Hindus look today at what happened in India and blame the Muslims for the riots. But the fact is that for several months, if not years, Hindus have been fanning the flames of dissension and communalism in the country. In this volatile atmosphere, when kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya taunted Muslim vendors at Dahod railway station, pulled their beards and ransacked their stalls, they ignited a conflagration that even they could not control. This senseless and aggressive act was repeated by the kar sevaks at Godhra station where a senior Muslim vendor was physically attacked. In my opinion, neither the Vishwa Hindu Parishad nor the RSS is really interested in rebuilding the temple in Ayodhya. The issue has been used for political gimmickry. If rebuilding the temple was all that important, the Hindus and Muslims of Ayodhya would have eagerly cooperated so that they, too, could rebuild their economy and begin to live a normal life. Instead, Ayodhya became the nexus which the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies sought to exploit the Hindu vote so that a Hindu government could be installed in New Delhi, just as the Congress Party exploited the Muslim and Harijan votes while they were in power. The BJP dropped the temple issue, just as the Congress dropped the Muslim and Harijan issues after each election. Both the Congress and the BJP revisit their pet issues only when they see the need for the Indian community to be divided. This is what Gandhiji condemned as "Politics without Principles," while the British called it "Divide and Rule."
It is now convenient to blame Gandhiji for all of India's ills. Gandhiji did not want the partition of India, but the Congress Party was so eager to get into positions of power that they ignored Gandhiji's warnings and negotiated with the British to divide the country. The ensuing holocaust was shrugged off as the price for independence. But Gandhiji cared for the lives of people, because he did not see them as Hindus or Muslims but as human beings. At the crucial period in the independence movement, and at other times, the RSS vitiated the communal atmosphere in the country by demanding a Hindu India. They exacerbated the insecurity that the Muslim minority felt. No one except Gandhiji recognized the fact then, and no one does even now, that India is a multireligious society, and that it can live in peace only if we respect each other. Respect can never come from fear. It can only come from love and understanding and compassion, the cardinal principles on which Hinduism is built.
Hinduism has survived the ravages of thousands of years in spite of its own inherent weaknesses. Hinduism has also attracted many invasions over the centuries because of its belief in peace and nonviolence. It has survived because it is so tolerant, inclusive, accepting and forgiving. It will survive the modern madness of bloodthirsty protectors who are as ignorant of their religious beliefs as they are of their values. May God have mercy on human exploiters.