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