Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Ashok Singhal, the face of militant Hindutva in India, passes away

Ashok Singhal, the the firebrand Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader, who earned notoriety for his hate speeches, is no more.

Though in India, it is generally not considered good to remember a person's misdeeds after his death, after Singhal's demise many people recalled the negative impact of VHP's hate campaign under him.

Singhal, a controversial leader, was among the first fast of the militant Hindutva movement in India, which has been targeting religious minorities, especially, Christians and Muslims.

In the mid-80s, when BJP was a non-entity, VHP under Singhal, spearheaded the Ram Janmabhumi movement. This movement revived the BJP and LK Advani's 'rath yatra' got an impetus.

VHP cadre helped the BJP and when the Babri Mosque was destroyed, VHP, Shiv Sena and RSS' radicals were involved in the act of destruction. Singhal's firebrand speeches allegedly led to communalism in the society.

However, lack of adequate mechanism to address 'hatespeak' let Singhal escape the law. He kept on targeting minorities through words and act. VHP went on to become the most xenophobic of all the right-wing groups in India.

Later, under Praveen Togadia, VHP continued its attacks on minorities. Singhal was the first face of VHP, when it became an international body, getting support from NRIs based in America and Europe.

Mostly, Hindu Banias and Jains, a religious minority, initially supported it. Later, other groups also came along. Singhal's VHP took India towards the path of Hindutva, a far cry from India's secular values.

Just like Bal Thackeray could never face the law and was not persecuted despite hate speeches and his Shiv Sena leading communal riots, VHP's Ashok Singhal also never faced any issue despite hate speeches, because of an administration which closes eyes when the majority community leaders have a brush with law.

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