«ESTHER WAPSTRA Thesis submitted for MA degree Supervisors: Dr. Laurens G. H. Bakker Prof. Paul J. C. L. van der Velde 30 August 2013 COMMUNAL HARMONY ...»
The problem of the Hindu-Muslim fight has been a continuous one! Now they fight in the form of terrorism and damage the country! There has not been any Interview with Mrs. Geeta Belwar, Luxa, 3 February 2012; Friday prayer (Jumuah) is the extra congregational prayer that is obligatory for men (Sūrah 62:9-10), comparable to Sunday for Christians. In Hinduism, every god has its ‘own’ day; Monday is the day dedicated to Shiva, during which Shaivites (followers of Shiva) might fast or refrain from certain foods.
Interview with Mr. Shekhar Mallah, Khalispura, 16 January 2012 Interview with Mr. Hashim Anzaari, Bhelupura, 26 January 2012 example that shows that some Indian has become a terrorist who have done such activities in Saudia and Pakistan! You cannot find such Hindus! Hindus hearts are very soft, they do not like to kill.104 It is ironic, in the light of the destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, that this security guard states that Hindus would not damage the mosque. Yet, the bomb explosion of 2010, at Dashashvamedh ghāt, was indeed claimed by a terrorist Muslim organization, Indian Mujahideen, and attributed to the demolition of Ayodhya’s Babri mosque in 1992 (Times of India, 2010d). It is also interesting to notice how Mr.
Kamal Rao uses the words Hindu, Muslim, and Indian. Apparently, ‘Indian’ and ‘Hindu’ are interchangeable, as he mentions that they cannot become terrorist and are soft-hearted. He contradicts this with ‘their’ terrorism and damaging, by which he seems to refer to Muslims. Or in other words, to ‘the other’; this is entirely in line with the Hindu nationalistic image of Muslims. He stresses this once more when he insists that Banarasi Muslims indeed have perfidious connections, which “is inherited in their culture.”.
The insurance agent is more careful in his analysis of who these terrorists are.
According to him they are ‘fundamentalists’. He distinguishes between Hindus and Muslims who go to the temple or mosque, do their worshipping, and return to their businesses and those who “keep thinking about that only around 24 hours that how to destroy that, to occupy that.”.105 According to him, “those who have nothing to do, who are jobless, uneducated, use their mind in that thing only. And there are few educated fundamentalists as well. There are many intellectual type of persons but they are involve in that!”. It is interesting to notice the importance he attaches to education (see also section 6.4.4). The other security guard is also more nuanced, holding that not only in India but in the entire world people are suffering from terrorists that are not easily identifiable. But some organizations like Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah who claim responsibility when incidents like bomb blasts happen.
Many interviewees contend that the level of security was increased after Ayodhya.
Mrs. Shabnam Jha indicates that the security was tightened to avoid riots or other incidents. The retired social worker also maintains that the security was basically a precaution to prevent ‘such dangers’ from happening. Mr. Sudeep Pandey, a PAC security guard, affirms that the Central Government tightened the security about two decades ago (around the time of the Ayodhya issue).
Interview with Mr. Kamal Rao, Khalispura, 14 January 2012 Interview with Mr. Mukesh Gupta, Vishwanath gali, 23 January 2012 Mr. Sudeep Pandey, one of the two PAC security guards whom I interviewed, told me that the security in Godowlia (the area around the Vishwanath temple and Gyanvapi mosque) is tighter than the security of any other temple area because the Vishwanath temple is “almost the symbol of the Hindu religious faith.”.106 There are also security arrangements around some other temples, mainly the Sankat Mochan temple (in which a bomb exploded in 2006), but it is felt that not so much security is needed there. He explains that the difference is that the Vishwanath temple is a nationally and internationally famous temple to which tourists from all over India as well as abroad come for darshan (worship) whereas the Sankat Mochan temple attracts much fewer people and mainly locals. Therefore, the security system around the Vishwanath temple has been uncompromised throughout the last two decades and with the same level of security throughout the whole day, whether noon or midnight. The level of security around the Sankat Mochan temple is strengthened with private security.
However, the perception of the security guard that the security system is uncompromised does not match articles in the media. The Times of India writes that there is a critical shortage or even a ‘crisis’ of manpower in many positions, especially of police women, since years (Times of India, 2009d, 2012a, 2012b).
According to the newspaper, “[t]o meet the requirement of civil police, the cops are deployed at this complex from all the districts of Varanasi zone on rotation basis.
Despite this ground reality, the state government failed to consider the demand of dedicated force for this site, though it is pending for past one decade.” (Times of India, 2012b). This contradicts the idea I came across that security guards keep changing in order not to get too much involved in the daily lives of people living in or visiting Godowlia and build up relationships with them. This would interfere with objective security.
Recent research also found that the security system is not watertight as posts for PAC forces were sometimes occupied by constables from the civil police, security guards are leaving their posts, and security personnel was using mobile phones despite a ban on electronic appliances and gadgets in the red zone (Times of India, 2011a, 2012a).107 Moreover, only ample fifteen years after the destruction of the Babri mosque the Central Government undertook major investments with the introduction of a public address system (loudspeakers), bulletproof portable bunkers, modern metal detectors, commando lights, and bulletproof jackets for PAC Interview with Mr. Sudeep Pandey, Dashashvamedh, 11 December 2011 The area is divided into an inner core (the ‘red zone’) and an outer area (‘yellow zone’) (see also section 4.1.1) personnel, and the repairing of unreliable equipment of the bomb disposal squad (Times of India, 2009f). Nowadays, some equipment is non-functional, there are many dilapidated buildings in the sacred complex, power supply is irregular, and the public address system and close circuit television cameras (CCTV) are not functioning (Times of India, 2012d, 2013a).
Another PAC security guard firmly believes that the temple is the main target for terrorist attacks and thus in need of most attention. This opinion is clearly shared by the chāī walā: “There are difficulties due of them! The temple is less protected than the mosque, and they get the maximum response! If something is happening there then the Muslims, means the mosque is better protected...”.108 Mr. Kamal Rao is perplexed that the mosque is better protected than the temple although all these difficulties are really due to Muslims. If anything would happen, the Muslims would
be better off than Hindus. The businessman seems to hold the opposite:
I ask, why the metal detectors are installed in every temple in Varanasi? Where there is a security in every temple? There is no security in church, no security in gurūdwārā [place of worship of Sikhs], no security in Buddhists... But what is the reason behind this? The bombs blast at the religious places in Varanasi!...
It is never heard that there have such things in the mosques...109 To Mr. Sudeep Pandey it is awful that temples are in need of security against the “terror of Islam, of jihād”. In fact he exaggerates the situation as most temples are not so tightly secured as the Vishwanath temple, nor do they have metal detectors. I am pretty sure even the aforementioned Sankat Mochan temple does not have metal detectors, nor does the locally important Durga temple. Even the new Vishwanath temple on the BHU campus does not have metal detectors, nor are visitors searched before they enter. His statement that mosques do not have tight security like Hindu temples is also not true. In fact, the mosque seems to be ‘better protected’, given the barbed wire around the mosque as well as the watchtowers and dragon lights.
Apparently, the security of the mosque can be explained both ways. Mr. Kamal Rao is amazed that the mosque is better secured because Muslims get more protection in that way. On the other hand, it could also be argued that the mosque is better secured because they are more of a threat.
However, interviewees consider the tight security in Godowlia is necessary. The leader of the Gyanvapi mosque, Mr. Anees Abdul Khan, and the insurance agent, Mr.
Interview with Mr. Kamal Rao, Khalispura, 14 January 2012 Interview with Mr. Sudeep Pandey, Dashashvamedh, 11 December 2011 Mukesh Gupta, powerfully state that the security is a must. The latter adds that because of the security system casualties are minimized. The French lady makes a critical note about the security, however. She had recently read an article in a newspaper which wrote that the priests are not searched. She was surprised to find out about this and to read it in the newspaper, although she “had this feeling it’s almost too much [i.e., the security].”.110 Cynically she calls it “so-called protection” because according to her there are at least twenty-four priests who work in or around the Vishwanath temple who are in fact “False priests.... They are just to take the money from the pilgrims. There are as dishonest to take the money from the pilgrims.”. Besides, as discussed above, the security guards keep changing due to an inadequate number of security personnel. This makes it at the same time impossible for them to know all the priests. The French lady wonders what would happen if a guy comes and says he is a priest coming from this or that region.
Although I am not sure it is the article she referred to as it is not very recent, the Times of India raises exactly the same matter and is indeed flabbergasted that such
practices happen in a temple that is “considered highly sensitive”:
According to acting chief executive officer of the temple, Sanjay Singh Yadav, there are only 20 priests in the list of temple administration who are deployed at the temples situated inside the KVT premises, including the main sanctum sanctorum.
Most of these priests are not checked properly at the frisking points despite the fact that they carry baskets in which any objectionable item can be taken inside or outside the temple (Times of India, 2010c).
The newspaper mentions that there are plans to provide the unauthorized priests with identity cards to check their entrance. Meanwhile, the police do not have a list with authorized priests. The priest of the Vishwanath temple agrees that in most cities there are dishonest Brahmins who snatch money from pilgrims for their own livelihood; only 5% of them are genuine and capable to perform religious rituals.
About Varanasi, he mentions that:
The pandits of this place are well educated and learned; they follow the Purānas and religious books to perform religious rituals! And all the pandās are fools basically, they are not educated, they keep people in dark and snatch money from them, it has been their primary and foremost aim to earn their livelihoods this way only! They are in the majority here.111 Interview with Mrs. Ama, Shivala ghat, 10 February 2012 Interview with Ram Sahai Shankar, Dashashvamedh, 18 February 2012 The question is who, according to the newspaper article the French lady mentions, are these priests that are allowed to enter without being searched. The priest of the Vishwanath temple told me the temple is their ancestral property and they are with four brothers. However, as discussed in section 4.2, there are also other priests are working within the temple, one for each major deity. They assist pilgrims by chanting mantras, giving out prashād, and tying red-yellow bracelets around wrists. As the article mentions twenty priests, it is likely that these men are also allowed entry without being searched. These men are most likely the pandits the priest is talking about. Outside the temples, in the area surrounding the sacred complex, many men are trying to attract people to visit the temples in the sacred complex with him as their ‘personal’ spiritual guide. They are probably the pandās the priest mentions. If these men can also enter the complex without being searched, I can imagine the French lady’s cynicism. Whereas the former group might be fairly stable, assuming that deities are constantly looked after by the same pandit and this pandit’s livelihood is in serving pilgrims who are visiting this deity, the latter group might be more flexible, assuming that new pandās might take up the job, the men might change working area, and they might work the days and hours that are convenient for themselves.
In any case, the security system in Godowlia seems to be successful. One of the security guards relates how their presence has maintained the peaceful and harmonious atmosphere of the past. He indicates that people are in fearless and in peace just like in the past. The washerwoman gives an example the impact of
Even if bombs blast in Varanasi then soon everything becomes normal....
Some tension is there but only for short periods when such incidents take place... then the security arrangements were made at every location, on the ghāts, in the temples, and there have not be any difficulties because of those security arrangements.112 In short, security measures were taken in Varanasi mainly in response to the situation in Ayodhya. In effect, the sacred complex was fortified to stop terrorists and ‘bad elements’. It is a bit sour that terrorists are seen as coming from the Muslim community, as in Ayodhya the Babri mosque was pulled down by Hindus. The security is supposed to be ‘uncompromised’ with high investments, but apparently, Interview with Mrs. Geeta Belwar, Luxa, 3 February 2012 there is a shortage of security personnel and material does not meet the requirements.