Samjhauta Express blasts accused

The acquittal of Samjhauta Express blasts accused bears several connotations.

On March 20, Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court acquitted the four accused in the 2007 Samjhauta Express Blast case. Among the accused was Swami Aseemanand, an influential Hindutva leader who was earlier tried and acquitted in Ajmer dargah and Mecca Masjid bombings.

Under Modi regime, Indian investigation agencies have a record of loosening cases against Hindutva hardliners. All the efforts of Hemant Karkare[on 2008 Malegaon Blasts] who was known for fighting against Hindutva terror elements shattered when BJP came in power. Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and other seven persons were released on all counts in February, 2017 because of the lack of evidence in the murder case of RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi. NIA now seems to be diluting Malegaon case.

These developments are not immediate but well manoeuvred. Indian bureaucracy is known for its submissiveness to establishment. There also exist colonial codes which forbid officials to follow independent measures. The recent tussle in CBI, India’s premier investigation agency, is a testimony to this fact.

The leviathan cover of present day jingoism and McCarthyism requires our keen insight.

Nurturing foot soldiers: A soft technique

The strategy of hardliner Hindutva organisations is to reach out to root levels of society. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is the biggest among them which has got a local standing in Hindi heartland because of its pre-Independence presence. This provided RSS an opportunity to easily peddle Hindutva and establish the sanctimony of Hindu religion over minorities. RSS was earlier an organisation for adults but the Ramjanmabhoomi movement saw a new ploy in play. RSS founded its educational wing Vidya Bharti. Surprisingly, organisation has now about 18,000 schools, 2.2 million students, over 93,000 teachers, 15 teacher training colleges, 12 degree colleges and 7 vocational and training institutions and most of schools being affiliated to CBSE or their local state boards.

Vidya Bharati, demands that Sanskrit be taught in all schools and sponsors the revision of textbooks which give a Hindu outlook of history and use Hindu examples in comprehension exercises.

Dinanath Batra, a controversial Hindutva ideologue has been appointed by Haryana government to the state education committee. His books form a major part of Gujarat state education curriculum. Irfan Habib, a prominent historian, described them as “hilarious but scary.” Historian Romila Thapar stated that the books contained “not history, but fantasy.” Against these, books are still in action to deprive the young minds of reality and to produce them as clones of fascist regime.

PM Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat once wrote a foreword to Batra’s fictitious books. In 2007, acting on the advice of Batra, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan removed sex education from the state curriculum on the grounds that it offended Indian values. Dina Nath Batra also happens to be the former secretary of Vidya Bharti.

The attempt to dismantle the authority of University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is visible. Government is planning to replace commissions with common regulator which is being called Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency (HEERA). There shouldn’t be any question among academia if the authority is being centralised for better functioning, but when it costs independence and autonomous status of the body, the discourse may not completely fall on the side of executives. As the earlier UGC act suggests that there must be a minimum of 4 teachers in the 12 members’ council, it appears to be violated by new composition of the commission which includes the participation of only two professors.

These chapters stand as a profusion of hooliganism, unethical education and a vicious attempt to attack human existence and behaviour.

Political capital

Elementary schooling similar to hardline Madrasa gives us an insight into working of Hindutva outfits. This is an illustration of psychological conditioning which right wing organizations are pursuing to generate a human base which can later be exploited for political purposes.

Sanatan Sanstha, an organisation has been accused of assassination of activists and journalists critical of hardliner Hindutva. But Modi government which has banned many secessionist Islamist organisations in J&K didn’t ban any Hindutva fringe elements. This is because people sympathising with outfits like Sanatan Sanstha also constitute strong political capital which any national party wouldn’t lose.

Technological manifestation

The new age of technology has dawned with several repurcussions. Fake News is a major drawback in Indian sociopolitical context. BJP backed by right wing organizations has been accused of spreading fake news about minorities. This was observed as one of reasons behind 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots and mob lynchings in the Hindi region. Analysts have found that sources of this fake news are online messengers where fake news is planted organically. Online harassment and death threats to journalists have become a common phenomenon.

The recent transformation in hate peddling machines on the edge of technology is something new, and it certainly is a threat to India’s democratic establishment.

Questions remain

Violent protests over Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all ages to enter sanctum sanctorum of a Hindu deity in Kerala were backed by Hindutva organizations which found it as an easy tool to penetrate into the southern state known for socialist and communist orientation with insignificant Hindutva tint. BJP has no hold in the south dravidian states. And opportunities as such are expected to be exploited by BJP to sentimentally reach to voters.

Congress, known for its stand against RSS in Hindi didn’t scream a bit in Kerala because Congress is in direct fight against Communists in Kerala. To add to disappointment, Congress’ MP Abhishek Singhvi advocated for the ban of women in SC. In recent assembly elections, Congress was seen utilising soft Hindutva tactics to establish connect by visiting temples ahead of campaigns.

At crossroads, India may need to introspect before questioning the neighbour for sponsoring religious terrorism. India may enter into a phase of indirect religious democracy if majoritarianism is not addressed. In truth, Hindutva is set to remain a political force, either in soft or hard form. It will only be up to conscious voters whether to choose it or not.

Author is an editor at and Wikiprojects, contributes to Getty Images, and writes on Indian polity and jurisprudence.

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