January 22, 2013


Francois Gautier

Is there such a thing as 'Hindu terrorism', as Home Minister Shinde is heavily hinting at? Well, I am one of that rare breed of foreign correspondents — a lover of Hindus! A born Frenchman, Catholic-educated and non-Hindu, I do hope I'll be given some credit for my opinions, which are not the product of my parents' ideas, my education or my atavism, but garnered from 25 years of reporting in South Asia (for Le Journal de Geneve and Le Figaro). 

In the early 1980s, when I started freelancing in south India, doing photo features on Kalaripayattu, the Ayyappa festival, or the Ayyanars, I slowly realised that the genius of this country lies in its Hindu ethos, in the true spirituality behind Hinduism. The average Hindu you meet in a million villages possesses this simple, innate spirituality and accepts your diversity, whether you are Christian or Muslim, Jain or Arab, French or Chinese. It is this Hinduness that makes the Indian Christian different from, say, a French Christian, or the Indian Muslim unlike a Saudi Muslim. I also learnt that Hindus not only believed that the divine could manifest itself at different times, under different names, using different scriptures (not to mention the wonderful avatar concept, the perfect answer to 21st century religious strife) but that they had also given refuge to persecuted minorities from across the world—Syrian Christians, Parsis, Jews, Armenians, and today, Tibetans.

In 3,500 years of existence, Hindus have never militarily invaded another country, never tried to impose their religion on others by force or induced conversions. You cannot find anybody less fundamentalist than a Hindu in the world and it saddens me when I see the Indian and western press equating terrorist groups like SIMI, which blow up innocent civilians, with ordinary, angry Hindus who burn churches without killing anybody. We know also that most of these communal incidents often involve persons from the same groups—often Dalits and tribals—some of who have converted to Christianity and others not. However reprehensible the destruction of Babri Masjid, no Muslim was killed in the process; compare this to the 'vengeance' bombings of 1993 in Bombay, which wiped out hundreds of innocents, mostly Hindus. Yet the Babri Masjid destruction is often described by journalists as the more horrible act of the two. We also remember how Sharad Pawar, when he was chief minister of Maharashtra in 1993, lied about a bomb that was supposed to have gone off in a Muslim locality of Bombay.

I have never been politically correct, but have always written what I have discovered while reporting. Let me then be straightforward about this so-called Hindu terror. Hindus, since the first Arab invasions, have been at the receiving end of terrorism, whether it was by Timur, who killed 1,00,000 Hindus in a single day in 1399, or by the Portuguese Inquisition which crucified Brahmins in Goa. Today, Hindus are still being targeted: there were one million Hindus in the Kashmir valley in 1900; only a few hundred remain, the rest having fled in terror. Blasts after blasts have killed hundreds of innocent Hindus all over India in the last four years. Hindus, the overwhelming majority community of this country, are being made fun of, are despised, are deprived of the most basic facilities for one of their most sacred pilgrimages in Amarnath while their government heavily sponsors the Haj.. They see their brothers and sisters converted to Christianity through inducements and financial traps, see a harmless 84-year-old swami and a sadhvi brutally murdered. Their gods are blasphemed. So sometimes, enough is enough.

At some point, after years or even centuries of submitting like sheep to slaughter, Hindus—whom the Mahatma once gently called cowards—erupt in uncontrolled fury. And it hurts badly. It happened in Gujarat. It happened in Jammu, then in Kandhamal, Mangalore, Malegaon, or Ajmer. It may happen again elsewhere. What should be understood is that this is a spontaneous revolution on the ground, by ordinary Hindus, without any planning from the political leadership. 

Therefore, the BJP, instead of fighting over each other as to whom should be the next party president, or who will be their PM candidate for the 2014 elections, should do well to put its house together. For it's evident that the Congress has decided on this absurd strategy of the absurd, the untrue, the unjust, the treacherous, only to target Mr Narendra Modi, their enemy number One.

It should also fight the Untrue with Truth: there are about a billion Hindus, one in every six persons on this planet. They form one of the most successful, law-abiding and integrated communities in the world today. Can you call them terrorists? Let the BJP compile a statistics of how many Hindus were killed by Muslims since 1947 and how many Muslims by Hindus. These statistics will speak by themselves


Kumar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kumar said...

Will the Hon'ble Home Minister and the External Affairs Minister (who more often than not meddles in domestic politics) and their fellow pseudo-secularists care to read what a foreign correspondent has written on the allegations of Hindu terrorism or saffron terrorism?

Mr. Shinde's statement about so-called Hindu terror has been welcomed more in Pakistan with the Jammat ud Dawa chief Hafeez Saeed among the biggest fans of the HM of this country. One does not know how many party functionaries of the ruling Congress frowned or were happy, but the bulk of Indian society who condemn terrorism of all hues are certainly enraged. Such ill-advised politically motivated statements have not only a demoralising effect on the security forces combatting terror on a daily basis in J & K and elsewhere, the statements also portray India and the government in very poor light in international fora.

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Anonymous said...

But wasnt Ravan a Hindu – a bhakt of Shivji? So when Sri Ram attacked lanka was he not attacking another Hindu? Or does Francis think that the Ramayana is pure mythology

What about the Mahabharata was it not a war against Hindus by the Hindus?

What about the rise and fall of the various dynasties in India in ancient times?

It is unfortunate that we are so hungup about our historical past that we cannot see the damage that it is doing us Indians and our country India.

Swaroop Joshi said...

Thanks a ton for the piece, Monsieur Gautier.

Could you pl shade some light on the reference to Mr Pawar's 1993 comment in your article? As the media has focused more on Ayodhya than Mumbai-blasts, I have no clue what you were referring to. Forgive my ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Sharad pawar purposefully planned, planted and detonated bomb in muslim majority area, so as to give an impression that even muslims were victims of 1993 bomb blasts. Note that all bombs planted by dawood ibrahim were in hindu majority areas.

Anonymous said...

Hindu Politicians, apart from CM of Gujerat and few others, will never understand the meaning of "Hinduism"
They understand only one language which is "Wealth & Power"
I can only add that Monsieur Francois Gautier should call such politicians who makes blind comments and hold an open debate in public. Then let such politicians provide an explanation of their comments.

Dr. Vishwanath Ayengar said...

Wow. I am impressed. I wish I could read every report published by this correspondent.

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Vikram Manjunath said...

"Let the BJP compile a statistics of how many Hindus were killed by Muslims since 1947 and how many Muslims by Hindus. These statistics will speak by themselves"

I question the validity of your moral reasoning. What is the philosophical basis for suggesting that these numbers have any meaningful comparison? Do you mean to say that if Hindus are killed by Muslims, then the killing of Muslims by Hindus, in however barbaric a manner, cannot be called terrorism so long as the number of Muslims killed is fewer than the number of Hindus killed? One infers, from the above quote, that the answer is "yes." I find that a morally reprehensible position to take.