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The War Within: Ideology That Killed 39 Indians In Iraq Is Not New To India

Author: Raghav Awasthi
Publication:  Swarajyamag.com
Date: March 22, 2018
URL:    https://swarajyamag.com/politics/the-war-within-ideology-that-killed-39-indians-in-iraq-is-not-new-to-india


Don’t think the war is in Iraq, away from home. The war with Islamism is here, in India.

The killing of 39 Indian citizens in Mosul, Iraq, has shocked the conscience of all right-thinking citizens of our country. However, the purpose of this piece is not to indulge in a political blame game over whether the government of India’s Ministry of External Affairs was remiss in performing any of its duties. That can be left to the professional politician. Instead, a more fruitful endeavour would be to discuss the larger message that the killing has for us, Indians, and what the implications would be if the Islamic State ideology were to take root in India.

Fact is, there is enough reason to believe that the ideology has gained an almost critical mass of adherents in this country. Furthermore, we need to understand and appreciate that although Islamic State, famously and, I daresay, inaccurately described by the outgoing United States (US) president Barack Obama as a “junior varsity” avatar of the al Qaeda, is of recent vintage, Islamist depredations as dastardly as that of Islamic State are not new to us. The government should, of course, do as much as it can to ensure that those who committed the killings are brought to justice; it also needs to ensure that homegrown ersatz Islamic State terrorists are contained as well.

It is well-known to all students of history that Islamism of the Islamic State variety, based on the premise of supremacy of the Islamic religious faith, has had a blood-soaked history in India. The torture and killing of the Sikh gurus Arjan Dev and Tegh Bahadur and even Banda Singh Bahadur, and Shivaji’s son, Sambhaji, for refusing to convert to Islam, are cases in point. ‘Intellectuals’ of a certain ideological persuasion will tell us that this barbarism was the style du jour in the late Medieval era and we cannot apply modern standards of behaviour to judge those acts. Fair enough! However, what about the depredations committed on non-Muslims by Islamist barbarians in India beginning in the 1980s?

One of the less recognised incidents amidst the killing of Kashmiri Pandits, because of the low profile of the victim, is the rape and murder of one Girja Tikoo, who was working as a laboratory assistant at Government High School in Trehgam (North Kashmir). Islamist terrorists raped her for three days and then dismembered her body using a chainsaw before leaving behind her remains to rot in the sun.

This incident is from January 1990. The abduction and beheading of the likes of Daniel Pearl and the Norwegian tourist Hans Christian Ostro are comparatively recent in public memory, and the details of the same do not warrant repetition. As a matter of fact, a report in the Times of India goes on to state that there have been more than 150 beheadings in Kashmir since 1995. The most recent incident of this nature, undoubtedly inspired by previous such incidents, took place as late as November last year.

And it is not just Jammu and Kashmir where Islamists, whose signature style is brutal by Islamic State standards, have had a free run. The newspapers have even reported a recent incident from Bihar, where a certain Ramchandra Yadav was beheaded by members of a certain community merely because he was in favour of naming a certain road after Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Every now and then, we hear of young men and women in places like Telangana, Kerala, and of course Kashmir getting attracted to the Islamic State ideology.

There was a recent Facebook post by one Aamir Ahmed Amin, who claims to have been a schoolmate of a slain terrorist from Jammu and Kashmir, describing the latter’s attraction to Islamic State and their depraved worldview. Of course, when Islamic State flags are openly waved in Jammu and Kashmir or the rest of the country, the ‘intellectuals’ engage in whataboutery by raising the bogey of Hindu terror and telling us that all those who are waving these flags are misguided and need counselling.

As far as I’m concerned, the brutal and unvarnished truth is this: Islamist terrorism has had a long and inglorious history in India and ‘infidels’ who are not adherents of Islam have been, for the most part, at the receiving end of the same. Although the killing of 39 Indians that took place in Mosul did not take place in India, there is no doubt that the killers were inspired by a murderous zeal that should be familiar even to someone who has dabbled in Indian history as a dilettante.

As citizens of a secular and liberal republic, we should do more to spread awareness of the grave ills of Islamism and the Salafist ideology of Islamic State gaining adherents in this country. We should also be mindful of the fact that the ideology and atrocities that we have come to associate with Islamic State are not new to us. Eternal vigilance, as the Irish lawyer and statesman John Philpot Curran put it eloquently, is the price of liberty indeed, and we must not allow pseudo liberals to lull our body politic into a false sense of security in the face of real and present danger!

- Raghav Awasthi is a lawyer based in Delhi and a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
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