Cow-Gangs of Akhand Bharat and the Dalit Revolt – Hindutva Unravels

As the cow-gangs of Hindutva go on a rampage and the the prime minister, Narendra Modi, adopts a posture of strategic silence, the country is rapidly being pushed to the brink of a civil war. This might sound a trifle far-fetched but classically, when large numbers of people begin to believe that there is no government for them, the time is not far when they will start making preparations for defending themselves. It started with the attacks on Muslims but soon enveloped the Dalits as it was bound to. The Una incident, which sparked off a veritable revolt, was followed up by subsequent attacks in Lucknow. The Progressive Dairy Farmers’ Association in Punjab, involving large number of Sikh farmers, has also been fighting continuing harassment and violence by cow-gangs of Hindutva in Punjab for some time now. The PDFA president has also stated that they might be forced to act in self-defense. The president Daljit Singh Gill, in fact, reportedly told mediapersons that “(I)f someone attacks the farmers, we will stop them now,” and “(I)f something goes wrong, it is the government’s responsibility.”

Even as the cow-gangs continue with their vigilantism unrestrained and unchecked, a large demonstration yesterday at Jantar Mantar by Samta Sainik Dal, actually sent out yet another signal. It spokespersons said in so many words that they were now prepared to take on the cow-gangs physically, if and where necessary.

Tracing SSD’s lineage back to Dr Ambedkar’s initiative in the 1924, the President of the organization openly blamed the ‘Manuvadi’ forces, in cahoots with the police and bureaucracy, backed by the government. He was candid that it is not the Sikhs or Muslims or Christians who are attacking the Dalits today but the Hindus who are doing it in the name of nationalism and that people were now in a mood to fight back unitedly together.

Not only is Modi’s deafening silence now coming to be seen as a sign of encouragement and complicity, with BJP leaders like Hyderabad MLA Raja Singh openly justifying the Una attack, and no action being taken against him by the party yet, it is clear that this vigilantism is endorsed by the highest quarters in the party. For those who may have missed seeing Raja Singh’s video, this is what he said:

“Jo Dalit gaye ke maas ko le ja raha tha, jo uski pitai hui hai, woh bohut hi achhi hui hai (Those Dalits who were taking the cow, the cow meat, those who were beaten, it was a very good thing to happen).

Continue reading “Cow-Gangs of Akhand Bharat and the Dalit Revolt – Hindutva Unravels”

Of Housing, Jobs and Everyday Communalism: Saidalavi P.C.

Guest post by SAIDALAVI P.C.

“True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity”

Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

On the evening of 21 February, 2015 I and my friend walked through the narrow lines of Vasant Kunj, New Delhi looking for an accommodation for him. On both sides of narrow roads, three-storied buildings blocked sun rays reaching the ground. Here and there scrapheap assaulted our nostrils and a flock of bees and mosquitoes hovered around the area keeping watch. Our eyes waded through the gates of the buildings looking for a signboard announcing vacancies. We pushed a gate open and entered the building looking for the owner. A middle-aged man announced his presence pushing his belly in front of him. We asked, room koi khali hai, bhayya (Is there any room vacant, brother?) He scrutinised us for a moment. May be nonplussed by seeing no marks of our identity (we are clean shaven, well-dressed, normative secular self with supposedly a neutral identity in public) he was bit confused and his lips contorted a bit towards the left. Impassively, he nodded us to follow him since the room was on the second floor. My friend was visibly satisfied by the room, it was well-furnished, with a bathroom, kitchen and a balcony. He said he would take it. Listening to it, the owner’s face had taken a bit more serious expression, and at last he asked what our names are. It seemed our neutral identity was the bomb he wanted to diffuse. The moment we uttered our names, his facial expression changed into one who is caught by colic, he was startled and flushed, and his ears instantly became red. We were unable to make sense of what he was thinking. Then, he spoke hoarsely and told us to leave immediately. He said that if he had known earlier that we were Muslims, he wouldn’t have invited us to see the rooms. He never let rooms to Muslims. We tried to reason with him by asking why he is not renting it to Muslims.

Continue reading “Of Housing, Jobs and Everyday Communalism: Saidalavi P.C.”

Updating of “National Register of Citizens” and Recent Political Developments in Assam: Abdul Kalam Azad

Guest post by ABDUL KALAM AZAD

On 21st July, 2010 one of my close family relatives, Mydul Mullah (25) was one among the thousands of marginalized Muslims of Barpeta district who were demonstrating in front of Deputy Commissioner’s office at district headquarter demanding an error-free fresh NRC (National Register of Citizens). Eventually, police brutally cracked down on the picketers and fired upon them for the ‘crime’ of exercising their democratic right to peacefully protest. After the police firing Mydul Mullah along with his three comrades Khandakar Matleb (20), Siraj Ali (27) and Majam Ali (55) succumbed to the bullet injuries. The Tarun Gogoi led Assam government was forced to suspend the faulty NRC pilot project due to unprecedented public outrage.

The question of ‘illegal migration’ from Bangladesh has been one of the most significant and emotive topics in the political milieu of Assam for almost half a century now. .

The six-year long movement (1979-1985) against illegal immigration, popularly known as the Assam Movement, spear headed by All Assam Students Union claimed itself to be a secular and nonviolent new social movement of ‘indigenous’ people to drive out the illegal immigrants. But analyses of scholars and social scientists like Prof. Hiren Gohain, Prof. Monirul Hussain, Dr. Debabrata Sarma, Diganta Sarma etc. reveal that as soon as the Assam movement accommodated right wing RSS workers into its leadership, the whole movement turned against Muslims of Bengali origin in Assam. Heinous massacres like that of Nellie, Chaolkhuwa, Nagabandha etc. were orchestrated against Muslims of Bengali origin and in broad day light thousands of people were killed. After six years of deadlock, the movement culminated in the signing of the ‘Assam Accord’ with the Government of India in 1985. The accord says that the immigrants, who came to Assam after 25th of March, 1971 will be detected and deported from Assam. One of the mandates of the accord was to update the 1951 National Register of Citizen to facilitate identification of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in Assam.   Continue reading “Updating of “National Register of Citizens” and Recent Political Developments in Assam: Abdul Kalam Azad”

The Secular Stake- A Burden, or a Democratic Imperative? Sanjay Kumar

Guest Post by Sanjay Kumar

Mr Asaduddin Owaisi, the leader of MIM recently remarked in a media conclave that ‘Muslims are not coolies of secularism’. The statement made perfect sense for his politics. He is the leader a party that aims to mobilise voters on the basis of them being Muslim. The unprecedented success of Hindutva under Mr Modi in recent elections has upset many old electoral calculations, and opened new opportunities. Mr Owaisi is smelling a chance for the MIM to expand beyond its turf in Hyderabad, to regions where non-BJP parties have been getting the major chunk of Muslim votes with the slogan of secularism, seen principally as the promise of protection from riots. For Mr Owaisi, the remark serves multiple purposes. Average Muslim citizens are deeply disillusioned with a political process that has resulted in the utter marginalisation of their community.  For such voters, the statement is intended to clearly distinguish his party from the so-called secular non-BJP parties. It is calibrated to raise a doubt in their mind, why should only Muslims be expected to vote for such parties, when significant sections of the Hindus have sided with the communal BJP? It is also a preemptive answer to his political competitors and ideological critics, who are likely to accuse him of being communal.

Otherwise too, the secular discourse in India has largely become a minorities’ affair. It is said to be under threat when minorities are attacked. It is claimed to be flourishing when minorities rights are protected. A corollary belief among major sections of the so called majority community is that India  could have as well been non-secular if there were no minorities in the country, or if they are put in their place as the RSS political programme demands. Continue reading “The Secular Stake- A Burden, or a Democratic Imperative? Sanjay Kumar”

Gandhi, Palestine and Israel: Irfan Ahmad

Guest post by IRFAN AHMAD

Amidst Israel’s recent deadly attacks on Gaza and what Venezuela’s President called ‘its policy of genocide’, many have invoked Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869–1948) on two counts. First, he opposed settler colonialism. One analyst in The Economic Times gave a quote, also shared on Facebook: ‘Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English and France to the French’. Second, implicit in invoking Gandhi is the idea that he stood for non-violence and thus the indicting advice to the terrorised Palestinians to ‘choose peace’.

Both these positions linked to Gandhi, when analysed historically, are misleading, even incorrect and wrong. In 1921, Gandhi did oppose the imposition of Jews over the Arab land. However, later he subtly endorsed settler colonialism. As for Gandhi’s official preaching of non-violence and civil disobedience (satyagraha), they were at best tactical, contextual and temporary. Contrary to his deified mythology as apostle of non-violence, Gandhi indeed justified killing, even felt proud of violence, and opposed civil disobedience when both suited his political and national interests. Continue reading “Gandhi, Palestine and Israel: Irfan Ahmad”

To Understand the Mind of NDA II, turn to Singhal and the Sangh: Teesta Setalvad

Guest post by TEESTA SETALVAD

I do not expect there to be any outrage, comment or protest over the most recent rants of Ashok Singhal, senior RSS leader and patron of the Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an RSS offshoot in an interview published in the July 17,2014 of The Hindustan Times  daily. We have as a nation and a polity become sinisterly and compliantly accustomed and accepting of aggressive hatred spilt by the majority and hypocritically touchy and outraged by similar rantings by so-called leaders of the minority. How deep this hypocrisy of majoritarianism has spread is evident in the coverage and depiction of hate speech by our electronic media that picks and chooses what to show, how often and when. So the hate ridden rantings of an Owaisi, or a Qader Rana will be run and re-run across networks and channels but equally insidious and as or more dangerous ravings of politicians who play on the identity of the majority are glossed over, hidden and remarkably, not even commented upon.

Singhal tells us through this interview today, that he welcomes with all his heart the first RSS pracharak as Prime Minister of India but, adding the proverbial sting to the tale, says that what is truly historical and remarkable about NDA II’s victory is that this electoral win was ensured without Muslim votes or support. Barefacedly lending voice to what more sophisticated faces in government including the now maun PM would presently rather leave unsaid, Singhal gloats on the disenfranchisement of India’s largest minority during democratically conducted elections. A time-tested tactic of the octopus-like sangh that generates terror and intimidation in the public sphere by the mutterings of a Singhal and a Togadia and allows the flag bearer beneficiaries of this hate-splitting in governance, the luxuries of convenient, intermittent,  silences.  The Advani-Vajpayee duo in the first NDA were a fine example of this. [Though,  Advani often relapsed into expressing well trained views especially after the brutal burning alive of Graham Staines and his sons (Orissa, January 1999).] NDA II has witnessed some interesting role reversals with many of the flag bearers of hate mongering now at the helm: a cabinet full of hate mongers are in the government’s driving seat. Singhal also emphasises and welcomes – undoubtedly for the reassurance of the sangh support base — all those being chosen for post of Governors are sanghis,  Ram Naik or a  Kesari Nath Tripathi. Continue reading “To Understand the Mind of NDA II, turn to Singhal and the Sangh: Teesta Setalvad”

Information on Aluthgama – Fact Finding by a Women’s Collective

A Fact Finding Report by a Women’s Collective on the Ethnic Riots in Aluthgama, Sri Lanka.

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On the 15th of June 2014 ethnic riots took place in Aluthgama following a rally organized by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a Buddhist fundamentalist organization. Even though the police and state officials had been informed of the potential of the rally to turn violent, no steps were taken to stop the same, instead a large number of police and Special Task Forces (STF) personnel were deployed in the area. In the aftermath of the violence that shocked the country, a women’s team visited Aluthgama and met with several survivors with the objective of documenting the events that took place. Below is their report. Considering the safety of the survivors their names, location and other identities are not recorded.

“Around 12 midnight on 15/06/2014 the Welipitiya Mosque administration made an announcement that a large group of thugs were coming to destroy the Mosque. Upon the announcement the men from the village brought their families, left the women inside the mosque for their safety, and stood outside the mosque to protect the mosque. Around 2000 persons arrived in a procession at that time chanting slogans saying ‘we will destroy the Dharga Town mosque’, ‘we will change Dharga Town into a Sinhala village’ and started pelting stones from all sides,” said a mother whose son was attacked in this incident. She stated that she has four sons, she has been separated from her husband since the birth of her youngest son, and has brought them up single handedly amidst various challenges. “My two unmarried sons aged 20 and 17 heard the announcement from the mosque and left to guard the mosque. A few minutes after they left home I heard gun shots and ran outside to look for my sons but I could not locate them. I ran back home and prayed for their safety. I could hear the firing of gun shots for about 2 hours. Continue reading “Information on Aluthgama – Fact Finding by a Women’s Collective”