"SWAMIJI KO BULAO,” the jailer ordered. Call the Swami. Two police constables scurried out of the jailer’s office and onto the grounds of the prison. A deafening noise reverberated through the room, as if a hundred men outside the walls were howling at the same time. It was visiting hours in early January 2011 at Ambala’s Central Jail.
THE DOMINANT STEREOTYPE of the Muslim in India presents him as naturally aggressive. The Jihad movement led by Syed Ahmad Barelvi against the British in the early 19th century; Syed Ahmed Khan’s menacing overtone when he pointed out that Muslims knew how to fight to defend their interests; the Khilafat Movement and the Moplah riots; the 1946 Direct Action Day: all these episodes reinforced the image of a violent Muslim, which contrasted with a pacific—if not weak—Hindu.
ON 19 NOVEMBER 1987, during the protracted final phase of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, Indian Airlines flight IC 452 from Kabul landed at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. Shortly after its arrival, a security guard spotted ammunition cartridges rolling out over the tarmac from a damaged crate, one in a consignment of 22 that had arrived on the plane. Airport staff began an X-ray examination of every box. Apart from cartridges, the scan revealed at least one rocket launcher.