Guest Post by Nayanjyoti and Subhashini
In late October, the youth wing of the Sangh Pariwar among others vandalised a café in Calicut on the pretext that lovers ‘date’ each another sitting in this café. When many young men and women in Kochi gathered together to protest by expressing their love in public, they got beaten up by various right wing groups and the police in response. The students and youths in different regions of the country gathered in solidarity of this protest going by the name of ‘Kiss of Love’. At the same time, as the news spread rapidly through the media and social networking site, a polarization continues to develop in the society, even among the individual activists and similar organizations, for and against the form of this movement.
Firstly, it should be kept in mind that the ‘Sangh’ has not only came up against the public display of affection by the lovers, but bases itself on policing the act of love itself. In recent times, the episodes of vandalism in a café in Calicut or the cutting into pieces of the bodies of the members of a Dalit family in Ahmednagar in Maharashtra as a retribution for loving a woman from higher caste or the beating of young men and women in a pub in Bangalore or the shaming of the couples sitting in the parks in Mumbai in different times, show that there is a consistent interference in both personal and public lives by the saffron guardian Sangh Parivar, much like the ISIS is currently executing in Iraq, whether in the guise of Sri Ram Sena or Bajrang Dal or Yuva Morcha or its various lumpen brigades. The first question is whether Sangh Parivar will decide who-when-where-how should one love? They have started to move throughout the country against the marriage between different religions and caste in the name of ‘Love Jihad’ and interfere in the different forms of private relationships like ‘Live-in’. But their basic opposition is against the relationship-friendship of the women in the country based on their own will and choice since their motive is to establish the ownership over the body and sexuality of women by the family-society-sangh.
RSS, from its very inception as an organization of high caste Marathi men led by Chitapavan Brahmins, is based on establishing and enforcing the varna-shrama based caste system and is openly misogynist. In Kerala, the Namboodri Brahmins, in the pretext of establishing the rule that the procreation of the first child of a girl of any community should be with a Namboodri Brahmin, in fact used to rape women of other communities. Golwalkar, the most revered leader of RSS, was of the opinion that in order to ‘improve’ the members of the lower castes, they should be made to undergo the same treatment as is done with the animals in the form of ‘cross-breeding’. Right from its birth, they were proponents in favour of imprisonment of women within the household, against the right to inheritance of property by women alongside declaring decrees controlling the body and its expression including dressing. If there is a ‘blot on the conscience of the nation’ it is that in 21st century India, an organization who in its core structure has no women members by rule, is ruling the country. No woman can be a member of the organizational structure of RSS, even though they have other affiliated organizations with women members. When the discussions on the equal rights for women is coming in the forefront throughout the society, the protests are going on against the authority of the family and men over the female body and the exploitation based on caste is being increasingly recognized in the society as a social vice, then the Sangh, in new ways is trying to be aggressive against women and members of marginalized sexualities and to keep people of oppressed castes under their control.
Due to the role of a section of the media, the news of ‘Kissing’ in public as protest has been coming more in forefront than the condemnable act of vandalism perpetrated by the hooligans of RSS in the café in Kochi or the murder of the Dalit youth in Ahmednagar. But, even if someone is not in agreement with one specific form of protest (India is not ready for it etc.), even then the content of the protest should compel her/us to play the role of carrying it forward as a political task. RSS, in India, is a fascist force which is executing its rule hands-in-glove with the capitalists keeping BJP in the forefront. When on 7th November, 400 striking women workers in Asti factory in Manesar in Haryana were attacked, harassed and molested by management goons and BJP-government’s Haryana Police for sitting on strike against illegal terminations, they still dared to stay over at night. A woman worker who was told by her husband that ‘India is not ready for this’, she stressed on legitimacy of her protest as the right to live with dignity itself is combined now with having to protest either at the factory floor, or in city streets or in the mofusil towns and villages of India. The debate and united action then should be on the legitimacy of the anger against this cultural-political attack by the Sangh Pariwar helped on by the capitalists.
The RSS and the moral police (and now with active collaboration from the state police everywhere) have never waited to establish their own view in the society through any democratic discussion, but by indulging in brute physical force, murders-assaults-bombings, inciting riots and others, keeping the tradition intact from the killing of Gandhi to the demolition of Babri masjid and the Gujarat riots up to this day. The inability to build an all round struggle to resist them will result in darker days in the future. When people from different regions of the country residing in tremendous atmosphere of repression will take to the streets wishing to come out from this suffocating environment, then all the protesting people will not be able to agree to all the forms of protest since they have not created it together at the same time.
The established forms of movement in the world today have come in the forefront through the peoples struggles over time– be that of the rally or gherao, slogans or wall graffiti, road blockade-picketing-strikes or burning of the buses or trams in protest against fare hike. With the passage of time, some forms are losing their relevance while newer novels forms are being continuously generated every day. For ages, the forms of movements have not followed any established rules and neither have they all developed from within the organised left movement. When the Meripaibi women in Manipur had protested in nude in public against the Assam Rifles with the banner reading ‘Indian Army Rape Us’ against Manorama Devi’s rape and murder, then no amount of snide or sarcasm or ‘ifs-n-buts’ could stand up against the intense expression of torment against long periods of persecution. When the people of Tunisia or of Telangana and other different parts of the world choose self-immolation as the mode of protest in face of enormous power of the enemy, the workers of the Jute mills and Garment industries of India, enduring the medieval forms of torture year after year, burst out in protest and burn the managers or owners of their factories, the discontent masses in Chauri-Chaura, instead of non-violent protest, indulge in counter-attack in face of attack, then the decision to leave the struggle in midway essentially harms the larger struggle.
In our country, there remains a huge backwardness in the society in the question of women’s liberation and consciousness against patriarchy, which makes the struggle against this an integral part of the progressive democratic movements of this country. And for this reason, people remain a mute spectator to the open acceptance of bribes in the streets, society does not raise hue and cry when men openly pee in the streets (while women cannot), but open and public display of love creates ripples in the whole society. In a society where the questions of love and sexuality is in tremendous repression, where society and the state is continuously imposing its regressive rules of conduct in personal and public life, and specially when this repression, through the acts of Sangh Parivar, is taking its highest organized and violent form, a definite form of ‘Public display of Affection’, developing as a reaction in this context, can become an ‘Political act’ in itself. Where people with beard are often taken as terrorists and are harassed, keeping beard can itself be a ‘political act’ there. When untouchability and lynching of Dalits are a norm accused with ‘impurity’, to assert one’s identity is a political act. Where there is a fatwa declared against the movement of women in the streets without Burqua, there the act of revealing the face in public by removing the Burqua can well become an act of counter-assertion.
This form of protest against the incident of moral policing in Kochi has emerged with strength in society and has unmasked the operation of lumpenism through which the Sangh works. If the Sangh continues to use the prevailing regressive ethos of the society to perpetuate its medieval designs and actions, then popular protest will inevitably emerge in the face of the de-facto moral police chief Mohan Bhagawat, which may not be the already treaded or created path. As the nexus between the forces like Sangh and corporate power, which is ruling against all the democratic aspirations of the masses of our country, made significant the form of unified struggle for food and employment, in similar way as the struggles against communalism, women’s movement, against discrimination of sex-gender and the anti-caste struggles as a part of an all round struggle against them.
A new trend of spontaneous protests among the new generation of young women, men, people is emerging through different movements like that against the 16th December gang rape in Delhi, the #hokkolorob rally on the streets of Kolkata in solidarity with the Jadavpur University students struggle or the recent protests in Kerala. The protest in one place is almost instantaneously spreading to another through various new medium. To properly understand the strength and limitations of this new trend, how these spontaneous outbursts can be complementary to the patient and tireless act of conscious and organized political activity, the inter-relationship of these struggles of one section of the young generation of students and youths and the daily life struggles of the toiling masses and oppressed of the society – all these questions are presenting themselves as challenge in front of the progressive-left movements of the country. We congratulate this trend of spontaneous protests by the new generations of the students and youths. It is our duty, those who are working for progressive transformation of the society, to stand in solidarity with these protests and not be stuck in debates on the form itself.
Nayanjyoti and Subhashini are activists with the Krantikari Naujawan Sabha