SIMI and Bajrang Dal – can they be compared?
There is a heated debate on in India about whether it is possible to compare SIMI and Bajrang Dal …and also whether to ban these two organisations.
Let us see if we can compare these organisations. As the Bajrang Dal website is banned, I cannot verify their agenda and SIMI does not appear to have a website. There are plenty of news articles about these two organisations and their goals but I have come to the conclusion that the wiki has the agenda of these organisations outlined in a comprehensive and fairly unbiased manner.
1. Religious identity and religious agenda – both SIMI and Bajrang Dal have this.
Bajrang Dal, it’s said, wants to “expose the questionable means adopted by some Christian bodies to convert poor people under a world evangelical plan that specially targeted Hindu-majority India.” They have other religious goals, like building temples at Hindu holy sites and banning cow slaughter. They are also fighting against government policies which they feel appease minorities.
However, it is important to mention that the Bajrang Dal has no interest in converting non-Hindus to Hinduism. They only want to prevent conversions and fear that the Hindu identity of India will disappear if conversions continue. There have been serious and substantive allegations of christian missionaries using bribes to convert poor Hindus.
SIMI too has a religious agenda. SIMI is apparently against secularism and wishes to “restore the supremacy of Islam.” More details can be found on the wikipedia site.
2. “Moral” agenda – both organisations have a moral agenda.
Bajrang Dal loves to play the moral police and has instilled fear in the minds of ordinary citizens on this issue. Their people are wont to catch un-married couples in parks as they are against public display of affection. They are also against Valentines day celebrations, homosexuality and Hindu-Muslim marriages. They are strongly opposed to the “immoral’ sexual mores of the west, having imbibed the Victorian culture that the British imposed on us during colonial rule.
SIMI too has a moral agenda. They want to “counter what it believes is the increasing moral degeneration, sexual anarchy in Indian society and the ‘insensitiveness’ of a ‘decadent’ west.” However I have not heard of them making a public nuisance of themselves in this regard, but I wonder if that could be because these incidents (intimidation of ordinary people from their own community) have not been reported?
3. Crimes committed. This is tricky as there are very few convictions or documented proof of the activities of these groups. If anyone is caught and some crime is proved, the group promptly denies that the accused is a member. In any case often the police have not solved crimes regarding vandalism and not caught the culprits where the Bajrang is concerned. Therefore one can only talk of allegations and accusations.
Bajrang Dal activists have been accused of many mob attacks and vandalism of property. They have also been linked to the murder of missionary Graham Stein and his three sons – the accused had links with the organisation but Bajrang Dal has denied it.
The Bajrang Dal activists have also been caught involved in bombmaking (although making crude bombs is something that criminals of all kinds do) and the latest is that they have been implicated in the wave of anti-Christian violence in Orissa and Karnataka since August 2008. Christians in some other states are also suffering. However, Bajrang Dal is denying their involvement, although no one believes it. More than 50 Christians have been killed so far, more than 5000 houses destroyed, over a 100 churches burnt down and they say that around 50,000 Christians have been made homeless. And the police is not acting.
SIMI has been accused of terror attacks. The Indian Mujahideen, which has claimed responsibility for a series of blasts across India, has been accused of being a part of SIMI. Many more have died, and many more injured. SIMI too has denied that its members are a part of the Indian Mujahideen.
The Indian Mujahideen the police say, are being funded by money from the Gulf which clearly points to a foreign hand in the blasts.
Assuming all these allegations are true, this means that both Bajrang Dal and SIMI have committed crimes. We tend to think the terror crimes are more heinous and certainly according to the law they are. Interference of another country also increases the gravity of the crime. But what is disturbing is that it appears as if the police are not acting when it comes to the alleged crimes committed by Bajrang Dal. Does it really matter if the police think that one crime ranks below the other? A crime is a crime. It does seems as if the police are not that concerned about whether one crime is more serious than the other, but more concerned with who commits it.
Whether these two outfits should be banned is a difficult question and I certainly do not know. However, all crimes need to be dealt with according to the punishment stated in the Indian Penal Code. There is no justification for violence. Whatever the motive of the criminals, they have to be punished. They are criminals first and foremost, not holy warriors! Anyone convicted of a crime should not be allowed to disown or distance themselves from their organisation. It shouldn’t be difficult to prove their membership or ex-membership. The organisation has to take the responsibilty if their members are involved in crimes (which go to fulfill the organisation’s agenda) and if any organisation’s members are repeatedly caught in the police net due to their criminal activities, the organisation has to be warned. If this doesn’t work, it should be outlawed.
(First photo is by me and is for representational purposes only. The second one is from pratyushinstablogs)
Related Reading: Terrorism: Citizens needs answers
Moral Police have political backing
Violent protesters should pay for their misdeeds
Moral Policing in India reaches new depths
Moral Policing against couples