. The Liberhan Commission was initially asked to report within three months, but ran for 17 years, becoming the longest and most expensive inquiry in the history of independent India.

The report suggests that the commission has largely exonerated P. V. Narasimha Rao, the Prime Minister at the time of the attack, and a key figure in the Congress Party, which leads the current ruling coalition. If true, this could lead to allegations that the commission has not been impartial, say analysts. Mr Rao was criticised for not sending security forces to the mosque before the attack, despite a Supreme Court order that the building should be protected.

Kuldip Nayar, a veteran political commentator, said: “It’s widely accepted that the BJP stoked the violence, but at the time, everybody thought the [Government] would send in forces to prevent the violation of the mosque.”

The leaks caused uproar in Parliament, with BJP politicians shouting “shame” and disrupting proceedings in both houses. The Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, attempted to calm tempers saying that the report should not be judged until it has been published in full later in the parliamentary session.


India’s Polls and South Asian Peace

April 17, 2009

By: J. Sri Raman, t r u t h o u t , April 16, 2009

Women line up to vote in India’s national elections. (Photo: Ruth Fremson / The New York Times)

“Just as the winds of change have swept across the United States, I have no doubt that India too will witness change when the next parliamentary elections take place in a few months.”

Thus spoke, some time ago, Lal Krishna Advani, former deputy prime minister of India and the far right’s candidate for the country’s top political post. Seldom were more misleading words spoken.

India, indeed, embarks on an extensive democratic exercise on April 16, 2009. The general election – in which some 714 million people are scheduled to cast their votes in 543 constituencies across 35 States and smaller Union Territories in five phases until May 13 – cannot but have giant consequences. The epic event will lead to far more than the formation of a new Lok Sabha (the Lower House of India’s Parliament) and a new government (by the first week of June).

The election can unleash winds of change across not only India, but South Asia as well. But it can bring change of the kind Barack Obama represented for the American voter only if the people of India reject and rout Advani and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

History will pronounce its verdict on whether Obama lives up to the voters’ hopes. There never was any doubt, however, about the meaning of their mandate. Theirs was a vote against wars and one for an all-inclusive American identity. Advani, the “shadow prime minister” of the BJP, cannot cast himself as an Obama-like candidate of pro-changers merely through an imitative media and Internet campaign.

A vote for Advani and his party will be one for wannabe representatives of a religious majority with an agenda of rabid anti-minorityism. It will also be a vote for reversal of the peace processes and an escalation of the role of militarism in regional relations. A pro-BJP and a pro-Advani vote will mean this all the more for the particularly vicious campaign the party has chosen to pursue this time. It has been searching for a single wining issue, but in vain. No major corruption scandal, no manmade mega calamity of the kind that can lead to a landslide victory for a wily opposition has come its way. The BJP has made up for this lack by manufacturing a series of state-level issues of religious communalism aimed at the two major minorities – Muslims and Christians.

The party and the “‘parivar” (as the far-right “family” calls itself ) have combined their anti-minority violence with hate campaigns aimed at polarizing voters on religious lines and harvesting a Hindu vote that has never really been cast on a national scale. The far right is hitting a new low this time with speeches frothing with hate.

Young BJP leader Varun Gandhi (a nephew of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi) set a trend with a videotaped and widely circulated tirade, where he is heard threatening violence against “circumcised” traitors (with few nonparty takers for the theory about a “fake tape”). Narendra Modi, who presided over the infamous Gujarat pogrom of 2002, has been carrying the same divisive message across different parts of the country as a rabble-rouser with an elevated party role. Advani himself continues to insist on “cultural nationalism” as the true import of the party’s religious communalism, while strongly defending Varun and Modi against the diatribes of “pseudo-secularists.”

What is the likely fallout, in this context, of a far-right poll victory for South Asia?

Pakistan-India relations should be the area of primary concern on this count. Islamabad has repeatedly expressed the hope that the strains between the nuclear-armed neighbors after the Mumbai terrorist strike of November 2008 will start easing after the Indian general elections are over. New Delhi, for its part, even while denying any electoral politics behind its current toughness towards Pakistan on terrorism, has suggested revival of the India-Pakistan peace process after reassuring post-Mumbai action by Islamabad.

The BJP, however, is in no hurry to offer such a hope. In one of his recent election rallies, in fact, Modi has virtually threatened a Mumbai in Pakistan in India. “Response to terrorism should be given in the language of terrorism,” he declared. “Pakistan should be made to understand in Pakistani language.”

The BJP has not mentioned India’s other Muslim neighbor, Bangladesh, in connection with Mumbai, though Pakistan has done so. This, however, does not mean that the party has decided to pursue a policy of peace with Dhaka. The BJP has officially hailed the victory of Sheikh Hasina Wajed’s Awami League in the Bangladesh general elections and her government’s declared goal of a South Asian anti-terrorist task force. It has been left to Modi to revive talk of Bangladeshi “infiltrators” (never called either “migrants” or “refugees”) as part of the party’s election rhetoric.

It is not only the minority in India’s northeast, close to Bangladesh, that has been left quivering by Modi. Migrants in Mumbai and New Delhi, eking out a precarious existence in the most miserable of slums, also have reason to fear a recrudescence of attacks on them and their livelihood.

Hearts are not going to leap up with joy at any prospect of a BJP victory in the Himalayan state of Nepal as well. The BJP has not for a moment cared to conceal its disapproval of the dethronement of a hated monarch there and the advent of a democracy under Maoist leadership. The party is particularly upset at the re-born nation ceasing to be a Hindu kingdom and turning into a secular republic.

Alone among India’s political parties, the BJP described Nepal’s declaration as a “negative development.” Senior BJP leader and former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh waxed emotional when he said, “As an Indian and a believer in ‘sanatan dharma’ [Hinduism], I feel diminished.” In the event of the BJP’s victory in the elections, the rulers in Kathmandu cannot look forward to a smooth revision of an old, unpopular and unequal Indo-Nepal treaty, as proposed some months ago.

Sri Lanka, another neighbor, cannot be sanguine about the prospect of a BJP return to power in New Delhi either. Officially, of course, the party takes the stand that it is for Colombo to deal with the terrorist problem of its own. Not many have noticed it at the national level, but the ethnic issue of the emerald island is becoming an electoral one for the party in one of the southern states.

In Tamilnadu, where the voters have a sense of ethnic solidarity with the suffering Tamil minority of Sri Lanka, the BJP is trying to include the issue in its ever-bloating religious-communal baggage. Recently, a party unit in the state staged a protest over the killings of “Tamil Hindus” in Sri Lanka and urged the Centre to take into consideration the deaths of “Hindus along with the Tamils” in that country. A local BJP leader said, “The BJP is taking it up as a Hindu problem, to which the whole nation will respond. The Central Government [in New Delhi] is not responding because they think of it as a Tamil problem alone.”

What the people of India, including common Hindus, can do in order to promote peace within India and with its neighbors is clear indeed. They can vote for this change by voting against the BJP.

Fighting Terror, the Far-Right Way

September 18, 2008

by: J. Sri Raman, t r u t h o u t | Perspective, Sep 17, 2008

People participate in a silent candlelight march in New Delhi. (Photo: Reuters)

Newton’s Third Law of Motion now has nearly as neat a political parallel. Every non-state terror strike against human lives leads to an opposite and often more than equal state assault on human rights. The New Delhi blasts of September 13 have led to no different a sequel.

India has witnessed ten major serial explosions of this kind in the post-9/11 period, excluding the still mysterious attack on the country’s parliament on December 13, 2001, and militant offensives mainly targeting the army and security forces. The fallout of the calamity, which has become frequent and familiar, has been predictable every time. The reaction to terror-wrought tragedies, from powerful sections of the political spectrum and, particularly the far right, has been remarkably the same and twofold.

Every time, even before the blood at the site has dried and bodies are being counted, the far right and its friends – as well as even some of its avowed foes that are not free from its influence – hasten to point fingers at the usual suspects. No investigations are deemed necessary before “Islamic terror” is indicted, and the culprit is identified as “cross-border terrorism,” aided and abetted by local “sleeper cells.”

The second reaction, which follows within a split second, is to demand “more stringent anti-terror laws,” with less rights for the often arbitrarily accused than allowed under law for even a common criminal. Without severe curbs on human rights, it is asserted, inhuman terrorism cannot be combated.

The story has been repeated after the five blasts in crowded and central areas of New Delhi, claiming a toll of 22 lives so far and seriously injuring at least 98. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the political front of the parivar or the far-right “family,” in fact, has outdone itself on this occasion. And for a good reason. Assembly elections are coming soon in New Delhi and other states, while the country’s general election is due in early 2009.

A couple of anti-minority riots have always been the party’s preferred method of campaigning for elections. The New Delhi explosions have given it on a platter a divisive issue of its heart’s desire.

BJP leader and former deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani surprised no one by calling immediately for a stringent “anti-terror law” again. He added two riders to the demand. He upheld, in the first place, such a law passed by the assembly in the State of Gujarat as a model for the rest of the nation. The Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (GUJCOC) Bill is a brainchild of Chief Minister Nerendra Modi, whose name is written in golden letters in the annals of a grateful Indian fascism, for the grisly anti-minority pogrom six years ago. Advani shared Modi’s indignation at New Delhi sitting on the bill and stalling its enactment.

Continued . . .