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Offensive, prima facie

Offensive, prima facie

Author: Balbir Punj
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: November 20, 2004

Two high profile midnight swoops within two and half years by the Tamil Nadu Police expose the double standards in Indian public life. When Ms J Jayalalithaa's stormtroopers in uniform had picked up the DMK top brass, Mr M Karunanidhi, there was countrywide uproar across party and ideological lines. While, ironically, the same DMK is celebrating Kanchi Shankaracharya's humiliating midnight arrest, the "secularists" and self-proclaimed human rights activists are busy rationalising the sordid drama in the name of "rule of law" and "equality before the law".

Those (the Left and other "secularists") who are now quoting the rules have no respect either for the law or the Constitution. Indira Gandhi had the Constitution amended to upturn adverse court verdicts in the bank nationalisation and privy purse cases. When her election to the Lok Sabha was struck down, she clamped Emergency, arrested Opposition leaders and workers in lakhs, gagged the press and made changes in the law with retrospective effect to legitimise her own election. The Marxist gang was co-conspirator in this wholescale throttling of democracy. Mrs Gandhi, when arrested for Emergency excesses, was treated with kid gloves by the Janata Party regime of Morarji Desai. She chose the time of her arrest and stayed in a guest-house with all the comforts. Contrast this with the treatment given to the Shankaracharya.

The "secular" establishment under Rajiv Gandhi had no compunctions in negating the Supreme Court judgement in the Shah Bano case under pressure of Muslim clergy. While all courtesy and comfort is ensured by the establishment to RJD goons in Lalu's Bihar in spite of court verdicts, several tainted politicians continue to adorn the treasury benches in the Manmohan Singh Government.

The present and previous Shahi Imams of Delhi's Jama Masjid have some two dozen cases pending against them. Recently, a case of keeping black bucks in his courtyard and forcible encroachment of roads/pavements in Old Delhi were in news. But no government, including the NDA, showed the courage to execute any summon or warrant against him. All political parties are indulgent to him in exchange for electoral support.

When a Christian priest is involved in acts of paedophilia, the intelligentsia gives him the benefit of the doubt and the law takes a benevolent view. In such a situation, the "secularist" position is that the accused priest is innocent, the evidence is cooked up, and the investigating agencies are either corrupt or inefficient or under the influence of "communalists" (read RSS/VHP, etc). In short, irrespective of the nature of the evidence, it is projected as a frame-up by some "crafty" Hindu organisation. Doubts are never raised about the character or functioning of the accused. The DMK, which is clamouring for the takeover of the Kanchi mutt by the state, has never made similar demands for the enormous properties of the church or Wakf.

Recently, a series of bomb blasts rocked Hyderabad after Maulana Naseeruddin of Tahreek Tafuz-e-Shariyat Islam was taken away by the Gujarat Police from the Andhra capital on charges of involvement with the ISI. In fact, the "secular" Congress Government of Andhra Pradesh was prompt in ordering an inquiry into the events that led to the arrest of Naseeruddin by the Gujarat Police and filing a case of murder against ACP Narendra Kumar Amin who made the arrest.

Remember how the "secular" cabal had pilloried the "communal" Gujarat Police when Ishrat Jahan and her terrorist friends were killed in police firing in Ahmedabad and arms and ammunitions were recovered from them? Communists and human rights activists -otherwise highly trained in locating flaws in any kind of establishment-seem to suddenly discover immense faith in the fairness of the administration and the police action.

Human rights are apparently reserved for Naxalites, insurgents, and Bangladeshi infiltrators. Any attempt to dislodge the Bangladeshi migrants is met with stiff opposition from the "secularists", who quote the rulebook and argue on the fine print of the law. When the Shiv Sena Government in Maharashtra had deported such infiltrators from Bangladesh, their train was stopped and Forward Block activists in West Bengal forcibly released them.

Indian jails make special provisions so that Muslim prisoners who fast during Ramzan can carry out their religious obligations smoothly. But, sadly, in the case of Shankaracharya, no such consideration was shown. Why? His position obliges him to perform rituals in the mutt beginning at half past three in the morning. He is old, diabetic and, as per custom, eats only self-cooked meal.

However, there can be no two opinions that the law must take it own course- nothing less, nothing more. Midnight arrests are not unusual (executed mostly against smugglers, criminals and fugitives), but to keep metropolitan court open through the night in wait so that the police can present the Shankaracharya is perhaps something unique in the history of criminal law in India. The police justify its commando operation against the seer on the specious logic that he was trying to escape to Nepal. Does one need any more proof of the establishment's intentions in this case?

Whether the seer is guilty or not will be known after the court verdict. But whatever "evidence" the prosecution has produced so far, can at best be termed dubious. It is based on cell phone records and the phone does not belong to the Shankaracharya. The money recovered from the alleged killers has been traced to a bank account, not that of the mutt but an NGO. The statements incriminating the seer have been obtained from mutt's riffraff capable of implicating or exonerating any one under inducement or pressure. Whether he is an offender or not in Sankararaman's murder, the shabby treatment of him underlines the contempt the establishment has for Hindu sensibilities.

The question is, why was the mutt targetted? The Kanchi mutt, over the decades, has practiced what Swami Vivekananda taught: Atmano mokasharthan jagat hitayech (work for the salvation of self and good of the world). Its constructive influence on Hindu society, whether on conversion, integration of the Dalits with the rest of Hindu society, or solution to the Ram Janmabhoomi, has made it a thorn in the side of anti-national elements. The Kanchi seer and the mutt were seen as wielding political clout and secured a place in contemporary public life of the country. The known enemies of Hindu society definitely have a stake in getting him and the mutt discredited. The institution of the Shankaracharya is a custodian of an ancient tradition.

There is little doubt that the humiliation heaped on the mutt is partly the result of competitive Dravidian politics which has a strong streak of atheism. Ms Jayalalithaa has been a devotee of the Shankaracharya for many years and the peeth had been the beneficiary of her largesse. Following the anti-conversion legislation in Tamil Nadu, she was branded "communal". Now, in order to appear "secular" and lure PMK and MDMK with AIDMK to her fold, she has decided to act against Shankaracharya in her typically vindictive fashion. No wonder the "secularists" are happy to gang up behind her in the game of Hindu-bashing.

The Shankaracharya's "crime" is yet to be established. But the "secular" cabal has already been proved guilty of following double standards. The entire "human rights" enterprise of the Leftists is to help their ideological cousins in their goal to balkanise India and rationalise the misuse of state against those who believe in the spiritual traditions, the civil society and integrity of India.

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