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Not possessing a television set myself, it was only just now that was I able to listen to the recording, hosted on the Internet, of a conversation which took place some days ago between a terrorist holed up at Nariman House in Mumbai and calling himself ‘Imran Babar’ and reporters of the India TV channel.
It is plainly evident from the conversation that the terrorist was a Pakistani, most likely a Punjabi. This obvious from his accent and the sort of Urdu he speaks. One can easily make out that he had been carefully tutored by his mentors who masterminded the deadly terror assault on Mumbai to intersperse his hate-driven harangue with some Hindi words (shanti, parivar etc.) and to use Urdu words in the typical Hindi way (jabardasti, instead of zabardasti, etc.) so as to give the misleading impression that he and the other terrorists with him were Indian Muslims, not Pakistanis. The terrorists claimed to belong to the ‘Deccan’, in India, but it is obvious that this was not at all the case. There can be no doubt that these Pakistani terrorists were trained to lie that they were Indian Muslims who were allegedly resorting to terror in revenge for the atrocities committed on Muslims in India.
Why the Pakistan-based terror outfit behind the attacks would do this needs no explanation. The aim of the attacks was probably to destabilise India, fuel Hindu-Muslim violence, instigate Muslims to take to terror in response to attacks by Hindus and then drown India in flames. This, indeed, is precisely what several Pakistan-based self-styled Islamist groups have been consistently plotting to do for decades, although, mercifully, by and large, the Indian Muslims have refused to fall into their trap. It is to the credit of the Indian Muslims that, barring some stray exceptions, they have consistently opposed all forms of terror, including that committed in the name of Islam, despite the growing menace of Hindutva-driven fascist terror across India, sometimes abetted by the state, of which they are the principal and worst-hit victims.
The Lashkar-e Tayyeba has never made any bones about its dastardly plans of destabilisng and destroying India. It has gone to the ridiculous extent of claiming that it will not rest till the ‘Islamic’ flag is hoisted atop the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi and till India is absorbed into what it calls in its lunacy ‘Greater Pakistan’. In order to gain theological legitimacy for its deadly project it even claims that the Prophet Muhammad is said to have declared that Muslims who participate in a war with India would be saved from the fires of hell. There can be no doubt that this sort of horrendous misuse and deliberate distortion of Islam by the Lashkar has played a major role in attracting vast numbers of would-be terrorists in Pakistan to its fold who are fed with the poisonous propaganda that by participating in what it calls a holy war against India they would win a ticket to heaven.
The Pakistani state, it must be noted, has taken no action whatsoever against this heinous propaganda, and elements of the ISI are said to be in cahoots with the Lashkar and other such hate-driven self-styled Islamist groups in the country. In the wake of the Mumbai attacks, and when asked what action Pakistan had taken against the Lashkar, the Pakistani President hurriedly shrugged off the question by claiming that the Lashkar had been ‘banned’. If that is indeed the case — which it is obviously not — then how does Mr. Zardari explain the fact that, as the Lashkar’s official Urdu website itself announces, on the 29th of November, the Lashkar’s supremo Hafiz Muhammad Saeed addressed what it termed a ‘mammoth’ convention at ‘New Saeedabad’ (a locality named after him?), organized by the Sindh unit of the Markaz Dawat ul-Irshad (the ‘religious’ and political wing of the Lashkar). It was held, of all places, in the premises of the local Government Degree College. The Lashkar’s website is replete with news about the whirlwind tours of Saeed and his cronies across the country, delivering rabble-rousing speeches, thundering against India and non-Muslims in general. And the outfit, Mr. Zardari wants us to believe, is ‘banned’.
Having been writing on Indian Muslim issues for years now, I can say with some confidence that the general Indian Muslim is completely fed up and fiercely opposed to the gross misuse of Islam by the Pakistani state and Pakistan-based self-styled Islamist outfits. Deep down inside, most of them lament the very creation of Pakistan, based on the discredited ‘two nation’ theory, for it has left them permanently helpless in the face of Hindutva aggression. They know full well that, despite its bombastic claims, Pakistan is far being from the ‘Islamic state’ it claims to be — with its problems of poverty, illiteracy, mounting inequalities, endemic violence, and lawlessness, its corrupt American puppet politicians who have reduced Islam to a plaything to be employed for their own purposes, and so on. The general Indian Muslim’s undisguised disgust of the terror in the name of Islam that groups like the Lashkar are seeking to spearhead is amply evident in the news that is pouring in of Muslims across the country roundly denouncing the Mumbai attacks and even insisting that the dreaded terrorists not be allowed to be buried on Indian soil.
India’s Muslims need to be seen as a potential asset, rather than a liability, in the struggle against terrorism. Scores of Indian ulema or Islamic clerics are now openly castigating all forms of terror, organizing mass rallies and even issuing fatwas to get the message across. The Indian state and civil society urgently needs to realize that hounding the Indian Muslims, instead of seeking to listen to their voices and concerns and genuinely dialoguing with them, can only play into the hands of outfits of groups like the Lashkar. The fact that Hindutva terror and Islamist terror only feed on each other must also be urgently acknowledged. Our very future as a country crucially depends on all communities, particularly Hindus and Muslims, presenting a joint front to work together for peace and security. That would be a fitting reply to both Hindutva and radical Islamist forces, whose very existence is based on the frighteningly Manichaean notion of perpetual antagonism between Hindus and Muslims.
Yoginder Sikand is a freelance writer, working out of Bangalore and Delhi. Visit his blogs: Yoginder Sikand; Islam, Peace and Justice; and Madrasa Reforms in India.