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Our secular cowards

Our secular cowards

Publication: Organiser
Date: April 29, 2007
URL: http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=181&page=13

Introduction: Hindu labour has done marvels to raise Malaysia's economy. And to think that in the end this is what it gets by way of thanks should make our secularists think. And our Muslim co-citizens as well. Or is cowardice the other face of secularism?

When the disputed structure (Babri Masjid), a decrepit building, built revengefully over a destroyed temple by an ungracious Islamic general during the reign of Babar was brought down by an angry gathering who felt deeply hurt, there was hell to pay. Forgotten was the fact that a Muslim ruler had deliberately built a mosque in a Hindu holy city, Ayodhya, to show who was in power. Forgotten was the fact that the masjid was built on the site of a temple, which had been destroyed. Forgotten, too, was the fact that the masjid had long been out of service. Every abuse was hurled at the RSS who were called by every foul name under the sun. Intellectuals went so far as to say that the Ayodhya referred to in ancient works was located somewhere in Nepal or Afghanistan, that there was no evidence that Rama was born at the site of the temple (evidently the then Magistrate did not issue a certificate of birth to Rama's parents) and that the original temple itself was built over a Jain temple-and forget what the Department of Archaeology had discovered. Angry Hindus swallowed the insults hurled at them.

Now comes some strange news that no newspaper has published, no doubt out of a great sense of liberalism. And it is shocking. What it says is that, according to a conservative estimate, some 10,000 'temples' in Malaysia have been demolished since 1985. For all one knows, the temples' may have been small structures, road side shrines, but obviously many were large and created no problems.

The information published by Organiser (March 12-18) surely is open to verification and our secularists are free to check it. Malaysia calls itself secular, though the national religion is Islam and Malaysia makes no bones about its faith; one has only to listen to the local Television channels to appreciate that. Hindus form about 15 per cent of the Malaysian population (almost the same as the percentage of Muslim population in India). Almost all the temples built in Malaysia are older than the Republic (i.e. at least 60 years) and were built by the labourers and Indian businessmen who immigrated to that peninsula during the British rule.

The Indians did not go to Malaysia as conquerors; nor did they destroy any masjid. If they built temples for themselves it was under British aegis and with due permission. Now the Islamicists in Malaysia seem determined to demolish those very temples. The Kuil Shri Maha Mariamman Temple built in Selangor De around 1899 and is over 107 years old was termed illegal and destroyed in 2006. The Shri Ayyanar Sathiswary Temple (over 65 year old) at Jalan Davies was demolished on February 22, 2006 and the idols buried at the site. The Malaimels Shri Solva Kaliamman Temple Pantai at Kuala Lumpur (over 100 years old) was demolished on April 17, 2006. The Vaalmunswarar Rajaamman Kovil (over 60 years old) at Lady Temple Hospital, Kuala Lumpur was demolished on May 3, 2006. The Shri Kaliamman Temple in Midlands Estate, Sekayen 7, Shah Alam (more than 100 years old ) was demolished by the Shah Alam City Hall on May 9, 2006. The Shri Balakrishnan Muniswarer Temple in Setapak (more than 50 years old) was partly demolished and threatened with further demolition notice by the Kuala Lumpur City Authorities. The Ganggai Muthu Karumarianman Temple in PMR Datu Buntung Estate Kulum, Kedah was torched on May 15, 2006 by unknown criminals. The Shri Balakrishnan Muniswarer Temple in Setapak was completely demolished and deities broken up on June 8, 2006. The Shri Kaliaamman Temple in Midlands Estate, Seksyen 7, Shah Alam was completely demolished for the second time on June 12, 2006 and three main Hindu deities were hammered and smashed to pieces with a sledge hammer by the Shah Alam City Council Enforcement officers. None of these atrocities have been reported by the media. The only one to do so is Organiser; it will be thrashed by our secularists and liberals but they are free, as was earlier stated, to check out the facts mentioned.

Reporting the demolition of temples the weekly wrote: "For the Hindus in Malaysia, life has become a hell. The local administration in Malaysia with the covert support of the federal government are systematically demolishing Hindu temples. In the last 20 months, so intolerable has the situation become that the Hindu organisation in Malaysia have appealed to the UN and other international agencies for the first time seeking intervention."

There has not been so much as a whisper from our secularists or from the government of India. Malaysia is a Muslim country, isn't it? So it has the right to demolish Hindu temples, doesn't it ? And if those demolished structures are not 'temples' but merely street side shrines, what is wrong with demolishing them? There will be these and similar other excuses given by our secular Government and out secularists. There has again not been so much as a kind supportive word from any Muslim organisation and the excuse will be: "We do not know anything about these activities. Besides, how can we trust the RSS?" What, in the circumstances the Government of India must do is to make an inquiry into the allegations and publish the findings. What is the government afraid of? Even if it is not true that so many temples have been razed to the ground and those destroyed are limited, the facts must be brought out.

After all, the Hindu volunteers demolished only one masjid, the Babri Masjid which was (a) built on a destroyed temple (b) was not in use at the time it was demolished and (c) could easily have been handed over to Hindus who were willing and ready to build a masjid further away at their cost. Secular and Muslim fundamentalists would not give an inch. It only enraged Hindus-and with what result everyone knows only too well.

If an inquiry conducted proves that the allegations made against Malaysia are correct then it is for our secularists and liberals to give an explanation. True, two wrongs do not make one right, but India has not embarked on a masjid demolishing spree such as Malaysia has allegedly indulge in. If an inquiry shows that the information is wrong, an apology would be due. According to a report, an NGO 'Hindu Rights Action Force' has taken the initiative in raising the matter of temple destruction in Malaysia before all is lost. Malaysia is a comparatively small country. It has a mixed population. Hindu labour has done marvels to raise Malaysia's economy. And to think that in the end this is what it gets by way of thanks should make our secularists think. And our Muslim co-citizens as well. Or is cowardice the other face of secularism?

It is easy to blast local Hindus and call them by names. One must also have the courage to stand up for Hindus when they are being stamped upon in another country.

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