Swamy, Diggy & the stereotyping of the innocent

We live in an era of unabashed competitive communalism.

Behind every terror attack, Hindutva hit squads and “Internet Hindus” find the ghosts and stick figures of the Indian Mujahideen or other hyphenated Islamist groups, shortly after which Congress loose mouths like Digvijay Singh stand up to blame Hindu terror groups and clump the RSS with it.

The finger-wagging and tu-tu-main-main fills up a few hours on the 9 o’clock shouting matches before the nation settles down to await its next blast.

And so it is with the July 13 serial blasts in Bombay.

Neither the City’s police nor the anti-terror squad of the Maharashtra police, not certainly the national investigation agency have pronounced fully or firmly as to which direction the needle of suspicion points, but the usual suspects are already in full force pointing their fingers at, well, the usual suspects.

The Janata Party maverick Dr Subramanian Swamy, whose education at Harvard clearly seems to be an academic aberration on the way to the Jan Sangh and RSS, wrote an article in the Bombay newspaper DNA on Sunday. Titled “How to wipe out Islamic terror“, the piece was a typical rant, straight out of a dummy’s guide to Hindutva as may be delivered at an early-morning shakha.

Twitter was quickly ablaze, and the paper’s readers reacted in droves calling the article “irresponsible and Islamophobic”. Swamy—whose Twitter profile reads “I give as good as I get”— on the other hand thanked readers for the “tsunami of support” to his “reasoned article” while discounting the “stupid, moronic abuse hurled by those who stand to lose“.

Shivam Vij of the website Kafila has exhorted readers to send a note of protest to the editor of the paper, Aditya Sinha, for publishing such “bigoted views“. Now, Hindustan Times cheerfully reports that efforts are on to bring DNA to book, in much the same manner as the Shiv Sena daily Saamna was after the 1993 bomb blasts.

And pretty soon, you can be sure, someone is going to return the favour to Digvijay Singh for saying that “while it is true that not all Hindus are terrorists, those whose Hindus who are terror suspects are all linked to the RSS.” Or something to that effect.

Both sides claim refuge under the cavernous shade of “freedom of expression”; the freedom to express whatever unhinged thought buzzes between their ears on a given day. But in stereotyping vast, innocent millions, not one of whom had a role to play, both sides achieve massive success for their political puppeteers.

Meanwhile, the perpetrators stir up the ammonium nitrate for the next episode with a smile.

Image: courtesy Hindustan Times