Holding Shiv Sena to account for terrorism


WEB DESK: Responding to a reporter’s question during his weekly briefing on Friday, the Foreign Office spokesman said, “International community should take note of the terrorist activities of this organisation [Shiv Sena]. We have repeatedly expressed our concern on its activities.”

The question, of course, was prompted by Shiv Sena’s recent lynching to death a Muslim man wrongly accused of consuming cow beef followed by murder of a young Kashmiri Muslim truck driver and injuries to his companions on suspicion of transporting cows for slaughter. Also, in a recent blatant act of hatred towards Pakistan Shivsainiks smeared the face of Observer Research Foundation Chairman, Sudheendra Kulkarni, with black paint for hosting the book launch of a former Pakistani foreign minister.

Indeed, right wing extremism, based on prejudice and hatred towards other racial or religious communities exists in some of the developed societies as well. It can be tolerated as long as it does not cause physical harm to anyone. The problem with Shiv Sena is that it routinely imposes its will on others not only through fear and intimidation tactics, but also murderous violence against minority communities. Shiv Sena in fact thrives on its acts of hatred against Muslims and Pakistan.

It was responsible for instigating the Mumbai riots in 1992-93 that left nearly a thousand people dead – a large majority of them Muslims. Subsequent reports by journalists and research scholars firmly established that this anti-Muslim pogrom was orchestrated by the Shiv Sena. A few days ago, its workers severely beat up a government official calling him – in a hateful reference to the last great Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb –

‘Aurangzeb’s progeny’. He was punished for leading, on the state’s high court orders, a demolition drive against illegal construction that included temples in Aurangabad. Settling scores with Muslims for perceived wrongs of history being a central tenant of Shiv Sena’s ideology, Muslims are a special target, but members of other communities are not safe either.

What aggravates the problem is that this violent religious extremist organisation does not operate on the fringes of the power structure. It is a partner in BJP-led NDA government in Maharashtra state. This emboldens it to act with impunity. Public outcry from saner elements in society has done nothing to change its ways. It makes perfect sense therefore for Pakistan to draw the international community’s attention to Sena’s terrorism and confront the issue to create a sense of security among India’s minority communities.

That would not be something out of the ordinary. It may be recalled that back in 2000 when a far right Austrian nationalist politician, Jorg Haider, accused of harbouring anti-Semitic prejudice, won substantial votes to form government, he was forced to step aside after some Western countries threatened to impose sanctions on the country. Given the Western nations’ economic and strategic interests in India, they are unlikely to exert similar pressure on New Delhi.

Yet they might want to see India become more tolerant towards its minority communities for the sake of its own peace and progress.