CENSORED: On the insistence of the Sanatan Sanstha, MF Hussain’s (right) short film ‘Through the eyes of a painter’, was dropped from the International Film Festival held in the last week of November 2008
Although the Sanatan Sanstha is only now coming into the public eye, its violence and hatred have deep roots. Subhash Gatade’s research into the darkness that surrounds the Sanstha was a warning that people largely ignored. It is high time that Goans force the state government to ban organisations that incite violence. Surely Manohar Parrikar, former defence minister of India, can carry out a ‘surgical strike’ against the Sanatan headquarters in the Ramnathi premises
It is really difficult to believe how an organisation which supposedly ‘aims to present religious mysticism in a scientific language for the curious and to guide-seekers’ and which ‘conducts weekly spiritual meetings, discourses, child guidance classes, workshops on spirituality, training in self-defence and campaigns to create awareness of righteousness’ to further these aims can double up as an organisation which can invite prosecution under ‘laws meant for unlawful and terrorist organisations’.
But any impartial observer of the activities of ‘Sanatan Sanstha’ and ‘Hindu Janajagruti Samiti’ would concur with the view that these organisations should not be allowed to spread their venomous agenda among innocent people any further.
Whether it is their intervention during the International Film Festival held at Goa (November 24, 2008) where they did not allow the screening of an M.F. Husain film or the bomb blasts in Maharashtra where members of these organisations have been found to be involved—the danger which these organisations pose to communal harmony in our country does not bear repetition.
The International Film Festival held at Goa in the last week of November 2008 would be remembered for altogether wrong reasons. The manner in which India’s greatest living painter M.F. Husain’s short film, ‘Through The Eyes of a Painter’, made way back in 1967, was dropped at the last moment under pressure from the Hindu supremacist organisations—namely, the Hindu Janajagruti Samity and the Sanatan Sanstha—would be discussed, debated and condemned for a long time to come. The
sheepish manner in which the authorities capitulated before the ‘threats’ issued by these self-proclaimed defenders of Hinduism evoked widespread condemnation.
The Times of India in its editorial (November 27, 2008) commented:
Husain is, by general acknowledgement, one of India’s greatest artists… There is no reason why the organisers should be cowed down by a fundamentalist group and hold back the screening… Surely, the Goa Government has the resources to ensure that unruly activists do not disrupt film screenings. The permanent venue of the IFFI (International Film Festival of India) must be a place that cherishes liberal values and the artist’s right to freedom of expression. It can’t be held hostage by radical elements who are enemies of art and culture.
Perhaps very few people even know that the aforementioned film, which was ‘..[p]art of a larger bouquet on illustrious artists, writers and poets like Raja Ravi Varma, Amrita Shergil, Picasso, Rabindranath Tagore, Mohammed Iqbal and Mirza Ghalib’, had won many international awards. Definitely this had no effect on the members and sympathisers of these supremacist organisations. It is no coincidence that out of 1250 cases pending before various police stations across the country against M.F. Husain, 900 have been filed in Goa alone, where the concerned organisation(s) are known to have a wider network.
Protesting against the capitulation of the powers-that-be before the likes of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, a memorandum, signed by leading artists and cultural workers of the country underlined another sinister fact about these organisations. It said:
The Hindu Janajagruti Samity and its affiliated organisation, the Sanatan Sanstha, are, as you would know, under investigation by police and intelligence agencies for their possible complicity in a number of terrorist actions in the country. Indeed, the option of declaring them ”unlawful” organisations, is reportedly under active conside-ration. (Sahmat, November 26, 2008)
Perhaps it needs be noted at this juncture that the Maharashtra ATS (Anti-Terrorist Squad), led by the late Hemant Karkare, had sometime ago filed a thousand-plus page chargesheet against activists of these organisations for engaging in terrorist acts. And it was also contemplating to file a supplementary chargesheet to bring forth the role played by these organisations themselves to promote a culture of violence.
The arrests in the Thane and Vashi bomb blasts had also brought to the fore the silent emergence of Hindutva terrorism in western India—especially Maharashtra and Goa. The bomb explosion in Nanded in April 2006 at the house of an RSS activist and the busting of a Hindutva terrorist module and the repeat of a similar explosion in February 2007 in the same city which also witnessed two deaths could be said to be two major incidents to mark the emergence of homegrown Hindutva terrorism.
It is no mere coincidence that three major stalwarts of the idea of Hindutva—Savarkar, Hedgewar-Golwalkar and Bal Thackeray—hail from this area only. And the dilly-dallying resorted to by the powers-that-be vis-a-vis these explosions in Nanded was a clear signal to these forces that they can move ahead with impunity.
It is true that the terrorist acts by the members of the SS and HJS were a precursor to what unfolded in the Malegaon bomb blast, the probe into which exposed the wider Hindutva terrorist network involving senior leaders of the Sangh Parivar at various levels with the likes of Sadhvi Pragya Bharati and Major General Purohit acting as the real executioners of the sinister plot. The late Heman Karkare had also hinted at the possible connections between Major Purohit and the terrorists of the Hindu Janjagruti Samity.
The arrest of sevaks of the Sanatan Sanstha, a religious group that is behind the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti for planting bombs in theatres at Thane and Vashi brought a new dimension to terrorism. Seven people were injured when one of the bombs the sevaks planted exploded in the parking lot of Thane’s Gadkari Rangayatan theatre on June 4.
Ramesh Hanumant Gadkari, Mangesh Nikam, Santosh Angre and Vikram Bhave, the four bombers, are all full-time activists of
the Sanatan Sanstha, living in ashrams run by the organisation……..
Police say that they had planted a bomb outside a mosque or dargah on the Pen highway last Diwali, to check its intensity, but it did not explode. Nikam had earlier set off a bomb in the house of a family in Ratnagiri that had converted to Christianity, and was on bail awaiting trial. [‘Terror’s new face’, Herald, Panjim, June 19, 2008]
As a recap of the events one could say that the bomb blasts at theatres in Vashi (Visnudas Bhave Auditorium, May 31) and Thane (Gadkari Rangayatan Auditorium, June 4), which fortunately did not kill anyone, would have joined many such blasts where the real culprits could never be identified, if the ATS had followed the oftbeaten track of stigmatising a particular community and thus restricting the scope of investigation. One crucial link which the police already had was that the play which was to be staged in these two auditoriums, named Amhi Pachpute, had evoked a strong reaction from the members of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) and Sanatan Sanstha (SS) earlier. The HJS and SS members had even held a joint protest to register their opposition to the manner in which ‘Hindu mythological figures had been shown in poor light’ in the drama. Interestingly, HJS members had similarly held violent protests earlier when another play by the same author, ‘Yada Kadachit’, was staged. (‘Quitely, hardline Hindu outfits build a network across Maharashtra, Goa’, The Indian Express, June 23, 2008)
The arrested terrorists alongwith their accomplice, Dr Hemant Chalke, provided many crucial details to the ATS team. It was the same group which was involved in a bomb explosion at the Panvel cinema hall in February when Jodhaa Akbar was screened. They had also planted a bomb outside a mosque/dargah on the Pen Highway last Diwali. It was worth noting that these terrorists, who owed their allegiance to the HJS and Sanatan Sanstha did not regret their act. They reportedly told the investigators that “We are proud of what we did to deter those who were trying to show our gods and goddesses in poor light.”
The aggressive statements by the culprits emphasised the arrival of Hindutva terrorism in India—a charge which was already in the air but never conceded by anyone. Not to be left behind, Bal Thackeray, the supremo of the Shiv Sena, praised these ‘brave Hindus’ but chided them for using improvised techniques and exhorted Hindus to form ‘suicide squads’ to tackle the ‘menace of Islamic terrorism’.
The Sanstha denied any knowledge of the accused’s activities and said that they did it on their own. It was clear that the protestations of innocence were not taken at face value and the police decided to thoroughly investigate the affairs of the Sanatan Sanstha as well as Hindu Janjagruti Samity which have been formally registered as charitable organisations in Goa. Definitely they cannot evade responsibility for the act as their literature talks of ‘elimination’ of ‘evildoers’ and claims that it is a ‘religious duty’ to combat and counter the ‘enemies of Hinduism’.
The editorial in Herald further added that :
..[S]anatan Sanstha and the Bajrang Dal, two Hindu fundamentalist organisations that are both linked to the bomb blasts, are the main constituents of the broad joint front called the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, which has been holding public meetings all over Goa claiming Hinduism is in danger, and making provocative speeches.
The arrest of these Hindu terrorists belonging to the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and Sanatan Sanstha and the blowing of the lid over the operations of these organisations was followed by the demand from different quarters of society to ban these fanatic Hindu organisations. Apart from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Samajwadi Party (SP) or Jamiat Ulema-e-Hindi, many other organisations/individuals raised their voice in unison.
Looking at the fact that it was for the first time that organised involvement of the Hindutva terrorist groups in bomb blasts in India was being clearly seen, secular organisations underlined the need to have a fresh look at terror attacks in India and toning up the Central and State agencies to look for the real culprits. It was also pointed out that barring the 1993 Bombay bomb blasts which have been investigated, investigations in most of the other bomb blasts in the country have reached a dead end. With the security agencies following a preconceived path and focussing on one possibility. a situation has been created wherein the end product is demonisation of the Muslim community and the rise of Islamophobia in India. In fact it has become the usual pattern which has been well imbibed by the police and security agencies, where a blast anywhere in the country would be claimed as the handiwork of ‘Islamic terrorist organisations’, sketches would be prepared and innocent people would be arrested without any proper proof and would be put to endless torture. It was pointed out that the Jaipur bomb blasts saw the police releasing sketches of suspects at least twice without any valid explanation about the withdrawal of the earlier sketches of drawings. If there is intervention at the level of human rights activists or at any other higher level all such ‘culprits’ would be released with a warning that they do not disclose anything to anyone. And if the near and dear ones of the innocent people are not able to gather enough support from any quarter, they would be booked under various trumped up charges and sent to jail. (Politicisation of terror, Tarique Anwar on June 19, 2008, 8:06 pm. www.twocircles.net)
A write-up in The Indian Express (June 23, 2008), titled ‘Quietly, hardline Hindu Outfits build a network across Maharashtra, Goa’, explained the working of these organisations which ‘work like wheels within wheels’ and mobilise Hindus on “a cocktail of Ramrajya, Hindu Dharma, and ‘dharamkranti’ religious revolution”. A notable feature of the HJS and SS is while there is no formal membership and the funding is through donations, satsangs/religious gatherings are an important feature of mobilisation of people. Apart from many centres in different parts of India, they have centres in New Jersey, Brisbane, Melbourne, Dubai and many other places. It also provides details of the newly launched outfit ‘Dharamshakti Sena’ pictures of whose inaugural rally show young men dressed in military fatigues. The ‘Sena’ was established in 16 districts of Maharashtra towns and cities on Gudi Padwa day this April.
Dharamshakti Sena chief Vinay Panvalkar has travelled extensively across Maharashtra after the establishment of the outfit and is reported to have delivered inflammatory speeches. At a meeting held in Pune, he is quoted as saying: “Hindus are cornered from all sides, but there is no retaliation from them.” At another meeting in Thane, he says: “The war in future will be a Dharamyudh and Dharamshakti Sena will be the guiding force.”
As has been already reported, the arrested Hindu terrorists have claimed that they were working on their own initiative, and the leadership of the Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti have also categorically denied any role in these acts. Interestingly, in one of their own publications they have also condemned the acts even as they sympathised with their grievances. But any close watcher of the whole situation knows that it would not be possible for the leadership of the Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti to hide behind the formal explanations for long.
Apart from the trysts of the terrorists with bombs and violence, the police is rather baffled with the recovery of explosives from different parts of Maharashtra at the behest of the arrested activists:
According to ATS officials, while 19 gelatin sticks, two circuits with remote controls, a circuit without a remote and 20 detonators were found buried in the ground at a spot in Varsai village near Pen, three circuits with remote controls, a circuit without a remote, 12 batteries, a timer and a voltmeter were recovered from the bed of a stream in Pen. Another recovery of similar objects was made from a location in Satara.
“The recoveries in Pen were made on details obtained during the interrogation of Vikram Bhave (26), while that in Satara was based on information provided by Mangesh Nikam (34),” said Additional Commissioner of Police, ATS, Parambeer Singh.
[Express News Service, posted online: Saturday,
June 21, 2008]
A senior officer of the Anti-Terrorism Squad told the media that the meticulous planning which had gone into organising the bomb blasts shows that it cannot be at the initiative of a few persons only and they have all the options yet open before them. According to him, various members of these organisations are being questioned. If there role is found in the planning or the execution of these incidents, the ATS would write to the Central Government and seek that they be banned.
Apart from interrogation of different associates of these Hindu terrorists, the ATS also needs to take a close look at the plethora of literature published by the Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and different issues of their regular newspaper and magazines and other material. A close look at the functioning of the organisations and the methods of their indoctrination, which place the “Guru” (teacher) at the supreme level, makes it clear that it would not be difficult for the ATS to nab the people who ‘remote control’ the activities of their gullible followers.
It is definitely no Kafkaesque scenario where one fine morning someone experiences metamorphosis of a different kind.
It is a real world, a world which talks of ‘spiritual salvation’ and ‘awareness of righteousness’, a world which supposedly ‘aims to present religious mysticism in a scientific language for the curious and to guide-seekers’, which ‘conducts weekly spiritual meetings, discourses, child guidance classes, workshops on spirituality etc.’ but this is just one part of the whole story.
The other part of the story is that here ‘destruction of evildoers’ is an integral part of ‘spiritual practice’. And this ‘destruction’ is to be done at ‘physical and psychological level’. Interestingly, to facilitate this ‘dharamkranti’ (religious revolution) the seekers are also provided with training in arms—rifles, trishuls, lathis and other weapons.
Enter the strange, unbelievable albeit real world of the Sanatan Sanstha (www.sanatan.org) and Hindu Janajagruti Samity.
It needs to be told that apart from the ‘magnum opus’ of the founder of the SS and HJS, Jayant Athavale, which is called Science of Spirituality—a book of 21 volumes—and other texts about ‘Divine Kingdom’, ‘Arts for God Realisation’ and ‘Spiritual Experiences of Seekers’ etc., a very important text in the training of the seekers is Texts on Defence where seekers of divine kingdom are also imparted training with air rifles. (Vol 3 H – Self Defence Training, Chapter 6, pages 108-109)
It would be opportune to discuss a portion from this text which trains the seeker in ‘Firing’. In 7 a. it trains the seeker in standing stance (kada pavitra) [shooting in the standing posture] in section 7 b. it discusses sitting stance (baitha pavitra) [shooting in the sitting stance]. It also shows a photograph of Vinay Panvalkar wearing a hat showing the different positions.
7 B. Sitting Stance (baitha pavitra) [shooting in the sitting stance] says
1. Load the rifle according to steps ‘A to F of point 6. Loading the rifle.’ Then proceed as given below.
2. Ready to fire—one (fire ke liye sajja—ek) :
Once this command is given touch the right knee to the ground. Bending the toes of the right foot support the foot on its ball. At that time the left knee should be bent and kept in front of the right one…..
Another write-up in Goan Observer also displays seven photographs of Vinay Panvalkar which have appeared in another of the Sanatan Sanstha’s publication [Swasaunrakshan Prashikshan (Self-Defence Training)]. While four photographs show training by rifle, two photographs show how to attack someone with a long trishul and the last one is the usual fight with bare hands. The same write-up makes an interesting point vis-a-vis the HJS/SS and RSS/VHP/Bajrang Dal.
According to the write-up,
..It would appear that these hardline organisations have come up because of the disillusionment amongst hardcore fanatic Hindus that the BJP and the RSS have compromised their core values for political gains. In fact though the Sansthan boasted of over two lakh members when it started in 1999, many members were expelled because they were proved to be ‘corrupt’. Unlike the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal activists, the activists of the Sanstha maintain a very low profile which makes it difficult to combat their mischief.
The same page carries a photograph of Jayant Athavale, the founder of the HJS and SS, in military fatigue exhorting the people to ‘become Hindu Naxalites to combat the Naxalites who are the biggest enemies of Dharamrajya’.
Jayant Athavale’s magnum opus, Science of Spirituality, in its chapter ‘Spiritual Practice of Protecting Seekers and Destroying Evildoers’ (Vol I, E, pages 64-65), underlines the importance of the guru to undertake spiritual practice’. It clearly absolves the seeker from any act of destroying evildoers.
B 2. One chanting continuously: The action of destroying evildoers becomes a non-action only if done along with chanting the Lord’s name, as then it becomes a mere act (Kriya). Then the Law of Karma (Action) does not apply.
B 3. One who is permitted by saints or Gurus to undertake this spiritual practice: Destroy evildoers if you have been advised by saints or Gurus to do so. Then these acts are not registered in your name.
According to the book,
Timetable of the spiritual practice
a. Year 1997-1999 A.D. (3 Years) : Impressing upon the mind that ‘destruction of evildoers’ is a part of the spiritual nature.
b. Year 2000-2006 A.D. (7 years) : Actual destruction of evildoers at physical, psychological and spiritual levels.
c. Year 2007-2022 A.D. (16 Years) : Generating the potential to run the kingdom of the Absolute truth.
d. Year 2023 – 2025 A.D. (3 Years) : Commencement of the regime of Absolute Truth (divine kingdom)
Vol 4 of the book, ‘Texts about the Divine Kingdom’, focuses on Social Upliftment, National Security and measures someone’s ‘spiritual progress’ when he is compelled to ‘kill someone’. (pages 48-49)
6 C 4. Test of Spiritual Progress: One will perceive how much spiritual progress one has made only when he is compelled to kill someone. It is easy to make statements like ‘everything is Brahman (God)’. When actually performing the act of killing, if the mind remains steady and does not waver at all like Arjun’s did, only then can one say that one has realised Brahman.
It also presents its ideas about who would ‘bring about a revolution’:
6 D. Only warrior seekers (Kshatravir) can bring about a revolution.
6 D 1. Warrior-seekers who have an unparalleled combination of a selfless attitude, unity, intense motivation to undertake the mission and faith in it The Lord. It is not an easy task to oust evil politicians. To achieve this, one will have to combat their ruffian party workers, the police force and the Army under their command. Therefore, this is certainly not the work of selfish politicians. The people have experienced in the last 54 years after independence that despite granting opportunity to various parties to assume power, replacement of one politician by another does not bring about any change in society.
For an organisation which is so ultra-sensitive about the slightest imagined insult to Hinduism—imagined or real—the literature of the Sanatan Sanstha is rife with attacks on other religions. Apart from valorising violence through its literature
and actions, the organisations have achieved notoriety for abusing other religions and their prophets. For example, in one of the issues of Sanatan Prabhat (December 9, 2005), a newspaper brought out by it from many districts in Maharashtra and Goa, it ‘exposes the real nature of the Bible’ by calling it a ‘manual for teaching immorality’ and discusses in detail ‘ the rape of a sister by a brother’. There are frequent references to the Bible, alleging that it promotes incest and other immoral practices. It is part of its usual practice to show a Pastor with horns whose sole agenda is proselytisation. In September 2004, Sanatan Prabhat carried a statement saying that the body of St. Francis Xavier should be destroyed. It has also carried other scurrilous articles about Goa’s patron saint. Its humiliation of Islam and Prophet Muhammad created a near-riot like situation in Miraj (in the first week of November 2005) and the imprisonment of the editor of Sanatan Prabhat.
Interestingly, all talk of Hindu unity in the worldview of the HJS falls at the altar of caste and other regressive practices in our society
Believers are exhorted to guide offenders away from the path of incorrect practice. The volumes in the series support the regressive and obscurantist practices of the past, including the caste system, talking repeatedly about the proper role of various castes in society.
Herald (Panjim, June 22, 2008)
Herald (Panjim, June 22, 2008) concludes with the observation:
After having created an ideological framework which creates a fundamentalist mindset and makes it the ‘duty’ of the true seeker to defend the faith against all those who are projected as attacking it, it is disingenuous of the HJS and the SS to disclaim responsibility for the acts engaged in by their members. Ex-members of these organisations talk about the cult-like atmosphere that is created, with unquestioning obedience being stressed. Members are then brainwashed into believing that Hinduism is under siege. Against this background, and with all the talk about ‘defence’ and ‘elimination of evildoers’, it is hardly surprising that adherents begin to explore ways of taking direct action to defend the faith. In this regard, the philosophy of the HJS and the SS is not all that different from the philosophy of terrorists, whom they claim to oppose.
“Violence towards evildoers is non-violence itself” and “it is a sin not to slay an evildoer”!
In a detailed write-up in Goan Observer (‘Protecting Hinduism : Sanatan Style’, Pradnya Gaonkar, June 28, 2008) the ‘covert activities of self-professed protectors of Hinduism, the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, have been looked into. The author writes that
The Chief Minister, Digamber Kamat, and the Leader of the Opposition, Manohar Parrikar, not to mention the IGP Kishen Kumar, should be more concerned over the terrorist activities of the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti than chasing imaginary Naxalites.
Apart from their strong presence in Goa at rural levels, the author also brings to the fore the political patronage received by them at the highest levels.
The investigations done by Goan Observer
..[r]evealed that Jyoti Sudin Dhavlikar, wife of the MGP leader and transport minister in the Digamber Kamat government Sudin Dhavalikar, is in charge of the Goa unit of the Sanatan Sanstha. Goan Observer also understands that the IGP, Kishen Kumar, despite being directed to investigate the activities of the Sanatan Sanstha in Goa, did not follow it up seriously because of political pressure… The Marcaim MGP MLA, Sudin Dhavalikar, and his brother are crucial to the continued survival of the Digamber Kamat government which explains why the Chief Minister is not enthusiastic about investigating the credentials of the Sanatan Sanstha.
The Self-Defence Manual of the Sanatan Sanstha
..[w]hich is mandatory reading for its activists, reveals the insidious nature of the communal propaganda being carried out by the ‘charitable organisation’. Surely, there can be nothing charitable about images showing young men in military uniform shooting dead a man typically dressed like a Muslim. The defence of course would be that the young men were shooting the ‘Muslim’, who is also shown armed, in self-defence. The Sanatan Sanstha’s Swasaunrakshan Prashikshan contains explicit instructions on what parts of the anatomy should be targeted for causing maximum damage, shows how the trishul can be used as an offensive weapon and has an entire chapter on how to use air rifles. Except that the training imparted for using air rifles can be used for handling AK-47s also. The images of the activists wielding the gun shows them wearing
T-shirts identifying them as soldiers of the Sanatan Sanstha and exhorts activists to kill ‘evil’ and uphold Hindu values.
The study also throws light on the process of indoctrination which follows a policy of targeting young minds and systematically brainwashing them. It is much on the lines of
…[o]ther Hindu fundamentalist organisations like the RSS, the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad,
The fact that the moving spirit, if not the founder of the Sansthan, Dr Jayant Balaji Athavale, was a clinical hypnotherapist has been reflected in the methodology adopted by the Sanatan Sanstha for indoctrinating and brainwashing young minds. Young people who attended the satsangs (weekly meets of the members of the SS) of the Sanstha narrate that they are required to fill pages with the name of the Kuldevta and obtain mental peace. The satsangs were cleverly packaged to convert young open minds into fanatical defenders of the Sanatan Sanstha version of dharma.
The publication of the Sanstha revealed that it is committed to militant defence of Hinduism, which it claims is under threat not only from the minorities but from members of the Hindu community themselves who are either not conscious of the threat to Hinduism or not committed enough to Hinduism to aggressively protect it from real or imaginary threats.
It is for everyone to see that organisations like the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, Sanatan Sanstha and Dharamshakti Sena and their open espousal of violence against ‘evildoers’ under the garb of ‘spiritual practice’ cannot be allowed to continue any further.
Whatever might be the claims of the accused in the bomb blasts—that the whole operation was at their own initiative—it is clear to any layperson that their organisations can never escape the blame for preparing the conditions so that ‘seekers’ unleash violence against religious minorities for the espousal of spirituality.
A cursory glance at the writings and speeches of the leaders of the SS and HJS makes it clear that in a democratic set-up they need to pay for their hate-filled speeches and for promoting the division of society on communal lines. For all its talk of spirituality it is becoming extremely clear that the likes of Jayant Athavale are essentially zealots for the formation of a Hindu Rashtra in secular India. In one of his exhortations (Sanatan Prabhat, August 16, 2005) he talks of the ‘inevitability of building of Hindu Rashtra to avoid the breaking of the India at the hands of the irreligious’.
It was only last year that the HJS had organised a photo exhibition in different parts of Goa and Maharashtra to present their version of the ‘attacks on Hindus in Kashmir and Bangladesh’ This particular exhibition evoked a strong reaction from a wide cross-section of people with its one-sided pictorisation of events. The exhibition had been prepared by Frank Gautier, a saffron sympathiser from Europe. The exhibition was basically a photo-documentation by Francois Gautier—a well-known apologist of the Hindutva project. The object of the exhibition was to supposedly ‘educate the average Hindu about the violence by Muslims on the Hindus of Kashmir and Bangladesh’, but, as the pictures and illustrations reflected, the real ‘aim was to ensure that local Hindus see the local Muslim as the natural and necessary enemy’. (Gomantak Times, Panjim, October 2, 2007: ‘An Invitation To Hate and Spread It’, Jason Keith Fernandes)
It is high time that measures are taken at the policy level so that the likes of Jayant Athavale and Vinay Panvalkar and all their followers are restrained from taking up any cause which could ‘provide fresh impetus to forces of exclusion’.
If the government dithers over taking any action against leaders of the HJS or, for that matter, Sanatan Sanstha, then one will have to get ready for a protracted struggle against these forces. A mass movement for the defence of secularism and democracy would be a fitting answer to all such forces based on hate and exclusion.
Till the time we prepare ourselves for launching such a movement, legal interventions should also be tried. People conversant with law or its different statues can tell you what sort of clauses from the Indian Penal Code would apply in the case of the hate-filled propaganda by them. If convicted, they will have to spend at least three years in any Indian jail.
However, the question remains: who will gather enough courage to ‘bell the cat’?