Undoing idea of Indian brand secularism

The political scene in India and Pakistan is undergoing shock waves following Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s allegations that Hindu right wing political party Bhartia Janata Party [BJP] and other extremist groups Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were running training camps for carrying out terrorism against Muslims in India.

Shinde confessed to this horrible truth at an important meeting of ruling Congress in Jaipur in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and likely future Premier Rahul Gandhi, grandson of Indra Gandhi. He admitted these two parties had been training Hindu extremists for committing terrorism against Muslims, thus dividing the Indian population on ethnic basis by promoting Hindu extremism.

Defending himself against flooding criticism by BJP, and other Hindu extremists; Shinde said he was not the first one to criticize ‘Saffron Terrorism’ sincethe media have raised this issue in the past, but with extreme caution. The Orange or Saffron color is considered sacred in Hindusim and people especially monks wear clothes of this color in religious ceremonies and in temples.

He also confessed that BJP, RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad [VHP] were behind the notorious Muslim massacres including blasts in Makka mosque and Malegaon, and the fire in Pakistan-bound train Samjhota [agreement] Express. Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid and Home Secretary RK Singh wasted no time in backing up Shinde and his confessions.

India presents itself in the western world as one of the most peace-loving country by virtue of its secular identity, and consequently, the best candidate in Asia to help the world increase its pace of progress.

The Indian Home Minister broke Delhi’s long maintained official silence about Hindu terrorism at a time when India is exchanging fire with arch rival Pakistan at the Line of Control dividing disputed state of Kashmir between them, and demanding return of U.N. observers from the LoC. Not only this, Chiefs of Indian Army and Air Force earlier hurled threats of direct action against Pakistan, while Indian president Pranab Mukherji, addressing the Indian Republic Day parade on January 26 also warned Islamabad against taking Delhi’s love for peace as weakness.

India presents itself in the western world as one of the most peace-loving country by virtue of its secular identity, and consequently, the best candidate in Asia to help the world increase its pace of progress. No doubt, the west largely believes Delhi’s claims, which explains India’s acquiring a major role in Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development, against the wishes of the rest of Asia.

The real face of secularism in India, which also claims to be the largest democracy in world, is unmasked by occasionally surfacing complaints of religious prejudice from Muslim celebrities considered to be the icons or heroes in the country. The latest anguish came from none other than Shahrukh Khan, one of the uncrowned kings of Indian cinema and a legend ruling the hearts of millions of cinegoers, who cried out against some unnamed political and social leaders, accusing them of hurling veiled threats against him for being Muslim.

Interestingly, Muslims accuse Shahrukh of giving up his religion and becoming a 'Hindu'

In an article in Outlook magazine, Shahrukh Khan, who has never publicly professed Islam and lives like Hindus, writes that he faced victimization by noted Hindus after 9-11 who demanded him to go to Pakistan. Shahrukh, who married a Hindu woman and named his children like Hindus, wrote Hindu leaders doubted his loyalties with India, asking him to return to his real country [Pakistan].

Interestingly, Muslims accuse Shahrukh of giving up his religion and becoming a 'Hindu'. Shahrukh wrote his father fought war of independence against the Colonists to liberate India, but now rallies were taken out against him in the same country. Like another legendary Indian actor Dilip Kumar (real name; Yusuf Khan), the ancestors of Shahrukh Khan hailed from Peshawar, a historic city in northern Pakistan.

Similar agonies were expressed in recent past by other noted Muslim actors like Shabana Azmi, Irfan Hashmi and Salman Khan. Pakistani singers like Atif Aslam, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and comedian Shakil Siddiqi were also victimized in recent past, and Shakil Siddiqi was forced to leave India two years ago.

Similarly, Pakistani singer/actor Adnan Sami Khan, who had been living in India for over 17 years, was imposed heavy fine for the 'crime' of purchasing property in Mumbai.

Responding to Shahrukh Khan’s complaint, noted Pakistani religious scholar Hafiz Muhammad Saeed has invited Shahrukh Khan to come to Pakistan. Saeed, who also heads hardline religious organization Jamaat ud Dawah and social welfare organization Falahe Insaniat Foundation (FIF) Pakistan, told an interviewer that Indian secularism and democracy was a big deception as religious minorities in India were mercilessly crushed and exterminated under the garb of largest democracy boasting religious freedoms. Shahrukh Khan is yet to respond to Saeed’s invitation.

Hafiz Saeed also demanded Washington to include BJP, RSS and VHP in State Departments list of global terrorists groups. He said if U.S. was sincere in its doctrine of wiping out terrorists from the face of earth, it must also conduct drone attacks on Indian terror training camps, like it had been targeting Al-Qaeda and Taliban in Pakistani tribal areas.

Hafiz Saeed, whose FIF is known for extending meritorious relief services in natural calamities, also offered to help the victims of recent “Sandy” hurricane in the U.S., but Washington declined the offer. Washington supports Delhi’s accusation that Hafiz Saeed was the mastermind of Mumbai attacks in 2008. which claimed lives of more than one hundred people from various nationality.

Shinde’s dangerous confessions should serve as eye openers for Islamabad and India-friendly organizations in Pakistan, particularly in their efforts to award Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) status to New Delhi. It must not be forgotten that Indian leaderships had been consistently accusing Pakistani security and intelligence agencies behind every mishap in India for the last five decades.

(Mansoor Jafar is Editor of Al Arabiya Urdu based at Islamabad. He can be reached through email: mansoor.jafar@gmail.com and Twitter: @mansoorjafar)

Last Update: Tuesday, 29 January 2013 KSA 08:04 - GMT 05:04
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.