A recent episode of the U.S. TV series Quantico has made many Indians upset.
It showed Hindu extremists plotting a terror attack in the U.S. that was to be blamed on Pakistan. One of the investigators, played by Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra, thwarts the conspiracy.
This had led to a backlash in India, with Hindu right-wing activists dubbing Chopra a “traitor”, forcing her to apologize.
Let's get real. Chopra did not do anything wrong, so neither she nor the producers of Quantico should have been apologetic.
There is no question that Pakistan has been a breeding ground of Islamic terrorists who have been active on Indian soil for the past many years.
For this reason, Indian audiences have an appetite for films and TV serials that show Pakistan or Islamic extremists in a negative light.
But the reaction was so strong when Quantico touched the prickly issue of Hindu extremists being involved in terror plots. This is nothing but hypocrisy and a perfect example of a double standard.
Terrorism in the name of Hinduism isn’t just a myth or fiction. It is another ugly reality that needs worldwide recognition, much as Islamic State or any other form of jihadi extremist movement deserves.
It was Hindu extremists, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi—a world-renowned leader of the passive resistance movement—in 1948. Gandhi was murdered by those seeking to turn India into a Hindu theocracy after the country gained official independence from British in 1947.
They embraced the ideology of "Hindutva", which is based on the belief that India belongs to Hindus and that all minorities should not be given any concessions.
Gandhi was opposed to the creation of a Hindu state and denounced violence against Muslims during partition of India, which led to the separation of Muslim-dominated Pakistan. So the Hindu extremists got together to eliminate him physically.
The story did not end there. In post-independence India they became much more organized and have indulged in many horrific acts of violence against religious minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians.
In recent years, they have killed several secularist activists and thinkers, using death squads who are generally armed with guns and carry out targeted killings. On other occasions, they have targeted Muslim shrines using explosives.
The plotline of controversial Quantico episode could be based on imagination, but the truth is that those who were involved in these blasts tried to disguise themselves as Muslims to mislead the police and make it appear that these acts of violence were the handiwork of Pakistan.
The anti-Muslim or anti-Pakistan prejudices that exist within India's security circles make their task easier.
Thanks to the professional investigation done by few honest officers, a network of Hindu extremists involved in terrorism was smashed several years ago.
It is a different matter that the current right-wing Hindu nationalist government in India is trying to help those arrested through a back-door amnesty or by using its power to weaken the charges against them. Prime Minister Narendra Modi once publicly defended those arrested in connection with the bombings.
People in this government are die-hard followers of Hindutva. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Modi considers one of the former suspects in Gandhi assassination as his role model, while others see the man who pulled the trigger as a patriot.
Instead of venting on Chopra or the producers of Quantico, the Indian establishment should be forced to deal with Hindutva terrorism firmly and honestly.
You cannot squarely pick on just the Muslim community or Pakistanis or for that matter any other minority community, for terrorism which has no religion. Those who are using Hinduism as a shield to carry on terror activities also need to be exposed and punished.