Tavleen Singh’s article ‘ India does have a jihadist movement which must be confronted as the French President has done ‘ published in the Indian Express on 25th October reveals her fatuity, and indeed the ‘intellectual” pretensions of most of our so-called educated class. A reading of the article shows the superficiality, vacuity and shallowness of Tavleen Singh’s thinking, which is shared by most of India’s so-called ‘intellectuals’.
It is true that there are elements of bigots and fanatics in our society, both among Hindus and Muslims. But to say that Islamic jihadists are more dangerous and a greater threat than Hindutva bigots is nonsensical, particularly in the light of recent developments. And to say that Muslims should hand over the Shahi Idgah in Mathura and the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi to Hindus is even more silly. Does Tavleen Singh seriously think that those whose politics thrives on keeping the communal fire burning will rest content after this is done? Does appeasement solve any problem? The Munich Pact of 1938 shows it only whets the appetite of the aggressor.
It is true that in the past many Hindu temples were destroyed, and some converted into mosques e.g. Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque near Qutub Minar in Delhi ( which has Hindu carvings on its pillars ), or the Atala Devi Masjid in Jaunpur. There may be a large number of these. But if all these are now sought to be restored as Hindu temples where will all this end? Should we move forward or backward?
A demand had been raised by BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj that Jama Masjid in Delhi was built by destroying a Hindu temple that should be restored on the site after demolishing the masjid. A similar claim has been made about the Taj Mahal. Should that too be demolished?
Tavleen Singh writes of the ‘foundational values of our nation’. Perhaps she was referring to the Indian Constitution which proclaims India to be a secular country. However declaring India to be secular in the Constitution does not change the ground reality, which is very different. The truth is that in India most Hindus are communal, and so are most Muslims. This I can say from personal knowledge. When I am sitting with my relatives and Hindu friends, and they are sure there is no Muslim present, they often spout venom against Muslims. When a Muslim is lynched or attacked most Hindus are indifferent, and some even happy. One terrorist less.
The truth is that secularism is a feature of industrial society, not of a feudal or semi-feudal one, and India is still semi-feudal ( as is obvious from the rampant casteism and communalism prevailing here ).
To end communalism ( and casteism ), and to make India truly secular, we have to create a highly industrialized society in India, and that is only possible by a mighty historical united people’s struggle which can bring about such a transformation. from a semi-feudal to a highly industrialized country. How can such a historical transformation be achieved, how much time will this process take, who will be the patriotic, selfless, modern-minded leaders in this struggle–all these are questions whose answers it is impossible to predict. One cannot be rigid about historical forms. But unless it is achieved religious bigotry will continue in India.
The true patriotic intellectuals in our country should therefore stop doing shallow thinking, and use their creativity to find out ways and means how this great national task can be performed, and our national objective achieved, which alone can end the demon of religious bigotry and bring prosperity to the people.
[Justice Markandey Katju, former Judge, Supreme Court of India. The views expressed are his own].