`Political Islam In India : Origins, Strategy And Mobilization’ – Book Review




The great scholar, academician and author, Prof S. Seshagiri Rao brings out this seminal volume on Islamic politics in India `Political Islam In India : Origins, Strategy And Mobilization’, which depicts dispassionately and clinically all the facts pertaining to the tumultuous decades of late 19th and 20th centuries’ British India. 

In this comprehensive work, Prof Seshagiri Rao explains the very origins, strategies and methods employed by political Islam in India not only for the capture of political power, but also in establishing the street- power in terms of unleashing violence on the streets. The work’s detailed focus starts from mid-19th century, especially the Aligarh phenomenon, the interplay of Muslim politics from Curzon’s partition of Bengal, the communal electorate, the Khilafat and on to the power-play with Congress party. The book details the biggest holocaust of 20th century – the Hindu genocide, and Muslim League’s hegemonic power, the tumultuous events leading to the tragic partition, and the impunity with which Pakistan created the Jammu & Kashmir conflict. Throughout, the perfidy of Mountbatten and the inept Congress party are exposed.

The horrors of partition, the massacres of millions of Hindus and Sikhs, the rapes and abduction of women and girls, many girls were made sex-slaves; the voluntary suicides by women, the beheadings of women by family members to save them from rapes and abductions, the killing of children, the massive killings on trains, in train stations, the evacuee trains from the newly created Pakistan not moving for weeks and months, killings in the so-called refugee camps, on the roads, on the river bridges, trains full of massacred dead bodies, the massive migration of people on foot and bullock carts, where only a minor fraction reached Eastern Punjab/Indian borders, all make for harrowing and heart-wrenching reading.  The Baluch military regiment of Pakistan army, and the Pathan raiders mauled, raped, abducted, maimed, buried and burnt alive Hindus and Sikhs in lakhs. The following points are illustrative to get an idea of the scale of violence perpetrated. About one-third part of the army – the Muslim soldiers deserted Kashmir army and joined the Muslim marauders from Pakistan. Col Hari Singh was murdered by Muslims of his own regiment while he was sleeping. Col Rajinder Singh, Col Ranjit Rai, Major Somnath Sharma were martyred in the battle to save Srinagar, as also several hundreds of Swayamsevaks of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). In towns like Rajaouri, Hindus were killed by fellow Muslims, not just Pakistani military.  The jihadi state of Pakistan, supported by the jihadi police and British military officers perpetrated inhuman massacres and violence at this gigantic scale, and which has no parallel in history, has been described in detail in the chapter `Holocaust’.

The utter incapability of Congress party which was heading the interim Govt in 1946-1947 in preventing the holocaust is very clear, the partisan pro-Pakistan role played by Mountbatten, the role of military and the bureaucracy, many of whom were Indians, is heart-wrenching to note. The partisan portrayal or complete neglect in the news coverage and in suppressing these facts by the well-established Lutyens media is also clear. Except for a few reports, there was no account of the happenings and massacres in a comprehensive way. 

The same incapability and helplessness, perpetually jostling with the self-interests of Congress leaders in the role they played in the run-up to the partition, many of them teaming up with Viceroy Mountbatten also becomes clear. Infact from the beginning of the decade of 1940s, the ambivalence of Congress party, the confusing stands they took on Jinnah’s proclamation of a Muslim Pakistan, in continuation of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s and Iqbal’s Two-nation theory and Islamic supremacist imperialism, the blatant supportive role played by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad towards the Muslim League also become abundantly clear from the detailed narration. The way Gandhi was sidelined, his own confusing statements and ambivalence in terms of so-called `Right to self-determination’ of Muslim-majority provinces vis a vis his own statements that Pakistan would be achieved on his dead body are clearly explained. Infact Gandhi, writing as early as 1941, in principle endorsed the idea of a Muslim Pakistan. Despite knowing Muslim League’s activities, their perfidy and deception, their street violence, their murderous and genocidal politics fully well for decades, and witnessing the continuation of the same Muslim politics even after the partition of India, it is bewildering that Congress leaders continued to peddle lies that Pakistan would not survive on its own, that soon it would merge back into India, all of which show the utter foolishness and naiveté of Congress; if it were not so pathetic , it would have been utterly ridiculous. The book also describes in detail how Suhrawardy perpetuated the famines in Bengal in 1943, and later pushed the state into jehadi violence by giving a call of `Direct Action’ in 1946 in the month of ramzan, and how the British police deliberately turned mute spectators and ran away from the scene, whether during Calcutta or Noakhali massacres. 

It is the eternal misfortune of Hindus in India that such a party was `leading’ the freedom struggle in those eventful years; in the contrived `Big Game’ played by British and some self-serving interests in the country, who willingly conceded the Two-nation theory in practice by agreeing to Communal separate electorates, and by the way in which Hindus willingly or unwillingly voted for Congress, marginalizing parties like the Hindu Mahasabha, and by making Congress party the sole arbitrators of their fate, it all makes for a heart-rending reading.  At every turn, the wily Jinnah took a proactive stand, challenged the Congress party, and when Muslim League lost the elections, chose to go for a Muslim Pakistan, led a `Direct Action’ of jehad, making it a decisive, conclusive and a permanent turn of Political Islam in India. Congress pathetically neither understood the concept of Political Islam, nor their strategy or actions either intellectually or in the realm of real-politic. They continued to be woolly-headed, mouthing platitudes of non-violence and non-cooperation, while Muslim League cooperated with the British in their bid for Political Islam, and turned the British into ML’s staunchest allies. Congress in the name of secular politics, marginalized genuine Hindu parties like Hindu Mahasabha, which continually warned the Hindus, but alas, Hindus didn’t heed to this advice, enticed by the naïve rhetoric of Congress party, which didn’t even understand the Khilafat movement for what it was. At every turn, Jinnah outsmarted Congress party with excellent help from the British. It is a telling comment in the book, that no Muslim League leader ever saw the insides of a jail, while ordinary Hindus sacrificed their lives and livelihoods believing in the naiveté of Congress party. 

The book in detail describes with facts and figures, the population demographics of West Punjab, Sind, East Bengal and how Hindus in actuality were the majority community, especially in all cities, including Dhaka, Lahore, Karachi, Hyderabad etc. It also shows clearly how Mountbatten ensured that Lahore went to Muslim League, as per the wishes of Jinnah, despite the overwhelming majority of Hindus and Sikhs. So much for the deep friendship of Nehru with Mountbattens! 

The book also clearly shows the voting patterns of Congress and the Muslim League in all elections held in the provinces, which ultimately went to Pakistan, both East and West.  The book also clearly establishes how less than a quarter of the Muslim population, got more than 30% of the share of land and other resources, 33% of the military resources with enriched military establishments in Rawalpindi, Peshawar etc, and even more importantly the fertile and mighty Sindhu river and its tributaries. Ironically the terms and identities of `Hindu’ and `Hindustan’ as known in the western world are derived from the word Sindhu or the Indus River.  

It is also not clear how, when Muslim League always said they were not a minority, but an equal nation, and got a nation for itself in the form of Political Islam, how did `minority politics’ play out to such an extent in India?   Hindus of India will rue forever on how and why they supported Congress party which played their divisive agenda against the nation and Hindus. The Hindu-Sikh genocide before, during and after the Partition was carefully erased out of public memory by the Govt in power for decades with the willing acquiescence of the media. The generation of Indians who were adults in the 1950s-1960s in the North may have had knowledge of the massacres by Political Islam. It is a shame that the Hindu-Sikh genocide has been ignored by successive Indian govts and the people. It can be understood that the descendants of the massacred, would have undergone unspeakable shock and trauma and wouldn’t speak about the genocide, but it doesn’t speak much about the people in the rest of the country. In the same time period, the holocaust in Nazi Germany against Jews has been kept alive by Jews across the world for future generations, lest it be forgotten; however in contrast ungrateful India has forgotten to pay tributes to her own past generations who were victims of Pakistani genocide.  Indians never even got an apology from the then Indian Govt of the Congress party, for their utter failure to read into and ready themselves for Political Islam, or for the way Nehru’s interim Govt failed to control the Hindu-Sikh massacres.  

Prof Seshagiri Rao does a great service with his book which is a treasure-house of knowledge on the unprecedented political march of Islam in India, leading to mayhem, destruction, division of a prosperous, cultured and civilized ancient nation, genocide of Hindus and Sikhs, which at a conservative estimate is over 2 million. Samvit Prakashan deserves a huge applause for making this book available to the readers, this is a book every Indian must read.  

The book is available at Hindu eShop and Amazon. For copies, contact 8520999582.

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