Terror by another name

Terror by another name

By THE SUNDAY GUARDIAN | 24 October, 2015
Whether it be the killing in Bihar of a Hindu boy whose offence was that he fell in love with and married a Muslim girl, or the murderers of the innocent victim in Dadri, whose punishment for storing mutton in his refrigerator was death, these are not simply criminal acts, but need to be classified as terror-related offences. After all, the purpose of such bestial deeds is to strike terror among those who belong to a different community. India has suffered enough in the past from communal tensions and killings, having had multiple episodes in its history, events crossing centuries of time, when mass murders of those of a community different from that of the perpetrators was carried out. Winston Churchill, who maintained his correspondence with Mohammad Ali Jinnah for years, joined hands with the colonial Political Department in Delhi as well as those influential elements in both the Conservative and Labour parties who harboured a deep sense of hatred for an India which had the effrontery to seek to drive the British from their dominant position in the subcontinent, and indeed at that time, in many other parts of the globe. The Labour Party in the United Kingdom must bear the shame of going along with the Churchillian view that India needed to be divided, and which refused in the 1930s to put more pressure on the ruling Conservative Party to bestow on Delhi the same rights that had been given to Ottawa and Canberra, which was Dominion Status. And it reflects not very well on the post-1947 leadership in India that it embraced so fully and indeed eagerly large sections of the 1935 Government of India Act as well as, in its entirety, the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Civil Service (of course renamed the IAS) and the bulk of the other legal and administrative accoutrements of British rule, presumably because of the immense power such a colonial construct gave to those in charge of the machinery of government. 
The British decision to partition India resulted in the deaths of nearly two million innocents as well as the dislocation of ten times that number. Ironically, prior to the fell deed, the Viceroy of India, Lord Louis Mountbatten, justified Partition as being necessary to save lives, toting up another in the litany of falsehoods uttered by the colonial power to the hundreds of millions of people whom it was leaving in a state of extreme poverty and illiteracy. The events following the vivisection of India have made clear the need for communal peace in this country, as any repeat of an escape of the communal genie from the cage into which it needs to be permanently confined would create the risk of fresh tragedy on a similar massive scale as during 1946-48. Whatever be the religious identities of those indulging in lethal episodes of communal violence, the perpetrators need to be acknowledged for what they are, terrorists and seditionists. The same laws as apply to such crimes need to be applied to the killers of innocents whose deeds originate in a difference of faith. The UPA erred in seeking to pin the blame through a misconceived Communal Violence Bill on a single community, for each act of such violence, even when people of that community were the victims. Communal violence leading to deaths should be dealt with in a manner independent of faith, rather than exhibit biases for and against specific faiths. The best way of ensuring that such incidents get reduced and finally disappear would be to treat each such action as a terrorist act and deal with the same in that manner.

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