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Saturday, 17 August 2013

Rajdeep Sardesai's article on Dawood Ibrahim in 1993

It is often quoted that Rajdeep Sardesai wrote an article praising Dawood Ibrahim in 1993 soon after the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts. In April 2002 in wake of the post-Godhra riots (in which hundreds of Hindus were also killed, but ignored), member of Parliament Somnath Chatterjee quoted Rajdeep Sardesai. A BJP member of Parliament at the same instant countered this argument quoting this article of Rajdeep Sardesai with a copy of it. 
In the last passage of this article Rajdeep Sardesai says that Balasaheb's patriotism test fails since Dawood supported India in cricket matches in Sharjah. Of course, it would be too much to expect Rajdeep Sardesai to understand the patriotism test of Balasaheb Thackeray. The test is not that anyone who supports India in a cricket match is a true patriot. It is that anyone who supports India's enemy Pakistan is not a patriot. A traitor may also cheer for India in a cricket match- all those supporting India need not necessarily be patriots. But those who support sworn enemies like Pakistan which has constantly backstabbed India are definitely traitors. But trust Rajdeep to find flaws and holes in this, and wrongly twist the patriotism test to defend those who support Pakistan and burn crackers when India loses a match on grounds of Dawood supporting India in one-dayers in Sharjah.

 (Very few people know that well known writer Amulya Ganguli also wrote an article in February 1993 saying that there is nothing wrong if Indian Muslims celebrate India's defeat and Pakistan's victory in a cricket match. He gave a fake and wrong analogy saying British Indians in Britain support India in India-England games there but no one calls them as traitors. This is of course rubbish, since those who do this are Indians born and brought up here who live in Britain while Muslims in India were not born in Pakistan to come here and settle. Moreover there is no conflict between India and Britain but Pakistan is an enemy of India having done various various anti-Indian activities.)
Rajdeep also of course cannot understand the difference between attending a party thrown by a Pakistani official (High Commissioner) and celebrating Pakistan National Day. Celebrating the National Day of Pakistan on 23 March is completely different from attending a party of a Pakistani diplomat. 
For all those wanting to have the full text, here is the full text of Rajdeep Sardesai's article of 1993.
Must They Wear A Badge Of Patriotism?

By Rajdeep Sardesai – 2 APR 1993, The Times of India

It is possibly the largest multinational operating in India.  In street parlance, it is known quite simply as the D Company, named after its presiding deity, Dawood Ibrahim.  With interests in gold, films, drugs and real estate, Dawood has built a multi-million dollar global empire.  Sitting in his penthouse in Dubai, he is believed to direct all manner of nefarious activities in this country.  But Dawoodbhai – as his high society friends refer to him – is not just a distant underworld don anymore.  In the lexicon of Hindu militancy, he symbolises the Muslim as a criminal with extraterritorial loyalty.
                                      Dawood's name

It is scarcely surprising that Dawood’s name should come to occupy a central role in the investigations into the horrific serial bombings in Bombay.  As allegedly the country’s most famous NRI hood.  Dawood has been built into a larger-than-life figure blamed for every crime, from a stabbing incident to a large-scale terrorist attack.  Certainly, Dawood has the men, money power and international connections to have masterminded a sophisticated bombing operation.  Yet, as the Bombay Police Commissioner, Mr. A.S. Samra has admitted, there is still no prima-facie evidence to implicate Dawood in the bomb blasts.
Much of the information seeping out is based on intelligence sources who till less than a month ago seemed blissfully unaware that more than 1,000 kilos of RDX had been shipped into the country.  If Dawood is involved, then there is no reason why the Indian Government should not push for his suo motu extradition from Dubai.  Indeed, questions can be legitimately raised as to why no concerted effort has been made to have him extradited till now despite at least two murder cases being registered against him.
But pointing the needle of suspicion towards the Dawood-ISI-Pakistan axis is one thing, using this to tar the entire Muslim Community with the criminal brush is quite another.  Unfortunately, as the list of accused has filtered through an insidious campaign has been started by some sections of Hindu Militants to see the bomb blasts as a Muslim conspiracy for which the entire community must share the guilt.  It is, in a sense, a damnation not too different to what the Sikh Community had to face in New Delhi after the 1984 riots when every turbaned individual was seen as a terrorist, or what the Marwaris were confronted with during the Assam agitation when the entire ethnic group was pigeonholed as exploiters.
The motives for this propaganda are transparent enough.  In the campaign of bigotry launched by the Hindu militants, various historical figures and events have been invoked to widen the communal divide.  Mahmud of Ghazni the temple-destroyer, Aurangazeb the intolerant bigot, Jinnah the partitioner, Shahi Imam as a fundamentalist leader, the Shah Bano case as a classic example of Pseudo-secularism, all have been highlighted to legitimise majoritarianism.  Dawood Ibrahim as the gangster par excellence is part of this demonology.  Predictably, the Shiva Sena has lost no time in accusing Dawood and the Muslim underworld of triggering off the recent communal holocaust without waiting even for the preliminary findings of the investigative agencies.
Unfortunately, a section of Hindus has begun to be carried away by the rhetoric.  In the process, they are forgetting a cardinal principle of the underworld; it is as Mr. Samra points out, more cosmopolitan than the society.  The only religion it knows is money.  Dawood’s own case confirms this mercenary-instinct.  A majority of his key men like Chota Rajan, Raj Koli, Bhai Thakur, Anna Shetty are Hindus.  Dawood’s own rise in the underworld was built on the systematic decimation of the Pathan gang of Karim Lala.
The tragedy is that the secularists have done little to blast these myths about the underworld.  The notion of an unvbriegated Islamic terrorism is a concept that has gained popularity in the West in the light of the growing influence of certain fundamentalist groups in West Asia and North Africa.  Rather than examine the social and economic discontents underlying these movements, the Western nations have focused solely on the religious dimension.  In the process, they are seeking to reorient their ideological confrontation and fill up an enemy gap caused by the collapse of the evil Soviet empire.
                                                     Search for Enemy

Perhaps, it is the search for a similar enemy that has led people to fall for the religio-terrorist argument in this country too.  After all, the Hindu bigot needs to rationalise the recent orgy of violence.  The intensity of the post Ayodhya rioting had already shown how easily the Muslim had become a hate object.  Now, when most of those found to be indulging in recent unlawful activities are Muslims the secularists are being pushed on the defensive even as the rank communalists - have adopted a triumphant I-told-you so attitude.
But neither the diffidence nor the self-congratulation is called for instead, what is needed is an honest examination of why someone like Yakub Memon, who till a few years ago was a Chartered Accountant living in a single-room tenement, should suddenly become part of a massive terrorist operation.  Unfortunately, some self-styled champions of Hindu machismo, have not stopped to think of the impact their sloganeering is having on the Muslim psyche.
                                                      Frustrated Muslims 
When your loyalty to the nation is repeatedly questioned, you are discriminated at the workplace, your businesses and homes are destroyed, the psychological scars are bound to run deep.  There is today, in the post-Ayodhya scenario, a large pool of frustrated Muslims, especially youths, who feel more and more that they have no stake left in the system.  They feel betrayed by the Government, disgusted with the emotional blackmailing by their community leaders and threatened by Hindu bigotry.
All this is not to deny the burgeoning growth worldwide of Islamic fundamentalism and its terrorist ways or minimize its capacity for mischief in a communally polarized India.  However, it would be counter-productive, at least in the present circumstances, to project what is primarily a social problem and crisis of governance as a religious war.  This is precisely what some sections of opinion, Hinduvta or otherwise, are attempting to do.  The result is that every Muslim is being pushed into a situation where he is expected to wear a badge proclaiming his patriotism.  Take the recent controversy over the Pakistan National Day Celebrations in Bombay.  Warnings were issued by the BJP-Sena and even the Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly to Government Officials to desist from attending the function.  The irony is that while Dilip Kumar and Shabana Azmi were labeled anti-national even though they stayed away from the function, not a word was said about the BJP President, Mr. Murli Manohar Joshi attending an Iftar dinner thrown by the Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi.
Indeed, the loyalty test is so patently superficial that it is bound to be exposed sooner or later.  For example,  Mr. Thackeray has always seen support for the Indian Cricket Team when it is playing Pakistan to be a mark of a true patriot.  He might be intrigued to learn that during the one-day internationals in Sharjah, one man who speaks fluent Marathi has been spotted waving the tricolour and vociferously cheering the Indian Team.  His name is Dawood Ibrahim."

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