What Saamna said

Published : Aug 05, 2000 00:00 IST


SHIV SENA supremo Bal Thackeray's articles in the party organ Saamna played a key role in inciting violence against Muslims during the Mumbai riots of 1992-1993. Littered with abusive and sometimes obscene polemic, the articles legitimised the ant i-Muslim pogrom that was being carried out in the city then, and urged readers to join in the violence. Here, excerpts from the four articles which formed the basis of the police cases that led to Thackeray's arrest on July 25. The articles specifically target Muslim police officials, particularly A.A. Khan, the Assistant Commissioner of Police then. Three of these are editorials, and one a news article for which the Shiv Sena chief was held responsible as the editor of the newspaper. A fifth article, t he last in the set below, did not form part of the first information reports, but has been added to illustrate the point that such writing was typical of Saamna's reportage during riots. Indeed, front page news articles and headlines in Saamna< /I> were often more flagrantly inflammatory than the articles for which Thackeray was arrested.

From "Burning Pyres", editorial, Saamna, January 11, 1993:

* Hindus have been burned alive in Jogeshwari, and that is why they have taken to the streets. Dawood Ibrahim's man (ACP) A.A. Khan has tried to shoot these people. There is no justice, for fanatic traitors go scot-free while the terrorist Khan fires at Hindus. The people and the police have been fired at from mosques with Pakistani weapons. Why are we protecting them? It is not fair that you should allow them to do namaaz on their streets and let their loudspeakers blare out while our maha aa rtis are stopped. There should be equal justice.

* Muslims in India are behaving as if they are Pakistani citizens. It is as if there are two countries within this one. The police are waiting for orders to shoot these people. Even they feel the anguish of innocent citizens. When the Muslims had finishe d what they want to do and when the Hindus decided to retaliate, (Chief Minister) Sudhakarrao Naik, Babanrao (Pachpute) and their Khan gangster friends including (ACP) Khan descended upon the Hindus. Hindus, open your eyes and see what is going on! Your funeral pyres are burning.

* Innocent Hindu boys are being killed, and you wait for orders to destroy the fanatic traitors in Bhendi Bazaar (a Muslim area in south Mumbai)? Have the police also become playthings in the hands of politicians? We predict that these traitors will kill you also. Since the police had not done anything, our young boys retaliated for the murders of Hindus on January 6. And what do we get? You kill those brave boys.

* (Sharad) Pawar and the police will never be able to live in peace from this moment on, because they have received the curses of these dead boys. It is easy to face people when they are alive, but the embers from their funeral pyres will be impossible t o confront. You could kill these children, but how will you stop these embers... People will spit on your corpses.

From "They Were Turned Into Lambs", editorial, Saamna, January 14, 1993:

* Religious fanatics brought their religion on to the road, and made life miserable for innocent citizens. The government supported this. But when Hindus reacted against this terrorism, and brought their religion on to the roads, the government, politici ans and traitors were turned into lambs... In spite of Thackeray's appeal for peace, the riots did not stop. All we have to say about this is that if it was not for his appeal, the entire city would have been reduced to ashes and not one religious fanati c traitor would have lived. Even government servants like Ghaffoor and Khan came out to help these fanatics. We have stopped for now, and will be quiet for the moment.

* We are tolerant, but our tolerance has limits. All this was started by the traitors. The Hindus only went back four steps and then displayed their strength. That's when the traitors put up white flags on their armed strongholds... We have to defend our selves, since the Khans and Ghaffoors, in whom the government has vested the responsibility for our protection, are hand-in-glove with the traitors. And so, we will have to be careful. Why should we die without fighting? And at the hands of religious tra itors like Khan and Ghaffoor?

* The government sent Syed Bukhari, the son of the Imam of the Juma Masjid, to Mumbai despite the situation. He had started the anti-national Adam Sena, which had shaken the government. This is the same snake who asked for military protection the minute he landed at the Mumbai airport, because he does not trust the police. Is this Bukhari India's President, to ask for military protection? We congratulate the police for having sent this anti-national parcel back to Delhi... Before leaving he had spoken t o A.A. Khan on the phone, and we are sure of this news... He gave Khan's unit the responsibility of killing patriotic Indians. We have been saying this again and again. The people must know about the conspiracy between Khan and the Imam's son. When Mumba i was burning, how could they allow this kind of explosive to land at the Mumbai airport? They should have been stopped. But no! If they are stopped, what will the Muslims think of the government?... Dilip Kumar will be playing cricket in Dubai for inter national peace. We say, you should tell his fanatic brothers in Bhendi Bazaar, Dongri and Behrampada to maintain peace... If the Muslims had stopped their leaders, none of this would have happened.

From "Behrampada Reverberates to a Maha Aarti", report, Saamna, January 21, 1993:

* The whole of Behrampada reverberated to a maha aarti performed at the Ganesh Temple today afternoon. The Sthaniya Lokadhikar Samiti announced that Behrampada would henceforth be called Rampada... "Pull out all the Bangladeshis and Pakistanis from Behra mpada," says Bamanrao Mahadik, "they are the ones who are ruining our country." "It's time to send these green hordes back to their country"... Shiv Sena leader Madhukar Sarpotdar said, "Javed Khan, A.A. Khan and Hassan Ghaffoor Khan, these three Khans, have murdered only Hindus. But remember that Hindus can also kill cruelly. You are bound to burn to ashes in the fire that you have lit".... Shiv Sena MLA Ramdas Kadam says, "If it was not for Shiv Sena Pramukhs and the Shiv Sena, Mumbai would have becom e Pakistan. Those who love Pakistan should be sent back there. If they can take the law into their hands, we will do so too."

From "Hindu Pride Must Be Upheld: The Country and Hindu Dharma Must Triumph", editorial, Saamna, January 23, 1993:

* Today is Saamna's fifth birthday. We would have liked to celebrate this event as we have done every year. The situation does not permit us to do so because fanatics have killed large numbers of our Hindu brothers and sisters. All of them have gi ven their lives for the holy war to keep this nation alive... Saamna and I have fought like real men in this holy war, regardless of the consequences.

* Some people suggested that we tone down the sharpness of our language, but we in turn ask, why? What will they do? Throw me in prison? I have kept my bags and all my medicines ready. I am not bothered by the thought of going to prison... If I am arrest ed, if the government takes any rash decision, while only Mumbai has seen rioting so far, then the whole of the country up to Jammu and Kashmir will rise up. I am prepared. This is not a threat. I am just telling the truth. The country has enough problem s. Don't add to them by arresting me. I am not saying this out of vanity. If a holy war is to begin because of me, than so be it.

* I have nurtured a new, fiery generation of Hindus in the form of the Shiv Sena, and Saamna has been instrumental in this task... Hindus woke up in Hindustan after December 6 (1992), and it is time we all burned like a torch. Anti-national traito rs should be burned to ashes in this flame... In some police stations there are monsters who are pulling out the nails from the hands and feet of our young children, and slapping false cases against them. (ACP) Khan has become famous because of (municipa l corporator) Milind Vaidya. Muslims started rioting in Vaidya's area, Mahim, and everyone knows what kinds of religious fanatics they are. Vaidya is a responsible Corporator and is on the peace committee of the area, but Khan has attacked Vaidya, and pu t him behind bars on a false charge of murder. This is Khan's law!

* The government tells us 1,75,00,000 Bangladeshi infiltrators are living in this country. Why are you giving us these numbers? What kind of security are you maintaining at the borders? We have trouble coming to Mumbai from Delhi. How then do Bangladeshi Muslims manage to get here? Vasant Saraf said that while he was the Director-General of Police, he had warned the government that a large number of Bangladeshi Muslims had entered India... Earlier, there was only one Bhendi Bazaar. Today there is Deonar , Govandi, Behrampada, Mahim. This is precisely where rioting took place and innocent people were killed.

From "Keep the Nation Alive", editorial, Saamna, January 9, 1993:

* Whoever comes is preaching to Hindus as if it is we who started the riots. What do we have with us to start riots with? All we have are rags dipped in kerosene! In Bhendi Bazaar, Dongri and Behrampada weapons brought from Pakistan and Bangladesh are be ing used. These weapons have been used to kill cruelly everyone from little babies who have not yet opened their eyes to old people. (ACP) Mundkur and (ACP) Khan have actually attacked unarmed Hindus in Dharavi and Kurla. They should go to Bhendi Bazaar and stop their brothers there. Now we can clearly see their real colours and their real loyalties. Whatever we had predicted has come true. A Muslim, irrespective of his country or status, will remain a Muslim. His religion and his community come before his country. The attacks on patriots over the last two days are an insult to the nation.

* Even policemen say this government is made up of gandus (an abusive term). They have their service revolvers with them but all they can do is count corpses. That is the only work the government is doing... The Indian and Maharashtrian people spi t on this government. The government is wearing a green burkha and standing at the Bhendi Bazaar crossroads wearing bangles.

* I am not provoking people. I am only expressing anguish.

Translations by Archana Chaudhary (The Hindu Business Line, Mumbai).

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