Partition of the mind

First, we constructed barbed wires. Now we are manufacturing bad faith, alienating the minorities, attacking the secular soul across the borders. It's time we heal wounds. Give peace and justice a chance
Hardnews Bureau Delhi

It is not easy to remove barbed wires. Over time, across man-made barriers and an infinity of bad faith, they take roots and create their own logic, politics, and also the political economy of absolutes. It is at once one-dimensional, with multiple borderlines, shadowlines, lines of control, actual, mapped or mythical. It stays like suffering, schizophrenic, simmering, a live wound which refuses to heal, stoked by the hate machines across the borders.

India's tragic partition in 1947, more gigantic, subaltern and intimate than it can ever be translated or registered in text, document, film or historical archives, with an oral tradition of unimaginable violence, brutality and silences, leaves both victims and survivors, and inheritors of nightmares, speechless. It has left a million plus dead, savaged and ravaged, like the dead, raped woman in Saadat Hasan Manto's dark narrative of cold classicism, Thanda Gosht (Cold Flesh).
 
It created a bitter communal legacy. It has shaped the worldview of the two countries and its politics. Its practitioners have spouted venomous speeches, polarisations, and engaged in terror acts in the name of 'cultural nationalism'.  

Sixty three years of tumultuous existence as separate nations has spawned constituencies that feed on hate and atavism. Since the Partition of India was based on religion and the killing fields of communal polarisations, it has become easy for the 'thekedars' (contractors) of faith to claim proprietorship over so-called 'nationalist politics'. In the last 20 odd years, the politics of hate has found new patrons, prophets and theoreticians. Civilisational fault lines have provided the raison de etre for the lunatic fringe to unsheathe their weapons and pounce on the 'other'. 

The demolition of Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in 1992 and the killings after that coincided with the rise of Mujahideen in Afghanistan-Pakistan. Religious radicalisation found expression on both sides of the divide. Bombay 1991-92, the pogrom against Muslims, the bomb blasts, Gujarat genocide, 2002, the many riots before it: the hyperbole of injustice remains embedded in memory, and it moves across the borders to and fro. Meanwhile, the 26/11 Mumbai carnage arrived as war on India. And the bomb blasts on sufi shrines and mosques within Pakistan.

The courageous investigation by slain Maharashtra Anti Terror Squad Chief Hemant Karkare exposed the Hindutva terror groups, with their umbilical links with overground, 'respectable' fundamentalist forces, engaged in bombing Muslim places of worship, killing scores of innocents, and vitiating the pluralist environment. Hundreds of law-abiding Muslim citizens, many young, were picked up, hounded, tortured, branded and brutalised as terrorists: many of them came out of jail with no evidence against them. They still carry the scars. (Indeed, the timidity and complicity of the 'secular' Congress/UPA and reluctance to take sides in favour of justice is also transparent.)

Karkare's evidence took the lid off a giant conspiracy that remained concealed for many years. As layers get peeled off, it becomes clear that elements of the Sangh Parivar had provided legitimacy to extremist Hindu outfits to unleash a reign of terror against the minority community. Their agenda was to communalise the social environment to such an extent that it allows these hate machines to control the Delhi Durbar. The design of the Hindutva terror groups was to replicate the Gujarat model nation-wide - the "successful experiment" as VHP rabble rouser Praveen Togadia put it so aptly. 

Almost buried after his death for mysterious reasons, Karkare's investigation was independently followed up by other states' police in recent times. It categorically exposed a large web of sinister operatives including sleepers, bomb-makers and agent provocateurs all over the country who were/are ready to spread mayhem at will. It is a dangerous and subversive force that believes in a muscular response to Pakistan and Indian Muslims. 

Investigation by Karkare's ATS had suggested that this lunatic fringe was impatient with the original mother outfit, the RSS, and keen to catalyse it, or subvert it from within, to make it more proactive. They were basically working doggedly for a long-term conspiratorial putsch or coup de etat against Indian constitutional democracy. Although this provides a fig leaf to the Sangh Parivar to claim that they are not involved, but active participation of some RSS pracharaks in the terror network lends a different spin to this sinister saga. 

The Supreme Court instituted investigations by the CBI in Gujarat. And what has been irrefutably shown, with a body of evidence, as meticulously documented in the CBI charge sheet? The hand of Gujarat's junior home minister, hand-picked by Narendra Modi as his Man Friday, in the encounter killing of Sohrabuddin, his wife Kauserbi, (was she raped?) and eye witness Tushar Prajapati. Slimy details about the nexus between the brazenly communal Gujarat BJP government and big, dirty money, and how they were so cockily engaged in ghoulish underworld killings, have all begun to unravel. 

It transparently emerges now that some of the objectives of the Sangh Parivar have been bankrolled by dirty money generated through illegal mining, extortion, or by the builders lobby. Funds for hate between the two communities and against Indo-Pak peace process come from the lobby of smugglers, those involved in third country trade, and fanatic VHP-NRIs, mostly based in the US. 

Similar forces pushed the radicalisation of Pakistani society. It is a perverse image of the Indian reality. Since the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1970s, it became clear for the US and Pakistan's ISI that the only way they can fight the communists was to revive political, fundamentalist Islam. Funded by Saudi Arabia and Americans, they gave precedence to Wahabism that did not sit well with the moderate sufi stream of Islam practised in large parts of Pakistan. The rise of Taliban and how it tore into shreds the fabric of the moderate Pakistani society is an everyday reality now, despite the struggle for the re-institution of the Supreme Court and the civilian government's assertion against military dictatorship.

The Partition of the Mind is more difficult to heal than artificial boundaries. Surely, the healing can begin once the realisation arrives. Will that realisation ever arrive? Will peace, truth and reconciliation ever return inside the barbed wire of our minds?

First they created barbed wires. Now they are creating bad-mouthing and bombs.

Will it ever end?

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: AUGUST 2010

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