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Praveen Swami: The Rise of Hindutva Terrorism in India
Eight hundred years ago, the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti described what he called the highest form of worship: "to redress the misery of those in distress, to fulfil the needs of the helpless and to feed the hungry."
Back in October, 2007, bombs ripped through the courtyard of what is without dispute South Asia’s most popular Muslim religious centre — the shrine that commemorates Chishti’s life at Ajmer Sharif, in Rajasthan. For months, Police believed the attacks had been carried out by Islamist groups, who oppose the shrine’s syncretic message. On April 30, 2010, however, Rajasthan Police investigators arrested the man they say purchased the mobile phone subscriber-identification modules (SIM) used to trigger the attack. Devendra Gupta, a long standing worker of the Hindu-nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), was held along with his political associates Vishnu Prasad and Chandrashekhar Patidar. All three men are now also thought to have participated in the bombing of the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Rasasthan Home Minister Shanti Kumar Dhariwal said the men were backed by an "organisation which tries to incite violence between Hindus and Muslims", adding that authorities were "investigating the links of the organisation with the RSS."
The arrests in Rajasthan mark progress in resolving some of the most opaque and contentious terrorist attacks India has seen in recent years — but have also focussed attention on the little-understood threat of Hindu-nationalist or Hindutva terrorism. -- Praveen Swami, Associate Editor, The Hindu, New Delhi