#India – Tribal Woman raped in bus, helper arrested #Odisha #Vaw


RAPE

Odisha Tribal woman raped in moving bus

PTI : Bhubaneswar/Cuttack, Wed Jun 19 2013, 1

TOP ST

A 25-year-old tribal girl was allegedly raped by the helper of an air-conditioned luxury bus in which she was travelling, police today said. The accused identified as Susanta Hembram has been arrested for allegedly raping the tribal girl, resident of Mayurbhanj district of Odisha, in the moving bus on Sunday night when other passengers were fast asleep, they said.

In her complaint, the victim alleged that Hembram raped her in the rear seat of the private bus en route Jagatpur near Cuttack, between 3 to 3.30 am when there were only few passengers and all of them were asleep, City DCP S Praveen Kumar said.

Hembram is believed to be an acquaintance of the victim,who works as a domestic help in Jagatpur, on the outskirts of Cuttack city. The incident came to light when the girl was rescued by some people at Gatiroutpatna, about 5 km from Cuttack on Cuttack-Jagatsinghpur road yesterday.

The Mahila police station of the city after registering a case sent both the accused and the victim for medical examination on the day. A police scientific team is also assisting the city police in investigating the case.

The State Transport Commissioner Surendra Kumar informed that the permit of the passenger bus in which the crime was committed has been cancelled. “It is one of the primary duties of the bus staff to ensure that the passengers boarding the buses travel safely and reach their destinations unharmed,” Kumar said. Meanwhile, the Private Bus Owners’ Association condemning the incident has demanded that stringent punishment should be given to the bus helper and urged the bus owners to ensure that the credentials of the persons are verified properly before they are recruited to perform duties in the buses plying at night.

#India -Sexual Violence, Consumer Culture and Feminist Politics #Vaw # Sexuality


 – Rethinking the Critique of Commodification : Sreenanti Banerjee

FEBRUARY 3, 2013

Guest Post by SREENANTI BANERJEE

I will begin with the by now well-known interview of author and social activist Arundhati Roy, conducted by Channel 4 (a British Media House), about the widespread protests after the horrific December 16th incident of the brutal gangrape of the 23 year old medical student in Delhi. Permit me to quote Roy at length as I do not wish to take bits and pieces from her talk, and pluck them out of their context.

We are having an unexceptional reaction to an event which isn’t exceptional […] But the problem is that why is this crime creating such a lot of outrage is because it plays into the idea of the criminal poor, the vegetable vendor, the gym instructor, the bus driver actually assaulting a middle-class girl. But when rape is used as a means of domination by upper castes, by the army or the police it’s not even punished.

Question: Is there any chance that this protest is going to lead to genuine change, that the political class will accept that this is not what modern India is all about?

Answer: I think it will lead to some laws perhaps, and increased surveillance. But, all of that, I repeat, all of that will protect middle class women.

Question: This is such a contrast from the image of modern India that is being potrayed by the film-making industry in Mumbai, by the whole sort of new tech India. I mean as if there are many worlds competing here [……] So you are suggesting that this new India is fuelling disrespect for women?

Answer: The feudal India has a huge history and legacy of disrespect and violence against women, I mean, any accounts of partition or what is done to dalit women contains that. But, now there is a sort of psychosis. First of all the army and the police are using rape as a weapon against people in places like Chattisgarh, Kashmir and Manipur and so on [……]

But, the other thing is that there is a widening gap between the rich and the poor.Earlier atleast the rich did what they did with a fair amount of discretion. Now it’s all out there, on television, all the sort of conspicuous consumption, and there is ananger and a psychosis building up. Women at the top, at the middle and the bottom are going to pay the price for it, not so much at the top but certainly the dalit women are continuously going to be subjected to violence, and young urban women like the one to whom this happened are very very vulnerable to this kind ofpsychotic rage.” (emphasis added).

Now, although the interview appears to state the ‘real’ conditions of Indian democracy and how the state always permits only a particular class to vent its grievance against violence, here I would urge you to read with me in this interview something that appears to be a central conundrum of cultural politics in what we come to know as the “Global South” today.

The anchor of the programme here speaks in his generic Orientalist “civilizing” tone of a “new and a modern India”, accompanied by a commonplace bewilderment about a supposed “clash of civilization” (in the Hutingtonian sense), about how a “modern” country can exhibit such entrenched misogyny (as if women’s emancipation is always and already another synonym for ‘modernity’) – a country which in fact was supposed to have ‘transcended’ its erstwhile ‘uncivilized’ past and by now gotten rid of its taint of being a “fallen civilization”. And this amazement on the part of the anchor is nothing unusual since this was typical of the whole of Western media after the ghastly event of December 16th when it was always poor “Indian men” raping its modern civilized ‘other’ (in the form of urban women), not being able to cope with rapid processes westernization and globalization.

However, it is interesting to note Arundhati Roy’s response to these questions, especially her notion of “conspicuous consumption” leading to anger and psychosis amongst the urban youth, and women “paying the price” for capitalism’s “pornographic” seductions with its obnoxiously rising concomitant gap between the rich and the poor.  Now, for quite some time, we have seen a continuum in terms of taking positions on westernization and its supposed effects on women and their ‘safety’. From Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief to the Supreme Court Judgement criticized by the Justice Verma Committee Report pp. 80 – 83 (which claimed that in India women would seldom falsely “cry rape”, as sex here is generally not for sale and hence women are more protectionist about their sexuality compared to the West where sex is used for pleasure and economic purposes), to Kakoli Ghosh Dastidaar of Trinamool Congress asserting that the “context” of the Park Street rape incident of the “pub-going woman” was qualitatively different from that of the bus gangrape as in the former (“false”) case it was a mere squabble between a prostitute and her client (as opposed to the more ‘authentic’ gangrape in the bus), to Abhijeet Mukherjee’s lament about painted and dented, non-intellectual, consumerist women’s frivolous protests – all of them (although from different standpoints) seem to be commenting on the ghastly effect that capitalism and its twin associate commodification has on the urban Indian woman. While the article published in The Hindu (quoted in the Verma Committee Report) as well as Arundhati Roy seem to be engaging in a much more nuanced analysis of how women venturing in the public sphere for work, education or leisure ‘unfortunately’ become the targets of the wrath of men who are “victims” of an ever-growing individualist consumption-oriented culture, as opposed to Kakoli Ghosh Dastidaars or Mohan Bhagwats who engage in a much more blatant eulogy of the woman who maintains all the ‘lakshman rekhas’ and is not ‘utstrinkhal’ (a term recently used by the Hindi columnist Raj Kishor in an article to describe the ‘licentious urban women’); the underlying assumption is the same. And, that is, the striking opulence of consumer capital leads to sexual violence of urban women.

Fear of the ‘Inauthentic’ Female that predates Capitalism

Although I do understand where Roy is coming from and her concerns about the injustice that global capital has been giving rise to in recent times in terms of erasing any public discourse on state-sponsored sexual violence against women and sexual violence perpetrated by the upper class and upper castes on Dalit and tribal women, the assertion of women (of all classes) “paying the price” for the pornographic exhibitionism of wealth of a particular class, I believe, is certainly problematic.

Here, I do not wish to give the elaborate and rather painstaking (although much needed) inventory of misogyny predating capitalism. However, I do wish to give one particular instance which perhaps would take us to the heart of the matter, and somewhat help me to articulate my theoretical disagreement with Roy and certain other significant social commentators who consider “mindless flaunting and display of wealth” as the “root cause” of sexual violence against middle class women, and a “paying  of price” in terms of them being brutally violated and their intestines being pulled out as a direct and inevitable outcome of the hubris of global capital. This I believe, is a classic case of the much talked about notion of “justifying” sexual violence, something that directly informs what we conceive as “rape culture”.

Here, the notion of male ‘anxiety’ demands further exploration. One of the significant instances of this vulnerability gets demonstrated in the Laws of Manu, which is commonsensically renowned for its misogynist claims. But since commonsense by definition impedes criticality, it is significant to say that it is quite possible to refrain from any crass reductionism of Manu as far as his interpretation of women is concerned. In Laws of Manu, chapter 9, Manu says,

“[14] Good looks do not matter to them (women), nor do they care about youth; ‘A man!’ they say, and enjoy sex with him, whether he is good-looking or ugly. [15] By running after men like ‘whores’, by their ‘fickle minds’, and by their natural lack of affection these women are unfaithful to their husbands even when they are zealously guarded here. [16]. [……] women, who have no virile strength and no Vedic verses, are ‘falsehood’ […]”  [i]

What we need to do here is to read Manu against Manu himself. What is interesting is that the notion of control of women’s sexuality does not stem in Manu from the assumption that women are ‘naturally’ passive and weaker. Neither, does the desire to control emerge from an understanding that women are ‘essentially’ treacherous, unaffectionate and malicious. Rather, a different reading would help us realize that one of the primary sources of men’s anxiety and vulnerability about women’s sexual excess is the notion of the ‘masquerade’, the capacity to feign ‘originality’ and ‘authenticity’ on the part of women, only to prove the fictive nature of that very notion of an ‘authentic’ uncorroded pure womanhood’; in other words, the capacity to ‘mask’ or ‘mime’ oneself, only to show that there is no ‘referent’ of a ‘real self’ behind the mask. Thus, patriarchal disgust emanates from an inherent fear.

Is Commodification and Objectification Bad for Feminism?

From the above analysis, we realize that a culture of misogyny which certainly predated the advent of capitalism, already had a deep-seated fear of the ‘inauthentic fake open feelinglesss promiscuous whore’, whose sexuality in effect had to be controlled. With the advent of capitalism, new patriarchies got introduced which denied women’s household labour, gave rise to unequal wages so on and so forth. But, along with that, the already existing culture of misogyny became all the more ingrained as the apprehension and fear about the ‘inauthenticity’ of the ‘exchangeable’ woman became all pervading now. This is because like everything else, the woman also got translated into an ‘unnatural’ fetishized commodity, got ‘reduced’ to an ‘object’ of exchange under the capitalist order.

However, it should be noted that here the words objectification and commodification are necessary phenomena (as Thomas Keenan points out in his Reading ‘Capital’ Rhetorically), used strictly in the (non-orthodox) Marxist sense of being rendered ‘abstract’ for the purpose of exchange, so that everything is made ‘equal’ (alike) in the eyes of the bourgeouis law (or in other words, rendered ‘human’). Objectification here is a necessary and determining trait of social constitution of individuals as proprietors where the notion of the ‘object’ presupposes a consciousness of ‘difference’. Thus, here the agent is constituted as a discrete ‘self’ (individual), posessing ‘natural rights’, different from ‘others’, and yet ‘equal’ to ‘others’ (since as proprietors the agents should be able to see the others as “subject to the same laws, rights, calculations”). Thus, the ‘equality’ which objectification gives rise to is certainly not false consciousness in this context (as orthodox readings of Marxism would read it), since such a misplaced Marxist reading of objectification as false and hence bad reduces the meaning of the word to a banal Rightwing moralistic cry over a sovereign ‘wholeness’ getting ‘reduced’ to a mere ‘part’.

It is significant to note the pejorative connotations that words like objectification, commodification, consumerism and alienation have assumed in Indian feminist circles, where feminism has almost come to imply a kind of politics of asceticism, bereft of an ambiguous engagement with notions like that of desire and consumption practices. Here, desire of non-westernized women is assumed to be always and already more real, ethical and hence democratic than that of their westernized counterparts. And, I believe that it is precisely under such a climate of an uncritical collapse of rightwing and leftist critique of commodification, that the dissemination is possible of the opinions  that conspicuous consumption is the reason for sexual violence against women.

It is interesting to observe here that the Justice Verma report, along with all its commendable suggestions, makes one similar observation. It endorses the view that, “[…] the large-scale disempowerment of urban men is lending intensity to a pre-existing culture of sexual violence.” [ii] What is significant here is that, a mere stating of the ‘fact’ (as if it is self-evident) certainly does not explain the fact. It rather reifies the ‘fact’ as inevitable or ‘natural’. Hence, in my mind, in order to engage in a full-blown analysis of the ‘causes’ of sexual violence, this observation needs a qualification. And, that qualification is that neo-liberalism along with all its dissemination of social inequity across classes, in the process of commodifying people, alsomakes them ‘inauthentic’, that same inauthenticity which was much feared by Manu and his other patriarchal cohorts of those times.

And discourses on ‘teaching the promiscuous woman a lesson’ originate from an inherent fear of this very ‘inauthentic artificial’ woman, who chooses to objectify and commodify herself (although certainly “not under circumstances of her own making”). This choice, in my mind, needs to be respected, rather than dubbing it as mere false consciousness (just like we have learnt to respect the ‘choice’ of non-secular women adopting the headscarf, the hijab or the veil, by now a well-recognized aspect of postcolonial interrogation of Western Feminists’ ethnocentric spree to “Save the Other”). Hence, we need to ask the all important question that under what circumstances women’s commodification (starting from sex work to Bollywood item numbers) becomes the worst kind of objectification?[iii]

Thus, what we should keep in mind is that a real ‘critique’ of political economy should never get reduced to a mere ‘criticism’, since then our interrogation of capitalism becomes a banal moralistic one, bereft of the mentioning of the possibilities that processes of commodification give rise to, something that certainly impacts our subjectivity as well. In other words, a critique of global capital should not get reduced to a mere rightist and in turn a protectionist sob story ofcultural degeneration in terms of what capitalism does to the ‘unharmed’ body of the nation (the idea of the ‘nation’ already being a gendered concept, marked as feminine), a ‘sovereign’ body which is in need of ‘protection’ and ‘recuperation’ from the onslaughts (read harm, corrosion and injury) caused by globalization.

Now, although the larger point that the Justice Verma Report was trying to make here was that rape is not a ‘crime of passion’ but rather an “expression of power” and also how different subcultures use rape as a weapon against women to assert their collective identity, and all this can easily pass off as a mere ‘depiction’ and a resultant ‘analyses’ of ‘reality’,[ivi] it is significant to point out that this underlying assumption of the article in The Hindu about consumerist abundance and “showing off” as the root cause of sexual violence was indeed troubling. This especially becomes problematic in a climate where precisely the same words (although devoid of any sociological nunace) are used to “teach them” that this is the “price that they pay” for being brazenly commodified.

Now, the point is where do we draw the demarcating line if we are to build this continuum between sexual violence and pompous modernity? How do we intellectually separate the claims on capitalism made by thinkers like Roy with respect to sexual violence against urban women and that made by Mohan Bhagwat of RSS for instance, for whom, westernization is to be ‘blamed’ for the increase in crime against women in cities, or in other words ‘Indian’ women are more ‘rapeable’ than the auspicious ‘Bharatiya Nari’ (And Bhagwat, let me remind you, before hurling such lunacy, infact had already demanded severe punishment for the rapists and even called for their death penalty, something that can easily be used in his favour as a disclaimer to this terrible claim). Furthermore, this argument was later backed up by none other than Ashis Nandy, the eminent sociologist, for whom urban anomie and severe individualization is yet again the cause behind the increasing amount of sexual violence against women. Push the logic, and we shall easily be reminded of the words of the Toronto police officer for instance who remarked that, “woman are extremely fashionable these days and are constantly “showing off”, they should stop dressing like sluts to avoid rape”, something that triggered off the Slutwalk movement in Toronto, or for that matter someone like Abhijit Mukherjee’s contempt towards “painted and dented women”, intellectuals and protestors by morning and disco-goers by night!

Rape, Shame and Consumption

While the Justice Verma Report tries to undertake the mammoth task of addressing sexual violence as a structural problem rather than an aberrant individual act (and thus engages in a resultant critique of inequitable economic policies for giving rise to urban violence and quite rightly so), and quite commendably recommends a separation of notions of ‘honor’ and ‘shame’ from the act of rape, the language of the continuing emphasis on capitalism curbing options of recreation for migrant men and hence such “prospectless” men taking recourse to sexual violence as an articulation of their pent up frustration on urban women frequenting pubs, lounges or discotheques is certainly problematic. It creates an aura of scholarly empathy (for the lack of a better word) for the ‘deprived’ victimized men who are thought to become “psychotic” for the surrounding bourgeouis profligacy and hence engage in ghastly gangrapes as their last resort to gain some identity. Thus, it becomes a viscious argument which creates a moral, linguistic as well as an intellectual atmosphere where if the rape happens in and around what gets connoted as ‘hubs of consumerism’, since conspicuous consumption of the rich by now is already located as the indirect ‘cause’ of rape, the raped woman is judged as guilty for her ‘offence’ and hence is supposed to be ashamed for her habits of consumption, feel apologetic for a structure which “creates rapists” by ripping lower class men off their fundamental rights. This logic also at times gives rise to the age-old public spectacle of the vamp of Bollywood pleading for mercy, saying she is no more “like that” (consumerist, open and unrestricted).

Thus, conceiving capitalist exclusion as a cause of rapes in the cities creates an ambience of shaming the “slut” by claiming that such pomp-exuding ‘looseness’ furthers capitalism’s brutality of alienating the urban youth (which also strenghtens the implied logic that ‘she deserved it’). Thus, unless we put a vehement period to this perceived cause and effect chain of consumption habits of the rich and its resultant repercussion of poor optionless anxious migrants raping, we shall never be able to remove ‘shame’ out of rape, especially when the rape is that of an upper-middle class woman. It would perpetuate an atmosphere of the much talked about slut-shaming and “victim” blaming (as a ‘predictable’ outcome of ‘ugly modernity’) if not in the langauge of provocation, but certainly in the language of apparently sanitized social science ‘analyses’ of cities and urbanity leading to a culture of anonymity (devoid of community and kinship ties) which is then perceived to strengthen a culture of sexual violence against upper-class women (something that Nandy diagnoses as “anomic rape”). Here, a politically motivated continnum is established between modernization, urbanization and rape.

The point which I am trying to bring home here is that shame (for being loose, available, commodified, consumerist, accessible, frivolous and all other such cuss words) would continue to get associated with rape if we emphasize consumption practices of either the rich (as the Leftist position seems to be doing) or the woman herself (as the Rightwing generally does) as the cause of rape, and not a general culture of hatred towards the non-normative woman (consumerist or non-consumerist), who in turn needs to be “kept in place”. We cannot under any circumstances say that neo-liberalist exclusionary mechanism is one of the causes which manufacture rapists, since that would politically be as fatal as saying dress is “one of the causes” that lead to rape. We cannot and should not under any condition “justify” in the name of “analyzing” the root cause of rape, since otherwise just like demonizing the “criminal poor” or the “vegetable vendor”, the “pub-going loose and inebriated woman” would continue to be easy targets of Rightwing vengeance and Leftwing scorn. It will reinforce the view that “some women” ignite if not provokethe pent up anxiety caused by the lack of recreational options under the capitalist order, and give rise to a kind of ‘violent working class jealousy’, which when pushed to its logical and inevitableextreme causes a psychic collapse and hence ends up in rape. That would be suicidal for Feminist politics, especially at a time when detractors and digressors are all around, looking for an opportunity to hijack Feminist issues to further their own political agenda. The six rapists also perhaps thought that the woman in the bus was a non-abiding, permissive and consumeristwoman and hence needs to be punished and put to shame. Thus, let us not embellish the self-worth of rape culture and not justify sexual violence with the garb of finding ‘root causes’ of such heinous acts (in our misplaced spree to curb the self-worth of global capital).

Does the Hindu Right and the ‘Critical’ Left merge on notions of Women’s Sexuality?

Here, it is important to mention that the larger political impulse of this article is to point out that the intellectual Left should certainly be more critical and tentative about its critique of conspicuous consumption and the homogenization of its effects, to keep its theoretical distance from an atavistic nativist criticism of consumer culture of the Hindu Right or even the nationalist political project for that matter. Ruth Vanita, in her insightful article published in Seminar 2002 hinted at a similar problem where she pointed out how there is a strange congruence of the secular left and the Hindu Right (what she calls the “Hindu Left”), no matter how theoretically distant they are, as far as taking ‘positions’ on cultural debates concerning depiction of sexually explicit materials in postcolonial India was concerned. (She here cites the controversy around the Miss World contest and around such songs as “Choli ke peeche kya hai” as instances to illustrate how both rightwing as well as leftwing women’s organizations condemned such ‘degeneration’, although in different parlances, by demanding a state censorship to ban such phenomena).[v]

Towards a Defense of Painting and Denting: Can Commodities seek Citizenship Rights?

At this juncture, it is significant to point out that women in recent times have assumed this very political identity of a conspicuous consumer to get human rights against sexual violence, be it in the form of the Slutwalks, the Consortium of Loose and Forward Going Women (in the case of the Pink Chaddi Campaign) or the more recent broaching of the Society of Painted Dented Ladies of India (as a result of Mukherjee’s comment about the perceived ‘frivolity’ of the protestors in Delhi). Tired of listening to cynical leftists about capitalist inequity being the foundation of gender violence, as it is thought to put sex out there in the open, make it marketable and devoid of restraint (along with the perennial infliction of rightwing violence), these women seek human rights and seek to defend the notion of ‘bodily integrity’ against sexual assaults ‘as’ sluts, ‘as’chaddis (the pink branded female underwear in this case i.e. ‘objects’ or vendible commodities), ‘as’ painted and dented women (or in other words, ‘impure’ and ‘contaminated’ beings), only to show the performative and fluid nature of this much abused notion of ‘integrity’ and how the oft-cited idea of “non-commodifiable purity” informs rape culture (Remember the essentalist assumption based on which women are given loans under the system of Microfinance, the assumption that women are ‘essentially’ good, not money-mongerers, and hence more reliable in terms of paying back loans on time, unlike the greedy ‘materialist’ men? Doesn’t it sound strangely similar to the Supreme Court verdict derided by the Verma Committee Report which said Western woman are economically motivated and hence more likely to falsely “cry rape” for material reasons as opposed to Indian women who are ‘good’, less materialist and hence more reliable?)  [vi]

Does the ‘Postcolonial’ Collapse with the ‘National’ when it comes to Women?

Now, even for an eminent Subaltern Studies Scholar like Dipesh Chakrabarty, the Indian Feminists of today (and he actually gives the instance of the Pink Chaddi campaign)[vii], critique the hypermasculinity of the Ram Sena by a kind of ‘uncivilized’, neoliberal class-war (which, in his mind, excludes the poor), precluding any dialogue between the supposed sacred and the secular,  which, as he tries to show, erases and symbolically “gags” the ‘other’ in the name of female empowerment (what he calls a kind of “in your face Feminism”, punctuated by an undertone of superfluousness and intolerant individualism, which for him is ‘uncivilized’ in the sense that it does not offer room for self-reflexivity and self-criticism). In other words, the protestors against sexual violence (the Pink Chaddi campaigners) and the ones who perpetuate sexual violence (the Ram Sena), for Chakrabarty, occupy the same moral space, where political claims like that of ‘looseness’ and ‘forwardness’, for him, deserves vehement criticism for being significant cohorts of what he calls “economic globalization”, devoid of a kind of self-criticality that the legacy of ‘civility’ (something that he found in the nationalist political project) taught us. Now, the moot point is, does perpetration of sexual violence by the under-class or the non-secularists (a category that at times gets denoted by the postcolonial scholar as an idealizedhaven of ‘faceless crowd politics’ exhibited by global modernity’s ultimate ‘other’, a section of the society who are not only citizens and voters but also perceived as significant subversive players of Indian democracy and cultural politics), here get patronized as a mode of enraged ‘resistance’ (no matter how psychotic) against globalization’s hegemony?

At this juncture, it is important to recollect that the two categories of women that Shilpa Phadke, Shilpa Ranade and Sameera Khan pointed out in their thought-provoking article on Loitering, Gender and Public Spaces (the ones who appear in urban public spaces without an “apparent purpose”, as they call it), are the window shopper and the street walker (or the sex worker). Now, while the window-shopper is idealized as shopping is considered as a respectable act in the global city (as the authors minutely illustrate), the streetwalker is conceived as “undesirable and illegitimate.”[viii]

However, for the purpose of my argument, I would like to introduce a third category of women (although all the three are certainly overlapping each other and I draw the demarcating line solely for analytical purposes), where the buyer or the consumer woman also ‘behaves’ like a street-walker. Now, what happens when this ‘particular’ category (women in the cusp zone of window shoping and sex working), the primary one which pink-chaddi campaings, slutwalks or the feminist assertion of being painted and dented end up representing, seek ‘universal’ entitlements for protection against sexual violence? A category of women who do not feign the empty rhetoric of ‘universal sisterhood’, who are respectable on the grounds of class and their ability to get access to spaces of consumption, yet they thwart the liberal discourse and hence become ‘unrespectable’ as they, precisely in and through the tools of consumerism, violate the normative bourgeouis markers of femininity as well? Do we read the gestures of these women as mere ‘assimilation’ to the discourses of global capital, or do we read them as further ‘democratization’ precisely with the aid of the ‘tactics’ of assimilation? Moreover, are all class-marked assertions necessarily classist? What is interesting to note here is that the notion of subversive unrespectability and logic of impropriety gets instituted precisely through the discourse of consumer-driven respectability and propriety. And, we can never engage in any serious analysis of such instances of resistance by a blanket en masse debunking of phenomena like that of conspicuous consumption and an unanimous lament for its aftermaths.

To me, such women act as a ‘spectre’ which ‘haunts’ and breaks open the very limit of the normative subject ‘woman’ of human rights, i.e. the image of the ‘bhadramahila’ (a mixture of the Victorian bourgeouis emancipated mother and the Brahminic image of the ‘pure’ nationalist woman, as Chatterjee put it), a spectre that needs to be recuperated and not dismissed as ‘middle class’ and hence ‘exclusionary’. And, most significantly, they denounce a “politics of assimilation or inclusion” where the spectre is merely “integrated” into the whole (the image of the chaddi or the slut does not say that I represent a non-commodified ‘real’ woman and hence give me human rights. Remember the Park Street rape survivor asserting repeatedly that she might be an escort but that certainly does not give anyone the right to violate her? Remember her statement when she said that just because she did not choose to be a ‘victim’, and in fact carried on with her dailyconsumerist chores from the next day even after the ghastly attack, did not mean that the state could deny her justice?).

Thus, a serious critique of the eulogy of consumer imperialism getting packaged as Feminism (something that the new Feminist assertions are accused of) can never be plotted in the language of commodification as a ‘curse’, something which “alienates” women from their “authentic”native selves. This is because, adherence to such notions of reactionary nostalgia of non-consumerist lifestyles and uncritical assumption of ‘good’ and ethical national/local or working class culture (garland bedecked “innocence” of tribal women so on and so forth) leads to the dangerous assumption that westernized woman are less “authentic” and hence more condemnable (and even rapeable in certain arguments).

Welcoming the Spectre

Hence, the larger question is, can we recuperate this ‘hollowness’ and inauthenticity that capitalism gives rise to for Feminist ends? A commodified woman is an inauthentic “monster” (a term that Marx himself infact used to describe commodities in Capital), a monster who is feared across all political positions. Thus, we need to defend this present moment in Feminist politics where such abstracted spectral artificiality and monstrous frivolity are used as political ‘standpoints’ which certainly help us in our struggle against patriarchy. Although these ghosted creatures scare and haunt us, and we can never know with adequate certitude what kind of violence and exclusion embracing them would entail, nonetheless such spectres should be welcomed for Feminist politics to survive. To believe in them is a practical necessity. Commodification here is pushed to its logical limit. Thought, after all, as Althusser once put it,must be pushed to its extreme.

Thus, to me, this moment of women claiming to seek rights as ‘impure materialist reduced commodified alienated objects’ should be respected, rather than dismissing it as middle class, elite or exclusionary. This is because it is just not an emotional response to the kind of brutal violence against women that we are experiencing in urban areas in recent times, a mere unreflective ‘enough is enough’ kind of deliberation. Rather this has an intellectual underpinning. And that unsaid subtext is that, let the spectral inauthenticity caused by consumer capital be pushed to its limit, or be celebrated in order to break open that same consumer capital’s logic of manufacturing feminine respectability. It strives to create a transformation of the very meaning of personhood, of humanness, or in other words changes the very meaning of what kind of a woman ‘deserves’ human rights and state protection against sexual violence.

Sreenanti Banerjee is an M.Phil student of Social Sciences and a Junior Research Fellow at Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC).

References:

[i] Manu, The Laws of Manu, ‘Chapters 3 and 9’, trans. Wendy Doniger and Brian K. Smith, (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1991), pp. 43-73, pp. 197-233

[ii] Praveen Swami, “Rapist in the Mirror”, The Hindu, Jan 11, 2013

[iii] This is a point which Shohini Ghosh raises in “The Troubled Existence of Sex and Sexuality: Feminists Engage with Censorship” in Women’s Studies in India: A Reader (ed. by Mary. E. John), Penguin Books, 2008.

 [iv]Justice Verma Report, Pp. 220.

[v] “Whatever happened to the Hindu Left” by Ruth Vanita, Published in  Seminar, 2002.

[vi] Shilpa Phadke had raised some key questions around these issues in in her nuanced 2005 article on Middle-Class Sexuality, “Is there a Feminist way of being a consumer?”

[vii] Shilpa Phadke, “Some Notes on Middle Class Sexuality” in Geeta Misra and Radhika Chandiramani (eds.) Gender, Sexuality and Rights: Exploring Theory and Practice, New Delhi: Sage, 2005.

[viii] Dipesh Chakrabarty. From civilization to globalization: the `West’ as a shifting signifier in Indian modernity.  Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Volume 13, Number 1, 1 March 2012, pp. 138-152(15).

[ix] Shilpa Phadke, Shilpa Ranade and Sameera Khan, “Why Loiter? Radical Possibilities for Gendered Dissent” in Melissa Butcher and Selvaraj Velayutham (eds), Dissent and Cultural Resistance in Asia’s Cities, London: Routledge, 2009.

 

RSS’ Tryst with Terrorism: Past and Present


Shamsul Islam

Despite shrill public denials by the RSS top-brass that its swayamsevaks or cadres never indulged in terrorist activities, the RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, while addressing a meeting of the RSS members on January 10, 2011 at Surat (Gujarat) made a significant statement saying that

of the majority of the people whom the government has accused (in various blast cases), a few had left voluntarily and a few were told by the Sangh that this extremism will not work here so you go away.1

It was a candid admission by the supremo of the RSS who was naturally better informed about the happenings within his organization which works in a clandestine fashion that many of these alleged terrorists were part of the RSS. This statement raises few questions which RSS as an organization must answer. The first is that RSS must share the names of those terrorists who left ‘voluntarily’ or were asked to ‘go away’ with the people of this country and especially with the police investigating agencies of the Indian State. In fact, the latter should have by now put Mohan Bhagwat under scanner to seek the names of these ‘terrorists’ not only in order to verify whether the ones so far arrested were the same who were referred to by Mohan Bhagwat but also to know about others who may still be indulging in terrorist activities and have not been brought to book as yet.

The whole issue raises another pertinent question. When RSS claims that a particular person indulging in terrorist activities is not its member, how do we verify it? Do we have an authenticated list of RSS members which can be referred to in case of need? The reality is that there is no such list and in the absence of such a list for an organization which functions in a regime of secrecy it becomes a convenient alibi for the RSS to deny its actual linkages with the individuals and organizations indulging in terrorist activities.

The individuals and organizations indulging in recent terrorist activities having close linkages with Hindutva philosophy and organizations like RSS should not surprise anybody. Any sectarian and theocratic organization which is programmed to the cleansing of religious minorities and undoing of a democratic-secular India has to be intolerant and extremist in its ideological moorings as well as functioning. RSS is no exception to this rule. A careful perusal of the documents from the RSS archives makes it clear that terrorist activities being indulged by persons and organizations associated with it are the outcome of an ideological mould outlined by its mentors.

The RSS as flag-bearer of Hindu nationalism always believed in the superiority of the Aryan race like Hitler and the Nazis. Racism is the common tie, which binds them. Hindus happened to be Aryans belonging to the National race whereas Muslims and Christians were foreigners because they followed religions, which took birth in non-Aryan foreign lands. The RSS divided religions professed in India into two categories, Indian and foreign. Interestingly, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism were declared to be of the Indian variety but were not accorded the status of independent religions. These were simply treated as part of Hinduism. Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar (1906-1973), the most prominent ideologue of the RSS who came to head the organization after Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, naturally, inherited deep love for Fascism and Nazism from his seniors and stood for cleansing of the followers of religions which originated in foreign lands. He idealized the Nazi cultural nationalism of Hitler, which was nothing else but ‘ethnic cleansing’ of non-Aryans, in the following words which appeared in his book We or Our Nationhood Defined (1939); a book which became Geeta (or Bible) of the Hindutva politics:

 

The other Nation most in the eye of the world today is Germany. This Nation affords a very striking example. Modern Germany strove, and has to a great extent achieved what she strove for, to once again bring under one sway the whole of the territory, hereditarily possessed by the Germans but which, as a result of political disputes, had been portioned off as different countries under different states…German pride in their Fatherland for a definite home country, for which the race has traditional attachments as a necessary concomitant of the true Nation concept, awoke and ran the risk of starting a fresh world-conflagration, in order to establish one, unparalleled undisputed German Empire over all this ‘hereditary territory’. This natural and logical aspiration of Germany has almost been fulfilled and the great importance of the ‘country factor’ has been once again vindicated even in the living present. Come we next to the next ingredient of the Nation idea—Race, with which culture and language are inseparably connected, where religion is not the all- absorbing force that it should be. German Race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races-the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan [sic] to learn and profit by.2 [Emphasis added]

While outlining the constituent elements of the Hindu Nation Golwalkar raised a significant question,

If, as is indisputably proved, Hindusthan, is the land of Hindus and is the terra firma for the Hindu nation alone to flourish upon, what is to be the fate of all those, who, today, happen to live upon the land, though not belonging to the Hindu Race, Religion or culture?3

He answered to his own query in the following words:

At the outset we must bear in mind that so far as ‘nation’ is concerned, all those, who fall outside the five-fold limits of that idea,4 can have no place in the national life, unless they abandon their differences, adopt the religion, culture and language of the Nation and completely merge themselves in the National Race.5

Golwalkar unhesitatingly glorified the Race theory propagated by Hitler and Mussolini and subsequent cleansing of non-Aryans or minorities in the following words:

 

It is worth bearing well in mind how these old nations solve their minorities [sic] problem. They do not undertake to recognize any separate element in their polity. Emigrants have to get themselves naturally assimilated in the principal mass of the population, the National Race, by adopting its culture and language and sharing in its aspirations, by losing all consciousness of their separate existence, forgetting their foreign origin. If they do not do so, they live merely as outsiders, bound by all the codes and conventions of the Nation, at the sufferance of the Nation and deserving no special protection, far less any privilege or rights. There are only two courses open to the foreign elements, either to merge themselves in the national race and adopt its culture, or to live at its mercy so long as the national race may allow them to do so and to quit the country at the sweet will of the national race. That is the only sound view on the minorities problem. That is the only logical and correct solution. That alone keeps the national life healthy and undisturbed. That alone keeps the nation safe from the danger of a cancer developing in its body politic, of the creation of a state within a state.6

 

Golwalkar as the most important ideologue of the RSS and Hindutva brand of politics forcefully argued for adopting the models of Hitler and Mussolini for getting rid off minorities from his kind of Hindu nation in the following words:

 

From this stand point, sanctioned by the experience of shrewd old nations, the foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment, not  even citizen’s rights. There is, at least should be, no other course for them to adopt. We are an old nation: let us deal as old nations ought to, and do deal, with the foreign races who have chosen to live in our country.7

Golwalkar did not mince words while expressing hatred for all those who differed with his notion of Hindu nation. For him all others were traitors or idiots. The use of this kind of intemperate language only showed to what extreme he and his followers could go in denigrating adversaries to be cleansed later.

Those, only are nationalist patriots, who, with the aspiration to glorify the Hindu race and nation next to their heart, are prompted into activity and strive to achieve that goal. All others are either traitors or enemies to the National cause, or, to take a charitable view, idiots.8

 

This kind of philosophy was not something of the bye-gone days of 1940s for RSS. It kept on resonating even after Independence. In fact, another basic book for the RSS cadres, Bunch of Thoughts, the compilation of the writings of MS Golwalkar, which appeared in 1966 had a long chapter titled, ‘Internal Threats’, (it continued to appear in all subsequent editions) in which the Muslims and Christians are described as threats number one and two respectively. The Communists get the status of being enemy number 3. This chapter opens with the following statement:

It has been the tragic lesson of the history of many a country in the world that the hostile elements within the country pose a far greater menace to national security then aggressors from outside.9

While treating the Muslims as hostile element number one Golwalkar went on to elaborate,

Even to this day there are so many who say, ‘Now there is no Muslim problem at all. All those riotous elements who supported Pakistan have gone away once for all. The remaining Muslims are devoted to our country. After all, they have no other place to go and they are bound to remain loyal…It would be suicidal to delude ourselves into believing that they have turned patriots overnight after the creation of Pakistan. On the contrary, the Muslim menace has increased a hundredfold by the creation of Pakistan, which has become a springboard for all their future aggressive designs on our country.10

Deliberating further on this enemy number one, Muslims,   Golwalkar presented his thesis in the following words which provided excuse to the VHP cadres for exterminating the Muslim localities in Gujarat in the year 2002:

Within the country there are so many Muslim pockets, i.e., so many ‘miniature Pakistans’, where the general law of the land can be enforced only with certain modifications, and the whims of the miscreants have to be given the final say. This acceptance, indirect though it may be, implies a very dangerous theory fraught with possibilities of the destruction of our national life altogether. Such ‘pockets’ have verily become the centers of a widespread network of pro-Pakistani elements in this land…The conclusion is that, in practically every place, there are Muslims who are in constant touch with Pakistan over the transmitter…11

While deliberating on the ‘Internal Threat’ number two, he stated that the Christians were indulging in activities which were not only irreligious but also anti-national.12  According to him the Christians residing in India were,

out to demolish not only the religious and social fabric of our life but also to establish political domination in various pockets and if possible all over the land.13

 

Golwalkar’s hatred for minorities specially Muslims was inexhaustible and never-ending. In this regard there was no difference in his views contained in We or Our Nationhood Definedin 1939, or his hatred for Muslims in 1960. In fact, this hatred got wilder. While addressing the leading RSS cadres of south India in Bangalore on November 30, 1960, he declared:

 

‘Right from Delhi to Rampur, Muslims are busy hatching a dangerous plot, piling up arms and mobilizing their men, and probably biding their time to strike from within […]’14

There was no substantiation or proofs offered for such a serious allegation against whole of the Muslim community residing in the western Uttar Pradesh. If this was so it should have been brought to the notice of the law and order machinery in the area. It was never done because Golwalkar and RSS were simply interested in poisoning the minds of its cadres. More importantly the Indian State took no action against Golwalkar for spreading such a canard against common Muslims. It is not difficult to understand that it was due to such hate preaching against Muslims and Christians by the top brass of the RSS that large scale cleansing of minorities could be successfully undertaken by its swayamsevaks.

 

The central publication house of the RSS, Suruchi Prakashan, Delhi, published a book in 1997, titledParam Vaibhav Ke Path Par (ON THE ROAD TO GREAT GLORY) penned by Sadanand Damodar Sapre, a senior RSS functionary. This book contained details of more than 40 organizations created by the RSS for different tasks but more importantly it described how many of these organizations are run in a clandestine manner for hidden agendas. This publication showed that the whole network ran like a well-organized mafia through its subsidiaries and satellites. There has always been a conscious attempt to create confusion about its different fronts which provide RSS with the opportunity to dissociate with any of these as per its convenience. For instance it used Hindu Jagaran Manch (HJM) for attacking Christians in late 1990s and when public opinion, media and Parliament seemed to turn against it, RSS denied any relation with HJM. However, according to this publication Hindu Jagaran Manch was created by the RSS as admitted in the above mentioned publication.

From the point of view of Hindu awakening this kind of forums [like Hindu Jagran Manch] at present are active in 17 states with different names like ‘Hindu Manch’ in Delhi, ‘Hindu Munani’ in Tamilnadu, ‘Hinduekjut’ in Maharashtra. These are forums, not associations or organizations, that’s why it is not required to have membership, registration and elections.15 [Emphasis added]

It is clear that such organizations with no record of membership, no registration and no internal elections are created by the RSS. Such an organizational model provides an opportunity to RSS to disown any individual or organization.

True to its nature RSS takes recourse to conspiracies often. It can be known by the following disclosure in Param Vaibhav Ke Path Par about a case in Delhi immediately after partition:

Swayamsevaks had posed to have adopted Musalman [sic] religion in order to gain the confidence of Delhi Muslim League for knowing their conspiracies.16

What these Swayamsevaks, impersonating as Muslims, on the eve of Independence were doing was made clear by none other than Dr. Rajendra Prasad who later became first President of the Indian Republic. In a letter to the first Home Minister of India, Sardar Patel, he wrote on March 14, 1948,

I am told that RSS people have a plan of creating trouble. They have got a number of men dressed as Muslims and looking like Muslims who are to create trouble with the Hindus by attacking them and thus inciting the Hindus. Similarly there will be some Hindus among them who will attack Muslims and thus incite Muslims. The result of this kind of trouble amongst the Hindus and Muslims will be to create a conflagration.17

 The following passage from the autobiography of the first Home Secretary of UP, Rajeshwar Dayal, ICS, clearly shows the sinister and criminal designs of the RSS to organize a pogrom of Muslims in the western Uttar Pradesh (the largest province in the Indian Union) and thus break the unity of the country just on the eve of Independence.

I must record an episode of a very grave nature when the procrastination and indecision of the UP Cabinet led to dire consequences. When communal tension was still at fever pitch, the Deputy Inspector General of Police of the Western Range, a very seasoned and capable officer, B. B. L. Jaitley, arrived at my house in great secrecy. He was accompanied by two of his officers who brought with them two large steel trunks securely locked. When the trunks were opened, they revealed incontrovertible evidence of a dastardly conspiracy to create a communal holocaust throughout the Western districts of the province. The trunks were crammed with blueprints of great accuracy and professionalism of every town and village in that vast area, prominently marking out the Muslim localities and habitations. There were also detailed instructions regarding access to the various locations, and other matters which amply revealed the sinister purport.

Greatly alarmed by those revelations, I immediately took the police party to the Premier’s [chief minister’s] house. There, in a closed room, Jaitley gave a full report of his discovery, backed by all the evidence contained in the steel trunks. Timely raids conducted on the premises of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) had brought the massive conspiracy to light. The whole plot had been concerted under the direction and supervision of the Supremo of the organization himself. Both Jaitley and I pressed for the immediate arrest of the prime accused, Shri Golwalkar, who was still in the area.

Pantji [G. B. Pant] could not but accept the evidence of his eyes and ears and expressed deep concern. But instead of agreeing to the immediate arrest of the ringleader as we had hoped, and as Kidwai would have done, he asked for the matter to be placed for consideration by the Cabinet at its next meeting. It was no doubt a matter of political delicacy as the roots of the RSS had gone deep into the body politic. There were also other political compulsions, as RSS sympathizers, both covert and overt, were to be found in the Congress Party itself and even in the Cabinet. It was no secret that the presiding officer of the Upper House, Atma Govind Kher, was himself an adherent and his sons were openly members of the RSS.

At the Cabinet meeting there was the usual procrastination and much irrelevant talk. The fact that the police had unearthed a conspiracy which would have set the whole province in flames and that the officers concerned deserved warm commendation hardly seemed to figure in the discussion. What ultimately emerged was that a letter should be issued to Shri Golwalkar pointing out the contents and nature of the evidence which had been gathered and demanding an explanation thereof. At my insistence, such a letter if it were to be sent, should be issued by the Premier himself to carry greater weight. Panditji asked me to prepare a draft, which I did in imitation of his own characteristic style. The letter was to be delivered forthwith and two police officers were assigned for the purpose.

Golwalkar, however, had been tipped off and he was nowhere to be found in the area. He was tracked down southwards but he managed to elude the couriers in pursuit. This infructuous chase continued from place to place and weeks passed.”                      

Came January 30, 1948 when the Mahatma, that supreme apostle of peace, fell to a bullet fired by an RSS fanatic. The tragic episode left me sick at heart.18

Rajeshwar Dayal’s shocking narration of Golwalkar’s evil design to cleanse western parts of Uttar Pradesh of all Muslims was further corroborated by another senior RSS pracharak(preacher or whole timer), Krishna Gopal Rastogi in his autobiography, Pracharak Jiwan (Life of Preacher).  While describing an incident in which he personally led a mob of armed Hindus against Muslims in Kaliar town situated between Roorkee and Haridwar went on to state without any remorse how he did not spare even a young Muslim girl. According to Rastogi’s heart-chilling version:

 

It was an old locality inhabited by the Muslims. They, armed with daggers, spears, guns were fully prepared to meet any situation. When I learnt of their intentions to attack some Hindu areas, I organized 250 people including some known gangsters and raided Kaliar. Then a strange thing happened. While we had been killing men in one of the houses, we spotted a very beautiful young girl. The assailants led by me were instantly enamoured. They even started fighting among themselves to take possession of the girl. I faced an extremely awkward situation and did not know what to do. I tried my best to get the assailants to focus on real issues. I abused and threatened them but they would not listen to me. And suddenly the solution came. The girl was after all causing this trouble and had to be eliminated. I took my gun and shot her. She died. My associates were shocked and returned to the work. Though it was against our principle to assault a woman, but it was done in an emergency and I still regret it.19

 

This autobiography was released with a laudatory preface by K. S. Sudarshan, the then head of the RSS. Incidentally, Rastogi was appointed in two committees of the Human Resource Development Ministry of the Government of India headed by Murli Manohar Joshi despite protests from more than 50 MPs.

 

The RSS immensely hates all those institutions and objects which symbolize a secular-democratic India. On the eve of independence when Indian Constituent Assembly adopted Tricolour as its National Flag, the English organ of the RSS, Organizer, in its issue dated August 14, 1947, denigrated this choice in the following words:

The people who have come to power by the kick of fate may give in our hands the Tricolour but it never be respected and owned by Hindus. The word three is in itself an evil, and a flag having three colours will certainly produce a very bad psychological effect and is injurious to a country.

The RSS has been demanding since its birth in 1925 that India should have saffron (bhagwa) flag of the Hindu rashtra as the national flag. Golwalkar while addressing a gathering of leading cadres on July 14, 1946 at the RSS headquarters at Nagpur stated that it was,

the saffron flag which in totality represented Bhartiya culture. It was the embodiment of God. We firmly believe that in the end the whole nation will bow before this saffron flag.20

The RSS has another pet-project and that is replacing the Indian Constitution by Manusmritior Codes of Manu. According to Golwalkar, Uttar Pradesh (the largest province in the Indian Union)

Our Constitution too is just a cumbersome and heterogeneous piecing together of various articles from various Constitutions of the Western countries. It has absolutely nothing which can be called our own. Is there a single word of reference in its guiding principles as to what our national mission is and what our keynote in life is? No!21

 

For RSS there was no ambiguity about this ‘national mission’. It was the enforcement ofManusmriti as the law of the land. The Constituent Assembly of India ratified the Constitution on November 26, 1949 and on November 30, the RSS organ Organizer editorially commented:

 

But in our constitution there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu’s Laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing.

 

It is to be noted that Manusmriti is known for its derogatory and inhuman references to Shudras, Untouchables and women. It was for this reason that a copy of Manusmriti was burnt as a protest in the presence of B. R. Ambedkar during historic Mahad agitation.

 

The RSS, contrary to the principles of democracy, has been constantly demanding that India be ruled under a totalitarian regime. Golwalkar while addressing the 1350 top level cadres of the RSS at its headquarters at Nagpur in 1940 declared,

 

The RSS inspired by one flag, one leader and one ideology is lighting the flame of Hindutva in each and every corner of this great land.22

 

This slogan of ‘one flag, one leader and one ideology’ was directly borrowed from the programmes of the Nazi and Fascist parties of Europe.

The extreme hatred expressed against the National Flag, the Constitution and the democratic polity of the nascent nation was clearly aimed at poisoning the minds of common Hindus thus inviting them to overthrow a secular state. It is to be noted that spread of this kind of poison against Gandhi led to his murder by persons who were directly or indirectly related to Hindu Mahasabha & RSS.

The tag of terrorism on RSS is not something new. These were the anti-national activities of the RSS due to which the organization was banned on February 4, 1948. The government communiqué banning the RSS was self-explanatory:

In their resolution of February 2, 1948 the Government of India declared their determination to root out the forces of hate and violence that are at work in our country and imperil the freedom of the Nation and darken her fair name. In pursuance of this policy the Government of India have decided to declare unlawful the RSS.23

The communiqué went on to disclose that the ban on the RSS was imposed because,

“undesirable and even dangerous activities have been carried on by members of the Sangh. It has been found that in several parts of the country individual members of the RSS have indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity, and murder and have collected illicit dacoity, and murder and have collected illicit arms and ammunition. They have been found circulating leaflets exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods, to collect firearms, to create disaffection against the government and suborn the police and the military.”24

It is generally believed that the then Home Minister, Sardar Patel, had a soft-corner for the RSS and he continues to be a favourite with the RSS. However even Sardar Patel found it difficult to defend the RSS in the aftermath of Gandhiji’s assassination. In a letter written to Golwalkar, dated 11 September 1948, Sardar Patel stated:

Organizing the Hindus and helping them is one thing but going in for revenge for its sufferings on innocent and helpless men, women and children is quite another thing…Apart from this, their opposition to the Congress, that too of such virulence, disregarding all considerations of personality, decency or decorum, created a kind of unrest among the people. All their speeches were full of communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison in order to enthuse the Hindus and organize for their protection. As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life of Gandhiji. Even an iota of the sympathy of the Government, or of the people, no more remained for the RSS. In fact opposition grew. Opposition turned more severe, when the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death. Under these conditions it became inevitable for the Government to take action against the RSS…Since then, over six months have elapsed. We had hoped that after this lapse of time, with full and proper consideration the RSS persons would come to the right path. But from the reports that come to me, it is evident that attempts to put fresh life into their same old activities are afoot.25

Hindu Mahasabha and RSS were jointly responsible for the murder of Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was further corroborated by Sardar Patel in a letter to a prominent leader of Hindu Mahasabha, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. On July 18, 1948. Sardar wrote:

As regards the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, the case relating to Gandhiji’s murder is sub-judice and I should not like to say anything about the participation of the two organizations, but our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former, an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible. There is no doubt in my mind that the extreme section of the Hindu Mahasabha was involved in the conspiracy. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of Government and the State. Our reports show that those activities, despite the ban, have not died down. Indeed, as time has marched on, the RSS circles are becoming more defiant and are indulging in their subversive activities in an increasing measure.26

As per police investigations and press reports the training for terrorist activities to the Hindutva cadres was imparted by military personnel connected with Bhonsala Military School, Nagpur. It may be relevant to note that this military school was the offshoot of Bhonsala Military School, Nasik which was established by Dr Balkrishna Shivramji Moonje (known as Dharamaveer amongst the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha fraternity) with the help of the British rulers for imparting military training to Hindu youth. Dr Moonje formed the Central Hindu Military Education Society at Nasik in 1935 and started the school on 12th June 1937. Interestingly he also idolized militarization of Italian Fascist dictator. Mussolini.

According to its website,

The school started functioning in the Surgana Palace in Nasik city with 90 students on its roll. The Maharaja of erstwhile Gwalior state, His Highness Shriman Jivajirao Scindia27 inaugurated the main building of the school…Such was the charisma, charm and aura of the founder, that he made the then Governor of Bombay State, Sir Roger Lumley to lay the foundation stone of the present main building of the school.

Importantly, this military establishment later supplied Hindu military officers to the British army in its campaign to crush the attempt by Subhashchander Bose led INA to liberate India from the clutches of the British rule in early 1940s. It is very clear that Bhonsala Military School was a collaborative project conceived and executed by RSS-Hindu Mahasabha, the British rulers and their Indian stooges; the rulers of Native India for militarization of Indian society in order to suppress the democratic aspirations of the Indian masses. It is a matter of concern that such sectarian, fascist, communal and pro-British establishments were allowed to exist and function in independent India. The Hindutva terrorism being witnessed today could reach to this dangerous stage because a fascist ideology was able to have at its disposal the lethal military mindset and machinery made available through establishments like Bhonsala Military Schools. The most unfortunate aspect of this developing gory saga is that all this has happened despite India being run under a democratic-secular dispensation. There is no denying the fact that it presents the greatest threat to a democratic Indian polity.

Shamsul Islam

notoinjustice@gmail.com

[This text appears as introduction in ‘Godse’s Children: Hindutva Terror in India’ by Subhash Gatade, published by Pharos Media & Publishing Pvt Ltd., New Delhi. www.pharosmedia.com]

 

 

 


1 ‘No place for radicals in RSS, says Bhagwat’, The Indian Express, Delhi, 11-01-2011, p. 3

 

2 MS Golwalkar, We Or Our Nationhood Defined, Bharat Publications, Nagpur, 1939, pp. 34-35.

3 Ibid, p. 45.

4 Interestingly, in Golwalkar’s writings there are found only four constituents of Hindu nation. While explaining the components of the Hindu nation he wrote: “In this country, Hindusthan, the Hindu Race, with its Hindu Religion, Hindu Culture and Hindu language, [the natural family of Sanskrit and her offsprings] complete the Nation concept…”,Ibid, p. 43.

5 Ibid, p. 45

Ibid, p. 47

7 Ibid. pp. 47-48.

8 Ibid. p. 44.

9 MS Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, Sahitya Sindhu, Bangalore, 1996, p. 177.

10 Ibid, pp. 177-178

11 Ibid, p. 185

12 Ibid, p. 190

13 Ibid, p. 193

14 M. S. Golwalkar, ‘From Delhi to Rampur Muslims are Conspiring’ Organizer, December 12, 1960.

 

15 Sadanand Damodar Sapre, Param Vaibhav Ke Path Par, Suruchi Prakashan, Delhi, 1997.

16 Ibid, p. 86.

17 Rajendra Prasad to Sardar Patel (March 14, 1948)  cited in Neerja Singh (ed.), Nehru Patel: Agreement Within Difference—Select Documents & Correspondences 1933-1950, NBT, Delhi, p. 43.

18 Rajeshwar Dayal, A Life of Our Times, Delhi, 1999, pp. 93-94.

19 Cited in Khushwant Singh’s weekly column in The Hindustan Times, May 12, 2001.

20 M. S. Golwalkar, Shri Guruji Samagar Darshan, (Collected Works of Golwalkar in Hindi), Bhartiya Vichar Sadhna, Nagpur, nd, volume I, p. 98.

 

21 Bunch of Thoughts, p. 238.

 

22 Shri Guruji Samagar Darshan,  Vol. I, p. 11.

23 Cited in Justice on Trial, RSS, Bangalore, 1962, p. 64.

24 Ibid, pp. 65-66.

25 Ibid, pp. 26-28.

 

26 Letter 64 in Sardar Patel: Select Correspondence1945-1950, Volume 2, Navjivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 1977, pp. 276-77.

27 He hailed from a family of native rulers which supported the British rulers in 1857 and played crucial rule in defeating Rani Laxmi Bai.

#India-Male-female equality is against nature, says Sunni scholar #Vaw #WTFnews


By , TNN | Jan 20, 2013, 12.54 AM IST

 

KOZHIKODE: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has got an unexpected supporter in KeralaSunni scholar and general secretary of All India Sunni Jam-Iyyathul UlemaKanthapuram A P Aboobacker Musaliyar, has come out with a statement supporting Bhagwat’s remarks on the role of women in the Indian society.

On an interview published in the Friday edition of Siraj, the mouthpiece of ‘Kanthapuram’ faction of Sunnis, he said, “The demand for male-female equality is against nature. Man and woman have different faculties and different responsibilities.”

According to the Sunni leader, the problem is with the perception that men and women can be equal. Arguing that feminism is a western concept, he said, “When we accept ideas from outside, we need to consider whether they are acceptable to our society.”

Kanthapuram, who established Markazu Ssquafathi Ssunniyya after he came out of the Samastha Kerala Jam-Iyyathul Ulema, a body of Sunni scholars, in 1989, is perceived to be close to the Left. He was in the news recently after his detractors alleged that his move to build a mosque in Kozhikode to house a holy relic of the Prophet was aimed at exploiting religious beliefs for commercial gain.

Supporting Bhagwat, Kanthapuram said, “He has shown the space that should be occupied by women in society. Though I do not agree with his entire statement, the basic issue he raised needs to be discussed.”

Referring to the debate over the relationship between dress women wear and attacks on them, Kanthapuram said the slogan raised by protesters in Delhi was unacceptable. “‘Don’t speak about our dress, tell others not to attack us’ was their slogan. It amounts to saying that we will keep our houses open, but you stop stealing.”

Claiming that atrocities against women are less in Arab countries, Kanthapuram said it was because there are strict restrictions for women in those places. “The restrictions have not posed any hardship for the women in those countries…But here it is a free-for-all situation. Unlimited freedom is the basis of our problems,” he said.

“Strong punishment for perpetrators of violence against women alone may not suffice in solving the issue; equally important is avoiding situations that lead to such crimes,” Kanthapuram said.

Times View

All religious fundamentalists are birds of a feather when it comes to, well, fundamental issues like women’s rights. However, it was shocking that someone like Kanthapuram, whose Markaz movement has for the past 30 years stressed on education as the hallmark of social progress, should speak so patronisingly about women. Both his logic and idiom belong to some nomadic or Neanderthal past and would be laughable were it not a scary reminder of how such thoughts not only exist but are so freely expressed. Since ‘unlimited freedom’ seems to be the fundamentalists’ main grouse, should there be a ban on the gender equivalent of flat-earth theory as well? Mr Kanthapuram, any thoughts?

 

#India- Politician blames item songs in films for #Rape #Vaw #WTFnews


GIRIDHAR JHA   |   MAIL TODAY  |   PATNA, JANUARY 15, 2013 | UPDATED 19:42 IST

JDU leader Shivanand Tiwari puts foot in his mouth, blames items songs in films for the rise in crime such as rape against women in recent times

Is it right to blame item songs for reason behind crime like rape?
Is it right to blame item songs for reason behind crime like rape?
Veteran Janata Dal-United leader Shivanand Tiwari is at it again.After raising the hackles of the leaders of his party’s coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party over his remarks on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat recently, the Rajya Sabha MP has blamed the items songs in films for the rise in crime such as rape against women in recent times.”Item songs in today’s films are extremely titillating,” he said in Patna on Monday. “Who will not get carried away after watching them?”

Ravi Kishan with Sambhavna Seth
Bhojpuri superstar Ravi Kishan with item girl Sambhavna Seth.

The 70-year-old leader, who is the national spokesman of JD-U, said that one had heard of mythological tales about the dances of the apsaras (celestial beauties) who were sent on earth to interrupt the meditation of the sages. “I think their dances must have been something like today’s item songs in films,” he stated.

Tiwari said that women were being blatantly projected as a commodity in films and advertisements in the post-liberalisation era which was casting a bad impression on the minds of the youngsters. He said that the projection of women as an object of desire and the double meaning dialogues in the films provoked men to commit crimes such as rape. He said that concerted efforts should be made by all in society to check such tendencies. “It is a very serious matter,” he said.

The Rajya Sabha MP’s statement, however, irked the item girls from the film industry. Sambhavna Seth, the highest paid item girl from the Bhojpuri cinema, said that Tiwari’s views were nothing but a bundle of rubbish. “I think his comments do not even deserve any comments,” she said. “He must be having some problems in his mind to think like that. He needs help.”
Seth, often called the “Helen of Bhojpuri cinema”, said that item songs were not a new phenomenon. “Hindi movies have had so many item numbers by Helen in the past,” she said. “Why did they not lead to rape cases earlier?.”

Shivanand Tiwari (right) with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar
Janata Dal-United leader Shivanand Tiwari (right) with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.

Seth said that crime against women was a serious issue and it should not be trivilaised by linking it to item songs.

Another item song specialist Seema Singh said that it was silly to single out item songs in the films as being responsible for the rape and other crime cases against women. “I have performed more than 250 item songs in 170 Bhojpuri films and I can tell you that I have never received any lewd remark from any of my fans,” she said.

Singh said that she was popular as an ‘item girl’ among cine-goers in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and it was not a stigma to her image as a film actress. “I get a lot of love and adulation from the family audience wherever I go,” she said. “I am rather proud of my item songs which have made me popular among my fans.”

Singh, who has performed the maximum number of item songs in the films of any language, said that some people had tried to look down upon Rakhi Sawant as an item girl in Bollywood but she fought against all prejudices to attain a respectable position in the film industry. “It is high time the politicians stopped blaming the item songs for something as serious as rape,” she said.

 

#India -Rape. And how men see it #Vaw #Justice #Womenrights


Dozens of conversations provide a fascinating window into the psyche of the Indian male. Some of it dark. Some of it hopeful.

January 10, 2013, Issue 3 Volume 10

Drenched in pain Angry women at Rajpath, Photo: AP

THIS IS A MOMENT THAT COULD GO EITHER WAY. It can deepen a crucial engagement or it can leave one with the chaotic debris of a fierce, but passing storm. As the intense outrage over the gangrape in New Delhi on 16 December begins to live out its heat, it’s imperative to question, which of these will we be left with?

Over the past few weeks, many angry questions have been hurled at the police, the judiciary and the political establishment. The failures of the State are staggering and one cannot be grateful enough for the initial rage and outpouring on the street. Without that, there would have been no conversation.

Click to Read More

But there is an urgent need now for calmer review, for genuine and calibrated suggestions that can lead to long- and short-term change. There is a need also to ask, are we framing this discourse wisely? Can its shrillness or the suggested remedies have adverse impacts one did not intend?

Before examining any of that though, there is a big missing piece that must find voice. The anger against the State — the demand for greater efficiencies and accountability — is hugely legitimate. But what about the giant shadow in the room? How endemic is the prejudice that stalks our society? What produces and perpetuates it? What creates the idea of women as ‘fair game’ for sexual violence? What, in effect, do Indian men think about women?

It would have been comforting if vile foolishness in India had been the domain of the few. But Asaram Bapu is not alone when he says one hand cannot clap by itself. Or that taking diksha, reciting a mantra and pleading with her rapists as brothers might have saved the young girl that fateful night.

The clergy of the Jamaat-e-Islami-Hind are not alone when they advocate co-educational institutes to be shut down, pre-marital sex to be outlawed and girls to dress in sober and dignified clothes as ways to prevent rape.

Mohan Bhagwat is not alone when he asserts more rapes happen in ‘India’ than ‘Bharat’ — the first a synecdoche for promiscuous modernity; the latter for a more pious and traditional order where women live within boundaries prescribed by men. Abhijit Mukherjee is not alone when he mocks women protesters as “dented, painted” girls. Nor are Abu Azmi, Kailash Vijayvargiya or the Chhattisgarh home minister who says minors in the state are being raped because their stars are not favourable.

If they had been alone — a marginal raft of clumsy old men — mere derision would have been enough. But the fear is, they are signposts of a much wider and deeper mindset. And if they are that, how is one to negotiate such a gaping cultural divide? How can a society articulate — and enforce — desired values for itself if there is such a foundational disagreement over what those values should be?

 

July 2004 Manipuri women protest against the army’s brutalities

Over the past few days, the national media has rebuffed these men with an acetylene rage. Apologise, they have shouted. Retract your thoughts. Or at least be shamed into withdrawing the impunity with which you say such things in public.

But this rage has triggered its own counter-currents. Madhu Kishwar, feminist and editor of Manushi, for instance, is scathing about the media’s tone. “What kind of imperialist vocabulary is this? If you treat everyone who does not agree with you as aliens and fools, if you refuse to accept them as your own people, what gives you the right to dictate to them? What makes you think they will even entertain your criticism?” she asks.

‘The biggest reason for rapes is alcohol. Intoxication changes everyone. Gangrapes can only happen when the men are intoxicated’

VISHWANATH, 23
Fish Vendor, Malpe, Karnataka

‘When songs like Photo ko chipkale saiyan seene pe Fevicol se become a rage from nightclubs to marriage functions, it becomes a problem’

VISHWAS NAGPAL, 22
Post-graduate Student, Hisar, Haryana

Santosh Desai, media commentator and head of Future Brands, has perhaps an even more challenging concern. “Media in India is more loud than representative,” he says. “If the framing of this debate gets too vociferous and extreme, it can galvanise the opposition in disturbing ways. Our society has always had a way of evolving organically, using a combination of strategies to create space for new ideas. As long as that change is gradual, the anxiety it produces is also gradual. If one gets too absolutist, the whole thing can boomerang.”

Yet, can change ever be catalysed without someone adamantly staking out new boundaries? Can society be jolted — or even nudged and cajoled — into new positions without bold outriders stridently rejecting the old? What is the most effective approach? Confrontation or stealth? Scorn or the patient building of bridges?

How can a society articulate — and enforce — desired values for itself if there is a foundational disagreement over what those values should be?

In this week’s cover — apart from evaluating some of the remedies for police and judiciary that have emerged over the past few weeks — TEHELKA set itself to get a sense of that ephemeral phenomenon: a mindset. Its reporters spoke to dozens of men across strata and age and region and class, asking them how comfortable they felt with ideas of freedom for women, whether they held women and modernity responsible for rape and other forms of sexual crime; whether they believed rape was more prevalent in cities than villages; and how far they felt popular culture was responsible for a perceived sense of moral decline in society.

In India — continental as it is in size and plurality — even the most extensive sociological survey can, at best, be only an anecdotal one. This, by every yardstick, is extremely anecdotal and extremely miniscule. But as a dipstick — as an intuition — of what this vast country thinks, it throws up fascinating findings. We expected darkness; we found it. But, gratefully, we also found the unexpected.

FIRST, A window into the darkness. A few days ago, the virulent Raj Thackeray asserted that migrants were responsible for a huge percentage of rapes in India’s metros. If you heard Raju, 45, a migrant auto driver in Delhi, speak, you might believe Thackeray was justified.

How can a society articulate — and enforce — desired values for itself if there is a foundational disagreement over what those values should be?

“The root problem for all these crimes is women themselves,” Raju told TEHELKA. “The mirror in my auto tells me everything, what young boys and girls are doing behind me. They are willing to pay extra because they want to make love. In my village in UP, my wife keeps her ghungat even in front of my mother. Now imagine if a person from such a strict society comes to Delhi where women flaunt their bodies and provoke men with their dresses, what will he do? You may want to close your eyes at first, but if someone offers you fruit on a plate, will you deny the invitation?

Delhi girls are like mangoes. What do you do with the fruit? You eat it, suck it, and throw it away. These women are being used and overused. Sometimes, they have 10 boyfriends. In such a situation, how can you stop rapes? The current discourse is being created by elites and it ends there. You have all these rich people talking on TV, but if the rich want to have fun, they can afford to hire women and go to a hotel. Where will a poor man go?”

Unfortunately, in keeping with the stereotype in different ways, this view — this crude bewilderment laced with latent aggression against women — repeats itself across the cow belt. Ram Kishen, 53, a farmer from Bhiwani, told TEHELKA, “Of course, girls are solely responsible for the rapes that happen. We must marry them off when they are 15. Why should a girl remain unmarried even in her late 20s? Girls in big cities are given too much freedom. They are allowed to go out with men at night and roam about. What else do you expect in such a situation?”

 

Sept 2006 Dalits were paraded naked, raped and killed in Khairlanji

Kishen could be a twin for Narendra Rana, 33, a farmer from Rajasthan. “Most of the time it’s the girls who invite such problems. Look at the Delhi case. Why was the girl out at that time of night? I heard when she got onto the bus with the man, they started kissing. So it’s not the fault of the men who raped her. Why would she want to do such a thing in a public space?” he asked. “Girls are being given all the freedom in this world, which they are misusing. If you want to curb these incidents, just take away this freedom.”

‘The government’s raising the legal age for marriage has created a lot of frustration among the boys’

ALAUDDIN ANSARI, 50
Tailor, Kumhau village, Bihar

‘It’s unfortunate that for some women, education and money means showing off their body. As a result, the entire womankind is being shamed’

KRISHAN KUMAR, 40
Shopowner, Bhiwani, Haryana

These men find endless echoes. Moolchand, a 42-year-old sarpanch in Manesar. Sham Lal, 36, a labour contractor from Bhiwani. Satbir Singh, a businessman from Jind. Prashant Singh, 28, a serviceman from the Haryana Electricity Board in Faridabad. Every one of them blamed women for the breakdown in society; not one held men responsible for their own actions.

Only one thing seemed to bind the men TEHELKA spoke to: they had no concept of male accountability; no concept of the hijab of eye and action

Spiral this outwards to rates of female foeticide, dowry deaths, marital violence, early marriages, the percentage of working women and the number of honour killings and every fear about the Hindi heartland would seem to stand true.

But Raj Thackeray is wrong. The stereotype is not exclusive to the heartland. Since the debate around rape exploded into public consciousness over the past few weeks, there has been a temptation to frame the discourse through every kind of stereotype: a gender war; a class war; a religious war; a culture war; a regional war; a war between modernity and tradition, between city and village.

The hard truth is, there are enough dark voices to justify each of them. If you listen to men across India, you would know enough of them want to keep women in a box or thrust them back if they have escaped. This impulse expresses itself in a myriad ways: as brute misogyny or stifling protectionism. But running common through it all is a fear and abhorrence of women who display autonomy over their own bodies and sexuality. Women’s clothes, you would imagine, are the ‘greatest internal security threat in this country’.

No culture, profession or age group — no level of education or exposure — seems to make men immune to this. Here’s what Basheer Tawheedi, a 40-year-old lecturer in Kashmir, lists as reasons for rape: modern culture, girls wearing “inviting dresses”, less parental supervision, a decline in religious pieties, and a free mingling of the two sexes. “Of course, women’s freedom is responsible for the rise in sexual crimes,” he told TEHELKA. “How can we expect that dry grass with petrol near it under scorching heat won’t catch fire?”

Listen to Tabish Darzi, 26, a banker in Srinagar, and you get the same atavism, different metaphor. “To me, a woman is a pearl that is safe inside a shell,” he said. “Keep it open and everyone will try to snatch it.” The lofty idea of men as benign protectors flowed uncritically throughout his conversation; the narrowest interpretations of Islam formed his bedrock.

‘Dressing skimpily is like showing a red rag to a bull. You can’t complain what happens to you thereafter’

RAMEEZ SUDEN, 30
School Teacher, Uri, J&K

‘Usually, the rapes are just consensual sex where the girl later changes her mind either for money or something else’

MOOLCHAND, 42
Sarpanch, Dhana village, Haryana

“Yes, women are somewhat responsible for the crimes against them, but ultimately it is actually the responsibility of their guardians, parents and husband. We know women are easily fooled and lack reason (sic),” he said. “Men must act as protectors of women because Allah has made one to excel over the other. There can be no equality between the sexes. In Saudi Arabia, there are no rapes because women dress well and don’t mingle freely with men.”

Like the men in the Hindi heartland, Tabish and Baseer are facsimiles. You could replace them with Muhammad Rafiq, 28, a teacher in Kashmir, or Mudassir Kakroo, 32, a civil engineer, or Ahsaas Lone, a marine biology scientist, or Muhammad Afzal Wani, 30, another banker, and their thoughts would just duplicate each other in different shades.

But there is cold comfort for those who would revel in the stereotype of the regressive, patriarchal Muslim man, because here’s what Vijay Prasad Shetty, 57, president of the Udupi Bar Association, told TEHELKA: “The clothes today’s girls wear provoke even the most upright men. Women have become too wayward. They have moved away from Hindu culture. Girls wear 3/4th pants and figure-hugging clothes that leave little to the imagination. Obviously, this turns men on. Boys will never approach a girl if they don’t get the right vibes from her. They always know when they see a girl who is ready to sleep around. Why can’t women wear churidars instead of skirts? If women roam around wearing revealing tops, obviously men get the idea that she’s available and loose. The best of men can fall for that. In the olden days, our elders had a rule. A grown-up daughter would not be allowed to be in the same room as her father or her brother. We have drifted away from there. That’s why these things are happening.”

 

Jan 2009 Goons of the Sri Ram Sene manhandle pubgoers in Mangalore

At one level, how can one hear such assertions with anything except outraged rejection? The efficacy of that rejection can be evaluated later; surely one must first record the rejection?

Hindu, Muslim, or Christian. Farmer, labourer, auto driver, scientist, lawyer or teacher. Educated or illiterate. Old or young. Haryanvi, UP-wallah, or Southie. Only one thing seemed to bind the men TEHELKA spoke to: they had no concept of male accountability; no concept of the hijab of eye and action. The burden of social order lay only with the woman.

The conversations had other disturbing yields. Apart from the expected distrust of popular culture and western lifestyles, the binary of a wonderful Indian “tradition” wherein no violence ever happens versus a disruptive “modernity” that had unleashed beasts and snakes, TEHELKA’s dipstick into the Indian male psyche brought home one particularly difficult truth: for a vast majority of men, rape does not even register as a violent or heinous crime. For many, even the Delhi gangrape case was deemed worthy of condemnation only because of the brutality of the iron rod and the ripped intestines. The rape itself was too commonplace to grieve about. “Rape hua, theek hai,” many said, “par iss tarah seh marna nahi chahiye tha.” (If they raped her, that’s okay. They shouldn’t have killed her in such a brutal manner.)

Gratefully, however, the story of India can never be told through one window.

OVER THE past four weeks, there have been many outraged demands. Pressured by the outrage, the Chief Justice of India has announced fast-track courts, the Central government has set up a committee for recommendations on how to combat rape, universities have ordered sensitisation courses, and there is talk of capital punishment, castration, tougher laws and more women in the police force.

Much of this threatens to be no more than the debris of a storm. Many thoughtful citizens are trying to put in cautionary notes. Supreme Court lawyer Colin Gonsalves, for instance, laughs at the illusion of the fast-track court. “There aren’t enough judges, what’s the point of setting up new courts?” he asks. “For every fasttrack court that is set up, another one somewhere must be put on hold or dismantled. There are only 12 judges per million people in India; the average elsewhere is 80. Yet, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says he does not have enough funds to pay for more judges.”

For every regressive, reductive conversation, there were other men — across religion, culture, profession, class — who defied the stereotype

Madhu Kishwar too warns against many of the over-zealous changes that have been demanded: denying the right of appeal to a higher court in the case of a rape conviction; shifting the burden of proof to the accused; instant FIRs; and selective fasttrack courts. “The demand for special courts for rape comes from an unrealistic faith in ‘special measures’. When it is manned by the same personnel and procedures, how can it work like a magic wand? Ask the Bhopal gas tragedy victims how they fared with their special courts! Besides, rape victims are not the only aggrieved group in our society. Demands for special courts have come from many other disadvantaged groups — environmentalists, anti-corruption crusaders, and those displaced by arbitrary land acquisition laws. The list will keep growing if the entire judicial system is not reworked thoroughly. The same holds true for sensitising the police force. It’s true our colonial-minded police are very gender insensitive, but it’s not as if they treat men any better. Women are no doubt more vulnerable, but only if they are not well-connected. Ask the slumdwellers and street vendors who survive at the mercy of the police and see if they fare any better. You cannot make the police ‘gender sensitive’ unless you make them ‘citizen sensitive’,” she says. “In short, the situation calls for far-reaching police and judicial reforms, not knee-jerk tokenisms.”

 

Nov 2011 Arrested for being a Naxal sympathiser, Soni Sori was given shocks and stones were inserted into her vagina

Others are raising different flags. Activist Aruna Roy talks about the self-defeating futility of castration and capital punishment. “Even after the Bhanwari Devi rape case, there was a lot of talk of castration, but through all our discussions on ground, as women we arrived at the position that we did not want to be party to the same idea of revengeful physical violence. What we need is more governance, more rule of law and more comprehensive redressal mechanisms. It sounds boring, but that’s where the answers lie.”

In this issue of TEHELKA, activist Flavia Agnes has detailed how the police interface with rape survivors can be made more accountable, irrespective of their personal prejudice or views. Over the next few weeks, TEHELKA is committed to engaging more with such sober assessments of where the answers lie. But, for the moment, even if one were to assume one had all the answers, how could any of them yield positive outcomes unless we at least agree as a society on the nature of the crime and what causes it?

To speak of collective outrage is to assume a shared value system. Clearly, we don’t have that. As lakhs of Indians listening to Mohan Bhagwat, the Jamaat leaders and Asaram Bapu would have wondered what the media fuss was about, it’s possible many Indians will read the excerpts of conversations with Indian men listed in this story and wonder why we are calling it a window into darkness.

‘I hold women squarely responsible for the rapes. The prime reason is revealing dresses, and that hijab is now extinct from urban areas’

MAULANA UBAIDUR RAHMAN, 36
Imam of Jama Masjid, Faizabad, UP

 

‘The clothes today’s girls wear provoke even the most upright men. They have moved away from Hindu culture’ 

VIJAY PRASAD SHETTY, 57
President, Udupi Bar Association, Karnataka

It’s crucial, therefore, to outline unequivocally what the fuss is about. As a modern democracy, the right of the individual — irrespective of religion, caste, class or gender — is enshrined in our Constitution. For a woman, this ought to mean a complete autonomy over her body, her choices, her movement and her right to work. These choices may be curtailed on the ground by the cultural or personal context she inhabits, or where she herself wants to stand on the ladder of emancipation. But, in essence, there should be no curtailments.

The fuss is, many sections of Indian society don’t see this as a desired value. Where the State and its institutions are concerned, confronting this should be a fairly easy and precipitate process. If you hold any public office — as a minister, a judge, a policeman, a bureaucrat or any government functionary — voicing or acting on any misogynistic impulse should automatically invite censure or removal. This does not happen, but it is time it should. Nothing would send out a clearer message to society than a Constitutional principle made visible.

The greater muddle is in society’s own responses. India, proverbially, contains multitudes. Inevitably, there is a face-off between those who wish to live by this ideal and those who want to thwart it. How should one, as Santosh Desai puts it, keep society moving towards a positive destination without solidifying the resistance?

‘Porn is a Rs 45,000 cr empire. Kids are heavily into this; it teaches them to look at women in a certain light’

MZ KHAN, 52 
Urdu Novelist, Ranchi

 

‘I knew a guy who had a small penis, and his wife told me — he would overcompensate by assaulting her’

MUSHTAQ SHEIKH, 30
Screenplay Writer, Mumbai

One of the temptations of the past four weeks has been to frame the debate on rape and women’s rights as a war between men and women. Obviously, there is no merit in that argument. Women can be as oppressive — if not more — than men. But the exhilarating find in TEHELKA’s conversations with Indian men is that the picture is more sunlit than one had imagined.

Speaking at a discussion last week about the media’s reporting on the Delhi rape, social scientist Nivedita Menon said, one of the most gratifying aspects of watching young girls and boys protest the rape was to see that the idea of feminism and equal rights had percolated through every layer of society onto the street. The slogans and placards spoke of an emancipated consciousness that was in the skin, beyond any studied political positions or self-conscious feminism.

TEHELKA’s findings echo that. For every regressive, reductive conversation, there were others, particularly young men — across religion, culture, class and profession — who defied the stereotype. Men who expressed a profound commitment to the idea of equality and women’s rights over their own bodies, ambitions and sexuality.

 

July 2012 A TV crew egged on a mob to molest a girl for TRPs in Guwahati

There was Tejas Jain, 23, an IT engineer and music student from Indore, who told TEHELKA that his concept of a successful, modern Indian woman was “someone who can stand up for herself in all walks of life and is neither scared nor controlled by men such as her father, brother or husband”. His concept of an ideal man was equally enlightened: “Someone who not only respects women, but all of life — be it human, animal or plant.”

Like many other young students TEHELKA spoke to, Tejas poured scorn on the idea of women as objects for sex, violence or household chores. “Our rigid and orthodox societal mindset has to go. Media, cinema and TV have to own up to the responsibility of how they project women. Turn on the TV and you will see women decked in saris, sitting at home, plotting and fighting all day. We need to fight these stereotypes.”

Like Tejas again, Sukalyan Roy, 27, a marketing executive in Delhi, spoke with self-confidence. A successful woman for him was someone who is truly independent, who can live with her family or on her own, take her own decisions, dress as she wants, go where she wants and have as many sexual partners as she chooses. “I think women in many ways are the stronger sex,” he told TEHELKA. “They have a deeper strength than men are capable of. It is men who have to steadily change.”

Similar assertions rang like positive chimes through dozens of other conversations. Abhishek Verma, 25, an MCA student in Ambedkar University, Lucknow, for instance, said, “The emancipation of women is in the larger interest of society. They need more freedom, not less.”

Like these students, Pramod Kumar, a professor of history at Lucknow University, took on the easy and reductive revilement of ‘modern’ and ‘western’ culture. “It’s not modern culture but a medieval mindset that is to be blamed for rape,” he said. “The protest against rape by common people in Delhi and other places was, in fact, a product of modern culture. Earlier, we hardly ever protested. Western culture is not just about wearing jeans and short skirts. It’s about liberal values, equality, liberty, fraternity, service to mankind and the Greek values of Humanism.”

Hearteningly, these enlightened positions did not only emanate from colleges and universities. Vipul Patel, 28, an electrical goods shop owner in Udupi — a perfect foil to the chauvinistic lawyer quoted earlier from the same town — said, “As far as clothes are concerned, if women cannot tell me what to wear, how can I dictate terms to them? In Manipal, we have girls from all over roaming about in short skirts late at night. That doesn’t mean you go around harassing them sexually. I saw a placard in a newspaper that read: ‘Ask your son not to rape, instead of telling me how to dress.’ I think that’s a fair comment.”

Wonderfully, Patel’s views found a mirror in Prakash, 35, a daily wager and coconut plucker from the same town. “How can anyone hold women responsible for crimes against them? If anyone is responsible, it is the men. What women do with their lives is none of my business. I have no say in my sister’s life — she should be allowed to do what she wants with it.”

These conversations run like a redemptive stream across the country. Men and boys who spoke up to take nuanced positions, critiquing themselves, women, their upbringing and the plurality of India that enables many worlds to both collide and co-exist. Not all of them were positioned at the extreme end of total freedom for either themselves or women. Instead, they spoke rationally of freedom with responsibilities, of cultural constraints and the pragmatics of safety. What distinguished them, though, was that even their intermediary positions were thoughtful and self-critical.

As Rak Kumar Singh, a documentary filmmaker from Manipur, said, “I hold women equally responsible as men for the segregated outlook of our society that views them as a solitary object for childbearing and sexual gratification. Unless women stand up and fight for their rights, this mindset will always prevail. Giving freedom to our women would mean providing peace and brighter opportunities for our society. But even our government — both in the state and Centre — are maleoriented bodies where women have the least right of decision making.”

Many spoke of witnessing violence in their own homes and of their resolve not to subscribe anymore to the triad idea of shame, silence and honour.

Dark as India’s societal attitudes might sometimes feel, these men are testimony to the fact that the ground has been shifting radically and imperceptibly. Santosh Desai, who with a team of 25 others have visited more than 73 towns in the past two years to conduct similar, casual dipstick conversations, says he has felt a definite new assertiveness, confidence and ambition among the young girls and women he has met on these trips. Combine that with the voices of these young men and one could begin to believe that despite every misstep— despite the lack of contemporary social reformers or enlightened government or moderate platforms for real dialogue — India is embarked on a fascinating and organic journey.

The beauty is, as Nivedita Menon says, that none of this new assertion necessarily means a complete break with the past. Rather, it is evidence that social transformations in India over the past decades have seeped to the ground level. Most of these young men and women would, in fact, be spending their salaries on looking after parents and younger siblings, and taking their responsibilities seriously, in very “Indian” ways.

OFTEN, RAPE is used as a weapon to maintain status quo, a tool for feudal, upper-caste or State oppression as the rapes in Gujarat or by the army and paramilitary jawans in Kashmir, the Northeast and Chhattisgarh. The brutal Delhi gangrape — a more plainly maniacal and criminal act — had none of those complex underpinnings of power and politics. Perhaps, as writer Arundhati Roy says, this made it easier for people to respond with horror and outrage to it, while other rapes are met with greater silence.

Even then, undeniably, it has prised open — at great and horrific cost — a crucial new space for discussion. As the white heat of its horror recedes, the only real honour we can accord the woman who died is to keep the discussion meaningfully alive.

As Aruna Roy says, the deepest feminist position one can have is a commitment to participatory dialogue. The ideas that will emerge from that lengthy process will always have greater validity and acceptance by plural cross-sections of society. The idea of equality may be non-negotiable, but the paths to it are many. If we stay committed to that process, even after the clumsy water cannons are gone and the anguished candles have died, we might still have one billion rising.

shoma@tehelka.com

With inputs from Brijesh Pandey, Baba Umar, Aradhna Wal, Jeemon Jacob, Riyaz Wani, Soumik Mukherjee, Ratnadip Choudhury, Virendra Nath Bhatt, G Vishnu, Imran Khan, Nishita Jha and Sai Manish

 

Give up Valentine’s Day celebrations, Asaram Bapu urges youth #WTFnews #1billionrising


Published: Thursday, Jan 10, 2013, 1
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Pune

Spiritual leader Asaram Bapu, who was recently in the eye of storm for his reported remarks on the Delhi gang-rape victim, said that the youth should celebrate parents’ day instead of Valentine’s Day on February 14. He was speaking at a satsang organised in Pandharpur on Wednesday. During his discourse, Asaram Bapu said, “The youths are adopting foreign culture which is dangerous for society.”

On the controversy revolving around his remarks on the Delhi gang-rape victim, Asaram said that the media has misinterpreted him. “The Delhi gang-rape incident was unfortunate. The victim’s family is not alone. The whole society is with them. Authorities should take more precautions to ensure that such incidents do not occur again,” he said.

Asaram on Monday had said that the 23-year-old gang-rape victim was equally responsible for the ghastly crime and said that she could have called her assailants ‘brothers’ and begged them to stop.

Asaram reached the village around 3.30 in a private helicopter. Later, he addressed around 10,000 disciples at his ashram. The Alandi police had provided security for the programe. Assistant police inspector Bapu Deshmukh said, “We had appointed extra policemen at the programme venue. We provided enough security to him,” he said.

Protest against spiritual guru
Socialist Yuvjan Sabha (SYS), on Wednesday, protested against the statements of Asaram Bapu and

Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on the Delhi gang-rape incident.

SYS president Abhijit Vaidya said, “BJP once came out with India Shining slogan. Now leaders are saying such absurd things. How can they say such things when they have prominent leaders like Sushma Sawraj? If they feel that women should be confined to their homes, it should also be applicable to the female leaders of the party.”

Varsha Gupte, member of SYS, said, “People like Asaram and Bhagwat are sailing in the same boat. Instead of doing something to ensure strict action against the culprits, these people are misusing the freedom of speech.”

 

Wife’s duty is to perform household work and husband should earn: Mohan Bhagwat RSS Chief #WTFnews #Vaw


Dr. Mohan Madhukar Bhagawat is the sixth Sarsa...

Dr. Mohan Madhukar Bhagawat is the sixth Sarsanghachalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday, January 06, 2013, 10:13

New Delhi: After creating a huge uproar by his remarks that rapes are rampant in India not Bharat, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has kicked-off a fresh controversy by saying that women should restrict themselves to household work and satisfy their husband.According to a CNN-IBN report, Bhagwat, while addressing a gathering in Indore, said that a man and his wife are bound by a contract and a woman’s duty is to take care of household tasks and a husband should earn and look after his wife.

IBN quoted RSS chief as saying, “There is a theory of social contract in the universe. A husband and a wife are bound by a contract which says – you (woman) look after the household chores and satisfy me, I (man) will take care of your needs and will protect you. Till she delivers her duties without fail, he keeps her on the contract and if she fails to honour the contract, he disowns her. And if it is the husband who is not honouring the contract, she can also abandon him. One can go for a new contract then.”

The controversial remarks comes two days after the RSS chief said, “Such crimes (rapes) hardly take place in ‘Bharat’, but they occur frequently in ‘India’.” Bhagwat had said this while he was speaking on the issues concerning women.

The ageing chief of the right-wing Hindu organisation also blamed the western culture and the excessive urbanisation for rising crimes against women.

During his speech, Bhagwat had said that those living in urban India are highly influenced with the ‘western’ lifestyle and culture and this could be one of the reasons for increasing crimes against women.

However, he said that there is no erosion of moral values among those living in the rural India. 

“You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gang-rape or sex crimes. They are prevalent in some urban belts. Besides new legislations, Indian ethos and attitude towards women should be revisited in the context of ancient Indian values,” Bhagwat was quoted as saying by the media.

Reacting to the Bhagwat’s remarks, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had put up a brave defence, saying the statement should be seen in the proper context and he was referring to India’s culture, tradition and value system.

“The present controversy relating to certain comments of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is totally uncalled for and unnecessary. His comments are required to be seen and understood in entirety. He was referring to India’s sanskar, tradition and value system where respect for women occupies a pride of place,” BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad had said.

 

25 years’ court data proves RSS chief wrong; 75% of rape convicts from ‘Bharat’ #Vaw


By , TNN | Jan 5, 2013, 05.47 AM IST

25 years' court data proves RSS chief wrong; 75% of rape convicts from 'Bharat'
Activists hotly dispute Bhagwat’s attempt to draw a correlation between “modernity” and rape.
 

NEW DELHI: Women’s groups have criticised RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat‘s view on rape in “India” and “Bharat” for being regressive. But data shows that not only are Bhagwat’s views regressive, they’re also plain wrong.

While the National Crime Records Bureau does not split registered cases of sexual assault by rural and urban areas, Mrinal Satish, an associate professor of law at Delhi’s National Law University, used court data to find that 75% of rape cases that led to convictions over the last 25 years were from rural India.

For his doctoral dissertation at the Yale Law School in the US, Satish looked at all high court and Supreme Court cases involving rape reported in the Criminal Law Journal (which reports criminal law cases) between 1983 and 2009 in which at least one court (trial court, HC or SC) had convicted the accused. The data thus does not include cases in which the accused was acquitted at all levels. Satish also had to leave out cases that were not for some reason reported in the Journal.

He found that over 80% of these rape cases in high courts and close to 75% of rape cases in the Supreme Court came from rural areas. Close to 75% of gang rape cases in HCs and 63% of gang rape cases in the SC came from rural areas. Over 65% of cases involving the rape of a child (less than 12 years old) came from rural areas. On average, 75% of all rape cases in higher courts that had led to at least one conviction came from rural areas. While the numbers are fairly proportional to India’s rural/urban population, they do disprove Bhagwat’s statement that rapes do not take place in rural areas.

“Rape as a tool of caste violence is rampant in rural areas,” says Kalpana Viswanath of the women’s rights group Jagori. “The controlling of women’s bodies through institutions like khap panchayats is also a rural phenomenon,” says Viswanath.

Moreover, activists hotly dispute Bhagwat’s attempt to draw a correlation between “modernity” and rape. For one, custodial rape, which has little correlation with “modernity”, is rampant in India. The case that changed the history of rape law in India, the Mathura rape case in which two policemen in north-east Maharashtra raped a tribal girl in a police station, was a case of custodial rape. Rapes of disabled women, patients in hospitals, children and older women – all with little association with “modernity” – are extremely common, Viswanath adds. “Ultimately this is an attempt to take the debate back to making rape the fault of women, rather than focusing attention on where it’s needed, on society and institutions,” says Viswanath

shame

RSS: Rapist Suraksha Sangh / Rapist Security Society #Vaw #Culture


Dr. Mohan Madhukar Bhagawat is the sixth Sarsa...

Dr. Mohan Madhukar Bhagawat is the sixth Sarsanghachalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

January 4, 2013

 

 

The RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat (or to call him out in the way he is referred to in the Sangh – Sarsanghchalak Param Pujya Shri Mohan-ji Bhagwat-ji) has now joined the pavilion of eminent Bharatiya moustachioed misogynists. In a breathtakingly revealing statement, he has told us that rapes happen in India, not in Bharat. What he means is that rape only occurs in urban areas where the influence of Paschatya Sanskriti (western culture) leads women astray into being raped by men unable to help or control themselves in the face of the assault of women, out and about, by day and night, defying Mohan Bhageat’s Sangh-mandated Lakshman Rekha.

When an upper-caste landlord in a village claims his ‘droit de seigneur’ (land-owner’s claim) with a Dalit woman, it is not rape, it is a yagya, a time honoured shastric ritual. When husbands persuade minor wives on their ‘suhaag raat’ with a few disciplinary measures that leave them with black eyes and sore limbs, it is not rape, it is the carrying out of an Upanishadic injunction. When swamijis, babajis, acharyas and prachaks have their way with ignorant and nabalik shishyas, it is not rape, it is the partaking of the naivedyam of a woman’s body. It is the realisation of a ‘pushp ki abhilasha’, even if the pushp gets pushed around a little bit in the process.Yo-Yo Honey Singh, that other eminent Yug-Purush echoed Shri Mohan Bhagwat when he asserted in his prayer, C***t Vol.1, that he would cure the waywardness of the Indian woman’s sex organs by strictly traditional, bharatiya and shastric methods.Yo Yo Mohan Bhagwat. Param Pujya Honey Singh. Sambhavami Yuge-Yuge.

 

These gentlemen truly deserve Mardangi Maryada Medals (MMM) or Paurush Pratiraksha Puraskars (PPP). In these beleagured times, when Bharatiya masculinity has faced such severe stress and strain, it is only real self-serving (swaysmsevak) men like Mohan Bhagwat and Globally yet Traditionally Bharatiya International Villagers like Yo-Yo ji Honey ji Singh ji who can hold up its otherwise flaccid standard against the corrosive attack of urban femininity.

Hey Bharat-Purush, gird your loins, hoist your petards, tackle your gaandiv, gather your legions. Mohan Bhagwat has sounded the panchajanya. the battle is joined, you have able and eminent warlords. S.O.P. Shri Abhijit Mukherjee of the Congress Party will lead the charge against dented and painted enemies. Shri Narendra Modi and Shri Raman Singh (both BJP chief ministers in Gujatar and Chhattisgarh) will demonstrate how well rape either by righteous rioters or by counter-insurgent policemen can defend Hindu honour and national security. Comrade Anisur Rehman of the CPI (M) will defeat all his female adversaries designs by buying and selling them. Shri Naveen Jindal of the Congress Party will handle the war-chest and rally the troops of the brave Khap irregulars. Shri Shahshi Tharoor of the Congress Party will tweet the name of every woman fallen in the battle-field. Shri Botsa Satyanarayan of the Congress will secure the hours after midnight so that no wayward women are about. Yo-Yo Honey Singh will lead the yuddha-ghosh, the martial music band. Janaab Akbaruddin Owaisi of the Majlis-Ittehadul-Muslimeen will behead errant women writers. Baba Ramdev ji will straighten all queer women with yogic power. Shri Kailash Vijayvargiya (Cabinet Minister in BJP ruled Madhya Pradesh where he is – Minister of Industries & Employment, Information Technology, Commerce, Rural Industry, Science & Technology and a passionate leader who continuously strives for development while advocating that women will not find themselves raped only if they stay within the Lakshman Rekha of Bharatiya Sanskriti will map the battle-field. You need all the strength that you can get.

Many years ago, almost twenty years ago, I was a young and nervous assistant working on a documentary film on the RSS called ‘The Boys in the Branch’ (directed by Lalit Vachani, 1993). The film was shot in Nagpur, partly in a sort of ‘commune’ where some young men in their late teens, an elite crop from various RSS shakhas (branches), were being groomed for future leadership within the organization. We also shot extensively within the RSS headquarters, Hedgewar Bhavan, in Mahal, Nagpur. We interviewed Mohan Bhagwat, who gave a chillingly lyrical account of how a particular game-exercise helped a young swayam-sevak mentally prepare himself for the ultimate sacrifice by linking death to re-incarnation, through a series of calisthenic metaphors and manoeuvres, such that death itself could become a move in a game. During this time, I got to be friends, In a way, with some of the boys. Occasionally, I would spend a night with them in their ‘house’. They would cook, sing, play the flute, ask me about Delhi, about girls, about whether i had any Muslim friends, and what they were ‘really’ like. I never made a secret of what my politics was, or the fact that I had a ‘communist’ upbringing because of my family. But sort of grudgingly at first, and less grudgingly later, they gave me a sort of ‘enemy respect’. More importantly, because I was someone close to them in age, and a total outsider, they sort of trusted me with their secrets. I have never betrayed those confidences, even as I sometimes wondered what happened to some of those who spoke to me, mainly off camera, after the shoots were done.

One day, one of the boys asked to see me and the director, in our hotel room. He came late in the evening and talked for many hours. He spoke about being sexually abused by senior functionaries within the RSS for several years, inside the RSS headquarters, beginning around the time when he was eleven years old. I strongly felt that we should not record his testimony, because I was aware that even if we protected his identity in the film, there was no way by which his anonymity could be safeguarded, especially within the RSS headquarters. Basically, he would be ‘disappeared’ in a way that I don’t even want to think about. We talked long into the night. He left, and told me he felt better after having talked, without shame, to someone his own age who could listen without standing in judgment. He told me that he was leaving Nagpur. I never saw him again. I have no idea where he is, and I don’t really want to know. But I think of him sometimes, wonder how he is doing, whether he found the kind of love and affection and respect that he wanted. Whether he has any nightmares. I wish him well, and hope he is as far away from the enclaves of Bharat presided over by the RSS as it is possible for him to be. I do not remember his name. He is another unknown citizen.

The RSS wants to be to be an arbiter of public and private conduct to ‘Bharat’. It wants to be what the Vatican thinks it is within the domain of Roman Catholic orthodoxy. Both are citadels of misogyny and homophobia. Both conceal under their knickers and robes the darkest secrets of abuse and violence. The sexual abuse of minors is statutory rape in most jurisdictions. The yagya of statutory rape has a time honoured place in the dungeons within the citadels of Bharatiya and other kinds of purity. Perhaps it is time that this pretence at purity was shown up to be what it actually is.

Sambhavami Yuge Yuge.