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Bhagalpur: The Etymology Of A Forgotten Riot

by Dr.Praveen Patil


Posted on 2015-08-14 00:00:00  




Our national moral guardians have chosen to keep the Bihari Muslims ignorant of Congress’s role in the deaths of some 900 Muslims.

 

Bhagalpur had all the elements required for fueling a communal riot – communal rivalries, political rivalries, and criminal rivalries… The Ram Janambhoomi controversy was the spark required to ignite the situation. On the eve of the Lok Sabha election in November (1989), anti-social elements were released from jail in order to use their muscle power… the Ram Shila procession was to be taken out on October 24, 1989 when verbal duel began; bombs were thrown on the procession… After that it was not only the evening darkness that fell on the town but also the darkness of hatred, murder and mayhem

 

Thus wrote none other than Asghar Ali Engineer in his book, Essays in Contemporary Politics of Identity, Religion and Secularism, analyzing the Bhagalpur riots. It must be stressed here that A.A Engineer was a dyed in the wool progressive Leftist & reformist-writer whose credentials have remained unquestioned in the Left dominated Indian academia.

 

Three important catch phrases must be stressed here – “anti-social elements”, “muscle power” and “bombs thrown at the procession”. Essentially what Mr. Engineer was trying to tell us was that the government of the day cynically exploited underlying rivalries by releasing Muslim muscle men who threw bombs on a Hindu procession. The riots took a toll of a 1000 human lives, of whom 900 were Muslims!

 

Even for a reasonably well read Indian, it would require a herculean effort to recall the name of the Chief Minister of Bihar during the Bhagalpur riots of 1989. Satyendra Narayan Sinha has been locked in a forgotten secular chamber and the key thrown into the Kosi river. Hardly a decade later when 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus lost their lives in another riot – where it must be stressed, many of the Hindus were killed in police firing to prevent rioting – the only name that remained etched in public memory owing to constant media bombardment is that of Narendra Modi who happened to be the CM of the state of Gujarat then.

 

Within 10 years after the Godhra riots, scores of people, including powerful ministers and ruling party legislators of Gujarat had been punished by the legal system, Narendra Modi himself had undergone the test of the strictest level of inquisition by the highest court of the land. In contrast, after 25 years of Bhagalpur riots, no Congress mastermind has been convicted.

 

 

In India, there are two kinds of riots – celebratory riots and obliterated riots – the former are ‘celebrated’ by the media and the intellectuals with special anniversary commemorations (as has been the case in post-Godhra riots for almost 13 years now), while the latter are deliberately obliterated from the public memory to keep the secular dukaan in currency. Mind you, both kinds of riots have only one set of villains in the Lutyens narrative – the BJP. Thus, as per their history, BJP has been responsible for Gujarat 2002 because it was in power and also for Bhagalpur 1989 because it was in opposition – it is a circular logical loop where time bends on itself to discover the lotus in the communal pond every time.

 

Every now and then, there are glitches in this carefully constructed narrative of India when some amount of truth comes out unwittingly. This is when the intellectual brigade closes ranks to create a blanket ban on truth. Last week even as the Bihar government (led by their icon, Nitish Kumar) tabled the Justice N.N Singh report in the Bihar assembly which squarely blamed the then Congress government for the Bhagalpur riots, the media, the usually-up-in-arms human right activists and NGOs, the Left brigade, the intellectual pontificators, all turned momentarily blind and deaf to completely disregard the report!

 

Just a week before the Bhagalpur report came out, there was almost non-stop debate for days on end about one terrorist being hanged, when media jogged our memories to remind us of how the Mumbai bomb blasts were a “consequence of Mumbai riots of 92-93”. In fact, many intellectuals argued in television studio debates that “Muslims were victims of Mumbai riots” which gave them a legitimate reason to become a terrorist (sic).

 

The very same people chose to completely ignore 900 Muslim victims of a riot that had taken place merely 3 years before Mumbai riots in Bhagalpur. Indeed, our TV studio debates and editorial spaces were preoccupied with other very pressing national issues like non-availability of porn in India and a godwoman’s sartorial choices to worry about 900 dead Muslims in Bhagalpur.

 

The reason for this selective blindness is quite simple. Congress party is fighting a supposedly ‘secular’ battle in Bihar with JDU and RJD, so any media-intellectual ‘loose talk’ about the Bhagalpur riots would help the common ‘communal’ enemy, BJP, this winter.

 

Thus, our moral national guardians decided to keep the Bihari Muslims ignorant of Congress’s role in the deaths of some 900 Muslims. At every such inflection point in our democratic history, Congress gets exonerated by the weight of intellectual dishonesty and remains at the forefront of political secularism. The stench of Congress party’s role in communalization of Indian polity has been absolutely revolting but all the media can smell is the fragrance of secularism.

 

 

After coming back to power in 1980, Indira Gandhi decided to systematically communalize and divide Indian political landscape in order not to ever face a 1977-like situation again whence all social groups had united against her. Therefore, the 1980’s was an extremely communal decade – the Moradabad riots (1980), Baroda riots (1982), Anti-Sikh riots (1984), Bhivandi-Bombay riots (1984), Ahmedabad riots (1985-86), Meerut riots (1987) and Bhagalpur riots (1989) were some of the bigger riots that happened. Yet all of these have remained forgotten riots of India because the media has chosen to ignore them, for they do not have a Narendra Modi like face to villainize.

 

 

It is also a question for Muslim voters to answer; how long do they want to wear the topi that the secular Left libbers keep gifting them? Will the Bihari Muslim wake up and ask his or her ‘secular’ CM why he has joined hands with the same party that had killed 900 of their mothers and fathers?


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