'SAFFRON TERROR' IS A PERNICIOUS FALSEHOOD BASED ON ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE. IT ARISES OUT OF A BIAS AGAINST HINDUS AND HINDUISM AND INVOLVES INFORMATION PROCESSING SHORT-CUTS AND MOTIVATIONAL FACTORS LIKE PANDERING TO OTHER COMMUNITIES. THOSE WHO HAVE COINED THIS TERM HAVE CHOSEN TO IGNORE THAT SAFFRON IS INTEGRAL TO INDIA'S CIVILISATION AND CULTURE: IT SYMBOLISES FAITH AND VALOUR, PEACE AND COMPASSION.
There is a crazy seriousness about the latest joke called 'saffron terror'. If one deals with it seriously and describes it to be what Gordon Allport in the book Nature of Prejudice called "antilocution", that is verbal remarks against a community which do not address it directly, yet create an environment of hostility and prejudice against it, being nothing but hate speech, the objection is met with the defence that the comment should not be taken seriously. And if one treats it as a joke and dismisses it as trash of a vacant mind deserving summary rejection, it is seen, in fact, as an admission of complicity in "seditious activity" against the country.
The expression symbolises a Hindu's condition in India. He dare not assert himself because his being a member of the "majority community" is said to render the need for his assertion irrelevant. And should the Hindu choose to keep quiet, he, while being complimented for being virtuous and honourable, is placed in a situation where his docility is treated as acquiescence in all the wrong an adverse political condition heaps on him. Thus the only manner in which a Hindu can be tolerated is his being inert or inactive or, at best, as a passive agent imbibing and internalising change without reacting to it. In either event a Hindu is deprived of the very conditions in which he or Hinduism can survive.
'Saffron terror' thus does not express an attitude towards terror but a phobia against saffron and a predisposition to demonise anything which is sacred to Hinduism while simultaneously using the tolerance of a Hindu as the environment to bully and abuse him. There is an unfair suspension of the principle that all are equal in their freedom in the application to Hindus. Take an example of cancellation of land to Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board to set up temporary shelters and facilities for Hindu pilgrims.
We can ignore what the more rabid Shabir Shah, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the Mirwaiz Umer Farooq did and deal, instead, with Mr Omar Abdullah's reaction: Kashmiri people, he said, "are not against the Amarnath Yatra. They are only protesting against the land transfer which is pure nationalism. India calls itself the largest functioning democracy. But if we are really a functioning democracy can't we let people express their dissent?"
It was naïve to suggest that the land transfer had "nothing" to do with the Amarnath Yatra. The freedom of a "functioning democracy" moreover was used to deny Hindu pilgrims accommodation during a pilgrimage, the denial not only given the dignity of "dissent" but hallowed as "nationalism" and that too after the very "functioning democracy" to which Mr Abdullah alluded allowed ethnic cleansing of the whole Valley condemning the Hindus amongst the Indians to live in ghetto-like conditions as refugees in their own country. Is it not obvious that Hindus are held to standards which others can with impunity violate?
This reality is reinforced by the fact that religious terrorism does not in itself define a specific religious point of view but defines instead the individual or group view or interpretation of that belief system's teachings. Those who have coined the phrase 'saffron terror' must explain which Hindu individual or groups of individuals have interpreted Hinduism as their spur to terrorist activities and suggested that their interpretation of Hindu texts has convinced them that it is Lord Vishnu or Lord Shiva's will to defend the faithful against the lies and evil deeds of their enemies and thus launch themselves into terrorist activity?
Moreover, it is as well known that those involved in terrorist activities are not necessarily "commander cadre organisations" like Lashkar-e-Tayyeba or Jaish-e-Mohammed and there are instances of what Peter Rose called "leaderless resistance" and "lone wolf avengers" who also indulge in such acts. In so far as the former is concerned there is a list of designated terrorist organisations maintained by India and also another maintained by national Governments and inter-governmental organisations and no 'saffron terror' group finds a mention in it.
What then is the justification behind coining this expression when there exists nothing to which it can be applied? Not merely this, Mr MK Narayanan, in fact, had mentioned 800 terrorist cells operating in the country; how many of them are 'saffron'? As many as 232 of the 608 districts in India are affected by terrorism and insurgency; how many of these districts are motivated into terrorism by 'saffron'? Was 'saffron' involved in Punjab? Is 'saffron' left in Kashmir? Does the North-East have 'saffron'? Is the turmoil in central India due to 'saffron'? Were the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam 'saffron'? It is apparent there is no 'saffron terror'.
The refusal, yet, to accept there is no 'saffron terror' is a classic example of slothful induction. This is a fallacy in which an inductive argument is denied its logical conclusion despite strong evidence for the inference. The utter untenability of there existing 'saffron terror' on a dispassionate analysis of the existing reality stares one in the face and is yet disregarded. Such an obstinate refusal to acknowledge that which cannot be denied cannot but involve complete distorting rational analysis and discourse. The expression represents the monomania of a fanatic dogged in his abuse of Hinduism intolerant of facts while being flushed with hatred for a Hindu.
I might, however, be accused of selection bias if I do not refer to the Ajmer Sharief blast, Mecca Masjid bombing and the Malegaon blasts which have been linked to Hindus. A mere three incidents in a country besieged by terrorists and terrorism and that too by "lone wolf rangers" not any established "commander cadre organisations" are the justification for this odium on Hindus? Significantly, moreover, of the said three incidents the Mecca Masjid bombing which the UPA claimed was the work of Abhinav Bharat has been linked to the Islamic outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami. And a Purohit or a Pragya involved in the said blasts are admittedly "lone wolf rangers".
Only the desperation of a hasty generalisation, more appropriately described as a cognitive distortion, can justify ascribing the activities of such individuals to the community as a whole as 'saffron terror'. The distortion lies in exaggerated and irrational thoughts involving the use of isolated cases to make wild generalisations and irrelevant association, the conclusion about existence of 'saffron terror' being based on non-existent evidence.
Opprobrium is heaped on Hindus. And the intent is to launch a systematic campaign to vilify and discredit the Hindu leadership. Thus Mr LK Advani could not become a Prime Minister while Rajiv Gandhi is fondly remembered as one, the massacre of Sikhs notwithstanding. Mr Narendra Modi was denied visa by the US though Mr Omar Abdullah celebrated 'nationalism' in denying Amarnath pilgrims temporary shelters during a pilgrimage. And Mr Indresh Kumar is pilloried as a "Hindutva inspired fanatic" despite working amongst and with Muslims and forming a "Muslim Rashtriya Manch", adopting an inclusive approach celebrating India's pluralism.
Hinduism is not a religion of a book. It has no established organisation and the only cohesion its followers enjoy is acknowledging the existence of diverse views on spiritual fulfilment and salvation. They will remain apart and asunder unless they have a strong Hindu leadership. And the liberal use of invective, vilification and vituperation of that leadership is to discredit any person with the capacity to lead them. The use of 'saffron terror' is yet another tactic in the said strategy.
'Saffron terror' is a pernicious falsehood based on anecdotal evidence. It arises out of a bias against Hindus and Hinduism and involves information processing short-cuts and motivational factors like pandering to other communities ignoring the same rights and sensibilities of Hindus. 'Saffron terror' has meaning only for those who have coined it and such individuals are intent only on convincing themselves they are right because they refuse to admit or acknowledge that they are in fact wrong.