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SAGA CORNER

Deconstructing Terrorist Violence

51L61TbbFHL._SX322_BO1204203200_”” alt=””51L61TbbFHL. SX322 BO1204203200 “” />Terrorism is a political phenomenon aimed at controlling oil rich areas or pushing an agenda of sectarian nationalism. Religion is being used as a cover or mask for political goals which incites hysterical reactions against one or the other religious community. The book “”Deconstructing Terrorist Violence”” authored by Ram Puniyani attempts to uncover the layers of religion to unravel the underlying politics. It goes on to show that a particular religion which is being implicated has nothing whatsoever to do with these acts of terror. 

The phenomenon of terrorism shows that faith is used to cover it. In India terrorism has its roots in the fallout of India-Pakistan relations coupled with Hindutva politics. Associating a political-economic phenomenon with religion has caused great damage to the religious community so targetted. The groups acting in the name of Islam in this country have been made accountable for most acts of terror. 

The groups emerging from the Hindutva ideology have been very active indulging in various acts of terror and labelled as Hindu terrorists. The identity of religion is abused for  goals. Currently the Chairman of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism in Mumbai, Puniyani says the impact of terrorism has been felt all over the world affecting social life to a great extent. 

Muslims have borne the brunt of searches in the wake of blasts be it in the national capital, Mumbai, Hyderabad or elsewhere. Just being a Muslim is enough cause for someone to be thoroughly probed. The grounds of arrest invariably cited are that they must be harbouring terrorists. The orthodoxy and right wing religio-political streams are coming to the fore in a very aggressvie and assertive manner. 

Messages filtering down the social conduits reveal Muslims and Islam propagating that they are the fountainhead. Along with this the sense of insecurity among average people is rising and certain elements are playing on this to increase their political clout. The atmosphere is gripped with suspicion. 

Given the growing complexity of the situation, defining terrorism is anything but simple as various interpretations and definitions have been thrown up. States have focussed on talking about terrorist acts and violence resulting in innocents being killed. There is a section of global and local media seeking to widen the divide between different religious communities. 

Then there are sectarian groups in different garbs having a field day in reaping the harvest of hate. Terrorists as such have come from many religions. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Ltte), a militant outfit in Sri Lanka which was decimated by the Sri Lankan army in 2009, the majority of its members were Hindus. A female member of this group Dhanu was the suicide bomber who killed Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur near Chennai on the night of May 21, 1991. Similarly, the Khalistan movement was the major force resorting to terror in Punjab some years back. 

Khalistanis derived their identity from Sikkhism. During the last decade and a half Islam has been propagated to be a violent religion. Terrorism has a Palestininian identity as it began from there. The Islamic identity came particularly with Al Qaeda which was set up by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan to fight against the armies from the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in Afghanistan. 

The US propaganda machinery keeps dishing out different slogans to serve its foreign policy objectives. In the Cold War era it was the “”defence of freedom””; now it is “”war on terror””. The International Tribunal on War Crimes against Afghanistan and Iraq held the United States and its then President George W Bush responsible for the crimes which took place in the region. 

The Jury of Conscience in its report released in Istanbul in June 2005 opined that the war on Iran was one of the most unjust in history. The Bush and Tony Blair administrations ignored the massive opposition to the war expressed by millions of people around the world. They embarked on one of the most unjust, immoral and cowardly wars in history. The Anglo-American occupation of Iraq spread over 27 months led to the destruction and devastation of the Iraqi state and society. Law and Order had broken down completely lacking in human security, the physical infrastructure being in a shambles coupled with the desecration of the archeological and cultural heritage of the Iraqi people. 

Islam and Muslims as the culprit was part of the Hindutva ideology at the time of the freedom struggle. This movement drew from the values of Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh and B R Ambedkar and based on liberty, equality, fraternity and justice. Most Indians supported this movement. Inevitably, the ruling British colonialists partitioned India by creating Pakistan which further got vivisected into Bangladesh. 

While a large part of the world is suffering from poverty, hunger, disease, and misery the major problem being projected is that of terrorism — Muslims and Islam. Terrorism being witnessed today has a lot to do with the policies of colonial powers of the past and the imperialist powers of today. 

The seeds of the present complex scenario and the rise of terrorism lie in the post WW II era. While pursuing its political agenda, the Hindutva movement is being spearheaded by a plethora of organisations, the patriarch of which is the RSS, the real controller of the Sangh Parivar. 

The acts of terror by organisations of the Sangh Parivar focussed on revenge on the one hand and march towards Hindu Rashtra on the other. Violence is projected as a clash between people of two religions and that people belonging to a particular religion are violent due to their faith. In India one has seen the intensification of violence in the name of religion, more so over the past two decades. Anti Christian violence has been evidenced recently. 

Vested interests have launched efforts to suppress the weaker sections of society and smaller nations for their material gains. Those associated with the RSS and politics in the name of Hindutva have been spreading hatred among different communities. The current scenario is pushing back the aspirations of the poor people. It has become necessary to overcome the situation for a better world, peace and amity. Undeterred by the political forces bent upon creating mayhem, people with genuine faith in human values need to step forward to ensure that this dark phase of human history is overcome in the spirit of dialogue. 

The need for inter-community relations and dialogue was never more direly required than in present times. In fact civilisations have an alliance for a better tomorrow. Puniyani who taught Biomedical Engineering at IIT Mumbai, took voluntary retirement in 2004 and is involved in promoting communal harmony.

Book:Deconstructing Terrorist Violence
Author:Ram Puniyani
Publisher:Sage Publications
Pages:180
Price:650-INR

TR

(T R Ramachandran is a senior journalist and commentator.)

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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