Let us not play politics on terror

Updated: Sep 09, 2010, 12:16 PM IST

Ritesh K Srivastava

Ever since Home Minister P Chidamabaram talked about the phenomenon of ‘saffron terrorism’, there has been an endless debate on the issue in the national media as well in political circles.

At a time when the Indian government is using diplomacy and upgraded combat strategies to contain the threat emanating from Islamist Jihadis and the home-grown rebels, Chidambaram’s concept of ‘saffron terrorism’ seems to have opened up a new front in this regard.

Considering that India has been a worst victim of terrorism for decades, there should have been a serious debate on the issue. However, regretfully, it has snowballed into a major controversy with the issue being politicized for petty gains.

A war of words has also started between Congress and its arch-rival BJP accusing each other of vendetta politics. The Grand Old Party appears to be divided at the moment and has downplayed the row in view of upcoming Bihar elections.

BJP has chastised Congress of indulging in cheap politics of ‘appeasing the minorities’ by highlighting the anti-Muslim agenda of the saffron party.

Whatever one says, the issue has also brought to fore the shift in Centre’s approach towards terrorism. There is hardly anyone who would deny that terrorism has today emerged as the biggest threat to democracies across the world and requires a concerted approach and a firm will to tackle it.

But with Congress’ apparent linking of religion with terrorism and putting the blame on Hindu radical groups for running a hate campaign against Muslims, the issue has got a political colour.

The saffron episode has also come as god-send for those who have been for long demanding a blanket ban on RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal.

The sharp reactions from the BJP’s camp is quite easily understandable as the party and its parent organization RSS take the saffron terrorism remarks as direct attack on them.

Chidambaram’s attempt to bring to fore the alleged terrorists activities of some right-wing groups like Abhinav Bharat, Rashtriya Jagran Manch, and Sanatan Sanstha etc. has made BJP uncomfortable vis-à-vis its traditional stand on ‘Hindutva’.

Chidambaram’s branding of saffron as the new colour of terrorism and its allegiance with the right-wing groups, crusading for the majority Hindus, is in stark contrast with BJP’s nationalist views and its core Hindu ideology.

It must be said that Chidambaram might be right in his assertion that Hindu right-wing outfits today pose the same threat as misguided Islamic fundamentalists and the unrelenting Naxals to the country’s internal security.

The Home Minister`s assertion about the emergence of saffron terrorism might have stemmed out of the probe conducted so far by ATS officials, which has pointed to the involvement of a number of right-wing groups in terror-related incidents.

There remains no doubt that these fundamentalist organisations want to widen the gap between the majority and the minority communities and further polarise the nation.

From sticking to RSS guru Golwakar’s thesis that non-Hindus can subsist in this country, at best, as second-class citizens, BJP has transformed a lot in all these years and has welcomed Muslims in the party-fold.

So, BJP and a number of outfits getting inspiration from RSS, are now attacking on the Chidambaram’s colour metaphor, which has come at a time when polls are approaching in Bihar.

A question also becomes obvious whether Congress deliberately brought this issue to deviate Muslims from BJP to garner political benefits in the power game.

Amidst a debate whether the sentiments of majority Hindus have been offended or not, the hullabaloo over the issue serves no useful purposes. BJP has always referred to Islamic fundamentalism in its political campaigns, so the concept of saffron terrorism is preventing it to react directly to the fact that some right-wing groups are breeding bad blood.

One has to understand that fundamentalists have always played with people’s religious sentiments to serve their vested interests. Terrorism thrives on one community’s hate for the other and psychosis of retaliation.

However, branding the entire community as ‘terrorist’ will not be appropriate since all Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs are not terrorists. Terrorism has affected India for decades, so the Centre (Congress) should also not compartmentalize it as Hindu terrorism or Sikh militancy or Islamic Jihad. Those who spill people’s blood for no reason or for their malicious pleasure, their act should be condemned in the strongest terms.

In spite of blaming Chidambaram, BJP leadership should also realize the seriousness of this issue and should not drag it into the cheaper turf of politics.

The security agencies must take Chidambaram’s warning seriously and further sharpen their counter terrorism strategies to tackle the new phenomenon of terror emerging in the country.