Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Hindu Extremist" Kill Rajiv Gandhi?

William Dalrymple writes good books on India, but even he makes mistakes. In a column in The New York Times, Dalrymple, in comparing the assassinations of Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto, makes the following falsehood:
WHEN, in May 1991, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India was killed by a suicide bomber, there was an international outpouring of grief. Recent days have seen the same with the death of Benazir Bhutto: another glamorous, Western-educated scion of a great South Asian political dynasty tragically assassinated at an election rally.

There is, however, an important difference between the two deaths: while Mr. Gandhi was assassinated by Sri Lankan Hindu extremists because of his policy of confronting them, Ms. Bhutto was apparently the victim of Islamist militant groups that she allowed to flourish under her administrations in the 1980s and 1990s
Rajiv Gandhi was not killed by a “Hindu extremist,” but a female homicide bomber from the LTTE, a cultish, Marxist—and very secular—insurgent group violently fighting for a Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka. The LTTE is no more Hindu than the various factions of the PLO (Fatah, PFLP, PFLP-GC, etc) are Islamic, even though they are portrayed as such.

No doubt about it. There are plenty of Hindu extremists around (including one who shot Mahatma Gandhi), but a relatively few of them have become homicide bombers. In fact, I’m at wits end to come up with even one.

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