Komal Chheda is one among the hundreds devotees from Mumbai who applied to go for the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra this year. He was told his spouse who was accompanying him would be allotted the same batch.
But like many others he was driven from pillar to post and no one had a moment to listen to him. The staff at the tiny Kailash Manasarovar cell in South Block are rude and unavailable to the pilgrims and the government has chosen to let the Yatra begin without the usual symbolic farewell gesture.
When the BJP-led government was in power at the Centre, some states had started giving subsidies to the Yatra pilgrims, but that too was stopped at least in Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal. Apart from Gujarat and Delhi -- which has continued what Sahib Singh Verma started during his tenure -- the Kailash Yatra has become an apology for the government's secular credentials. It would like to have the Yatra completed as a hush-hush affair.
That is what lies in store for the Hindus in their homeland, at the hands of a terrified, de-Hinduised bureaucracy and political leadership. Finally the man who began a lively debate on pseudo-secularism has certified Jinnah as a secular leader. With this the process of the dispossession of Hindus in India has arrived at a maturing point.
It is obvious that any leader who is visiting the mausoleum of the father of the nation of a host country should be nice and say decent words in his memory. Jinnah could have been justifiably appreciated without getting into the minefield of historically hysterical points.
Hindus wanted a united India; they voted against Partition but Partition did happen. They wanted to retain Kashmir, the land of Maharishi Kashyap and seat of Sharda Vidya, but two-thirds of Kashmir was snatched from them and from what remained, Hindus were driven out, thus dispossessing them of their home and hearth in a truncated, nay, Independent India.
They had three great deities -- or rather three dreams -- in the words of socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia -- Ram, Krishna and Shiva. All the three holy places associated with them, had mosques built over them by the invaders.
After Independence, the Hindus naturally wanted to have their places of worship returned to them as a goodwill gesture by Muslims who otherwise got India partitioned and had no qualms razing mosques for roads and hospitals in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
But not only were they snubbed and humiliated for such a demand, even the greatest of their leaders in politics declared the day of a first Hindu resistance and effort to possess what historically belonged to them, as the saddest day of his life.
The Partition of the motherland and the resultant mayhem was not his saddest day but the day of repossessing a place of great significance to the Hindus became the 'most unfortunate' day for the man whom the world considered a Hindu nationalist leader.
So finally Hindus were dispossessed of their political leadership also, who would speak for them straight and unapologetically.
In comparison, one must salute the contemporary Pakistani leadership for their single-minded missionary zeal to improve relations with India without compromising on their issues. President Pervez Musharraf visited Rajghat, but didn't say anything about Gandhi's secularism or his struggle to help newly born Pakistan despite facing disapproval from both Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel.
They remain committed to the theory of an Islamic Pakistan as envisioned by Jinnah, the qaid-e-azam, to make Kashmir a core issues between the two nations, to get the Hurriyat leaders without a passport or visa to Pakistan and declare it an evidence of India's recognition of Kashmir as a disputed territory. They are never -- even in a light 'mood' -- apologetic or sad about Kargil.
Their firebrand leader Maulana Fazlur Rahman visited India and met RSS leaders in Jhandewala, New Delhi, but never spoke a single word in praise of the RSS or its founder Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. He didn't find it necessary to say so for the sake of friendship. He was careful not to express regret on the demolition of hundreds of Hindu temples in Pakistan in the wake of the December 6 demolition of the Babri Masjid and even earlier.
He said all good things, expressed decent gestures, evoked friendly amiable body language -- a smiling and affectionate face -- but not an inch was given on the core issues. The Pakistanis are never apologetic about having a two-tier constitutional arrangement for Hindus and other non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan which makes them virtually second class citizens.
It is not necessary to covert to win friendship. Stand up firmly and uncompromisingly on your issues and yet strive for friendship. That alone lasts. The 'converted' can only have pity and a 'protectionist' smile, but not a friendly relationship based on parity. That is the policy which makes Pakistanis a solid block and successful on Kashmir.
Hindus wanted a say in politics and matters of governance as they had borne the brunt of all foreign invasions and barbaric torture for centuries. At last, Somnath was rebuilt and so should be our other places of importance.
But not a single Hindu pilgrim centre, with the sole exception of Vaishnodevi -- that too due to the personal efforts of Jagmohan, then Jammu and Kashmir governor, a non-BJP person though -- was made into an ideal model of a place of worship, even by those who declared themselves the sole repository of all Hindu wisdom and activism.
UP was in their hands and so was Uttaranchal, which had the most revered pilgrim centres like Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Mathura, Vrindavan, Kashi and Ayodhya. Not a single religious township or temple got the attention of the Hindu nationalists.
Gangotri, visited by lakhs from all over the world, does not have power supply even today or a workable telephone connection. Ayodhya, Mathura and Vrindavan are the filthiest towns and its temples remain badly mismanaged under government control. Though they demand that Hindu temples be freed from State control, not a single Hindu nationalist state government has yet started a plan to de-control Hindu temples in their states and make them a 'shining example' of their 'vision, agenda, programme' and all that which gets an entry into their idea of Ram Rajya.
After a highly pitched struggle of five decades to create a niche for their aspirations, Hindus feel dispossessed of their political clout. They are not a vote bank, but vote as Yadavs and Rajputs and backwards. They are not religiously organised as their so-called leaders have missed the bus and gone into a rhetoric which a normal, common Hindu does not relate to.
They cannot teach their children anything that would make them proud Hindus as the drive to detoxify is primarily aimed at them alone. They are insulted for expressing fears of a decline in their population and their dead are simply not counted though NGOs flourish on an extraordinarily inflated statistics of the riots affecting non-Hindus.
The conversion from Hinduism to other faiths is hailed as a hallmark of secularism and fair governance, but any effort to 'bring back' the converted is opposed as blatant communalism and an affront to minority rights.
Hindus have become so dispossessed of their self pride that an assault on the Shankaracharya, disapproved by the highest court of the land, is seen as something against Brahmins alone and the mastermind behind it celebrates it with an electoral win.