Is it ironical when United States terms India‘s indigenous terror as Hindu terrorism as its President Barack Obama preaches a noble concept of ‘Terrorism has no religion’. Amidst heated arguments on the controversial topic of ‘saffron terrorism’ in the country, the latest U.S. Congressional report on India says militant Hindu nationalist groups are planning on launching domestic terrorist attacks. The report, however, acknowledge that ‘Hindu Terrorism’ has became a new and highly controversial phrase in India’s national language.
The independent and bipartisan wing of the U.S. Congress, CRS prepares periodic reports on various issues of interest to the lawmakers and the India report was made public by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). “Even more recent are overt signs that India is home to militant Hindu nationalist groups intent on launching domestic terrorist attacks. In September 2008, seven people were killed by two bomb blasts in Maharashtra’s Malegaon, a hotbed of Hindu-Muslim communal strife,” the report said. “Many Indian observers warned of the danger of a ‘militant majoritarianism’ among Hindu nationalists that threatens to rend the secular fabric of the nation,” reports PTI quoting the CSR study.
The term Saffron Terrorism entered into the public discussions following the 29 September 2008 western India bombings that killed 8 persons and injuring 80. Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram gave the spark as he alarmed the chiefs of State police forces, security and intelligence officials of the new threat of ‘saffron terrorism.’ “There is this recently uncovered phenomenon of saffron terrorism that has been implicated in many bomb blasts of the past,” he said.
According to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi reportedly told U.S. ambassador Timothy Roemer that saffron terror worries him more than the terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba. It quotes Rahul as saying, “there was evidence of some support (for the LeT) among certain elements in India’s indigenous Muslim community, the bigger threat may be the growth of radicalized Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community.”
Sonia shared no different view as her son and said the RSS is sowing the seeds of hatred in the minds of a new generation and says, “This is the biggest danger for us.”
However, Congress’ outspoken leader Digvijay Singh objects the use of saffron terror’ phrase and says, “I have objection to the use of caste, colour and religion to describe terror.” “It can be called ‘sangh terrorism’ instead of saffron terrorism,” he clarifies.
Home Minister’s remark was received with severe criticism from the main opposition BJP and the Hindu radical outfit RSS. BJP President Nitin Gadkari said, “A criminal or a terrorist does not belong to any religion, or caste nor does terrorism have a colour. By using the term ‘saffron terrorism’ the Home Minister P. Chidambaram has insulted Indian culture.”
L K Advani lashed out at the congress government for the use of such a frame and said terrorism should not be tagged to any particular religion.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi asked from an apology from the Prime Minister for the use of saffron terrorism and said, “Is not there a saffron flag on a temple? Would you call it a centre of terrorist activity? Swami Vivekanand, Dayanand Saraswati, Shankracharya, Swami Ramdas and others who have sacrificed for the country wore saffron clothes. Are you calling them terrorists? Every Congressman will have to answer this. And the Prime Minister has to apologies to the people of the country for this.”
Spiritual Guru Sri Sri Ravishankar said, “There is nothing like saffron terrorism. A saint can never be a terrorist, but the possibility of an extremist being active under the guise of a ‘sadhu’ cannot be ruled out.”
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury feels the necessity to change the mindset of associating terror with religion. “There is need to change the thought that terrorism is religion-based,” he said.
The U.S. report on Hindu terrorism came in as a surprise for many as it reflects a different picture of India to the world. Attributing terror attacks to religion, regardless of the color or caste, should be discouraged.