"Expatriates from South Asia spread fanaticism in the region" writes Nirendra Dev in "Ayodhya : Battle For Peace": Book Review

[Cover of Nirendra Dev' "Ayodhya : Battle For Peace"]
Nirendra Dev shows some confidence to pen the lines effectively often punctuated with sarcasm - this new book is an exploration of common people’s changing soul through the history of decades-old confrontation.

Calcutta, March 22, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Expatriates from the South Asian nations settled in the west also play a major role with regard to the growth of communalism in the region, says a new book on India’s highly disturbing Ayodhya dispute even as it claims that the future “cannot be very good for the sectarian forces” either in India or even in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Penned by a New Delhi-based Bengali journalist, Nirendra Dev, the book, ‘Ayodhya: Battle For Peace’, says the fundamentalism “would bury its ugly head soon” and cites the instances of return of Sheikh Hasina regime in Bangaldesh and the matured response to 30 September, 2010 verdict on Ayodhya verdict in India to strengthen the argument.

“Actually, one should not blame the NRIs. Many say, in the west or in a country like Australia under a growing racial structure, fundamentalism like Hindu radicalism or hardline Muslim practices often tend to represent the national pride and identity – howsoever faulty,” it says.

Dev, at present working with daily ‘The Statesman’ in New Delhi bureau and stationed during the verdict days at Ayodhya, says among other things “The manner in which people responded to the September 30 ruling offers enough reasons to keep the secular disposition optimistic that the days of fundamentalism are numbered for the common man has had enough of it and long since rejected the same”.

Books by Nirendra Dev are available online
In India:
Ayodhya : Battle For Peace »
The Talking Guns North East India »
Godhra A Journey To Mayhem »

The Talking Guns North East India »
Godhra A Journey To Mayhem »

Dev, who had earlier authored a book on Gujarat riots of 2002 titled, ‘Godhra - A Journey To Mayhem’, analyzes the political fallout of the Ayodhya verdict, and quoting the local residents of Ayodhya and Faizabad, predicts that it could have adverse political fallout for Congress, the ruling party in India.

Quoting Md. Zameer, Naib Imam of Faizabad’s major Tatshah Masjid, the book says, “Muslims are saddened. We firmly believed it (disputed structure) was a Masjid as namaaz used to be performed. Now Congress will have to pay a price for this”.

Even political rivals are bitter about the Congress role on the episode. The fact that the Congress is in government at the time of the verdict in 2010 is “no coincident”, says a local Samajwadi Party leader. “Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have only completed the unfinished work of Narasimha Rao,” the book quotes SP leader Jay Shankar Pandey.

The reference is 1992 December 6 demolition of Babri Masjid by thousands of Hindu kar sevaks.

About the Hindu chauvinistic BJP again, the book says, Hindu citizenry of Ayodhya would not forgive the saffron party for its alleged “double standards” on the temple movement. “Kaun sa Bhajpa. 1992 waley, na NDA waley, (Which BJP, the one which led temple movement or the one which gave up the temple agenda between 1998-2004),” says Keshavram Mishra, the in-charge of Sitaram Anna Shetra, the provider of free food to the pilgrims near the make-shift temple.

Even on Pakistan, the book, published by Har-Anand Publications, says “in a country created in the name of religion, people have refused to play for long in the hands of religious fanaticism.” Firstly, Bengali Muslims decided to carve out an independent nation for them. Muslims in the then East Pakistan proved that while they were undernourished in everything else, they had tremendous pride in past achievements and distinct linguistic and cultural identity. The religion, the only link between the people of two Pakistans, was thus easily broken and on March 27, 1971, Sheikh Mujibar Rehman proclaimed the creation of an independent nation.

In 1996 Pakistan poll, Nawaz Shariff won a decisive victory owing largely to his promise of improving relations with India. In 1986, Jamaat-e-Islam with its parochial appeal won a thumping victory with as high as 70 per cent votes. This came down to 5 per cent in 1988 and fell further down to 3 per cent in 1993. In 2008, observers say, fearing electoral backlashes such fundamentalist parties stayed away and the mandate was generally in favour of return of democracy ending Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s military decade-long military rule, it says.

For those interested in wheels-within-wheels on Ayodhya tangle and communal amity between Hindus and Muslims, the pages in this book are worth turning. Nirendra Dev shows some confidence to pen the lines effectively often punctuated with sarcasm. His past experience of covering Gujarat riots of 2002 and his book ‘Godhra – A Journey To Mayhem’ has only helped him in this project. This new book is an exploration of common people’s changing soul through the history of decades-old confrontation.

Dev is rooted in studies on ethnic and communal conflicts. Born and brought up in Nagaland and with wide range of journalistic experience under his belt by way of covering northeast insurgency, Gujarat riots, agro-economy and national politics, he has authored ‘Godhra - A Journey To Mayhem’ (2004) and ‘The Talking Guns: North East India’ (2008).