Riots & WrongsAuthor : R.N.P. Singh
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What M V Kamath says about the book (Madhav Vittal Kamath is an Indian Journalist. He was the former Chairman of Prasar Bharti. He worked as the editor of The Sunday Times (India) for two years during 1967-69 and as Washington Correspondent of Times of India during 1969-78. He has also served as editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India. He has also authored over 40 books on various topics. He was awarded Padma Bhushan in 2004.)
“... Singh’s (R.N.P. Singh) book has a sub title: “Riots & Wrong” which tells it all. Singh incidently, is not just anybody. If he speaks with authority, it is because he is an ex-Officer of the Intelligence Bureau, has been the recipient of the President’s Police Medal and the Indian Police Medal. Just as importantly, this book carries a foreword by K P S Gill, former DGP of Punjab. Gill is very forthright in his comments. He writes “Much of the secular discourse in India has been based on a politically correct refusal to confront the nature of religious communities and institutions and their past and present activities, and the fiction that ‘all religions are equal’ and that their inherent message is the same. The truth is, unless communities acknowledge reality warts and all and recognise the transgressions of their own history within a constructive context, no real solution to the issue of communal polarisation and violence in India can be brought about.”
“This is telling truth ...Singh’s case study of religious riots in India is comprehensive and is probably the first book of its kind, at least in recent times. It is divided into four parts.
“Part I take a fresh look at Islam and conflicts. Part II makes an enquiry into why Hindu-Muslim synthesis has failed and studies why peaceful co-existence with other communities is anathema to Islam. Part III deals with communalism and communal riots and what the author calls ‘single dimensional approach to riots’. It also makes an effort at taking a realistic perspective of communal riots. Part IV consists of chronological overview of all communal riots in India for over two centuries beginning at a time when there was no BJP, no VHP, no RSS and no Narendra Modi.
“Unless one studies this background to communal violence he will never be able to understand contemporary life in India. Then of course, there are appendices and tables in connection with communal riots. This is the work of a scholar and expert. The accompanying bibliography clearly indicates that Singh has taken his job seriously and read widely.
“... Conventional wisdom attributes the malaise, says Singh, to the British strategy of ‘divide and rule’ implemented in the wake of first struggle for freedom in 1857. That is partly true. Yes, the British did attempt to separate Hindus and Muslims to keep both under subjugation but there have been riots in India even before the British consolidation of their power in this country. It is interesting to learn that the “first communal riot” took place in Ahmedabad in 1713. That by itself calls for further study. Gujarat, it seems has been peculiarly susceptible to communal riots and there have been riots in Ahmedabad in 1730, in 1737, and some other times. But Hindu-Muslim riots have had an all India character, riots having taken place in 1806, 1809, 1813, 1820, 1833, 1837, 1850, 1853 and so right upto 1897.
“Singh believes that the post- independence riots were “perhaps due to the Hindus heightened distrust towards Muslims and vice versa” and that “typical Muslims outlook towards nationality, nationalism and a soft corner for the partitioned part that is Pakistan, further fuelled it. And he adds “The Muslims who stayed back in India were perhaps hopeful of further partition of India if the situation so demanded”. To buttress this point Singh adds “shortly after partition, the views of one Qamaruddin Khan Spokesperson of Aligarh Muslim University, appears in ‘Light’ of Lahore. He advised the Indian Muslims to lie low for some time owing to tactical reasons and that soon they should stand up for a similar cause, that is to demand partition of Muslim majority areas of India”. Wrote Qamaruddin Khan “the five crore Muslims who were compelled to stay back in India would have to fight for another freedom struggle. The fight would be mainly fought on the eastern end and the western areas bordering Pakistan did not mean that the Indian Muslims would invite Pakistan for help. However, it was certain that Pakistan’s presence in the neighbourhood would embolden the Muslims. The Indian Muslims have won half of the battle and for total victory they will have to scheme out another plan.
“Further Qamaruddin Khan wrote “At the moment, the Muslims should refrain from politically confronting Hindus. After a while the Indian Muslims should try to develop concentrated pockets. The Indian Muslims should maintain close relations with Pakistan and for running organisations; they should take help from them”. Can this possibly be one explanation why there have been too many communal riots in Gujarat, which incidentally is geographically close to Pakistan and our secularists and liberals must study this further.
“Singh’s book is an excellent introduction to the subject. He refers to the Khalistani movement in Punjab, Pakistan’s support to it and the involvement of the ISI in Indian affairs. This is a book for our editors to read and digest...”