March 7, 2002


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Rajeev Srinivasan

Blaming the Hindu Victim: Manufacturing Consent for Barbarism

Now we can add one more cursed date, February 27, 2002, to the black days in the Indian calendar: April 13 (Jallianwallah Bagh, 1919) and the days on which the battles at Panipat and Plassey were lost. On February 27, a horrific and brutal crime was perpetrated on Hindus: fittingly, it happened at the birthplace of the most fanatical and brutal Muslim tyrant in India, Aurangzeb.

The facts are indisputable:

  • A regularly scheduled Sabarmati Express was carrying, in a few coaches, several hundred Hindu pilgrims, including many women and children, returning from a trip to Ayodhya, where they had participated in some rituals
  • The train was leaving the town of Godhra, which has a 30 per cent Muslim population, when someone stopped it by pulling the emergency chain
  • A mob of some 2000 people, apparently Muslims, then attacked the train with firebombs and acid bombs, and burned alive at least 57 people inside the locked coaches, including a dozen children
The response in the English-language media in India has been quite intriguing. The editorials and reports generally blamed Hindus for provoking Muslims by the act of wanting to build a temple in Ayodhya. The tone, generally, was: 'We told you that Hindu provocation in wanting to build a temple will lead to a Muslim backlash. So here it is. It's the Hindus' fault.'

Here is an excerpt from an editorial in The Hindustan Times:
A number of innocent people have already died and more may suffer if the Centre, even now, doesn't step in to stop the insanity unleashed by the VHP. Right from the time when this outfit of Hindu fanatics announced its provocative plan to begin the construction of the temple in Ayodhya, it was known that trouble was brewing. But the BJP at the Centre, perhaps hoping that the VHP's belligerence will consolidate the Hindu vote behind it, did nothing more than mouth pious platitudes.

Here is an excerpt from a report in The Washington Post, with a quote from a well-known Hindu-baiter and Muslim apologist, whose organisation, for the sake of truth in advertising, should be renamed 'Hinduism Combat':
Teesta Setalvad, head of Communalism Combat, a group that opposes religious extremism in India, said that 'while I condemn today's gruesome attack, you cannot pick up an incident in isolation. Let us not forget the provocation. These people were not going for a benign assembly. They were indulging in blatant and unlawful mobilisation to build a temple and deliberately provoke the Muslims in India.'

Even by the standards of the Indian English media and its 'secular' 'progressives', known for their Marxist blinkers, this is astonishing. For they are conveniently pinning the blame on the victim. If I were to take the usual liberal position, this is the equivalent of blaming a raped woman for the crime of wearing revealing clothes, which led to the rapist losing control. Most civilized people would consider it the fault of the rapist, not of the raped woman. No 'provocation', most people would argue, justifies rape. But not so India's media or 'intellectuals'.

This issue of provocation is quite illuminating. What could possibly provoke the cold-blooded execution of a large number of people, including women and children, trapped inside a locked railway carriage and burned alive? What could their sin have been? It is alleged that there were altercations between those on the train and Muslim hawkers at Godhra station. But notice there was no physical violence between them.

So how does this altercation escalate within a few minutes, and that too in the early morning before many people are up and about, into a large mob of Muslims arriving at the scene equipped with Molotov cocktails and acid bombs? Does this look like a spontaneous response to an act of provocation, or does it look like a pre-planned, well-thought-out plan for mass murder? What kind of 'provocation' leads someone to randomly execute women and children in the most gruesome manner possible, by burning them alive?

This is not a rational response to any provocation; it is pure terrorism. Premeditated violence inflicted on civilian populations with the intent to terrorize them. A good exposition of this is available in The Quranic Concept of War (see N S Rajaram's review at

How does this compare with the infamous 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre? In both cases, unarmed civilians, going about their daily tasks, were attacked and murdered by a band of ideologically hardened individuals. What was the 'provocation' by the people in the World Trade Centre? Some fantasy that they were part of a Jewish-Zionist conspiracy to take over the world's finances? A recent Gallup Poll shows that 61 per cent of those surveyed in nine Muslim countries accounting for half the world's Muslims refuse to believe that it was Arabs who attacked the WTC! There is an element of denial among Muslims that their co-religionists could be such barbarians.

It appears as though it takes very little to provoke Muslims. What was the provocation for murdering Daniel Pearl? That he was a Jew? After all, he was forced to say to the camera, 'I am a Jew, my mother is a Jew,' just before his throat was slit, in the macabre video his captors created. What, then, was the provocation by the Hindus in the case of the Sabarmati Express? That they were Hindus? That they were alive? That appears to have been sufficient 'provocation'.

Consider the 'provocation' for similar acts of Islamic barbarism in Kerala in 1921: the Moplah Rebellion in Malabar. There was no provocation by Hindus, who were minding their own business. However, in distant Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Pasha had abolished the caliphate! This was the reason for the murder, rape and forcible conversion of thousands of Hindus -- who were purely convenient bystanders -- and looting, arson and destruction of much property.

What was the 'provocation' by poor Hans Christian Ostro, the Norwegian tourist abducted in 1994 by Pakistani terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir, and later beheaded? That he happened to travel in India? What was the 'provocation' for the Shi'ite Muslims murdered by drive-by terrorists in a mosque in Pakistan recently? What about the 100,000 Algerians massacred, mostly by having their throats cut, by fellow-Muslim terrorists?

No, it is pretty clear that there does not need to be any 'provocation' before sections of Muslims unleash their blood-lust on all and sundry, especially non-Muslims, and if such have already been extinguished, on fellow-Muslims. The entire Muslim world has bloody borders, as Samuel Huntington pointed out. Furthermore, even in their societies, there is incredible violence.

Liberal Muslims should ask themselves why this is so: is there something in their religion that easily turns some people into bloodthirsty barbarians? If so, isn't this something they need to cleanse from their religion? As Edmund Burke once said, 'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.'

After this latest bout of bloodletting, I am beginning to wonder if Mohammed Ali Jinnah was right, after all. Maybe Muslims cannot live with Hindus, or anybody else for that matter. Maybe the Two-Nation Theory is in fact true. That is an awful possibility: because it would mean that the pluralistic, liberal, tolerant world-view that has been the hallmark of Hinduism for millennia is no longer an appropriate paradigm, and Hindus have to become like Muslims, Christians and Marxists: dogmatic and intolerant, just to survive. I would hate to think this is the future.

Rajeev Srinivasan

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