Is there such thing as ‘Hindu terrorism’, as the @INCIndia has been trying to prove asked to write this column because I am one of this rare species of foreign correspondents: a lover of Hindus! A born Frenchman, Catholic-educated, non-Hindu, I do hope I will be given some credit for my opinions, garnered after 25 years of reporting in South Asia (for Le Journal de Genève and Le Figaro) – which are not the product of my parents’ ideas, my education or my atavism.
In the early eighties, when I started freelancing in the South , doing photo features on Kalaripayat, the Ayappa festival, or the Ayanars, I slowly realized, on the ground, that the genius of this country lies in its Hindu ethos, or rather in the true spirituality behind Hinduism. The average Hindu that you meet in a million villages, possesses this simple, innate spirituality in his or her genes and accepts your diversity, whether you are Christian, Muslim, or Jain, Arab, French or Chinese. It is this ‘Hindu-ness’ (which cannot be experienced if you sit in Delhi most of the time) that makes most Indian Christians different, from say a French Christian, or an Indian Muslim unlike a Saudi Muslim. I also learnt that Hindus not only believed that the Divine could manifest at different times, under different names, using different Scriptures, the wonderful avatar concept, the perfect answer to 21st century religious strife, but that they had given refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world, whether the Syrian Christians, the Parsis, the Jews (India is the only country in the world where Jews were not persecuted), the Armenians, or today the Tibetans. In 3500 years of known existence, Hindus have also never military invaded another country, never tried to impose their religion upon others, by force or even by induced conversions.
Thus for me, you cannot find less fundamentalist than a Hindu in this world and it saddens me when I see that the Indian and western Press always try to equate Hindu terrorism with the Islamic one, that machine guns innocent civilians in a night club, kills journalists, blows up planes and generally hates anybody not Muslim. Since @narendramodi came back as Prime Minister of India for the second time; there has been a renewal of hate attacks against him, the @BJP4India and Hindus, accused of communal hatred – lynching Muslims, burning churches, etc. We know that most of these communal incidents often involve persons of the same caste, Dalits and tribals, some of them converted to Christianity and others not. Then, however reprehensible was the destruction of the Babri Masjid, no Muslim was killed in the process; compare this with the ‘vengeance’ bombings of 1993 in Mumbai, which wiped-out hundreds of innocent, mostly Hindus. Yet, the Babri Masjid destruction is often described by journalists as the most horrible act of the two. We also all remember how Sharad Pawar, when he was CM of Maharashtra in 1993, lied about a bomb that was supposed to have gone off in a Mumbai Muslim locality.
I have never been politically correct, but have always written – not what is the prevalent trend – but what I have discovered while reporting . Let me then be straightforward about this so-called Hindu terror. Hindus, since the first Arab invasions, have been at the receiving end of terrorism, whether it was by Teimur, who killed 100.000 Hindus in one day in 1399, or by the Portuguese Inquisition which crucified Brahmins in Goa. Today they are still being targeted: there were one million Hindus in the valley of Kashmir in 1900 – but only a few hundred today, the rest having been made to flee through terror. Blasts after blasts have killed hundreds of innocent Hindus all over India in the last four years; Hindus, the overwhelming majority community of this country, are being made fun of, are despised, are deprived of the most basic facilities for one of their most sacred pilgrimages in Armanath, when their Government heavily sponsors the Haj; they are witnessing their brothers and sisters converted to Christianity by financials traps, seeing a 84 year old harmless swami and his Mataji brutally murdered, reading of blasphemy about their Gods…
So, sometimes, Enough is Enough. At some point, after years or even centuries of submitting like sheep to slaughter, Hindus, those that the Mahatma Gandhi once called gently ‘cowards’, erupt in uncontrolled fury. And it hurts badly. It happened in Gujarat. It happened in Jammu, then in Khandamal, in Mangalore, and in Malgeaon. And it will happen again elsewhere. What should be understood is that this is a spontaneous revolution on the ground, by ordinary Hindus, without any preplanning from the political leadership. Therefore, the BJP, instead of acting embarrassed, should not disown its brothers and sisters who choose other means to let their anguished voices be heard.
Today there are about a billion Hindus, one in every six persons of this planet, one of the most successful, law abiding and integrated communities in the world. Can you call them terrorists? Thus Hindu power can only be secular in nature, and should not be viewed with suspicion, because Hindus are the only spiritual community in the world that accepts the diversity of making and recognize that the world MUST be ONE family. There is no such thing as Hindu terrorism, yesterday, today or tomorrow.
The author is the editor in chief of the Paris-based La Revue de l’Inde lesbelleslettres.com/collections/?collection_id=52