I mean evil is not radical, going to the roots …that it has no roots, and that for this very reason it is so terribly difficult to think about it, because thinking, by definition, wants to reach the roots. Evil is a surface phenomenon, and instead of being radical, it is merely extreme. We resist evil by not being swept away by the surface of things, by stopping ourselves and beginning to think, that is by reaching another dimension than the horizon of everyday life. In other words, the more superficial someone is, the more likely will he be to yield to evil …
Riding, no doubt, the waves of the triumph of pulping Wendy Doniger’s book, is the Kerala Sangh Parivar’s renewed determination to engage in physical violence against those who criticize Hindutva and advance other ways of conceiving the Indian nation. When this combines with an ageing society’s irrational insecurities directed at young people, and the overwhelming social tendency to view young people as essentially raw material to be processed in disciplinary institutions and sold as labour power in the global labour market, terrible consequences follow.Youngsters who may not appear to be thus processed — those who wear long hair and sleeveless clothes, whose looks may not affirm cultural gender stereotypes, who may be involved in oppositional politics, who dare to hang out at night, and adopt Bob Marley as an icon — seem to be under threat from the state which swears by its obligations to protect women (the way it understands ‘protection’ is actually more than half the problem) and from an increasingly intolerant, un-civil society. Indeed, young people in Kerala constitute perhaps the largest section in this society whose rights are violated on a daily basis, and the violations of which are utterly banal.Therefore it becomes important to counter not just Hindutva intolerance but also the kind of insecurities and conservatisms that it feeds on, to expose its politics. Age is increasingly becoming an axis of political and economic inequality in Kerala, the complex consequences we need to carefully evaluate. It is even more important however to distinguish between the violence of evil and radical anger as Hannah Arendt once remarked.
Below is the rough translation of the press statement released by activists of the radical film collective VIBGYOR against the atrocious police attack against young activists of the VIBGYOR collective at Thrissur on 22 February 2014, which has only made us more determined to resist evil. This was sent to Kafila by K E K Satheesh, cultural activist. He reports that the attacked have suffered severe injuries — broken bones, dimmed eye sight, twisted ankles. The charge likely to be raised against the students is that they raised their voice against the police. I want to emphasize this: the anger of the students is that of citizens whose rights were being violated and that passion is different from the violence let loose on them by the police, which is nothing less that the evil Arendt talks of. No, we will not be swept away.
On the night of Saturday, 22 February 2014, five students of cinema, young men, and a female cinematographer were waiting for an autorickshaw in front of the Yatri Nivas at Thrissur after a music programme at the Sangeeta Nataka Akademi. Policemen on motorbikes tried to accost them suggesting that they were indulging in immoral acts. Soon, on the reports of these policemen, another group of policemen led by the Sub-Inspector of the East Police Station reached the spot, beat up the young men and woman, and tried to force them into the police jeep. The young woman called up a lawyer, Adv. Asha, for help, and she reached the spot with her son and minor daughter. They too were beaten up and Asha’s son was also dragged into the jeep.
Inside the jeep on the way to the police station, the policemen thrashed the young men and hustled the woman. Once they reached the police station, they continued the attack under the Sub-Inspector’s leadership, further bashing up the men and attacking the woman sexually. They then tried to evict by force Adv. Asha and her daughter, who followed them to the police station and entered the office. Adv Asha, who resisted, was dragged on the floor and kicked hard; she suffered injuries on her right foot and left knee. Her minor daughter was hit many times and slapped on the face repeatedly. Adv. Asha however refused to leave unless those who were taken unlawfully to the police station were released lawfully. Finally, the cinematographer was allowed to leave with her. She had to however sign a receipt that mentioned that she was being released after arrest. Another young woman who rushed there hearing the commotion, was also beaten up. All three are under treatment at the Aswini Hospital.
Young men and women and human rights activists have faced such unlawful attacks from this Sub-Inspector within the limits of the Thrissur East Police Station even before the present incident. He has been a regular at taking people, friends who belong to different genders,into unlawful custody from public places, and harassing them mentally in the name of morality.He had also sided with the Sangh Parivar’s attempt to stop the screening of a film on the Kashmir issue at the [recently concluded] VIBGYOR film festival. He desisted from obstructing the screening only after film and human rights activists met the Assistant Commissioner of Police with the film’s censor certificate.
This very officer who was, according to the law, obliged to offer protection to the film festival, withdrew from his responsibility and made it possible for communal forces, the BJP-RSS elements, to unleash violence there. In fact, he made sure that none of the perpetrators were charged or taken into custody.He has taken no action at all against these hoodlums till date. In fact he tried to arrest feminist theatre activists who presented Eve Ensler’s well-known Vagina Monologues, accusing them of obscenity. This officer has also let loose oppressive witch-hunts, like against people wearing t-shirts or even rings with the music icon Bob Marley’s image, charging them of being involved in drugs. We declare that this officer is literally an insult to Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala.
We appeal to the Chief Minister, the Home Minister, the Human Rights Commission, the Women’s Commission, the Inspector-General of Police, the City Police Commissioner, the Kerala State Commission for Child Rights, the Leader of the Opposition, and the KPAC President to initiate effective measures soonest against the unlawful acts of the Sub-Inspector at the .
Friends of VIBGYOR, Thrissur (K E K Satheesh)
Civil Society Against Injustice (K P Sasi)