Sadvi Prachi is the leader of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council). In Roorkee, where there has been a communal clash injuring 32 people, over the forcible evacuation of a scrap dealer’s shop, Ms. Pradi was not trying to reduce tensions when she stated “… it is time to make India Muslim-free.” Her VHP’s extreme views against Hindu Muslim marriages, Christian conversion and cow slaughter are well known. The latter fanning the flames of communal violence and resulting in the lynching of a Mohammad Akhlaq at Dadri on September 28, 2015.
Narendra Modi, a fellow traveller in the Hindu supremacy Hindutva movement, and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were among the instigators and organizers of the attacks and eventual destruction of the Babri (meaning Babur’s) mosque in December 6, 1992 when BJP and VHP leaders gathered at the site.
A supreme irony, for it was built upon a Hindu holy site in a spirit of reconciliation. Babur started the Mughal dynasty in India by defeating the Muslim pathan sultan Ibrahim Lodhi. Babur was wary of the Muslim feudal rulers and cultivated the Hindu rajas as a foil, all of whom now owing allegiance to him. His assessment was correct for shortly after his death, the pathans under Sher Shah Suri rebelled and defeated his son Humayun who escaped into exile. He did return many years later after the untimely death of Sher Shah Suri.
The tolerant and open-minded Babur has had the eponymous mosque – a mosque known for its remarkable acoustics — destroyed by an ignorant mob instigated by the VHP and BJP. It also inevitably provoked riots across the country for several months resulting in over 2000 deaths, mostly Muslim.
A decade later it also caused indirectly the riots in Gujarat. Up to 2500 Muslims were killed and much Muslim property destroyed in organized rampages. Scholars such as Indian sociologist Dipandkar Gupta and University of Chicago Law and Ethics professor Martha Nussbaum have stated clearly there was a high level of state complicity. Maya Kodnani, who became a cabinet member of Modi’s provincial government was convicted of having orchestrated the pogrom and given a 26-year jail sentence. While Modi himself was cleared of complicity due to lack of evidence, the then Congress Party General Secretary pointedly noted the difference in that “… lack of evidence and guilt are two different aspects.”
After the Gujarat riots, Mr. Modi was a persona non grata in the U.S. which continued to deny him a visa; that is until he became Prime Minister. “As head of government, Mr. Modi would be eligible for an A-1 visa,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Paski in May 2014. Two years later he has addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress as the U.S. cultivates India in an effort to cordon China. Politics make strange bedfellows … a Nobel Peace Laureate U.S. President and Narendra Modi.
Of course, the U.S. has often favored generals of all stripes from Guatemala to Tierra del Fuego and beyond the seas — generals who could scant be described as cleaving to democracy. Realpolitik wins the day and democracy … well according to a new poll conducted at the end of May, 2016 by AP-NORC Center for public Affairs Research only 10 percent of Americans have a ‘great deal’ of confidence in the U.S.’s own political system.