//Tackling Terrorism – Varanasi, Jama Masjid Show the Way

Tackling Terrorism – Varanasi, Jama Masjid Show the Way

By Ram Puniyani, 21 April, 2006, Countercurrents.org

On April 14th, Friday two blasts immediately after the Arsa namaz injured more than 15 people at Jama Masjid, Delhi. The Maqrib namaz which followed saw undeterred devotees offering their prayers, and next day was no exception when the usual number turned up to offer their prayers. Shahi Imam Syed Ahmad Shah Bukhari’s statement acted as the glue of harmony and peace when he stated that "Emulate the people of Varanasi, who did not react in anger and defeated the plans of communal forces". The calm and usual chores followed in the city of Delhi, the city with rich syncretic traditions and heritage.

The Varanasi example which the Shahi Imam quoted has become a good deal of landmark in how to respond to terror attacks. In the aftermath of the dastardly attacks, the Mahant of Sankat Mochan temple of Kashi, Dr. Veer Bhadra Mishra upheld the traditions of inclusiveness and tolerance. He shooed away the traders of hate politics, who are out to politicize and communalize every conceivable opportunity to strength their divisive agenda, and saw to it that the temple continues to be the hub of harmony amongst the two major communities. The efforts of Joshis and Katiyars from Sangh combine drew flak and Hindus and Muslims, holding each others hands ensured the peace in the city; at the same time continuing the glorious traditions of Varanansi. The Muslim traders observed bandh to express their sympathy and solidarity with the victims of blasts, and the Mufti of Varanasi and many other Muslims alims issued fatwa’s condemning the terrorist attacks, while the Muslim men and women, along with others lighted the candles for peace and condemned the terrorists who tried to disturb the fabrics of amity in this temple town.

Varanasi, like many other cities of the country is the city where Hindus and Muslim of the city are interwoven like threads as in the lovely silk saris for which Kashi is so famous for. This town has hundreds and hundreds of Muslims artisans weaving the beautiful silk apparels, which are sold by the Hindu traders. This is also a city where on one hand we see the likes of Munshi Premchand, who wrote in Urdu as Nawab Rai and also crafted the acme of Hindi literature, which is not only progressive but is also a celebration of composite traditions of the country. This is also the city of the likes of Ustad Bismillah Khans, whose Shahanai begins with devotion to Hindu deities and hums the pleasant enchanting music into the ears of the whole nation. It is also the city which like most of the cities of the country, highlights the intercommunity amity in its most pleasant flavor.

The response of RSS progeny was totally contrary to the spirit of the Indian national spirit, the nation belonging to people of all the faiths. Sulking in the backyard of political lanes after the defeat in the last general elections, it saw this as an opportunity to build up its political capital on the dead of the bomb blasts. VHP gave a call for Varanasi Bandh, which got a lukewarm response. At political level they did state that it is due to the soft policies of UPA (the current Congress led coalition) that the terror attacks are taking place. They conveniently ignored that number of terrorist attacks which took place during the NDA (BJP led alliance) regime were much more in intensity and impact. It was Jaswant Singh of BJP who had traveled with the terrorists and negotiated with them. But some people presume that public memory is short and one can go on making any allegation against the other to gain political benefits.

While the religious leaders and people of Varansi put their best foot forward to create peace in the society, the BJP declared of two rath yatras, spanning different parts of the country, called as Bharat Surakhsha Yatra (Secure India) and also to highlight the appeasement of Muslims by UPA government. Can terrorism be eradicated by such moves which give a subtle message against the minority community? How does one deal with the terrorist attacks, the way people in Delhi did after the Jama Masjid blasts, the way people of Varanasi did in the aftermath of blasts or the way Advani and Rajnath Singh of BJP are doing through their yatras?

The War on Terror is the popular slogan of US and its cohorts. US in a way are the central cause of terrorism today. Its imperialist ambitions for controlling the oil wealth, its support to Israel’s violation of UN resolutions, its propping up of Al Qaeda for intervention in Afghanistan, its launching of attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan are the main cause for the phenomenon of terrorism at global stage. In India the complex problem of Kashmir has added up to the militancy, terrorism in Kashmir. Here the problem began with Indian Governments’ efforts to suppress the autonomy of Kashmir, which had formed the basis of Kashmir’s accession to India. The imprisonment of Lion of Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah initiated process of stifling of democracy and the turn of section of youth to terrorism. Pakistan was waiting for such an opportunity and played the role of supporting these terrorists. The terrorism of Al Qaeda, the West Asian issues and Kashmir got intertwined together and are being projected as if they are due to Islam, due to Muslim. With this the irresponsible use of Islamic concept of Jihad, by the CIA to train terrorists of Al Qaeda played the spoilsport and Muslims and terrorists started being used as synonymous.

The other type of terrorism came up in the aftermath of Mumbai riots and Gujarat carnage. Mumbai riots were followed by bomb blasts, which again were an insane ‘reaction’ to the massive anti Muslim violence of Mumbai. In the aftermath of Anti Muslim pogrom in Gujarat, the Gujarat Muslim Revenge group came up to unleash four blasts in Mumbai. One hears that recently, in the first week of April 06, one Bajarang Dal activist died due to explosion of the bomb in Nanded district of Maharashtra and police is investigating the event
(http://web.mid-day.com/news/nation/2006/april/134896.htm,
http://www.telegraphindia.com/ 1060410/asp/nation/story_6078822.asp#)
Surprsingly this was not much reported in the media.

People become terrorists due to many reasons and they again are of various types, those spontaneously going in rage like after Mumbai or Gujarat violence, and there are others who are/were systematically trained by organizations that have a political agenda. Al Qaeda falls in the second category.

The Bajrang Dal activists making bomb has ominous portents. Is it in response to Sankat Mochan temple attack? Again the organizations which are illegal (Al Qaeda and the ilk) and the legal (Bajrang Dal for example) and resort to terrorism have to be dealt with differently. The so called war on terror is a bogus thing as they are not dealing with any defined enemy. The terrorist camps set up by CIA to train Al Qaeda can be easily strangulated once their life line is withdrawn. It is also true that terrorism is like a cancer, coming up as a disease/ or being promotes consciously, but than the control mechanisms on this is not effective. While dealing with this phenomenon, it is imperative that the core reasons of terrorism are taken care of, without that it cannot be eradicated. The points of dissatisfaction have to be dialogued and sorted out, those outfits believing
terrorism have to be dealt with firmly, sinister designs of legal organizations like US and Bajrang Dal have to be opposed at political level as well.

The Rath Yatras are no solution to the problem of terrorism. These only intensify the identity politics and spread hate against minorities. The right way to deal with the situation is that apart from symptomatically dealing with the issue in a firm manner, we also have to look at the deeper reasons, the US lust for oil, the dissatisfaction of Kashmiri youth after the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah, the marginalization of minorities. The violence against minorities has to
be stopped if we are serious about eradicating terror. The Rath Yatras and War on Terror, neither do they address the issue at symptomatic level nor at the level of eradication of the basic issue. The efforts of people of Varanasi, the Mahant of Sankat Mochan temple, the statements of Mufti in case of Varanasi, and the one of Shahi Imam hold a great promise at symptomatic level.

http://www.countercurrents.org/comm-puniyani210406.htm