As elections to the Uttar Pradesh assembly draw closer, the Islamophobia of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Hindu organizations is becoming more palpable. Hindi daily Amar Ujala, in its issue dated 30 October 2021, published two stories side by side on the same page. One of the reports quoted Swami Narsinghanand Giri, the Mahamandleshwar of Panchdashnam Juna Akhada, as saying, “Darool Uloom Deoband is trying to push the world into the cauldron of a world war. It is the mother organization of jihadi organizations like Taliban, Al-Qaeda and ISIS. It is sowing the seeds of destruction of the world. The Modi government should shut down Darool Uloom.” (Amar Ujala, Moradabad edition, 30 October 2021)
The other report is on a statement by Swami Nishchalanand Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Puri. He says, “After the Partition, India should have been declared a Hindu Rashtra. That the country is yet to become a Hindu Rashtra shows that our governments and political parties are directionless.” He adds, “I am making this statement after much contemplation. India will become a Hindu Rashtra within the next three and a half years. We will need the cooperation of all of you in this endeavour.” (Amar Ujala, Moradabad edition, 30 October 2021).
Islamophobia can hardly be missed in the two statements. According to the first report, Narsinghanand Giri wants the Modi government to shut down Darool Uloom. Further, it says, Giri also wants the government to shut down all madrasas because their “objective is to increase the population (of Muslims), gain control over India through democratic means and destroy the whole world.”
Foolish saffron activists like Narsinghanand Giri should be asked if the Muslims destroy the whole world who they will rule over. If the Muslims intend to capture India through the ballot by increasing their population, pray, who has stopped the Hindus from increasing their numbers? Why has Narsinghanand Giri himself not married and had children? Why did he become a sanyasi? Do the scriptures ordain that people should adopt Brahmacharya? It is a fact that the Hindutva of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), to which these saffron-clad sadhus owe their allegiance, was born of Islamophobia. The Shuddhi Andolan of the Arya Samaj was the first fallout of Islamophobia. It sought to counter conversions to Islam. The leaders of this movement, instead of performing “Shuddhi” (cleansing) of Hindus, performed “Shuddhi” of the Dalits who had embraced Islam. Unlike the 1940s and 1950s, mass conversions are no longer taking place in India. But the RSS has preserved the Shuddhi movement under another name – Ghar Wapsi. Stricken by the fear of Muslims from their inception, various organizations associated with the RSS, in the past, have attacked localities of Christians, vandalized churches and even burnt a missionary alive. All this was done on the allegation that the missionaries were converting Hindus to Christianity. The orgy of violence was also meant to terrorize Dalits so that they don’t contemplate switching to other religions. Today, the assorted sadhus, sadhvis and leaders with RSS links are spitting venom against the Muslims on the issue of population. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is shouting from the rooftops that parents of more than two children will be barred from contesting for positions in the Panchayati Raj system of local governance. Others are saying that they won’t get government jobs. Still others are out to deprive them of the benefit of all government schemes. All this is nothing but Islamophobia.
Darool Uloom was established in the Deoband tehsil of Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh in 1886. It is an institution older than the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha. Spread over an area of 70 acres, the seminary had around 5,000 students on its roll. It is undoubtedly an Islamic institution and students from other countries also take admission here to study Islam. What evidence does Narsinghanand Giri have – which, incidentally, even the Government of India doesn’t – to prove that Deoband is producing Islamic terrorists? A similar question could be asked about the name of the place that produces terrorists who have been lynching Dalits in full public view and who killed 2,000 Muslims in the 2002 Gujarat riots? Which institution had turned Dara Singh, who burnt missionary Graham Staines alive, into a terrorist? Who made Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon bomb blasts, a terrorist? If blind faith in religion turns a person into a terrorist then the Hindu religious leaders are doing this work quite efficiently. Can the Modi Government shutter Darool Uloom only because Narsinghanand Giri wants it? Will religious leaders like Narsinghanand Giri run the country? Will the government follow their diktats? People like Narsinghanand Giri know well that the government is guided by a Constitution that declares that India is a secular republic and not a Hindu Rashtra. Hence, under Article 29 of the Constitution, Darool Uloom will continue to function and so will the madrasas. But yes, the saffron brigade of Narsinghanand Giri and those of his ilk can use the seminary and the madrasas as bugbears to spread hatred against the Muslims polarize voters along communal lines.
It is true that Darool Uloom and some other institutions, along with madrasas, impart Islamic education. But don’t the institutions run by Sanskar Bharti and the Saraswati Shishu Mandirs teach Hindutva? Thousands of institutions run by the RSS imparting brahmanical education outnumber the Islamic educational institutions many times over. If you add the sermons aired by Aastha channel, programmes on Ramayan, Mahabharat, Hanuman and so on beamed by TV channels and the thousands of programmes in which sadhu and sants deliver their sermons in different towns and cities, the reach of the Muslim bodies pales in comparison. But Narsinghanand Giri cannot see anything wrong in the RSS institutions that are peddling a distorted version of Indian history and turning the students into Muslim-haters. The fallout of this indoctrination was seen in Tripura recently, where RSS-trained zealots vandalized mosques and committed murderous assaults on Muslims. Narsinghanand Giri says that the Hindu community should unitedly oppose Darul Uloom. Which Hindus is he talking about? Who is a Hindu in your country? In 2014, after the then Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi visited a temple, Narsinghanand had issued a fatwa saying that the scriptures do not permit Shudras to enter places of worship and they should not visit Hindu temples. This means that no one except the Brahmins, the Thakurs and the Vaishyas are Hindus. The rest are Shudras. Then, who are the Hindus he wishes to unite against Darool Uloom? When the Shudras are to be pitted against Muslims, they are Hindus. But on the question of entering temples, they are Shudras, unworthy. Shouldn’t appropriate action under the Constitution and the law be taken against such a religion and such religious leaders?
Saffron raga of Hindu Rashtra
Now, we can talk about the second story, in which Nishchalanand Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth, Puri, has been quoted as saying that “India will become a Hindu Rashtra within the next three and a half years. We need the cooperation of all of you in this.” One obvious question is why these saffron mendicants want to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra. None of the journalists present at his media interaction in Gorakhpur asked him why he wants to replace a democratic India with a Hindu Rashtra. He should also have been asked how the Hindu Rashtra will be different from a democratic India. If these questions were asked, we would have been enlightened by his interesting views on the issue and that could have initiated a meaningful debate. I know for sure that in answer to any such question, Nishchalanand and others like him would unashamedly relate fantastical tales of the humiliation of Hindus. Can’t we ask them if democratic India has, in any way, blocked the progress of the Hindus? Is there any danger to Hindu places of pilgrimage, temples, mutts and religious leaders? Do non-Hindus dominate the governments and the administration? Are non-Hindus controlling all the resources of the country? They wouldn’t be able to answer any of these questions in the affirmative. Then, what is the real source of concern for the likes of Nishchalanand? This they will never reveal, for if they did, their real face will be exposed.
In reality, the Varna system is their chief concern. They know that the Varna system is incompatible with democracy; that in a democracy they cannot treat the Shudras as their servants; that they cannot treat the Dalits as Untouchables because practising untouchability is a penal offence. Hence, they do not like a democratic India. For them, only the Brahmins, the Thakurs and the Vaishyas are Hindus. The rest are serfs. They want a Hindu Rashtra so that the Varna system, which is another name for Brahmin Raj, can be re-imposed; so that they can keep the Shudras under their thumb, just as they are keeping the Muslims and the Christians under their thumb. That is why from time to time, the Sangh affiliates and the sadhus, sants and politicians associated with the RSS engage in the talk of abolishing the reservation regime, which has paved the way for the growth and progress of the Shudras. Their Islamophobia is a smokescreen. Muslims are not their real target. Dalits and OBCs are. They cannot tolerate the Dalits and OBCs flourishing. That is why they are clamouring for a Hindu Rashtra.
Three and a half years from now, will India really become a Hindu Rashtra, fulfilling the prediction of Nishchalanand? Modi has three and a half years to go in office. Lok Sabha elections are due in 2024. That is why Nishchalanand is seeking the cooperation of all in bringing Modi back to power in 2024. He hopes that once that happens, Hindu Rashtra will become a reality. Perhaps, he is unable to grasp that the elections will be held under the Indian Constitution and that the Prime Minister will take the oath in the name of the Constitution. He or she will be the prime minister of the democratic republic of India, not of a Hindu Rashtra.
(Translation: Amrish Herdenia; copy-editing: Anil)
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