We are publishing below a statement issued by Anand Singh on behalf of Janchetna, Ludhiana
A group of Hindutva goons ransacked Janchetna — an institution dedicated to promote and propagate progressive literature — in Ludhiana on 2 January 2017. They also abused and misbehaved with the book shop manager Binny and manhandled other activists who came to her rescue. They even threatened to put the books on fire. More disturbing, however, was the fact that all this happened in the presence of police which remained a mute spectator to this fascist attack which lasted for two hours. Later, instead of arresting the goons, the police took the activists present there — Binny, Janchetna book shop manager, Lakhwinder , President of Textiles Hosiery Kamgar Union, Gurjeet (Samar), an activist of karkhana Mazdoor Union and Satbir Naujawan Bharat Sabha activists — into custody and sealed the shop. However, due to people’s pressure the activists were soon released and a demonstration of various mass organisations and trade unions compelled the police to let the book shop reopen.
The Hindutva goons lodged a complaint to the police that Janchetna was “brainwashing the youth” by promoting “Anti-Hindu literature” and “propagating anti-India ideology among youth”. They also submitted some literature such as “Why I am an Atheist” by Bhagat Singh and “Ishwar ka Bahishkar” by Radha Mohan Gokulji to the police and were demanding that an FIR be lodged against Janchetna for “promoting atheism” and “hurting religious sentiments”. The incident was triggered when parents of Shivani, a regular visitor to the book shop, came to know about her intention to be involved in the Janchetna campaign of promoting and propagating progressive and revolutionary literature. This angered her parents so much that they took the matter to the Hindutva goons who in their characteristic style carried out an attack on janchetna.
After this incident, some mass organisations had given a call to protest. On 3 January, hundreds of youth, students, workers and democratic rights activists took out a rally and laid a siege to the police station division number 5 Ludhiana to protest against the attack by the Hindutva goons and the police inaction. The protesters demanded that strict action be taken against the goons and also the policemen who were present at the spot. The siege was ended after the ACP asked for 24 hours of time to take action against the attackers. The protest demonstration forced the police to return the keys of bookshop to the Janchetna representatives. The organisation which took part in the demonstration included Textile Hosiery Kamgar Union, Punjab Students Union, Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Inquilabi Kender Punjab, Democratic Employees Front, Tarksheel Society Punjab, Lok Ekta Sangathan, Molder and steel Workers Union, Democratic Lawyers Association etc.
This incident is in continuation of the increasing attack on the rational thought and freedom of expression being carried out by the Hindutva gang with increasing regularity ever since the Modi government has come to power. It is particularly dangerous because the Hindu fundamentalists have had less support base in Punjab compared with other parts of the country. As this incident shows, they are spreading their tentacles in Punjab as well. Clearly, grass root mobilisation against such tends is the need of the hour. This incident shows yet again that the fascist forces are afraid of revolutionary, democratic and rational ideas. Janchetna will carry on the task of promoting and propagating the literature containing such ideas.