Why memories of Gujarat 2002 stay


AJAZ ASHRAF, The Hindu , April 2, 2013

 

Riots under BJP rule are the culmination of the Sangh Parivar’s ideological impulse to keep communal tensions alive while for Congress they are tactical instruments

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh’s decision to accord a prominent role to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is presumably based on the belief that the diverse Indian electorate would forgive him for the communal mayhem of 2002, as it often has the Congress for the riots under its rule. This can be presumed from the comments Mr. Singh made at a function in Delhi in early February. In a recriminatory tone, he had then asked, “Our opposition parties allege that BJP is the party which creates enmity between Hindus and Muslims. Did riots not take place during Congress rule?”

Not just the votaries and apologists of the BJP but even ideologically neutral individuals often echo the sentiments Mr. Singh expressed. From Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) in 1961 to Bharatpur (Rajasthan) in 2012, the Congress has palpably failed to control communal hotheads from running amok periodically. Yet the party hasn’t been tagged communal, and still garners a substantial chunk of the minority as well as secular votes. What explains the dichotomy in the public response to the riots under the BJP rule as compared to those under the Congress governments?

ELEMENTAL

For one, the phenomenon of communal riot is an elemental aspect of the Sangh Parivar’s ideology, an extreme manifestation of its politics which is predicated on articulating and redressing the grievances of Hindus, real or imagined, the provenance of which lies either in the medieval past or in post-Independence public policies the saffron brigade perceives as unjustifiably favouring the minorities.

This worldview pits the Hindus against the minorities, particularly the Muslims, until such time the inexhaustible list of grievances is addressed. The politics emanating from this worldview consequently spawns an ambience of tension among communities, reduced or heightened depending on the exigencies of circumstances but never allowed to dissipate. In other words, the inter-community tension, signifying the abnormal in politics, has no possibility of closure in the immediate future. It is designed to become our daily state of existence.

The tension is stoked at pan-India, State and district levels. The Ram Janmabhoomi movement sought to meld the Hindus, with all their class, caste, linguistic and regional divides, into a monolith, through a demand asking Muslims to voluntarily relinquish their custody of the Babri Masjid. Of similar nature are the demands for relocating mosques abutting the Krishna and Shiv temples in Mathura and Varanasi. These symbols of pan-India Hindu mobilisation are augmented through the manufacturing of disputes over places of worship of local significance. Into this category fall the protracted disputes over the Bhagyalakshmi temple at the base of the Charminar in Hyderabad, the Baba Budangiri-Guru Dattatreya shrine in Karnataka, and the Bhojshala complex in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh.

In addition, there are hundreds of places of worship and graveyards in mofussil towns whose ownerships are contended between Hindus and Muslims. No doubt, some of these disputes date back decades but, over the years, myriad groups comprising the Sangh Parivar have taken over the leadership of these ‘little battles of liberation’. For variety, Christian priests are attacked and churches vandalised on the charges of converting Hindus to Christianity.

In this culture of inter-community tension, alternatively fanned and allowed to simmer, the riot is the logical culmination of an insidious process. It is akin to a person experiencing a nervous breakdown after suffering acute mental agony for months; it is similar to living life on the edge, uncertain though you are about the precise moment of the inevitable fall off the precipice. Indeed, communal tension in perpetuity is less traumatic only in degrees to an outbreak of a riot.

The sheer salience of tension-riot in the politics of BJP is precisely why a localised inter-community conflict under its rule acquires a resonance countrywide. It is perceived as illustrative of the fate awaiting the minorities in an India in which the BJP exercises untrammeled power. The 2002 riot of Gujarat was horrifying not only because of its barbarity but also because it was viewed to have been ideologically driven and, therefore, bound to be replicated elsewhere.

By contrast, the riots under the Congress rule, even the ones its activists spearhead, are instrumental rather than ideological. Barring the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984, the riots under the Congress rarely spill beyond a parliamentary constituency or two. The motive behind such mayhem is usually a local Congressman wanting to win an election from a constituency; a riot or communal tension rarely becomes a tool for political mobilisation countrywide, again, the 1984 riots being the exception. Though cynical, the breakdown in inter-community relationship is almost always followed by attempts to restore the earlier social harmony.

ATONEMENT

No doubt, the Congress was justifiably implicated in the 1984 riots. It symbolically atoned for its guilt by appointing Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister, and he, on August 12, 2005, apologised not only to the Sikh community in Parliament, but also to the entire nation “because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood in our Constitution”.

More significantly, the Congress is forgiven because the riots under it are often (not always, though) the handiwork of organisations owing allegiance or belonging to the Sangh Parivar. It’s a conclusion several commissions of inquiry appointed to probe riots have reached. There are just too many to be quoted. But sample what the Joseph Vithayathil Commission on the Tellicherry riots of 1971 said. It traced the origin of communal tension in the town to the RSS’s decision to establish its units there. In an incident the rioters accosted one Muhammad and offered him the following choice, “If you want to save your life you should go round the house three times repeating the words, ‘Rama, Rama’.” The commission noted, “Muhammad did that. But you cannot expect the 70 million Muslims of India to do that as a condition for maintaining communal harmony in the country”.

More than 40 years after Tellicherry, tension-riot remains the Sangh Parivar’s defining strategy of achieving its ideological goal of turning India Hindu. This is why we remember the riots under the BJP and not those under the Congress, which too has been responsible for the spilling of blood and untold misery.

(Ajaz Ashraf is a Delhi-based journalist. E-mail: ashrafajaz3@gmail.com)

 

Spew venom and enjoy life: Who scripted Mr Varun Gandhi’s release?


MARCH 7, 2013

by , kafila.org

English: Mr. Feroze Varun Gandhi

“This is not a hand (Congress symbol), it is the power of the lotus (BJP symbol). It will cut the head of… Jai Shri Ram,” a PTI report quoted Varun Gandhi (29) as telling an election meeting in Pilibhit, his attack directed at the Muslims. At another meeting, the PTI report said, he said: “If anyone raises a finger towards Hindus or if someone thinks that Hindus are weak and leaderless, if someone thinks that these leaders lick our boots for votes, if anyone raises a finger towards Hindus, then I swear on Gita that I will cut that hand.”

(Varun Gandhi’s hate-Muslim speech makes his BJP squirm; Express News Service: Lucknow, Tue Mar 17 2009)

Mr Varun Gandhi, BJP M.P. was all smiles when he emerged from the courts which had acquitted him in the second hate speech case. Expressing confidence in the Indian Constitution and India’s Legal System he said ‘truth has prevailed’. Only a few days ago another court in UP had acquitted him of the first hate speech case. It may be added that when extracts of the speeches he had allegedly delivered during election campaign in 2009 had appeared in a section of the press, the then Mayawati government had promptly filed cases against him and ordered his arrest and had to spend some time behind bars before bail was ultimately granted to him then.

It is interesting to recall how BJP, had then reacted to his alleged hatespeeches. Officially it was stated then that the BJP party squirmed  when his controversial speeches had made headlines, with one of its spokesperson claiming that Varun’s outburst “did not reflect BJP’s traditional culture”. It it was a different matter that the then party president Mr Rajnath Singh had gone to visit him in jail supposedly to show solidarity.

Coming back to the case and looking at the legal proceedings, one finds that there are many gaps, which have allowed this acquittal to happen. In fact, the role of the Akhilesh Yadav led government in the whole case has also come under scanner. Few months back  newspapers carried out a report wherein it was mentioned that Akhilesh led government was contemplating withdrawal of cases against the young M.P.  As this report – which was never confirmed nor rejected – raised an uproar in the state, no formal withdrawal of cases was done. A fact which has been noted by activists is that once it was known that state government was not keen to follow the case witnesses started turning hostile..

Another point concerns the issue of voice sample.  The forensic report had stated that unless and until they get a voice sample they would not be able to confirm it whether the said speeches were made by Mr Varun or not. It is really surprising that despite repeated instructions by the honourable court Mr Gandhi had not agreed to submit his voice sample to the police which would have validated the prosecution’s charge against him. According to him his speeches had been edited by local channels to make it seem like he was promoting communal hatred. Interestingly the broadcasters were unable to furnish the original, unedited footage to the police. 51 witnesses produced by the prosecution did not indict him for delivering speeches to provoke communal hatred.The same witnesses were used for the second case. The courts also did not deem it necessary to call reporters of the TV channels as well as the print media, which had carried report about the controversial speeches.

A statement issued by ‘Rihai Manch’ – A forum for the release of innocent Muslims imprisoned in the name of Terrorism’ , Lucknow, (email-rihaimanchindia@gmail.com) has thrown light on the way the witnesses in the case turned hostile – en masse. According to them it cannot be called mere coincidence that  during hearings in the said cases held on 24 th November and 29 th November, total 18 witnesses turned hostile,  The press release further underlined that when Mr Gandhi refused to give voice samples to the public prosecutor, he neither apprised the courts of Mr Gandhi’s refusal nor deemed it necessary to  emphasise the point and ensure that it was done.According to them it rather vindicates the fact that the state government was keen to release Mr Varun Gandhi and not to punish him.

‘Rihai Manch’ also questioned the role of the judiciary in the whole case. It added when advocate Asad Hayat, associated with the Manch put forward a prayer before the CJM court in Pilibhit on 25 th February that since Mr Varun Gandhi’s said speeches had hurt his religious feelings therefore the channels who had shown his speeches be called as witnesses. The petition also requested to the honourable courts to ensure Mr Varun Gandhi’s voice sample be taken and if he does not comply then consider it adverse inference in his case and declare that it was his speech only. The court did not admit the petition and because of the insistence of public prosecutor rejected it on 27 th February.

Mr Asad Hayat then put a revision application in the highcourt and also petitioned the CJM’s court a second time that since an application is pending before the highcourt in connection with rejection of his case on 27 th February, it is requested that the CJM’s court does not decide on the matter till the highcourt gives its decision. Here also because of the resistance put forward by the public prosecutor, the CJM court rejected his application on 4 th March and finally gave its verdict on 5 th March.

One does not know what will happen next. With more than eleven communal riots in a period of less than a year, under a government which has received fullsome support from the minorities, Akhilesh Yadav led government has exhibited its ineptness in handling communal elements. If justice is to be done in the hatespeech case it is incumbent that the state government challenge this decision by moving a fresh application in the high courts. Looking at the fact that there is a world of difference between what the Samajwadi Party claims and does, the possibility seems really dim.

 

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,233 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,762,909 hits

Archives

October 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  
%d bloggers like this: