Ram Madhav Ji on Saffron Terror

Why the home minister invoked 'saffron terror'     
Ram Madhav.           
August 26, 2010

There is a sinister design to establish the notion of Hindu or saffron
terror in the global terrorism discourse, suggests Ram Madhav.           

Home Minister P Chidambaram's comments on 'saffron terrorism'
on Wednesday raised many an eyebrow. Thus far he had refrained from
making such sweeping allegations despite severe pressure from his party
colleagues like Digvijay Singh.       

In fact, on earlier occasions, when suggestions where made by the media
and others regarding the so-called Hindu terror he used to gently
disapprove of making any categorical statements in this regard.          

But his address to the assembled director generals of police of various
states on August 25 was a complete departure from his and the
government's earlier stand. He was not only categorical about so-called
saffron terror; he made it a point to single it out by not making
reference to any other terror in the country by name.

In his long address he didn't talk about jihadi or Islamic terror,
didn't utter the word red terror even once -- except, towards the end, a
vague reference to Left wing extremism; but he was garrulous about
saffron terror.

While patting his own back for 21 'terror-free' months with the
exception of German Bakery blast in Pune that he described as a 'blot',
the home minister suddenly turned to saffron terror which, according to
his own account, comprised incidents that happened much before the 21
months that he was gloating about.

'That does not mean that the threat of terrorist attacks has gone away.
I wish to caution you that there is no let-up in the attempts to
infiltrate militants into India. There is no let-up in the
attempts to radicalise young men and women in India. Besides, there is
the recently uncovered phenomenon of saffron terrorism that has been
implicated in many bomb blasts of the past. My advice to you is that we
must remain ever vigilant and continue to build, at the central and
state levels, our capacity in counter-terrorism,' he said at the DGPs'

The last incident that was attributed to Hindu youths took place in
September 2008 in Malegaon. There were some arrests starting with
October 2008 that included the arrest of a couple of Hindu religious
personalities and, most importantly, one serving and one retired army

Subsequently, the investigating agencies like the Central Bureau of
Investigation and the Anti Terror Squad, Rajasthan, have made
some more arrests of Hindu youth alleging them to be responsible for a
couple of incidents that have happened between August 2007 and
Malegaon -- roughly a period of 14 months.         

How come the home minister jumped to the conclusion that there was a
'phenomenon' called saffron terrorism?    

Can he explain where is the phenomenon? Do a couple of sporadic cases
that took place during a period of 14 months become a phenomenon?

More importantly, what does he mean by saffron terrorism?

Saffron is a very sacred colour associated with Hinduism, Buddhism,
Jainism and Sikhism. Every Hindu/Jain temple, Buddhist vihara and Sikh
gurudwara, besides other religious places, hoist saffron flags. Most of
the Hindu/Buddhist saints adorn saffron fatigues.

Or is he referring to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-led organisations
that are generally characterised as 'saffron organisations'?       

It would have been helpful had he displayed a little courage to explain
what he meant by saffron terrorism. Obviously he must have had the
RSS-led organisations in mind when he talked about saffron terror.

It is unfortunate that the home minister chose to use such vocabulary in
his address. There is neither saffron terror nor any phenomenon of it.
Neither the RSS nor any other known Hindu group ever espoused or
supported terrorism. But that doesn't answer all the questions including
the timing and 'intent' of the home minister's statement.

A more charitable explanation for his exhortation could be that he was
trying to please his detractors within the Congress party. People like
Digvijay Singh are after his life and have been making irresponsible
statements about jihadi terrorism and Maoist insurgency for some time
now. The home minister has been their hate target.

Another equally charitable explanation could be that he has tried to
unleash the non-existent demon of saffron terror with an eye on the
upcoming Bihar election. For political pundits this might seem a more
plausible argument. 

The Congress strategists predicted that Nitish Kumar can be defeated in
Bihar if his alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party could
be broken. The dirty tricks department of the Congress party might use
this saffron terror tag to create unease in the ruling alliance in
Bihar. Predictably, this could help them in garnering Muslim votes.

But for those who can see through the game plan, the home minister's
statement doesn't seem that simple. It is politics, no doubt, but a long
term one.       

There is a sinister design to establish the notion of Hindu or saffron
terror in the global terrorism discourse. Such a thing will help some
sections in India politically and electorally as it will put the Hindu
organisations and parties on the back foot.          

Internationally it will help them in pleasing their Western masters
including agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency. After all, the
CIA is a handmaiden of the Western Church. Demonising Hindu groups is an
important agenda item for the Western powers.  

There is another important question about this 'phenomenon'. That is:
who created it? Before 2007 there was no so-called saffron terrorism.
Despite the home minister's claims there is none after the Malegaon
arrests in 2008 either. It existed for some 14, 15 months.

As I mentioned earlier, the most important players in this 14 to 15
month 'phenomenon' were people like Colonel Srikant Purohit and a
self-styled swami called Dayanand Pandey. Who are they? How come a
serving army officer and a Congress-created swami became the main
players in this so-called Hindu/saffron terror? Who is behind them?

This is a serious question because such a phenomenon of terror would not
have helped any Hindu organisation, including the RSS. Otherwise they
would have resorted to it when the National Democratic Alliance was in
power. That would have been the safest time for them. Even though some
erstwhile members of Hindu organisations have been alleged to be
involved in some incidents, the masterminds seem to be elsewhere.

Noted terrorism expert B Raman makes an interesting point: 'There are
many -- including myself -- who have long been saying that we will not
be able to deal with jihadi terrorism unless we hit out at Pakistan but,
at the same time, we have been strongly advising against any retaliatory
action in our own territory against our own people who are perceived as
being sympathetic to the ISI-sponsored jihadis from Pakistan. The
investigations into the Malegaon blasts and some other
incidents have brought out that there are possibly elements in our
security bureaucracy who seem to believe that acts of reprisal against
our own Muslims would be as justified as retaliatory attacks against
Pakistan. This is a dangerous idea that needs to be eradicated

Raman's reference to 'security bureaucracy' is an important one. It is
not necessary that the 'security bureaucracy' acts because of some
'dangerous idea' of 'reprisal against our own Muslims' as described by
Raman. It could be that they act at the behest of their political
masters. And that seems to be the more cogent answer to the question:
Who created saffron terror?

Ram Madhav is a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's national


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