Hindutva India, secular Pakistan?

"…so drag these (Muslims’) mothers and sisters out of the graves, and rape the corpses.”

An India Times video went viral two years ago, where a spokesman of the radical Hindu Yuva Vahini is seen clamouring these words to a ground-full of devotees.

The video titled ‘Yogi Adityanath’s Men Telling Hindus To Rape Dead Muslim Women Is Beyond Shocking’ has gone viral again this week after the yogi was confirmed as the UP Chief Minister after BJP and its allies won 325 of the 403 state assembly seats following recent elections.

Adityanath’s impressive CV in a politico-religious career spanning over two decades includes, provoking over 20 incidents of communal violence, forcibly converting thousands to Hinduism, burning mosques, destroying property, inciting massacre and rapes, murdering the gunman of rival politician, etc.

Impressive, because in a region that has been a hub for the Who’s Who of radical religionists, few have managed to carve out a parallel career outside of ideological violence. Fewer still have blended the two together and touted it as a development agenda. Hardly anyone can be credited with singlehandedly heralding an ideological shift for one-sixth of the global population. Yogi Adityanath has done all three.

As disturbing as the aforementioned quote from the Adityanath-founded militant Yuva Vahini’s spokesman was, it is the symptom of the gruesome ailment. The cause can be found in the same video as well:

“When this country becomes a Hindu state, when this country is handed over to young sanyasis like Yogi Adityanath, that day Muslims in this country would have the same status that Hindus have in Pakistan,” the spokesman says.

This, in essence, is the rawest rebuttal of the century old ‘hostage population theory’, likened to the ‘divine right to rule’ by B R Ambedkar in his Thoughts on Pakistan, and a “new weapon… for the assertion of Muslim rights” by Abul Kalam Azad who described it in the following words:

“There would now be nine Hindu provinces against five Muslim provinces and whatever treatment Hindus accorded in the nine provinces, Muslims would accord the same treatment to Hindus in the five provinces.”

While the Muslim League would peddle the theory to reassure Muslims who looked destined to be left behind in India two decades later, Azad said these words while addressing the League’s Calcutta session in the aftermath of the Delhi proposals of 1927, with a united Indian federation and a common centre very much in mind.

Once you remove the centre’s restraint and have two separate states with inverse Hindu-Muslim majority-minority dynamics, what’s stopping either of the two majorities from exercising their complete dominance – political or otherwise?

If you carefully examine the words of Yuva Vahini’s spokesman, there is no intention of struggling for improving the situation of Hindus in Pakistan. They want to make it just as bad for Indian Muslims.

That in a nutshell describes radical religionism, whether Islamism or Hindutva. It flourishes on the idea of subjugation of others, not the uplift of oneself.

And it is here that the Modi-led BJP’s façade of ‘development’ as the party’s raison d’etre, and the foundation of its electoral successes, self-mutilates.

Adityanath, whose ‘spiritual father’ Mahant Avaidyanath was an Ayodhya movement ideologue that culminated in the demolition of Babri Mosque, and whose ‘spiritual grandfather’ Digvijay Nath was arrested for inflaming Gandhi’s assassination, is the culmination of a century of Hindutva, popularised by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar long before the word ‘Pakistan’ was even uttered anywhere.

Through their ideological offspring, the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS have democratically perched themselves in New Delhi and Lucknow – the capital of India’s most populous state.

But the timing of Adityanath’s appointment triggers an irony large enough to demand a separate homeland for itself.

As the BJP was summoning a proponent of the Hindutva version of Two Nation Theory into the UP CM office, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif was presenting its historic negation while addressing Karachi’s Hindu community at a Holi event:

“Pakistan was not made so one religion can dominate over others. Its creation itself was a struggle against religious oppression.”

This much needed historical revisionism of the idea that ‘Hindus and Muslim cannot exist together’ – which indeed had been the rallying cry of the Muslim League in the 1940s – would not only overturn the seven decade ideological onslaught on the local Hindus, it would help Pakistan reconcile with its separatist birth.

A progressive reform of the ‘ideology of Pakistan’, despite its historical inaccuracies, should look to the follies of the Congress leadership and the British imperialistic forces for the inevitability of Pakistan, more so than underscoring the rhetoric used by the League to delineate the differences between Hindus and Muslims.

After all, how would you urge the local Muslims to embrace their Hindu compatriots after teaching generations that the very reason Pakistan was created was that Muslims couldn’t live with Hindus?

On Sunday, President Mamnoon also passed the Hindu Marriage Bill into law. Notwithstanding the criminal volumes of neglect that postponed it for seven decades, the law would now protect Hindu marriages and families. It would especially be a safeguard against the forced conversions of Hindus, which the PM in his Holi address said was a ‘crime in Islam’.

The PML-N has taken anti-Islamist action every time it has flexed its political muscle: unblocking YouTube, removing anti-Ahmadiyya posters in Lahore, naming the QAU physics centre after Dr Abdus Salam, passing progressive women’s rights legislation, or hanging Mumtaz Qadri.

The ruling party’s aspirations for a pluralist Pakistan can be seen in many of the premier’s speeches, none more so than the Holi address where he mentioned Jinnah’s August 11 speech – that has polarised generations – by its name, reiterating that Pakistani Hindus are ‘free to go to their temples’ and should do so without any fear.

Meanwhile, the BJP at its strongest hour chose Adityanath – who has incited torching of mosques – as the populist face of the party, to maintain stranglehold over the Hindu vote for 2019 and beyond.

To put things into perspective, the move is akin to Masroor Jhangvi becoming the chief minister of Punjab, with his political foundations in militant anti-Shia bigotry and violence.

This isn’t BJP ideologically overlapping with the RSS, or maintaining Hindutva alliances to strengthen the far-right vote bank. The party has unveiled Modi’s heir apparent in Uttar Pradesh, a state more populous than Pakistan.

While Pakistan’s Islamist problem is light years away from being resolved – especially amidst crackdown on ‘social media blasphemy’ – and jihadist groups are yet to be taken care of, the current leadership isn’t letting their development ambitions come in the way of an increasingly evident liberal Pakistan that they envision. And despite the vast disparity in starting points, the contrasting directions Pakistan and India are headed towards are becoming increasingly visible.

As our neighbour muddles itself in their toxic religionist ideology, and we look to purge ourselves of ours,  it’s not the ‘hostage population theory’ that would safeguard Muslims in India. It’s the codification of secular ideals, and creation of a pluralist society in Pakistan, that should set the benchmark to counter the precipitously rising intolerance in the region.

Kunwar Khuldune Shahid is a former member of staffHe can be reached at khuldune.shahid@nation.com.pk. Follow him on Twitter

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