Let me give you a sample of some comments on blogs across India’s internet space,
You Christians stop your conversions and then the attacks will stop; What about the people who died in the Godhra incident ? The riots did not start by themselves; Christian missionaries are aggressively targeting poor Hindus, this is a natural reaction; The Bajrang Dal is a protectot of Hindu religion and Indian culture; Psuedo-secularists and votebank politics blah blah blah … the banerjee reoprt is so ridiculos.. it says people died becoz of suffocation ?? does that make any sense
The Hindu middle-classes of India (or its most vocal components) are rabidly anti-Muslim and anti-reservations. Let me quote from the EPW article,
The Muslims are insecure. They cluster together and seek shelter in the religious infrastructure whether it is Friday namaz or sending their children to madrasas. At the same time, the Muslim youth is restive and desperate.
The Hindu right wing has many sufficiently well organised squads of young activists who are ready to cause mayhem anywhere at a very short notice. No one dares to resist them. The administration and media offer support with impeccable loyalty to the ruling party’s political agenda. The educated and elite Hindu middle class is complacent, rabidly anti-Muslim and anti-reservation. The rest of the Hindu community (the poor and the lower caste) is silent. This silent majority has no opinion, primarily because it has no confidence that its opinion matters anywhere.
It is beyond dispute that this is the case, and I do not want to debate that matter here. Rather, I want to explore how and why this happened. Radicalization, usually occurs among a minority and/or a poor, uneducated and deprived group, in areas where the rule of law is weak. Afghanistan is one example, where radicalization occured, due to the prodding of a vicious Pakistan and a Soviet invasion. But in India, it seems that a relatively secure (not anymore), highly literate and affluent group of people have been radicalized. The seeds of this radicalization, unfortunately, run prior to the partition of Punjab and Bengal and the creation of Pakistan. Contrary to the perceptions created by some, Hindus and Muslims never really lived in peace. There were significant communal disturbances throughout the colonial era and the inter-communal carnage during the birth of the two nations is evidence enough to the deep seated hate between the two communities. Indeed the Muslims and Hindus living in (British) India constituted one country and two nations.
The raw violence, though never really percolated to the upper classes, even today, they stoke and watch the Dalits and the poor do the dirty ‘work’. But the middle class Hindu has always been suspicious of the Muslim, straight from the birth of our nation. As Pi (from the Life of Pi, set in the 70’s) remarks, my father never really trusted the Muslims, they were after all ‘invaders’. The older generations of my family, are themselves quite anti-Muslim. Repeated wars with Pakistan and the trouble in Kashmir has certainly not helped. Pakistan’s repeated (and rather lame) pretensions to be a protector of Muslims made the Hindus of India doubt the loyalty of the Muslims here. The inability of the police to protect the minorities from mobs, has resulted many dark spots on republican India’s history with the minorities periodically ‘retaliating’ and majorities continually ‘justifying’.
The vast majority of educated Indians (of all religions, but esp. Hindus), simply never understood civic nationalism that derives from a Constitution and democracy. For elite Hindus, Indian nationalism has become (and perhaps always was) a distinctly Hindu cultural pride (which can be easily transplanted abroad, away from the soil of India). A lot of this also has to do with the glorification of ancient India in textbooks and the broadcast of Ramayana and Mahabharata in the late 80s early 90s by the state broadcaster. Was that not votebank politics ? The newly liberated Indian economy and media, has furthered this agenda. Mr. India became Krrish, a movie like Bombay (endorsed by Bal Thackeray) became secular and Ramayana (with actors who look nothing like the majority of the population) became the country’s ‘national epic’. Try explaining that to the Mizos or the Nagas.
Ask yourself this question, Why was the Babri Mosque demolished ? So that the middle class Hindu could get some sense of ‘revenge’ ? So they could ‘atone’ for the impotence of their ancestors ? So that the BJP could gain some extra seats in the elections ? Or was it just a response to the growing political power of the lower castes?