Malegaon to Mangalore

An unintended consequence of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai was the dismantling of the contrived moral equivalence drawn between jihadi terrorism and Hindu extremism. The scale of the carnage and the professional ruthlessness of the attackers brought home the absurdity of putting a global network of terror on par with amateurish grandstanding.

Last Sunday's hooliganism in a Mangalore pub planned as a media event by the Sri Rama Sene has revived interest in the pathetic band of lumpens who claim to be upholding Hindu honour. The attack, particularly the roughing up of young women who were in the pub, has been equated with the moral policing of the Pakistani Taliban in the Swat Valley. With a general election round the corner, it has given a convenient handle to those opposed to the BJP. The BJP government of Karnataka and the RSS parivar has been charged with complicity and been held responsible for nurturing the hoodlums.

The incident in Mangalore has also contributed to reviving interest in the proceedings of the Malegaon bomb in Mumbai. That Abhinav Bharat of Malegaon-accused Lt-Colonel Prasad Srikant Purohit had a fraternal relationship with Pramod Mutalik, the founder of Sri Rama Sene, and with his associate Vilas Pawar, is recorded in the interrogation report of the former Military Intelligence functionary. Purohit and Mutalik were together at the well-publicised Hindu convention organised by former RSS pracharak Tapan Ghose in Kolkata in February 2008. Purohit also admitted that Pawar had telephoned him sometime in early October last year and "informed me that they (presumably the Sri Rama Sene) were behind the burning of churches in Karnataka." This

dubious achievement was appropriated by Purohit to persuade sceptics that Abhinav Bharat was more than either a letterhead or part of a fantasy world.

The extent to which the Malegaon blasts of September 2008 in which seven people were killed was the handiwork of a few crazies out to pin collective responsibility for jihadi terror on the entire Muslim community or was merely the tip of a grand conspiracy to establish a Hindu Rashtra will, hopefully, emerge in the course of the trial. Without prejudging the outcome, some larger political observations may be in order.

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