The Difference between What They Tell Us and What We Know: Shehla Rashid

Guest Post by Shehla Rashid. Based on a Status Update on her Facebook Page.

They tell us that the military is meant for fighting the “terrorists”; But most of the time, it is the civilians who are killed.

They tell us that “special powers” for the army are necessary for national unity; But the army only teaches us how to hate India.

They say the University is anti-national because it wants to break India; But it’s the University that teaches us to love Indians.

Then, who is anti-national? Those who teach us how to hate India, or those who teach us how to love Indians?

Yes, we see the difference between India and Indians; India is at war with Indians throughout India.

I wish the Indian state could also see the difference between Kashmir, which it claims as its own, and Kashmiris who belong to no one; They claim to love Kashmir but hate and kill Kashmiris.

This nation is at war with its own people, not against China or Pakistan; China or Pakistan are tropes– to incite hatred against Indian citizens who may be culturally closer to China or Pakistan.

They tell us that Green Hunt is meant for safeguarding mainland Indians, living in non-tribal belts; What they don’t say is that Green Hunt is for the protection of private companies and their hired goons.

They say the Salwa Judum empowers people against “Maoists”; What they don’t say is that Salwa Judum is funded by Tata and Essar, to kill activists who oppose corporate loot. They say Article 370 is a problem because corporates can’t invest (read: loot). But Tata gets to set up hotels from Kashmir to Coorg in all green belts, in all protected zones, while we are fed all kinds of nonsense about CSR and so on.

An Internet troll asks me, “You accuse Army of rape; When did Army rape your mother?”; I want to tell him that every raped woman is my mother.

Bhanwari Devi is my mother;

Thangjam Manorama is my mother;

Delta Meghwal is my mother;

Neelofar is my mother;

Asiya is my mother;

Jyoti Singh Pandey is my mother;

So, when they force us to say, “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, they should know who our mothers are; Our mothers are not Smriti Irani or Maya Kondnani.

Another troll tells me, “You Bitch, You should be raped publicly. How can Army men rape?”; And he proves me right! He proves that anyone can rape, even those who flaunt photos of goddesses on their social media profile pictures, even those who say “Jai” to a “Mata”. They prove that rape is a product of rape culture, of power, of hate, not a crime of love or passion or desire, as the media describes it.

A journalist asks a young boy in the protest, “Pakistan ka jhanda laye ho saath mein?”; His corporate boss wants a “sensational” story– at any cost, even at the cost of facts!

Yet another army of trolls asks me, “What about Kashmiri Pandits?” Well, what about them? We are with the Pandits of Kashmir, just as we are with the Dalits of Bhagana and Bathanitola, just as we are with the Muslims of Jammu who were massacred to alter the demography of the region, just as we are with the Muslims of Gujarat, just as we are with the fishermen of Koodankulam, with the Sikhs of 1984 Delhi, with the Sikhs of Chhittisinghpora, with the maimed humans of Bhopal who fell victims to Gas Tragedy and were treated as less than humans, with all those victims of displacement and riot, who never got any quotas in employment and education, unlike the Pandits of Kashmir. The Kashmiri Pandits must come back, as residents, not as settlers, not to create Israel-styled separate settlements, not to create agraharams, but to live among the people in their rightful place. Pandits must come back and demand that Kashmiris be treated as equal stakeholders in the resolution of Jammu & Kashmir issue. Pandits must come back, and the people living in Kashmir must ensure their safety from this violent, manipulative state.

And, when someone raises issues of murder and rape, don’t engage in “What-about”-ery. Don’t send trolls to their inbox to vent their sexual frustration, arising from long-term incarceration in RSS camps.

When someone speaks, listen. Because the sword of fascism is hanging over your head as well. Those who say they love the nation, are actually surrendering India’s hard-won political and economic sovereignty to the neo-colonialist WTO and World Bank. They let off Vijay Mallya. They give safe passage to owners of Dow Chemicals. BJP takes donation for election campaigns from Dow. They remain tight-lipped on Panama Papers, because their favorites are implicated in the expose. Is it in national interest? They run Durga Vahini camps and train childrens’ armies in UP to fight ISIS, ahead of UP polls. In 2009, it was exposed that RSS takes money from ISI. Who killed Karkare? Who killed Tanzil? No answers.

They say, do not eat beef, but Sangeet Som runs a meat company that sells beef. Hema Malini says, do not marry Muslim men, do not allow them to enter Garba venues. But Hema Malini and Dharmendra convert to Islam, in order to legitimise the second marriage of Dharmendra! They say, don’t insult soldiers. Modi says, “sipahi se zyada risk vyapari leta hai”. Adani’s project gets cancelled in Australia due to its environmental hazards, but he gets to travel with our PM on every foreign trip. They train their guns at those who want to protect the forests, land and water. They give a free hand to those who smuggle out the country’s wealth, earned from the blood and sweat of workers, into the foreign banks and tax havens. The Iceland PM has already stepped down over Panama leaks. In UK, people are demanding David Cameron’s resignation. But for Modi, Panama will be yet another dream destination in the bucket list of places that he must visit, while his power lasts.

We must ensure that this power does not last very long. It’s not only a change of government that we seek. It’s a change of system that is needed. This system is fundamentally unjust. Injustice is the norm, not the exception. The powerless must unite to fight the powerful; Those who align themselves with the powerful, have to be fought against, not for.

Power to the people.

Shehla Rashid is  student of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, Vice President of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union, and an activist of the All India Students’ Association

17 thoughts on “The Difference between What They Tell Us and What We Know: Shehla Rashid

  1. Well said, Shehla. But a greater platform is needed and all this needs to be shouted from the rooftops. The real tragedy is that no one is listening. It is one thing when a maniac addresses “the nation” every night, foaming at the mouth – then people listen, like it is some form of entertainment. When reasonable voices speak, even shout themselves hoarse, there is no one really listening. Lip service is paid to nationalism and national interest, seemingly sage heads nod about what must be done to rectify the situation, our youth would like nothing better than to share it on social media for a day, then nothing more is heard of it.
    Meanwhile, we await another atrocity, another attack, another scandal. But, I have begun to believe that it is, in a way, a good thing. Let the sins accumulate until no one has been spared. All these shameful trolls with their disgraceful nonsense will also see a day when they are discarded too. When fanatics rule the roost, the obvious end is their loss of faith in their own heroes and gods. A sane person would wait to judge whether a person is a hero or a god or not. These people who jump on to the bandwagon of hero-worship are the ones to be most devastated when their gods of clay feet show their own frailties. This Kohinoor incident is the latest – no prizes for guessing how disappointed their fans are going to be or who are most likely to be disillusioned by it.

    Shehla, wait and watch. Let them do their worst. In the end, it should raise disgust among the common people, the public that is now mindless and vacuous. That is the day that revolution would become reality. Squandering away their 31 per cent is not a question at all, it is inevitable. Already so. Let us wait for that day when they have no one to back them. Salute!

  2. Rajan Barrett

    Yes what Tejeswi abouve says is true. When the lie is exposed which it already probably exists among thinking pseudobhakts and pseudonationalists then will there be an awakening. But unfortunately may be that will take ages to happen.

  3. shaturya

    Shehla, very well said….My only addition to your voice is that we must continue to fight for freedom ..freedom to critique the ‘power’…yes peacefully that is…and not bow down …Shehla , you are absolutely right in that powerless must have platform to have a voice..that is what we all must work for…It is often that those can drum up emotional noise are able to drown the voices of powerless and voices of reason..I must add that this a characteristic of ‘power ‘ and not any political party…It’ll be a big mistake if we equate authoritarian attitude with a particular political outfit…no..all governments, if not under sufficient pressure from civil groups, given Indian feudal past, easily slip into authoritarian tendencies…be it far left , left of centre or right of centre or right..we have evidence of it at Centre and various states…So instead of being tied up in any ‘ísm’ , we must strive for constitutional rights….including freedom of speech ..most important of fundamental right…

    Whatever be it, very well put forth , Shehla. ..keep it up..

    1. Actually, not so much at windmills as at windbags, but thank you for your support. It is much appreciated. Unfortunately, there are no dragons to slsy, not even to slay, but I can safely assure you that the demons will be challenged and overthrown.

  4. K SHESYU BABU

    … And Arun Jaitley says to a BBC correspondent Brijesh Upadhyay, (BBC Hindi dated April 18@9.30P. M) that ‘ intolerance’ is a media creation. Foreign investments have not come down. He is in US!!

  5. Tejaswi is right. The sins of the state will need to accumulate till the nation says, enough is enough. However, I fear the sane voices will be silenced and the corporate media will spin the lies before the revolution occurs. And the nation will again go about its odd and even ways, the middle class as callous and racist as ever before.

  6. AKS

    More substantive, informative,convincing and emotive argument. Well said Sehla. Students like you give hope to Indians.

  7. sunil

    your speech was good..appreciated…but what are you doing for this..just writing on a social site will not help out…there are problems in every country….no one is perfect…. we should work towards making our country better….

    1. Mukul Dube

      In any struggle such as this one, action is necessary on several fronts. Often one person cannot act on all fronts. Besides, can you give evidence for your apparent conviction that Shehla Rashid is “just writing on a social site”?

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