The Rise of Hindu Nationalism in India

In Search of India’s Soul Part 2

Directed by Bruno Rosso (A Jazeera) 2020

Film Review

Part 2 of this series looks at significant triggers leading to the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a once-obscure Hindu nationalist party. The first were December 1992 riots that occurred following the demolition of the Babri Masjid mosque by Hindu activists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).* The mosque was built in the 16th century on the site of a Hindu temple demolished by Mogul occupiers. Two thousand people would be killed in the ensuing riots.

The second trigger was a long running TV adaption (starting in the 1980s) of the Ramayan.**

The third involves a court case that overturned a Muslim divorce,*** In 1986, then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi sponsored a law, which proved extremely controversial among women’s rights and Hindu activists, vacated the court ruling.

The final trigger was a February 2002 incident in which Hindu activists set fire to a train of Muslims returning from the Burbury Mosque. After allowing Hindu activists to parade the 38 charred corpses through the streets, local police stood by as a thousand people (75% Muslim) were killed in riots that ensued. As president of the state of Gujurat, future Indian president Narendra Modi was barred from visiting the US for 10 years, following his failure to intervene in the riots.

The film also includes an illuminating segment about Hindu attacks on Indian Christian communities. In 2008, 40,000 Christians came under attack, with their hospitals and schools being burned, and several nuns being raped.

For me the most interesting segment concerns a recent trend for Hindu Dalits (Untouchables) to convert to Islam to escape the discrimination and exploitation they experience under the Hindu religion.****

At the film’s conclusion journalist (and narrator) Aatish Taseer is stripped of his Indian citizenship owing to an article critical of Narendra Modi he published in Time magazine.


*The RSS is the largest civil society in the world fighting for Hindu supremacy.

**The Rāmāyan is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient Indian history, the other being the Mahābhārata.

***Under Muslim law, a man can divorce a woman (and absolve himself of any responsibility for child support or spousal maintenance) by repeating three times “I divorce you.”

****Hinduism is the only religion in the world that purposely enforces Inequality based on circumstances of birth.

 

Hidden History: The 1992 FBI Assault on Ruby Ridge

Ruby Ridge

PBS (2017)

Film Review

In this documentary Ruby Ridge survivor Sara Weaver relates the history of the 1992 FBI assault on her home that killed her mother and her 14 year-old brother Samuel. It provides a a very different view of the incident than the mainstream media.

First and foremost the Weavers weren’t heavily armed white supremacists linked with the Aryan Nation, as claimed by the FBI and corporate media. Despite attending Aryan Nation meetings, the Weavers declined to join because they didn’t share the group’s white supremacist views.

Weaver Declines to Infiltrate the Aryan Nation

Former Green Beret and Christian fundamentalist Randy Weaver ran afoul of the US government after an undercover Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent asked Weaver to acquire a shotgun for him. The agent claimed Weaver illegally sawed it off (at the agent’s request), an assertion Weaver has always disputed. The ATF then threatened to arrest Weaver and confiscate his property unless he agreed to infiltrate the Aryan Nation as an undercover informant. When Weaver refused, he was arrested.

Fearful (understandably) that the federal government was trying to frame him for a crime he didn’t commit, Weaver failed to appear for trial. After a two year attempt to serve a a bench warrant on the family’s isolated mountaintop home, federal marshals turned the case over to the FBI Hostage Rescue Team (ie FBI snipers).

The family tell a very different story of the assault than the FBI – with a federal jury ultimately siding with the family. According to Sara, after the FBI sniper shot the family dog, 14 year-old Samuel returned fire and killed one of the snipers. At this point, the other snipers shot and killed his mother Vicky,, whom was holding his baby sister in her arms.

The standoff continued until highly decorated former Green Beret Bo Gritz intervened and persuaded Weaver, his friend Kevin and the remaining children to surrender.

Weaver Family Receives $3.1 Million Settlement

Both Weaver and Kevin were charged and acquitted in the death of the FBI sniper. Weaver was also acquitted on the charge of illegally sawing off a shotgun. He ultimately served 18 months for failure to appear.

In 1995, the family received a $3.1 million settlement for the wrongful death of Vicky and Samuel.

Although the FBI allegedly undertook major policy changes after Ruby Ridge, they undertook a similar military-style assault in 1993 against fundamentalist Christians in Waco Texas.