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Madhya Pradesh: Lengthening Trident Shadows
By Ram Puniyani

Trishul Diksha in Jabalpur

In a public function held in Jabalpur, M.P. (Sept. 2005) five thousand trishuls were distributed under the leadership Mr. Pravin Togadia of Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The function was organized by Bajarang Dal, an affiliate of RSS. In the meeting a pledge was administered, which stated that all will be done to bring in the Hindu Rashtra.

The previous Congress government had put a ban on trishul diksha and with the BJP Government coming to power the ban has been lifted. Many a places Mr. Togadia’s entry has been banned so far as his speeches heat up the atmosphere of communal hatred. Trishul Diksha has been devised by VHP as a mechanism to use religious  cultural symbols for political mobilization of Hindutva. During the period of Rath Yatra the use of stickers like ‘Garv se Kaho Hum Hindu hain’ and the one of Lord Ram with an aggressive posture were used with effect not only to mobilize Hindus but also to intimidate the minorities.

The Hindu right has been cleverly using the symbols and imageries to polarize the communities and one recalls its culmination in the post rath yatra communal violence, demolition of Babri Msajid and horrific riots in Mumbai, Surat and Bhopal. The use of symbols with religious resemblance has been the strength of RSS progeny. Just to recall few more in this direction, one has been the popularization of Vinayaka idols and Ganapati festival in South, the other being Hanuman and Shabri festivals in the Adivasi areas. Most of these act to give the cultural channels especially to Dalits and adivasis to co-opt them into Hindutva fold. The choice of Hanuman and Shabri for adivasis gives a very precise message of their place in the Hindu fold.

It is being said that Trishul is a part of Hindu religious tradition. Interestingly one never heard of Trishul Diksha earlier. It is a political innovation by VHP. Earlier Trishul has been a symbol associated with Lord Shiva, it was not meant for use in social gatherings. It was  mostly used while traveling to pilgrimage sites and also by the  sadhus. Its role is not similar to that of Kripan, which is amongst  the five basic ingredients of Sikhism. The Trishul designed by VHP and used for mass distribution is a disguised knife with sharp edges which have more of destructive potential.

Madhya Pradesh has been having BJP Government off and on. It also has a deep and powerful network of RSS shakhas, Bajrang dal offices and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams, the latter spread in the adivasi areas. It is here in Jhabua that attempt was made to give a communal color to the rape and murder of a young girl by a miscreant in the campus of a Christian school. It was in Jhabua region again that the intimidation of Missionaries has been intense on various pretexts. The main grudge has been the activities of missionaries in the remote places. In one of the trips to Jhabau region, where the alleged conversions are going on, the writer of these lines was made to realize the real motive behind the attacks on Missionaries. One of the Principals of the missionary schools told an interesting episode. His school is located in a township where, as is usually the case, many RSS supporters also send their children for studying, as a matter of choice. Same RSS supporters allege that the missionaries are doing the conversion work through their schools in remote area. The Principal told that one such parent of a child invited him for a dinner. In the after dinner talk he appreciated the Principal’s work in educating the children. But he also pointed out that the schools in cities and townplaces are OK but why should the missionaries open the schools in the remote places to educate those ‘animals’, meaning adivasis! The real reason for opposing these activities happens to be to oppose this empowerment of adivasis through education, which is not much to the liking of the Hindutva forces.

The coming to power of BJP Government in MP has opened the gates for intrusion of Hindutva in its full aggressive mode. This Govt. first with Uma Bharati as the CM brought in Cows and Sants in the physical vicinity of the rulers. Cow based economy was envisaged as a panacea for the economic ills of the state. With Bharati's Tiranga Yatra and her resignation, which came as a big respite for BJP, as any way Bharati had become a good deal of embarrassment for the party. Later Babulal Gaur stepped in. For various reasons, to win over the patron ship of RSS, to keep his seat safe from Bharati, Gaur treaded the safe path of handing over the policy making department to RSS, which now is determined to convert MP into another laboratory of Hindutva, a la Gujarat. First the Government went on to ensure that Vande Matram is brought in, in offices and schools. The activities of Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram have been stepped up in the Adivasi areas. With this tirshul diksha the intensity of the communal polarization will go up tremendously. The issue is not just the insecurity of minorities; the issue is of violation of the basic norms of democratic society, law and order. The mass distribution of knives, disguised as religious symbols, will step up the violent psychology and intensify the polarization of communities.   

It is precisely here that prior to election the Bhojashala-Maula Masjid issue was brought up for electoral purposes. The anti Christian  violence unleashed in Jhabua-Meghnangar region had paid dividends and BJP got good deal of electoral advantage. While the BJP government is ruling, the RSS affiliates have got a free hand to intensify their Hindutva agenda. MP has traveled a far way during last year and a half.

The intense violence in Gujarat was preceded by a period of BJP rule in Gujarat where the VHP, Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram had a free run. The issue of conversion and terrorism was manipulated to doctor the social psychology, and the emotional distances between the communities. The culmination of this  into the violence and later ghettoisation, this has become a ‘model’ pattern of Hindutva politics. What begins as innocuous sounding phenomenon gradually takes the direction of dividing communities along religious lines. It is conceded that BJP led NDA government at the center did provided the cover to the local BJP government in its communalization of society but even before the full fledged pogrom was launched by Modi and company the religious divide in the state was extreme. The communal violence played the role of driving the permanent wedge in the same. Despite the claims to contrary the society in Gujarat is getting vertically split with emotional ghettoisation preceding the physical ghettoisation. The process in MP is going on in the similar lines and this trishul diksha is yet another step in the ongoing process. Hope the central government wakes up in time to put brakes on this divisive process being permitted by Babulal Gaur Government.