Binjamin Wilkomirski, a Swiss musician and writer, published a book ‘Fragments: Memories of a Wartime Childhood 1939-1948’ in 1995, in which he described his childhood experiences as a survivor of the holocaust. It was a heart-rending, emotional and a graphic recall of one of the most catastrophic events of human history. However, it became one of the most publicised cases of falsely fabricating an entire autobiography. Wilkormiski was never a holocaust survivor, but he continued to believe in his own manufactured account.
How did Wilkomirski start believing in his own lie?
After Wilkormiski’s psychological assessment, he was found to be incapable of distinguishing fact from fiction, truth from falsehood. Wilkormiski’s lie had corroded his memory. This multidimensional disorder, according to medical science, includes false denials, feigned amnesia and fabrication of events and situations.
Nearer home, narratives contrived by the ‘Left and liberals’ following click-bait headlines of emerging Hindu-Muslim tension, are perfect examples of such a disorder. There has been a spate of synoptic articles, saturated with dreadful scenarios, innuendos, prophecies of an inevitable doom, with a common thread running — presaging an inevitable genocide of Muslims in India, delineating ‘details’ of their ongoing pogroms, underlining their forced ‘othering’ by the ‘Hindu Right’, represented by the current ruling dispensation.
The delusory narrative is pernicious, and conclusions thus reached quintessentially sanctimonious. The convoluted narrative hinges on a manufactured doctrine: Not long back, Hindu-Muslim relations were halcyon — till the RSS and Narendra Modi stepped in and spoiled the party, particularly post 2014.
Why ties are broken
Hindu-Muslim ties are currently under stress in some parts of India because of communal clashes that followed reported attacks on Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti festivities. But is this violence on account of the recent emergence of ‘aggressive Hindutva’ in the wake of the BJP’s victory at the hustings?
Over 75 years ago, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (Pakistan or the Partition of India) identified three main reasons for Hindu-Muslim rift — cow slaughter, music before the mosques, and religious conversions. “The first attempt” to resolve the vexed issues, according to Dr Ambedkar, was made “in 1923 when the Indian National Pact was proposed. It failed.” So the problem isn’t a recent one. Even M.K. Gandhi, with his persuasive powers and genteel ways, failed to do anything tangible to ease the situation. Isn’t it a case of selective amnesia on the part of the Left and liberals?
Dr Ambedkar adds, efforts to defuse the volatile situation “did not produce peace between the two communities. It only produced a lull in the rioting which had become the order of the day. Between 1925 and 1926, rioting was renewed with an intensity and malignity unknown before.”
Are the Muslims being ‘othered’? If yes, who is responsible? Who asked for a separate electorate? Who asked for the partition of the country on religious basis? Who fathered the two nation theory? It was Sir Syed Ahmed Khan who repeatedly exhorted Muslims to keep away from the Congress and align themselves with the British — ‘The People of the Book’, as he fondly described them. Speaking at Meerut (16 March 1888), he divided the country into “our Mohammedan nation” and a “Hindu nation” — and asserted both can’t co-exist. Overwhelming number of Muslims followed Sir Syed’s advice, and largely ignored the Congress, leading to the creation of Pakistan.
Insistence on the Muslim Personal Law and mushrooming madrassas too have added to the schism between the two communities. The argument that only five per cent of Muslim students go to madrassas is specious. The rational ones may be in majority. But in most of the cases, they are either helpless spectators in a charged situation or reluctant participants in whatever course of action Islamic clergy decides for the community. Decimation of Hindus in Kashmir Valley is a living example.
Hindus in residual India
How would a Hindu feel against such a divisive backdrop? In the last 100 years, the cultural footprint of Hinduism has ruthlessly been erased from a large swathe of the Indian Subcontinent. Hindus/Sikhs/Buddhists have nearly been exterminated from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kashmir Valley. Most of their historical icons and places of worship have fallen victim to iconoclastic Islamic zeal in these areas which were once thriving centres of Buddhism, Shaivism, and Sikhism.
The share of Hindus/Sikhs/Buddhists in the subcontinent population in 1947 was about 75 per cent, and has dropped to a little over 60 per cent now. Even in residual India, where the Muslims are said to be under siege, their numbers have grown, both in absolute and percentage terms.
Of course, Hindus count for little in Islamic Pakistan and Bangladesh. What about residual India? Ram temple at Ayodhya had to wait for over seven decades because the matter was pending in courts. But the Supreme Court verdict in Shah Bano case was overturned by a Congress-dominated Parliament in a jiffy. The 26/11 terror attack (2008) in Mumbai was sought to be pasted on the RSS and to create a bogey of ‘Hindu terror’. However, the arrest of Ajmal Kasab put paid to the diabolical plan.
On 12 March 1993, Mumbai was hit by a series of 12 bomb blasts. Sharad Pawar, then-CM of Maharashtra, rushed to the Doordarshan studio and announced that there were 13 blasts — the 13th one was ‘invented’ by him — to show that Muslims also had suffered in the attacks. Subsequently, UPA home ministers — P. Chidambaram and Sushil Kumar Shinde — made repeated efforts to build a paradigm of ‘Hindu terror’. Doesn’t this amount to fabrication of events?
The ‘secular’ narrative
In 2011, UPA II introduced a Communal Violence Bill whose provisions assumed that only “minorities” could be victims. In September 2007, the UPA government filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that Ramayana and other texts “cannot be said to be historical records to incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters or the occurrence of the event, depicted therein.” It later withdrew the controversial affidavit. Will any government ever dare to say such a ludicrous thing about any other faith?
The ‘narrative’ on ‘secularism’ — ‘victimisation of Muslims’ in India by Hindu Right — is partly a result of some self-styled wokes believing their own lies, which they have manufactured to suit their ideological agenda, and subsequently internalised over decades.
The rise of Modi and the increasing influence of the RSS are a beleaguered society’s response to safeguard India’s timeless values of pluralism, syncretism and catholicity — that are under threat in residual India from politics of hate, bigotry and fanaticism, all of which has been practised in the garb of ‘secularism’ for long.
(The author is a former Rajya Sabha MP and a Delhi-based columnist. He tweets @balbirpunj. Views are personal.)