Calcutta Notebook


It is not a rare phenomenon among the bhadralok community, particularly of the North Indian cow belt as well as of West Bengal to discover 'appeasement of Muslims' everywhere. For example, Mamata Baneriee's decision to pay allowances to the imams of masjids is considered 'appeasement of Muslims', although this step has no relation to the elevation of Muslims in respect of education and jobs.

The Hindu upper caste bhadralok in general would like to believe what they are told, without factual evidence of course, about the extent of immigration of Bangladeshi Muslims. Many 'concerned' people think India's population growth is largely due to the influx of Muslim outsiders. There is no dearth of people who are in the habit of referring to Pakistan or some other Islamic state in order to justify attacks on Indian Muslims. Their advocacy of a Hindu Pakistan shows clearly that their ideological gurus are the Muslim communalists of Pakistan. Of course they are often seen lacking the guts to admit facts of massacre of Muslims in India.

There are, however, honourable exceptions. A regular correspondent of a leading English daily has published a lengthy report on the denial of justice to the victims of the infamous massacre of Muslims by  the notorious Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) of Uttar Pradesh in 1987 (vide The Telegraph, 6 April), at Hashimpura, Meerut. It may be mentioned that it was not a Hindu-Muslim riot; it was genocide committed by one wing of state power. Let some portion of the report be quoted here. "Almost three decades ago in May 1987, male residents of Hashimpura were rounded up in a cordon-and-search operation by army jawans, herded out onto the main road and handed over to the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), Uttar Pradesh's chief military formation.

It has never been clear what Hashimpura had done to call upon itself the raid, save that it was a time of communal simmer and confrontation. The custody of Hashimpura from the late afternoon of May 22 accounted for more than 250 persons. They were all loaded into the back of constabulary trucks and driven off—most to lock-ups and jails, and 55-odd to the banks of the Gangnahar, or the Ganga canal, which cuts through Muradnagar on the Meerut-Delhi road.

There, by dark, they were ordered down and lined up by the waterfront, arms raised, shot and left to float down the water. Forty-two of those died, a handful survived, feigning death until the PAC jawans thought their job done and departed, lying still in the mud-bank or slithering into thickets of elephant grass.

....An execution squad had gone to work and put dozens of blameless men to death in the lee of the nation's capital, no more than 60 kilometres from Delhi.

Last week, a lower court let off all surviving policemen accused of murder for lack of evidence. In effect, 42 lives had been collectively and abruptly put to end but nobody had done it. After three decades the combined resources of the executive and the judiciary had conjured a whodunit. Justice delayed, then denied.

Much of it was achieved through serial denial and dereliction-destruction and disappearance of evidence, tardy investigation and case-making, leaden progress in the courts."

This correspondent, who is not a Muslim, deserves warm commendation for bringing out the fact of a collusive conspiracy to hide the truth of a massacre. Had Indian society been a really secular one, this collusive conspiracy would have drawn a nationwide condemnation, which it has not. It goes about saying that such genocides and direct participation by the state in them serve to aggravate communal tension in the subcontinent as a whole. The perpetrators of such crimes, and those who support them, have clearly no feeling for the religious minorities in Muslim-dominated countries, although they never cease to shed crocodile tears about the plight of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The correspondent's remarks on the functioning of the executive and the judiciary, two vital organs of state power, are perceptive enough. But how can they be reformed and made to respect the norms of justice? The answer is still elusive. The report has, however, shown that some really democratic value-senses are as yet alive in the world of journalism.

Vol. 47, No. 42, Apr 26 - May 2, 2015