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Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

More ammunition for the Hindutva fundoos

Tuesday's serial bomb blasts in Mumbai (Bombay)which claimed at least 140 lives have come as yet another shot in the arm of the flag bearers of Hindu nationalism.

The rabidly right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteers Organization), its affiliates the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and India's main opposition party - the Bharatiya Janata Party are all sharpening their knives against the minority Muslim population of India.

Preliminary evidence just hours after the blasts point to the Lashkar-e-Toiba, an affiliate of Osama bin Laden's Al Quaida organization headquartered in Pakistan. Over the past year, police in Maharashtra State (of which Mumbai is capital), Delhi and other places have busted several LeT modules and recovered several hundred kilogrammes of RDX, ammonium nitrate and other explosives from them.

Since LeT's cells work independent of each other, counter terrorism experts in India have been expecting a major terror attack for the past several months. With LeT attracting even educated middle class Muslims like doctors, engineers and lawyers the entire Muslim community has been under the scanner of even secular minded Indians.

So the serial blasts in Mumbai's commuter trains literally present a heaven-sent opportunity for the Hindu fundamentalists to expand their base across India.

First off the paddocks to make hay was Leader of the Opposition Lal Krishna Advani. On his gunsights is the government of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. Hours after Tuesday's blasts Advani was up on some podium denouncing the government for 'selling out the country'. On Advani's hit list is the government's decision to repeal the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) under which suspects could be held without trial for years. That most of TADA's victims were Hindus including children as young as 14 imprisoned by capricious law enforcement officials has been conveniently ignored by Advani and other right-wing politicians.

Deputy Prime Minister before his BJP government was ousted in May 2004, Advani has been single-handedly responsible for increasing tensions between India's Hindus and Muslims. Through the 1980s Advani led a campaign to destroy a 16th century mosque in the town of Ayodhya allegedly because it was built after razing a temple dedicated to Lord Ram, revered by devout Hindus.

The mosque was subsequently demolished after a bloody campaign on December 6, 1992 which resulted in riots across the country.

The wounds never really healed and vicious riots erupted in the state of Gujarat in 2002 said to be with support of the BJP-ruled government there. Hundreds of Muslims were massacred by Hindu fundamentalist mobs with support from the state police.

Islamic fundamentalists seeking to put down roots in Muslim communities around the country routinely cite the massacres of Gujarat to find support. Organizations like LeT which have tapped the huge Indian Muslim diaspora employed in Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia have thus gained a huge following among the community's elite.

LeT and its front organization, the Students Islamic Movment of India (SIMI) now banned, have found foot soldiers in towns like Aurangabad and Malegaon in Maharashtra which have a long history of Hindu-Muslim riots. Hindu fundamentalist groups like the RSS and the Shiv Sena led by the idosyncratic Bal Thackeray have gained a similar following among the Hindus.

So as the blood of several hundred Indians congeal across Mumbai, the pernicious fanatics on both sides seek yet another opportunity for a macabre embrace.



Tags - Bombay Mumbai Shiv Sena BJP riots communalism Hindutva terrorism Samajwadi Party Azmi

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