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home > News/Analysis  > Archive: Selected Analytical Articles  > Responsibility and Revenge

Responsibility and Revenge
By Mukul Dube

(September 7, 2002)

    So convoluted is the illogic of Hindutva, so breathtaking are its leaps of unreason, so wildly fantastic are the connections which it seeks to establish, that it can make literally anything the cause of literally anything else.

    In no civilised society are the kinfolk and descendants of criminals punished for the crimes of their relatives and ancestors. If I murder someone and then abscond, my daughter will not hang for my homicide. My neighbourhood will not be punished for my crime, nor my classmates at school, nor my office colleagues, nor my wife's natal relations - nor, certainly, people who may never even have heard of me but who happen to bow to the same divinity as I do.

    Recent Articles by Mukul Dube

    Me, they, us
    The Hindustan Times, September 3, 2002

    Maun Mushtanda: The Strong, Silent Man By Mukul Dube, Mainstream weekly, vol. xl, no. 37, 31 August 2002

  • Also a Muslim
    The Indian Express, August 8, 2002

  • India's penal code is a modern system of laws. Only the individual criminal may be tried and punished. Other individuals may be brought in only if they also committed the crime (a group crime) or if they were abettors or conspirators. The laws of evidence and proof are aimed at establishing beyond a doubt which individual is guilty. Descriptions such as "a one-legged Hindu in Marwari dress and hiking boots with a brown cow and a loud transistor radio" do not hold, because they can point to many people: whereas the particular criminal must be unambiguously identified by face and name. Once this person is identified, s/he alone is punished.

    To Hindutva, however, every Muslim represents all Muslims, and every collectivity of Muslims, no matter when in history or where in geography, is represented by every living Muslim. Every Hindu alive today is sought to be made to feel personally every harm that may have been done to any Hindu at any time or at any place. Since the meta-history concocted by Hindutva is bereft of anything remotely resembling truth, what this means in effect is that every Hindu has the right to avenge, in any way he pleases, any crime which he chooses to claim as having been committed against anyone anywhere. For the present, Muslims are the evil-doers: later it will be the Christians and the Sikhs; and eventually the Incas and the dinosaurs will suffer retribution at the hands of this spectacularly reason-free Hindutva.

    The sameness and alacrity with which the adherents of Sangh Hindutva spring to the defence of their vilest actions will never cease to amaze. Out it all comes in an unstoppable torrent: Somnath, Mahmud, Aurangzeb, Jinnah, Bukhari.... There is never time to ask what all these have to do, for example, with Gujarat in 2002. There is never any point either: these soldiers' brains are warped beyond straightening, their heads full of a glutinous mass in which different times and places and individuals just cannot be separated.

    Vengeance is its own justification. Never mind that the collective manifestation of the "eye for an eye" brand of justice was abandoned centuries ago by the civilised world; and that an impartial, neutral justice is preferred everywhere over vengeance. Hindutva constantly harks back to what it imagines to have been the Vedas. The Vedic Age, for it, is another crazy patchwork of half-truths and utter untruth. Need we wonder, then, that the notion of rational justice is entirely absent from its construction of collective pan-historical vengeance?

    If the Hindutva Brigade should burn a Christian missionary in Jharkhand, its action would be declared to be revenge for the force used by the Portuguese during the Goan inquisition. If it should slaughter a Muslim carpenter in Naini Tal or a Muslim chaukidar in Port Blair, that would be to avenge Mohammed Ghori's depredations and something to do with Alauddin Khalji and something else to do with the Babar-Aurangzeb lineage, all in one breathless, unholy jumble.

    So convoluted is the illogic of Hindutva, so breathtaking are its leaps of unreason, so wildly fantastic are the connections which it seeks to establish, that it can make literally anything the cause of literally anything else. Narendra's wife-beating is justified, so to speak, because Santa Claus did not feed his elves on time or because Vesuvius was not plugged securely by those divine idiots on Olympus who were, of course, gods of the wrong religion.

    When a tape measure is made of elastic material, anything can measure any length one pleases, and nothing has any meaning any more. With the merest flick of an eye-lash, the ideologue of Hindutva bend rods of steel into the most grotesque shapes. Unfortunately the result is always a weapon - the more cruel, the better. Never is a jalebi the outcome. All the mental energy of Hindutva, all its hyperactive imagination, all its highly evolved sophistry, all the acrobatic side-stepping it goes into when someone attempts rational argument - all these are always channelled destructively. Fear and hatred are the well-springs of Hindutva. Neither can know reason: neither can work for the good.