MUSLIMS AND THE BLASTS
Must They Wear A Badge Of Patriotism? By Rajdeep Sardesai
2 APR 1993, The Times of India
It is possibly the largest multinational operating in India. In street parlance, it is known quite simply as the D Company, named after its presiding deity, Dawood Ibrahim. With interests in gold, films, drugs and real estate, Dawood has built a multi-million dollar global empire. Sitting in his penthouse in Dubai, he is believed to direct all manner of nefarious activities in this country. But Dawoodbhai – as his high society friends refer to him – is not just a distant underworld don anymore.
In the lexicon of Hindu militancy, he symbolises the Muslim as a criminal with extraterritorial loyalty.
Dawood’s Name It is scarcely surprising that Dawood’s name should come to occupy a central role in
the investigations into the horrific serial bombings in Bombay. As allegedly the country’s most famous NRI hood. Dawood has been built into a larger-than-life figure blamed for every crime, from a stabbing incident to a large-scale terrorist attack. Certainly, Dawood has the men, money power and international connections to have masterminded a sophisticated bombing operation. Yet, as the Bombay Police Commissioner, Mr. A.S. Samra has admitted, there is still no prima-facie evidence to implicate Dawood in the bomb blasts.
Much of the information seeping out is based on intelligence sources who till less than a month ago seemed blissfully unaware that more than 1,000 kilos of RDX had been shipped into the country. If Dawood is involved, then there is no reason why the Indian Government should not push for his suo motu extradition from Dubai. Indeed, questions can be legitimately raised as to why no concerted effort has been made to have him extradited till now despite at least two murder cases being registered against him.
But pointing the needle of suspicion towards the Dawood-ISI-Pakistan axis is one thing, using this to tar the entire Muslim Community with the criminal brush is quite another. Unfortunately, as the list of accused has filtered through an insidious campaign has been started by some sections of Hindu Militants to see the bomb blasts as a Muslim conspiracy for which the entire community must share the guilt.
It is, in a sense, a damnation not too different to what the Sikh Community had to face in New Delhi after the 1984 riots when every turbaned individual was seen as a terrorist, or what the Marwaris were confronted with during the Assam agitation when the entire ethnic group was pigeonholed as exploiters.
The motives for this propaganda are transparent enough. In the campaign of bigotry launched by the Hindu militants, various historical figures and events have been invoked to widen the communal divide.
Mahmud of Ghazni the temple-destroyer, Aurangazeb the intolerant bigot, Jinnah the partitioner, Shahi Imam as a fundamentalist leader, the Shah Bano case as a classic example of Pseudo-secularism, all have been highlighted to legitimise majoritarianism. Dawood Ibrahim as the gangster par excellence is part of this demonology.
Predictably, the Shiva Sena has lost no time in accusing Dawood and the Muslim underworld of triggering off the recent communal holocaust without waiting even for the preliminary findings of the investigative agencies.
Unfortunately, a section of Hindus has begun to be carried away by the rhetoric. In the process, they are forgetting a cardinal principle of the underworld; it is as Mr. Samra points out, more cosmopolitan than the society. The only religion it knows is money.
Dawood’s own case confirms this mercenary-instinct. A majority of his key men like Chota Rajan, Raj Koli, Bhai Thakur, Anna Shetty are Hindus. Dawood’s own rise in the underworld was built on the systematic decimation of the Pathan gang of Karim Lala.
The tragedy is that the secularists have done little to blast these myths about the underworld. The notion of an unvbriegated Islamic terrorism is a concept that has gained popularity in the West in the light of the growing influence of certain fundamentalist groups in West Asia and North Africa.
Rather than examine the social and economic discontents underlying these movements, the Western nations have focused solely on the religious dimension. In the process, they are seeking to reorient their ideological confrontation and fill up an enemy gap caused by the collapse of the evil Soviet empire.
Search For Enemy
Perhaps, it is the search for a similar enemy that has led people to fall for the religio-terrorist argument in this country too. After all, the Hindu bigot needs to rationalise the recent orgy of violence. The intensity of the post Ayodhya rioting had already shown how easily the Muslim had become a hate object. Now, when most of those found to be indulging in recent unlawful activities are Muslims the secularists are being pushed on the defensive even as the rank communalists – have adopted a triumphant I-told-you so attitude.
But neither the diffidence nor the self-congratulation is called for instead, what is needed is an honest examination of why someone like Yakub Memon, who till a few years ago was a Chartered Accountant living in a single-room tenement, should suddenly become part of a massive terrorist operation. Unfortunately, some self-styled champions of Hindu machismo, have not stopped to think of the impact their sloganeering is having on the Muslim psyche!
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