Trapped in the crosshairs of jihad
by R K Ohri on 04 Aug 2008 0 Comment

In his futuristic India: The Most Dangerous Decades, 1960, American strategic analyst Selig S. Harrison predicted the likely disintegration of the nascent Indian state. His thesis was pooh-poohed by many analysts, especially as his grim prophesy did not materialize all these years. 


However, recent geo-political developments culminating in repetitive attacks by jihadi groups on India’s core identity, Hinduism, suggest we are inexorably moving towards Harrison’s dire forecast. The 24 serial bomb blasts staged by jihadis on two consecutive days in Bangalore and Ahmedabad, coupled with the detection of 20 unexploded bombs in Surat, have exposed the soft underbelly of  India’s tottering governance.


Recent months have witnessed a spate of jihadi attacks across India by an outfit styling itself as Indian Mujahideen. Shortly before the serial blasts in Ahmedabad, the same group sent a vitriolic and lengthy e-mail, 14-pages long, to CNN-IBN television channel. It was a virtual proclamation of intent to wage relentless ‘holy war’ against Hindus.  


The Indian Mujahideen audaciously challenged the Indian government to do whatever it could to prevent the fast-paced long march of Islam. Though Hindus constitute more than 81 percent of the country’s population, for the last few years they have been living under siege. They have little say in the affairs of the State and under the present political dispensation have been driven to the margins of existence as jihadi warriors mount a barbaric assault on Indian democracy and its civilisational ethos.


The gravity of the situation can be assessed from the fact that thousands of Hindu temples across the country, including the Ram Janmabhumi temple in Ayodhya, Tirumala of  Tirupati, Siddhi Vinayak of  Mumbai and Akshardham of Gandhinagar, require heavy security. There have been instances where bewildered children have asked bemused parents the reasons for the presence of gun-wielding policemen in temple premises. Almost all Hindu festivals like Deepavali, Dussehra, Ganesh Chaturthi and Durga Pooja have been on the hit list of jihadis for years. Unarmed yatris to Amarnath and Vaishnodevi and innocent devotees at the historic Sankat Mochan temple in Varanasi (March 2006), and hundreds of innocent citizens across several cities and towns have been mercilessly slaughtered at will by jihadis.


Jihadi footfalls rise in a crescendo from Kashmir to Kanyakumari; no part of India is beyond their reach. They have no fear of law or the might of the Indian state. Even as the Indian leadership slept, Pakistan’s ISI worked overtime to wire large parts of the country with terrorist cells, recruiting thousands of fifth columnists with the help of  fundamentalist groups like SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India), Deendar Anjuman, Al Ummah and Ahl-e Hadees. As amply demonstrated by the reluctance of the government to hang ace jihadi Afzal Guru, many powerful pro-jihadi lobbies are operating brazenly, not only in States, but at all India level, openly pleading the cause of jihadis and their collaborators. Little wonder that Hinduism, the core identity of  India, is in grave peril.  


Today, across the world, jihad is the only fully globalised enterprise with hundreds of franchises in more than 80 countries. It has millions of shareholders all over the world. The assessment made by Ms. Stella Remington, former head of MI-5 (British Intelligence) nearly eight years ago, that radical Islam is the “geopolitical menace of the future,” has come to haunt civil society.


Jihad has ever been “the signature tune of Islamic history,” (M.J. Akbar, The Shade of Swords, Introduction, p. xvi). Akbar candidly admits that “jihad is not merely a question of cleansing the inner spirit, it is also a call for the holy war regularly heard since the beginning of   Islam.”


Many Islamic scholars try to bluff gullible middle class Hindus that true jihad, Jihad-e Akbar, is an act of self-purification (as mentioned by the Prophet in one or two places), and that the lesser jihad, Jihad-e Asghar, happens to be an aberration. Credit, however, must be given to M.J. Akbar for confessing that it was “the lesser jihad which inspired the spirit that once powered the armies of Islam and made them all conquering” (ibid). Akbar draws attention to the fact that according to the Prophet of Islam “paradise comes under the shade of swords” (Hannah Beech Shanghai, Voices of Islam, Times Asia, 28 March 2003).


Interestingly, similar views were expressed by Osama bin Laden in an interview aired by CNN television channel on 10 May 1997, when he grandly proclaimed that “the acme of this religion is jihad.” 


According to Abdallah Azzam, spiritual mentor of Osama bin Laden, Jihad or holy war in the way of Allah, is the most important pillar of Islam. He calls it the forgotten sixth pillar. The concept of holy war has been elaborately explained in the eighth surah (Chapter) of the Quran, i.e., Surah Anfal and the ninth Surah titled Taubah, though jihad has been enjoined on Muslims in other chapters also. The technical expression used is Jihad fi Sabilillah which means “to fight in the way of Allah.” It is obligatory for Muslims to wage a holy war with sword (jihad bil saif) against infidels to spread the message of Prophet Muhammad, unless non-Muslims submit and accept Islam as their creed and Muhammad as their prophet.


As proclaimed by Indian Mujahideen in their successive e-mails, especially the latest one circulated on 25 July 2008, the time has come for Hindus of India to opt for Islam or get killed. It is an ultimatum - a weird one at that.


Yet there has been no response from the Centre to this open threat, other than the mealy-mouthed mumbo jumbo of the Prime Minister about the so-called ‘resilience’ of the people of Gujarat (whatever that means). It seems to be a kind of mantra, repeatedly with predictable regularity from the time of the Mumbai bombings of July 2006 when he similarly congratulated Mumbaikars.    


At another level, jihadis have thrown a gauntlet to leaders of Hindu organizations like the BJP, RSS and VHP to rise and join the battle, or retreat in the full gaze of an expectant public. Hindu masses are waiting for a meaningful response from their leaders.  


The time has come for Hindu organizations to ask ageing, fossilized and non-dynamic leaders to retire and entrust the task of fighting resurgent jihadi Islam to dynamic, vibrant and daring leaders of younger generations. The gauntlet is waiting – let someone pick it up.


The author is a retired Inspector General of Police, Arunachal Pradesh

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