Religion and politics have been fellow travellers for an eternity. Violence is the third cog in this wheel, and the results of this alliance have unfailingly been brutal. Post-Independence India has had its share of this deadly cocktail, as it went about living up to the ideals of a humanitarian Constitution. The conflict exists because the Constitution’s vision of India is often at odds with the mood of some sections of its people and politicians, and there are significant political and other gains to be made by encouraging divisive acts. And in our long and complex history, there are enough fault lines to be exploited.
This issue examines two divisions that pose the biggest threat to India’s peace and stability—Hindutva and Islamic fundamentalism. Hindutva extremism is not new, and a part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s mandate has always been violent action directed against Muslims, writes Subhash Gatade in his essay “Under the saffron flag”. There at least six significant terrorist acts committed by Hindutva terrorists, and these networks run deep and strong.
The increasing radicalisation of Kerala’s Muslims is a cause of worry, as is the import of an alien, Arab culture with its emphasis on Salafism. The Popular Front of India, a political organisation in Kerala made up of erstwhile National Development Front cadres, has long been suspected of having an ulterior, violent, Islamist agenda. Govind Krishnan V’s report (“The Kerala radicals”) tells how this organisation’s unsavoury bits exist in the shadows, well known but not publicly acknowledged.
In western Uttar Pradesh, a fragile peace that existed between the two communities lies broken now due to the bogey of “love jihad”, the Sangh Parivar’s latest attempt for political consolidation here. It is being marshaled along with toxic propaganda by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for its own cynical and divisive ends. All this is being done at the behest of BJP’s president Amit Shah, the murder accused who has a knack for delivering electoral victories. Arpit Parashar’s report, “The ‘love jihad’ gamble in UP”, exposes the BJP.
Four boys from Kalyan, a town in the Greater Mumbai area landed in Mosul, Iraq, to fight for the Islamic State. One of them ended up dead, and is now hailed as a martyr in his locality as well as in Islamist campaign material exhorting more Indian Muslims to wage jihad. Alia Allana’s investigation “The boys from Kalyan” reveals previously unknown details of the transformation of these boys from suburbia to fighters for the global jihad.
Fountain Ink embarks on its fourth year of publication, and the stories in this issue are an example of our uncompromising commitment to reportage. We thank you, the reader, for your support to our journalism, and promise much more of it in different platforms in the future.
Saurav Kumar, Editor