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Hindukush at Godhra

Vinod Kumar


Several politicians claim about the massacre of Hindus at Godhra that "the Hindus had it coming" simply exposes the hypocrisy that has swept in Indian politics in the name secularism. It will serve no purpose to go into what the same commentators and political pundits said when Graham Staines and his son were burnt alive a few years ago. Definitely they did not say "the Christians or the Missionaries had it coming." Or when the Babri masjid was demolished, no one said "Muslims had demolished so many tens of thousands of Hindu temples, they had it coming."

Hypocrisy of secularists aside, the more important question today is to brutally analyze is can the Hindus and the Muslims coexist in the same State as peaceful citizens?

Let me revert back to almost hundred years when India had just started its struggle for freedom against the British. It was thought paramount that the Hindus and the Muslims put up a joint front. From the Muslim side there was a young lawyer, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He was hailed as the best hope for Hindu Muslim unity. Obviously, even then there was no Hindu Muslim unity.

Then during his political career, Jinnah underwent drastic change in is views and in his, now famous speech at Lahore in his Presidential address to annual convention of Muslim League, where he laid the foundation of Pakistan, he expressed his thoughts about Hindu Muslim unity and on coexistence in the same State.

It is important to pay attention to what Jinnah had to say because he was expressing the mind-set of the Muslims of India. It must be stressed that by no stretch of imagnation, whetever his other faults be, could Jinnah be called a fundamentalist Muslim. Orthodox Muslims even called him an apostate.

Jinnah said that "Hinduism and Islam are two distinct social orders" and it is "a dream that the two can ever evolve a common nationality."

On this point Jinnah was proven right within six years of his saying so when in 1946, eightyseven (86.7 to be exact) percent of Muslims voted for Muslim League which contested elections of the agenda of partition. They overwhelmingly voted for a separate nationality.

He went on to say that Hindus and the Muslims "derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, their heroes are different…. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other, and likewise their victories and defeats overlap."

Herein lies the crux of the Ayodhya (or for that matter Mathura and Kashi masjid isues also) problem. The Hindus see Babar as a villain and a foe and the Muslims see him as a hero. It is beside the point that Babar took over by defeating another Muslim ruler and , quite likely, ancestors of many Muslims who oppose the Ayodhya movement today were Hindus when the Ram temple at Ayodhya was raged by Babar and a mosque built in its place. Then can those whose heroes and villains are the opposites coexist?

Jinnah did not miss this issue from his address.

He was of the opinion that "to yoke together two such nations under a single State, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and the final destruction of any fabric that might be so built up for the governance of such a State."

Jinnah did not believe that there has ever been a single India where the Hindus and Muslims lived peacefully. He said the present unity of India was artificial and dates back only to the British conquest and had been maintained by the British bayonet.

The truth f Jinnah's observation is born by history. As Ibn Batuta noted in his travels Hindus were a slave community who had to stand by the side the road when the Muslims passed. There have been many rebellions by the subjugated Hindus but overall the Muslim writ ruled.

Such was the situation till the British took over and imposed some kind of sanity in the subcontinent.

It is no surprise that the departure of the British from India was accompanied with large scale riots, massacres and unparalleled human migration. The only riot free era,