Just grin and bear it



Years ago, I gave up traveling by train on the Calcutta-Bombay route during the first ten days of December. With the winter session of the Maharashtra Assembly generally held in the first few weeks of the last month of each year, I discovered there was no safety on any train on the route headed towards Bombay from December 1 to 6 and in the reverse direction until up to about December 10 or 11.

That is because hordes of Dalit supporters of the late Dr B R Ambedkar make tracks towards his samadhi, the Chaityabhoomi, in Bombay to observe his death anniversary on December 6. No government ever thought it fit to run special trains or buses or other transport between the far ends of the state to Bombay during this time. Since it is not possible to accommodate all worshippers of Dr Amberdkar on the trains legitimately, these groups just evolved the system of boarding the train, ticketless, knowing no one dared stop them.

Now they do not just get into the general or second-class compartments. They break their way into the A/c 1st class supposedly secured compartments as well and there was an occasion when the wife of a noted industrialist traveling with jewellery worth Rs 60 lakh found herself looted bare by some of the youth. She then sued the railways and was awarded the entire sum in compensation.

Whereupon, I discovered, the railways — from the next year on — simply instructed the ticket checkers to return the fares of the legitimate travelers and leave them to travel onwards at their own risk.

Finding myself in such a state on one occasion, I found some of these youth had brought the forbidden kerosene and some rags and sticks along with them into the train. The moment anyone objected, they would dip the rags into the kerosene tin, wrap them onto the stick, create a mashaal and light it up.

“We will burn you all,” they would say if passengers protested about them occupying their seats and berths.

On that particular day, all the other passengers around me ran for their lives, they pulled the chains and hastily got off at the next station to avoid being charred to death.

I stuck on. “Burn me if you will,” I told one of them. “If this train burns, so will you and all your fellow Dalits. You will then never see chaityabhoomi again.”

The cops at that small station got into the train to check out what the commotion was. They threw up their hands when they realised who the offenders were. And although they confiscated the kerosene and the matches, they took no further action, simply saying, “We advise you to get off the train, Madam. If you want to lodge an FIR, we will help you do so. But don’t expect any action.”

They shrugged at my horrified expression and explained that the miscreants being Dalits, the cops were bound by the diktats of the law – any action and they (the cops) were liable to be booked under the Prevention of Atrocities against the Scheduled Caste Act. “It is a non-bailable offence. They can make a false complaint about you, too. Our advice is to let them be.”

I refused. I could not do much about those militant youngsters after that but I made their journey as uncomfortable as possible – by spreading myself thick on my berth, giving them only the teeniest bit of space edgewise to park their behinds on, tossing and turning deliberately to make them, too, shift positions again and again.

At the end of the night, I was exhausted. But, I could see, so were they – and very resentful. Once they thought I was fully awake they began to call me all sorts of names — all I could do was pretend not to understand and keep up my own protests in the fanciest of English. Whereupon, their abuses got even worse.

I later complained to their leaders in Bombay who just shrugged and said they could do nothing about the enthusiasm of Ambedkar worshippers. With a similar sense of helplessness, I took to the air in later years while travelling between Nagpur and Bombay for the winter sessions of the legislature.

But it was also illuminating that the power of the Dalit protest (and their numbers) could overawe even the Shiv Sena and Bal Thackeray. I recall the mid-eighties when the Maharashtra government had celebrated Ambedkar’s centenary by republishing his entire works in English. Thackeray had an issue with one of the volumes – ‘Riddles of Hinduism’ – wherein Dr Ambedkar had raised queries about Lord Rama’s treatment of Dalits; he had asked why a ’shudra’ sitting in tapasya should have been disturbed by Lord Rama on the advice of his Brahmin priests.

The Sena led a morcha – claiming they had one lakh workers – in protest against the publication. Three days later, Dalit leaders answered Thackeray with a morcha of their own. They claimed they had one lakh people, too – but covering both the rallies, I thought the Dalit numbers seemed thrice that had been brought out by the Shiv Sena.

They smashed everything in sight (which the Sena had spared) – cars, shop windows, roadside stalls etc. Many Shiv Sainiks had been taken into custody for far less violence but the government and the cops did not dare arrest any among the Dalits. For both reasons of the law and their own politics.

It has always been thus, I have noticed. A colleague from the Marathi press, herself a Dalit, has always been critical of both the Shiv Sena (for its alleged communalism) and the Dalit leadership (for failing to do much for their own community). But while Thackeray would let her be after a series of some unsavoury verbal abuses, the particular Dalit leaders under criticism would send hordes outside her home or office to demonstrate and threaten her life and property. Other rival Dalit leaders would come to her rescue — and it has been like that on and off for years now.

So what happens when the Dalit power and the Shiv Sena’s skills at rabble rousing come together? There can be a fearless rampage as there was on Thursday when the Ramdas Athawale group of the Republican Party of India stormed a mill compound in Dadar and demanded the entire area be handed over to them instead of just the four (out of 12) acres that the union textile ministry had decided to allot to the memorial of Dr Ambedkar that they have been demanding.

“If the government does not change its decision then it will have to face more violent protests. We are warning the government that this will continue if they do not take immediate steps. We will give them a hard time,” Athawale, an ex-MP was quoted as saying.

Athawale has now teamed up with the Shiv Sena – he is desperate for a nomination to the Rajya Sabha which neither the Congress nor the Nationalist Congress (whose ally he was) can offer him any longer. He hopes Thackeray will have no compunctions about taking him on board.

But while his fire power might please Thackeray for the protection that his identity offers against the authorities to his own rampaging Shiv Sainiks, I am told he is not quite happy with Athawale’s demand himself – the Sena has other plans for that particular piece of prime property.

But this is only the second time since the Dalit protest of the Eighties that Thackeray has been stumped – and rendered speechless.

And the government has to grin and bear it – as always.

The only person I know so far who has retaliated with a sound but civilised response to Dalit violence has been former union Telecom Minister and noted journalist Arun Shourie. When a group of Dalits blackened his face for some of his comments in Pune some years ago, he came up with a book. It was titled, ‘Worshipping False Gods’ and it is among the best critiques of Dr Ambedkar I have read so far.

When I had asked Dr Prakash Ambedkar, his grandson, to respond to Shourie’s book the latter had declined. And realising the depth of Shourie’s knowledge and powers of retaliation in his own way, there were no protests either. That was the only time I know that Dalits were silenced.

But not everyone can be Arun Shourie.

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  • https://me.yahoo.com/a/NJgNuLUmq5Itz8Qd3ypKBXkOQ8Uh#8a5a0 ashok

    Fine piece, Sujataji. Given the elemental passions that lurk just beneath the surface of our subnational identities, maybe we should have used the last sixty odd years to harmonise society rather than accentuating the differences as the raw material for electoral politics. The explosions, when they come, will not be gentle.

    [Reply]

  • http://openid.aol.com/ctripathy chandrika

    Great article.

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  • anil

    Non violence can be a greatest asset or greatest curse (without glorifying violence) at the same time.

    Greatest force for obvious reason and understandable.

    Greatest curse (if non-violence coupled with no law and order, no responsibility, no accountability etc.) because people are expected to be quiet sitting duct thus there are other forces who just like that to advance their agenda. Indian crook political class is one of such forces. I am sure you can name few more.

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  • anil

    [Why suddenly people in Gandhi’s India, known world over for their tolerance, are venting their anger, their views by throwing shoes, slapping people, or even throwing black ink on someone? Have we lost all non-violent arms of protest, demonstration that we have to come down to this low?]

    You are wrong. People world over now know them mostly because they prefer mafia to democracy, crooks to honest responsible citizens and are charlatans. Not everybody going to believe it because you just happen to believe it. Just look at your media how they play second fiddle to the crooks and are not ashamed of running paid news service for survival.

    Gandhi is a misplaced personality in history – Indian politicians are just proving that day in day out.

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  • Gyan

    non violence was never a greatest force in India. It sounds so sweet, but there has always been corruptions and violence deep undercover. Gandhi never led India, gandhi led only the Congress party.Not even the party: a few followers in the party, becos most leaders in the concgress party were opportunists.

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  • bose dk

    For how long would you keep repeating the lie that Indian society is a tolerant society? For thousands of years, low castes have suffered under the oppression of upper castes, mental harassment, physical torture, economic deprivation, hunger and sickness. You may say that Indian society tolerates huge amount of violence – so in that sense, it is tolerant, if you can watch people dying in the neighbourhood of hunger and famine and yet walk away nonchalantly.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_URSXATBEMZ7HUAB3OH36PLYWDM Ashok

    There is a good case for the PM to retain Finance till the end of this government’s term. It signals to the world and, more importantly, the electorate that the economy is now on top of the party’s / government’s mind. Without the rates of growth and inflation changing places, the columnist will not have to stick his neck too far out to predict the outcome of the next general election.

    [Reply]

    At Cheruti Reply:

    And let’s hope that he does not just hold the portfolio but actually liberalizes the economy.

    [Reply]

  • Dr. P.K. Jha

    Vir Sanghvi is bereft of ideas. At the same time, he wants his name in print, so he decided to indulge in political prophecy that is patently meaningless and unsophisticated.

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  • ved

    Vir Sanghavi is wrong to claim that there is no logic in politics.The vote-bank logic works here.Muslims will vote to defeat BJP.Dalit will vote for Bahnji.Yadavs wil vote for Mulayam pahlvan. People like me will vote for Congress.Aam Admi will vte for a bottle and 500 rs. This is logic.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7XVK6BRUJHTBJCDMA6YSIFBUBE Suresh BV Bharadwaj

    Within a few days of taking charge of the Finance Ministry, the Asian Indian Aryan, Dravidian, Mongolian & Australoid Hindu, Sikh, Shinto, Tao, Confucian, Buddhist & Jain PM Manmohan Gurmukh Amrit Kaur Singh has proved that he is a quick action taker, a decisive leader & a good performer. Dr. Singh delivers spectacular results if he is in total control & others are not micro-managing him or placing roadblocks. When the fish, chicken & mutton eating RSS Brahmin Atal Bihari Shyam Krishna Vajpayee was the PM, BJP stood solidly behind him & allowed him complete freedom both in the government & the party. When PV Narasimha Rao was the PM, he too called all the shots in the administration & Indian National Congress party. Likewise, Jawaharlal Nehru, the son of the chicken, beef & pork-eating Motilal Nehru was the PM, he faced no internal dissensions either in the government or in the party. Of course, the Non-Aryan European British Greek Christian Edwina Mountbatten kept a tight control over Jawaharlal with the help of Remote Body Area & Mind Control Networks & made him to write to her every day about the affairs of India. Likewise, the converted Christian & fish, pork, chicken & mutton eating Rajiv Roberto Iranian Parsee Shia Muslim Firoz Jehangir Nawab Khan Ghandi faced no challenge to his powers, both in the administration & party from any of the Indians; however, the role played by Edwina Mountbatten when Jawaharlal Nehru was India’s PM, was played by the Non-Aryan European Italian Roman Catholic Christians Sonia Edwige Antonia Albina Roberto Maino, Mascali Ottavio Quattrocchi & Swedish AB Bofors Howitzer Corruption Commission Paying Gun in Rajiv Gandhi’s PM & personal lives. In the case of fish, chicken & mutton eating Indian PMs – Jat Charan Singh, Vokkaliga HD Deve Gowda, Kshatriya Chandra Shekhar, Pakistant-export IK Gujral & Kshatriya VP Singh, the Indian National Congress constantly breathed down their necks, never allowed them to breathe freely & under-cut their powers in decision making, appointments & administration. The fish, chicken & mutton eating Kayastha Brahmin Lal Bahadur Shastri took complete control of the Indian mind & administration with his clean, effective & Jai Jawan & Jai Kisan administration until he was poisoned to death by bad & malignant elements. The ablest, strongest, most patriotic & meat eating PM Indirani Priyadarshini Gandhi had complete control over both government administration & party management but her closest & ablest son Sanjay Gandhi was cruelly killed by her detractors. Similarly, his own urine drinking Gujarati Brahmin Morarji Desai stood his ground well, though he was a little weakened because Nanaji Deshmukh refused to become the Industry Minister & opted out of politics because of his differences with AB Vajpayee & LK Advani & because Madhu Limaye constantly attacked RSS support to his government. It is time the eggs, fish, chicken & mutton eating Manmohan Singh is made the Indian National Congress President & allowed to serve India as an able, amiable, honest & results-giving Indian PM. Jai Azad Hind! Jai Hind! OM!

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    vijay ! Reply:

    Bhardwaj ji … I think you should start a culinary column…

    [Reply]

    vijay ! Reply:

    Bhardwaj ji … I think you should start a culinary column…

    [Reply]

  • vijay !

    The only sensible prediction we can make is that decent gentleman Man mohan wont put up his had for 2014, while Digvijay SIgh may turn out to be the Digvinash Singh of Congress if he is allowed to open his mouth too much.

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  • vijay !

    The only sensible prediction we can make is that decent gentleman Man mohan wont put up his had for 2014, while Digvijay SIgh may turn out to be the Digvinash Singh of Congress if he is allowed to open his mouth too much.

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  • ppc baiter

    PP Chaudhuri is full of hot gas “if you will.” Mr. Baritone doesn’t have the critical thinking skills to come to worthwhile conclusions. Moreover he doesn’t have the balls to take a stand on its merit for fear of the hidden hand that might part him of his daily daal roti.

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  • Deluxe Hotel in Bhubaneswar

    One of the lovely hotels in bhubaneswar with very good hospitality and glorious accommodation….

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  • Bobby

    If KG basin Gas price is to decided by government, how come reliance bid for gas supply contract of NTPC. And how come Mukash Ambani entered into agreement with Anil Ambani to sell him Gas at same price as NTPC. How come government remain silent during all this time. And how come government decided that it will fix the price only when Anil Ambani won in mumbai high court and NTPC also moved court.

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  • Rahul Vincci

    Mr.Zia you should be ashamed on such reporting, a biased bullCR**. The Brtishers gave the Muslim political asylum, and what your community is doing ? bombed London Subway to create terror to the common British people to force them to accept Sharia. What if the British kicked out all the Muslim for their intolerance and disrespect for the British culture and system. your community will then beg mercy to stay but once in your Muslim community would force them with threat of terror to accept Sharia. The same thing going on in India. If you love so much your medieval cave Muslim culture then get out of India and go back to Pakistan.

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  • nirode mohanty

    Please do not give space to terrorists. They should be a part of the mainstream.
    Else, they should go to a Muslim country.

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    rao Reply:

    Key accused
    (1). Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit (37): He is the brain
    behind the Sept.29, 2008 blasts and the man that held it all together. He was
    the founder and one of the chief fund-raisers of the Pune-based organisation,
    Abhinav Bharat. He is also accused of procuring the RDX that was used in the
    blast. (He was arrested on Nov.5, 2008).

    (2). Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur (38): Her bike was used to plant the bomb in
    Malegaon, and she is accused of engineering the blast. She has a Masters in
    History, and became a sadhvi in Jan.2007. (She was arrested on Oct.23).

    (3). Rakesh Dhawde (35): Dhawde, an arms expert, has been booked for four
    previous bomb blast cases. He provided the required weapon training and supplied
    arms to Purohit. (He was arrested on Nov.2, 2008).

    (4). Swami Dayanand Pandey alias Shankar Acharya alias Sukhakar Dwuvedi (40):
    He can be seen as the key point man and is said to have been present at the
    meetings held in Bhopal, Pune and Faridabad before the Malegaon blasts. He is
    also accused of conducting meetings with the other accused. Prior to his arrest,
    he

    ran two ashrams in Kanpur and Jammu and Kashmir. (He was arrested on Nov.14,
    2008).

    (5). Retd. Maj. Ramesh Upadhyaya (64): A resident of Akurdi, Pune, he worked
    with the military’s intelligence unit, and is suspected to have provided the
    training required for procuring and assembling the bombs. (He was arrested on
    Oct.28, 2008).

    (6). Ajay Rahrikar (39): He was the treasurer of the Abhinav Bharat, and a
    part of the fund-raisers group. He paid Rs. 2.5 lakh to Swami Dayanand Pandey
    prior to the blast. (He was arrested on Nov.2, 2008).

    (7). Jagdish Mhatre (40): A habitual criminal and an accused in a murder and
    an extortion case in Kalyan and Thane, he is believed to have paid Dhawde for
    the weapons. (He was arrested on Nov.2, 2008).

    (8). Sameer Kulkarni (32): A former member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi
    Parishad (ABVP), he was employed at a printing press. He is suspected to have
    supplied the chemicals used in the bomb. (He was arrested on Oct.28, 2008).

    (9). Sudhakar Chaturvedi (37): Originally a resident of Mirzapur in UP,
    Chaturvedi was picked up from Deolali where he stayed in a rented room. He is
    accused of conspiracy; the bomb was assembled in his house. (He was arrested on
    Nov.4, 2008).

    (10). Sham Bhanwarlal Sahu (42): He is suspected to be one of the bomb
    planters. A commerce graduate from Christian College in Indore, Sahu has a
    mobile phone shop and also acted as a realty broker. He is also accused of
    abetting the blasts and conspiracy. (He was arrested on Oct.23, 2008).

    (11). Shivnarayan Kalsangra Singh (36): A BSc graduate, Singh is seen as a
    “mechanical and electrical” expert by the ATS. He is suspected to have assembled
    the timer device while making the bomb. (He was arrested on Oct.23,
    2008).

    [Reply]

  • engrich
  • Anonymous

    UK becoming multi cultural is a good thing. Global acceptance of all forms of Islam including athiestic Sufi Islam is welcome. However they should take care not to bend to Mullas and get Sharia in their legal system. Neither should the fair minded British abandon the hapless Muslim women in name of multi faith.

    It would be in fitness of things if Saudi Arabia also learns from Britain and encourages mutli faith churches and temples.

    I would love to hear the peal of Church bells or the cry of “Jo bole so nihal…” in the streets of Riyadh, Jeddah and Mecca…

    [Reply]

  • engrich

    Of the Ibrahimic faith in ONE God, Islam is the most liberal of the three,
    history is the evidence when non-believers pagans were annhilated in Europe,
    Africa and Americas by christian armies, whereas, the Persians, Ottomans and
    Moghul empires encouraged coexistance wherever they ventured. In Pakistan and
    several other muslim countries including Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states
    it is the absence of a dialogue in their societies which encourages radicalism
    and violence. one would think that the liberals in the media should be in the
    forefront to encourage a dialogue which could improve the tolerence among
    various factions and ethnic divide.

    Noth personal, just the views of an observer

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    Anon Reply:

    Chutiya — aur koi kaam nahe hai bhosdike ?

    [Reply]

  • Anonymous

    engrich– ‘whereas, the Persians, Ottomans and Moghul empires encouraged coexistance wherever they ventured’ NOT COMPLETELY TRUE

    And when you say- ‘ In Pakistan and several other muslim countries including Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states it is the absence of a dialogue in their societies which encourages radicalism and violence.’ HOW VERY TRUE
    Onus is on us muslims to integrate and adapt everywhere- will take our quom 25 years to improve image after 7/7, 9/11

    [Reply]

    engrich Reply:

    engrich– ‘whereas, the Persians, Ottomans and Moghul empires encouraged coexistance wherever they ventured’ NOT COMPLETELY TRUE.

    IT IS TRUE.MUSLIMS ENTERED INDIA BECAUSE THEY WERE POWERFUL.BEST CITIES,BEST TEMPLES BEST MOSQUES UNDER THEIR COMMAND AND RULE.CHRISTIANITY ANNIHILATED ENTIRE LOCAL POPULATION OF EUROPE AMERICA NEWZEALAND AND AUSTRALIA.IN VEDIC PERIOD LOCAL POPULATION WAS NOT ALLOWED TO GO SCHOOL.U GO TO ISTAMBOUL U WILL FIND SYNOGOGUE MOSQUE AND CHURCHES SIDE BY SIDE BUILT DURING KHILAFAT.IN LAHORE BEST SIKH TEMPLE STILL EXIST WITHIN 50 YARDS OF BADSHAHI MOSQUE.GURUDWARA SEES OF DELHI WAS ALWAYS IN RANGE OF MOGHUL CANNONS.MALAYSIA HAS BEST HNDU AND BUDHDHIST TEMPLES.IN JERUSALAM,CHRISTIANS KICKED OUT JEWS,HAZRAT OMAR BROUGHT THEM BACK AND CLEANED JEWISH HOLY PLACES WITH HIS OWN HANDS.DURING SPANISH RULE MOST OF TOP EXECUTIVES WERE JEWS.CHURCH KILLED THEM ROBBED THEM AND KICKED THEM OUT OF SPAIN.

    in dubai idgah,2 hindu temples nad gurudwara are in same compound.

    tipu palace was within few yards of main temple of that area.

    ayodhya was owned by persian nawabs,they donated land to present temples.land for golden temple was donated by muslims.muslims were great asset whereever they go.muslims built the best cities and road.our arrival on indian sucontinent was a gift to indians.for the first time all indians were equal before law…………………………………………………

    Onus is on us muslims to integrate and adapt everywhere- will take our quom 25 years to improve image after 7/7, 9/11

    sept 11 &7/7 were zoinist act.building with 20000 tonnes of steel cannot fell in 57minutes.a passenger plane cannot dodge 62 best fighters of world on pentagon,walk on runway and disapeared with passengers after killing 400 working inside.use your mind.regarding 7/7 owners of courier companies in london are mostly jews.poors young lads were not knowing what they were carrying,one of them was recent convert had 3 months baby.26/11was joint operation of rss and cia.

    islam is peaceful religion muslims are victims of international terrorism.
    power is only awnser.weak is always bad.ghussa hamesha weak par ata hai.now isreal is defeated by arabs for 3rd time.their tone has changed.

    [Reply]

    engrich Reply:

    BEST TEMPLES BEST MOSQUES UNDER THE

    BEST TEMPLES BEST MOSQUES were constructed UNDER THE

    [Reply]

  • engrich
  • Bala Varadarajan

    True and well said. Now how about Islamic countries also Show tolerance and allow other religions to flourish in their lands. Please stop preaching to the civilized nations about how to practice tolerance. Please direct your comments to the uncivilized nations I.e which have Islam as the state religion. While you are at it please also command the Muslims to take back the religion from the extremist Mullahs

    [Reply]

    engrich Reply:

    who is not aware that todays elite uiversities in the anglo saxon world icluding
    Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard were first set up as Madrassas, the schools of
    theology? The subjects of philosophy and sciences were later added as in main
    Europe from the knowledge which the Arab and jewish scholars brought

    [Reply]

    engrich Reply:

    True and well said. Now how about Islamic countries also Show tolerance and allow other religions to flourish in their land
    they are doing this is part of our religion.u brhmn people dont allow other religion to flourish.ashok built 60000 temples in orrisa later demolished by brmns when budhdhist become.babri demolition is latest example.even vaishlte never allow shaivite to survive.u make wrong history then use it as stick to beat others.

    [Reply]

  • engrich

    NEW DELHI: Ninety per cent of Indians are “idiots” who can easily be misled by mischievous elements in the name of religion, Press Council of India (PCI) chairperson Justice Markandey Katju claimed on Saturday.

    “I
    say ninety per cent of Indians are idiots. You people don’t have brains
    in your heads … It is so easy to take you for a ride,” he said at a
    seminar.

    He said that a communal riot could
    be incited in Delhi for as meagre an amount as Rs 2000. He said that
    all somebody has to do is make a mischievous gesture of disrespect to a
    place of worship and people start fighting each other.

    “You mad people will start fighting amongst yourself not realizing that some agent provocateur is behind this,” he said.

    Katju said that before 1857 there was no communalism in the country but the situation was different now.

    “Today
    80% Hindus are communal and 80% Muslims are communal. This is the harsh
    truth, bitter truth that I am telling you. How is it that in 150 years
    you have gone backwards instead of moving forward because the English
    kept injecting poison,” Katju said. “The policy that emanated from London after
    the mutiny in 1857 that there is only one way to control this country
    that is to make Hindus and Muslims fight each other,” he said.

    He
    said that then there was propaganda that Hindi was the language of
    Hindus and Urdu of Muslims. “Our ancestors also studied Urdu, but it is
    so easy to fool you. You are idiots so how difficult is it to make an
    idiot of you,” Katju said.

    Katju said that he was saying these harsh things to make Indians, whom he loved to understand the whole game and not remain fools.

    [Reply]