Thursday, May 29, 2014

Foot Soldiers of Hindutva in Search of an Icon

- Subhash Gatade
“The epitah for the RSS volunteer will be that he was born, he joined the RSS and died without accomplishing anything.”-V. D. Savarkar
(D.V.Kelkar, “The R.S.S.” Economic Weekly ( 4 Feb 1950: 132) Page 36, The Brotherhood in Saffron,The RSS and The Hindu Revivalism, Andersen and Damle,Vistaar, 1986, Delhi)
Veer Savarkar was a Veer Purush who was not scared of death. He was a Shastra Upasak and Shaasrta Upasak: Shri Narendra Modi. May 29, 2013 Author: admin (

Celebrations at the central hall of Parliament are a marker of the political ambiance in the country.

The change of guard at the centre was very much visible at the place recently where the entire top brass of BJP including PM Narendra Modi were present to celebrate the birth anniversary of Savarkar. Modi described Savarkar as a prolific writer, poet and social reformer. “Tributes to Veer Savarkar on his birth anniversary. We remember and salute his tireless efforts towards the regeneration of our motherland.”

People would recall that normally it used to be a low-key event. Last year, the celebrations were further muted. Only few prominent leaders of the BJP were present there. The ascendance of BJP led government had clearly made the difference.

A trip down memory lane would tell us that even for the Sangh Parivar and its affiliated organisations this has not been the case always. The iconisation of Savarkar in the Parivar is not very old. Late nineties when Shiv Sena-BJP ran a coalition government in Maharashtra they did not even think of putting his portrait in the state the assembly. For them this discovery of Savarkar happened during the BJP led NDA regime at the centre (1998-2004).

Perhaps neither Modi nor any of his cabinet colleagues, most of whom started their social political life in the RSS or Rashtra Sevika Samity ( which is meant for women of the Hindutva brigade), would like to remember today that they are singing paens to the man who when alive had castigated the Hedgewars-Gurujis’ – founders and pioneers of RSS – and their Swaymsevaks umpteen times ( Sample the quote above) and the Hedgewars’-Golwalkars’ had also returned the compliment in the same vein.

Even a cursory glance at the trajectory of Hindu Mahasabha under the leadership of Savarkar or the way in which RSS unfolded itself during those days makes it quite clear that the differences in priorities between the two organisations was already visible from the day Savarkar was elected president of the Hindu Mahasabha after his release from jail ( 1937).In a sympathetic study of RSS “The Brotherhood in Saffron,The RSS and The Hindu Revivalism,” the authors Andersen and Damle clearly explain (Page 40, Vistaar, 1986, Delhi) that in fact Savarkar’s emphasis was on turning Mahasabha into a political party in opposition to the Congress when Hedgewars’ had already decided to insulate RSS from any active politics and concentrate on ‘cultural work’. Hedgewar and later Golwalkar also neither wanted to be associated with a formation whose confrontational activities would place the RSS in direct opposition to the Congress. According to him there were apprehensions regarding each other’s role in the Hindu Unification Movement. The souring of relations between the two organisations is visible in a angry letter issued by Savarkar’s office in 1940 advising that:
"... When there is such a serious conflict at a particular locality between any of the branches of the Sangh RSS and the Hindu Sabhaites that actual preaching is carried out against the Hindu Mahasabha …, then the Hindu Sabhaites should better leave the Sangh …and start their own Hindu Sabha volunteer corps.( Letter from V.D.Savarkar to S.L.Mishra, 3 March 1943, Savarkar files, Bombay)"
Definitely the fact that this ‘Veer Patriot’ (to quote title of a write-up which appeared in ‘Panchajanya’ sometime back discussing Savarkar) died a lonely man abhorred especially by the thriving ‘Parivar’ then, which made special efforts to maintain distance from him in those days, did not bother these ‘legatees’ then. It did not perturb their conscience a bit that it took more than thirty four long years after his death that they ultimately decided to claim their lineage from this pioneer of the Hindutva project.

Just to recapitulate, a decade back, when the Vajpayi led NDA was ousted out and UPA I led by Congress, had assumed reins of power a controversy had erupted about removal of Savarkar’s plaque from Port Blair’s cellular jail where Savarkar was jailed, Vikram Savarkar, Savarkar’s own nephew in an interview to a national daily exposed BJP’s lack of interest in him and castigated them for their sudden love for him. (Savarkar nephew hits out at BJP, August 30, 2004, Indian Express)

It may be noted that he had accused the senior leaders of the BJP for ‘keeping mum despite noticing the removal of his uncle’s quotations from Port Blair’s Cellular Jail’. According to him Ram Kapse, the then incumbent Lt. governor of Andaman and Nicobar and former M.P Ram Naik ( both BJP workers) “..did not utter a word when the plaque was removed.” The report further says that ,’ ..he is not surprised at BJP’s lack of interest in Savarkar. “We know very well that the BJP and RSS did not appreciate his (Savarkar’s) philosophy.”..’ ..The report further says that ‘ (Vikram- author) Savarkar insists BJP’s sudden love for the legend is an eyewash.’ “It is an effort to woo voters for the Assembly elections in Maharashtra.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New Issue of Critique Magazine: Fascism Now and Here

New Issue of Critique "Fascism Now and Here" is out. Critique Magazine, August, 2014, Volume: 3 Issue: 1. Pg. 56. Rs. 30 /-. To order your copies write to Sharing below the cover of this issue and the content list.


1. Editorial: Fascism: Now and Here

2. सम्पादकीय : हमारे समय का फासीवाद

Monday, May 26, 2014

हाशिये पर पड़े समझदारों के लिए कुछ सबक

यह लेख समकालीन तीसरी दुनिया के जून 2014 अंक में प्रकाशित होगा। अनुवादक: अभिषेक श्रीवास्तव। अंग्रेजी में इस लेख को पढ़ने के लिए यहाँ क्लिक करें

- रवि सिन्‍हा

हाशिया अभी-अभी कुछ ज्‍यादा चौड़ा हुआ है। अकसर केंद्र तक टहल मार आने वाले तमाम लोगों में से कई परिधि पर धकेल दिए गए हैं। मेरी चिंता उन्‍हें लेकर नहीं है। उनके बारे में तो तमाम विश्‍लेषण भरे पड़े हैं कि ऐसा क्‍यों और कैसे हो गया। मैं उनकी संख्‍या नहीं बढ़ाना चाहता। हाशिया हर ओर है। बाएं से, दाएं से, यह हाशिया मुख्‍यधारा की सियासी जमीन को घेरे हुए है। कुछ लोग शायद कहें कि दाहिनी तरफ कोई हाशिया नहीं है। उस ओर हर कुछ मुख्‍यधारा का ही हिस्‍सा है। चाहे जो हो, मेरे पास दाहिनी ओर के हाशिये पर कहने को बहुत कुछ नहीं है। 

मेरा सरोकार बाईं ओर के हाशियों से है जिसमें समूचा वाम घुसा पड़ा है, हालांकि यह स्‍वीकार कर पाना परंपरागत वाम के अधिकतर हिस्‍सों के लिए शायद बहुत जल्‍दबाज़ी होगी। वे किसी भी कीमत पर हम जैसों की नहीं सुनेंगे, जिन्‍होंने अपना समूचा जीवन ही हाशिये पर गुज़ारा है- कुछ तो इसमें अपनी बेवकूफि़यां और कमज़ोरियां जिम्‍मेदार रहीं और कुछ इसलिए भी कि हमने समय की मांग के आगे झुकने से इनकार कर दिया। यह वास्‍तव में हमारी गलती तो है नहीं कि हम ऐतिहासिक कालखंड की उस घाटी में पैदा हुए जहां भव्‍यतापूर्ण अतीत की ढलान पर उतरना तो पूरा हो चुका है जबकि भविष्‍य की चोटी पर चढ़ाई शुरू होना अब भी बाकी है। 

इस लेख के शीर्षक में ''समझदार'' वाला विशेषण मूल्‍यांकन के योग्‍य है इसलिए आदेशात्‍मक व दंभी होने का मुझ पर आरोप लग सकता है। या तो इस मूल्‍यांकन का कोई मानक हमें बताना होगा या फिर यह स्‍वीकार करना होगा कि यह प्रयोग आत्‍मपरक है। मैं दूसरे वाले विकल्‍प से शुरू करूंगा क्‍योंकि मैं जो कहना चाह रहा हूं उसमें गणना के किसी मानक पर अपना पांडित्‍य नहीं दिखाना चाहता। ज़ाहिर है, हमें किनारे बैठे उन उन्‍मादियों की ओर इशारा करने की भी कोई ज़रूरत नहीं होनी चाहिए जो बाकी सब पर संशोधनवाद, विश्‍वासघात और दुष्‍टता के पत्‍थर उछालकर खुद को जिंदा रखे हुए हैं। आपको पसंद हो या नहीं, लेकिन वे भी वाम का ही हिस्‍सा हैं। मैं यह नहीं कह सकता कि वे मेरी चिंता का विषय नहीं हैं, लेकिन दुनिया जैसी है उसे वैसा नहीं समझने को लेकर वे तकरीबन यांत्रिक हैं और आत्‍मचिंतन व आत्‍मावलोकन में वे पूरी तरह असमर्थ हैं। मैं उनसे यह उम्‍मीद नहीं करता कि वे किसी भी चीज़ से कोई भी सबक लेंगे सिवाय इसके कि वे अपने टुच्‍चे स्‍वार्थपरक उद्देश्‍यों को पूरा करें या एक-दूसरे को नुकसान पहुंचाने वाले झगड़ों को अंजाम दें। 

सोलह मई के बाद की स्थिति में हमें क्‍या अपेक्षा करनी चाहिए, मैं अपनी बात को यहां से शुरू करना चाहूंगा। तमाम बातें की जा रही हैं कि आने वाला वक्‍त बहुत बुरा रहने वाला है। बेशक वह बुरा ही होगा, लेकिन अनिवार्यत: अपेक्षित तरीकों से नहीं, हालांकि वह भी हो ही सकता है। इसमें कोई संदेह नहीं होना चाहिए कि भारत के लोगों ने अपने विवेक से एक ऐसे व्‍यक्ति और परिवार को भारी जनादेश दिया है जो क्रूरताएं करने में सक्षम है। अपनी सुविधानुसार ''जनादेश'' के अर्थ को बदल देना और अत्‍याचारियों की विजय के बाद कह देना कि दो-तिहाई भारतीयों ने उन्‍हें वोट ही नहीं दिया, इससे हमें कोई मदद नहीं मिलने वाली है। खुद को यह कह कर सांत्‍वना देने का कोई मतलब नहीं होगा कि वे चुनाव में जीते नहीं हैं बल्कि जो सत्‍ता में था उसकी हार हुई है। न ही हमें इस तथ्‍य से कोई राहत मिलने वाली है कि अश्‍वमेध का घोड़ा पूरब और दक्षिण के उन राज्‍यों में नाथ दिया गया जहां स्‍थानीय क्षत्रपों के पास कोई दैवीय ताकत थी। इस जीत का श्रेय धनबल और कॉरपोरेट नियंत्रित मीडिया को देते हुए हम कुछ गलत नहीं करते, लेकिन तब, हमें जनता के विवेक में अपने भरोसे के साथ इस बात का मिलान करना होगा क्‍योंकि हमारे कहने का एक अर्थ यह निकलता है कि जनता उनकी ताकत के असर में बह गई थी। 

इस बात को सहज रूप से मान लिया जाना चाहिए कि यह एक जबरदस्‍त जीत है। जैसा कि विजेता ने खुद अपने भाषण में कहा है, यह जीत साठ साल की मेहनत का नतीजा है जिसने चार पीढि़यों के ''श्रम'' और ''बलिदान'' को परखा है। आज के विेजेताओं ने पिछले साठ साल में जो लंबा मार्च किया है, उसने अपने पीछे दंगों और फसादों का एक लंबा सिलसिला भी छोड़ा है तथा सैकड़ों हज़ारों पुरुषों व स्त्रियों को मध्ययुगीन बर्बरता करने के लिए तैयार किया है। सवाल है- क्‍या वे इस निर्णायक विजय के बाद भी ऐसा ही करना जारी रखेंगे? 

इसका जवाब ना में ही होना चाहिए। एकाध छिटपुट दंगे यहां-वहां तो हमेशा ही होंगे। हमारा समाज जैसा है, उसमें इसे नकारा नहीं जा सकता लेकिन विजेताओं को वह काम जारी नहीं रखना होगा जो वे विजय से पहले करते आ रहे थे। गुजरात में 2002 के बाद दंगे न होना इसका एक उदाहरण है। वास्‍तव में, उन्‍हें गुजरात वाला प्रयोग बाकी देश में दुहराने की कोई ज़रूरत ही नहीं पड़ेगी, जहां- अगर उनकी एक उपलब्धि का उदाहरण इस तरह से गिनवाया जाए, कि- हिंदू और मुसलमान अब कभी भी पड़ोसी नहीं हो सकते। 

हमारा पहला सबक हालांकि इससे नहीं निकलना चाहिए कि वे सामाजिक ताने-बाने के साथ क्‍या और क्‍या नहीं कर सकते हैं। इसके बजाय सबक यहां से निकलना चाहिए कि वे राज्‍य और उसकी संरचनाओं के साथ क्‍या और क्‍या नहीं कर सकते हैं। यहां से जो सबक निकल रहा है, वह किसी आदतन वामपंथी के सहज बोध का निषेध करता है। विजेता की पाशविक ताकत का स्रोत बुनियादी तौर पर हमारे समाज में मौजूद है, लेकिन यह ताकत अपनी सामाजिक विचारधारा के अनुरूप राज्‍य की संरचनाओं को ढाल नहीं सकती। कुछ लोग कह सकते हैं कि आखिर वे ऐसा कोई काम करने का प्रयास करेंगे ही क्‍यों? आखिर को, यह एक पूंजीवादी राज्‍य है। इसका नियंत्रण अर्जित करने के बाद तो वे बड़ी आसानी से उन कॉरपोरेट ताकतों के हितों की पूर्ति कर सकेंगे जिनके बल पर वे सत्‍ता में आए हैं। यह बात जहां तक खींच कर ले जाई जाए, सही ही बैठेगी। यह बड़ी सहज बात है, लेकिन यहां एक निर्णायक बिंदु छूट रहा है। पूंजीवादी हितों को हिटलर जैसी फासीवादी तानाशाही भी पूरा कर सकती है और एक बुर्जुआ-जनतांत्रिक कल्‍याणकारी राज्‍य भी, जैसा कि हम स्‍वीडन या कनाडा में पाते हैं। तो क्‍या हम यह कह सकते हैं कि फिर इन दोनों के बीच के अंतर से किसी वामपंथी को कोई फ़र्क नहीं पड़ता, जो कि समाजवाद लाने का संघर्ष कर रहा है या फिर उन लोगों को जो समाजवाद का कथित तौर पर इंतज़ार कर रहे हैं? भारतीय राज्‍यतंत्र एक ऐसे समाज की गोद में बैठा है जो कभी-कभार फासीवादी तानाशाही की राह पर चलने वालों को भी सत्‍ता सौंप सकता है। खुशकिस्‍मती बस इतनी है कि अपनी विचारधारा और चाहतों के मुताबिक वे ऐसा कर नहीं पाएंगे। वे ऐसा करने की कोशिश भी शायद नहीं करेंगे क्‍योंकि दीवार पर लिखी इबारत वे बखूबी पढ़ सकते हैं। एक वामपंथी ऐसे में भारतीय हिटलर के उभार को रोकने का श्रेय यहां की जनता को ही देगा। वह पूरी तरह गलत भी नहीं होगा। आखिरकार दुनिया में जो कुछ होता है, वह अंतत: अपने विश्‍लेषण में जनता का ही किया हुआ होता है। लेकिन ऐसा दीर्घकालिक और व्‍यापक विश्‍लेषण अकसर पुनरुक्ति का शिकार होता है जो हमारी समझदारी में कोई योगदान नहीं दे पाता।

Statement on the General Elections, 2014

- P.A.D.S (People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism)

The Loksabha election results of 2014 surprised everyone. They are beyond the wildest dreams of even the most ardent BJP and Modi supporters, and worse than the worst scenarios imagined by BJP’s political opponents. Even though these elections results are singularly stunning, phenomena like these have diverse reasons. A comprehensive understanding and meaningful response require that all these reasons be dispassionately explored and evaluated.

First, the votes behind these results. BJP polled 31% of votes. Never before has a party with so few votes won a mjority in national elections. Clearly, the first past the post system has benefited it disproportionately, more than any other ruling party in the past. This electoral system has amplified the BJP victory and made it look so impressive. However, BJP’s electoral achievements in other domains must not be discounted. For the first time it managed to dislodge the Congress as the main party to represent Assam in the Lok Sabha. Fighting alone, it garnered 17% of votes in West Bengal and made determined bids in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In all states where it fought a straight battle with the Congress, its vote share was above or close to fifty percent. It ran the most expensive and well organised campaign. Among all contestants, only it appeared determined to win and left no stone unturned to achieve its objective. It played the communal card astutely in UP and Bihar, with full paraphernalia of communal riots, started more than a year ago, and unabashed use of Hindu religious symbols. At other places it was the ‘development’. 

The BJP victory is actually Mr Modi’s victory. For the first time since Mrs Indira Gandhi after the 1971 and 1980 elections, a single person has come to acquire such a mandate at the national level. These results show a significant shift of electoral politics to the right and marginalisation of non-communal forces. All parties which have done well, the Shiv Sena, AIADMK, TDP or even the TMC, are either openly communal or have had truck with the BJP in the past.

Democratic and secular forces need to look beyond election results. Elections in liberal democracies are a means to form governments that enjoy formal legitimacy. They are a window to popular politics , yet the gross nature of this window fails to show the actual changes in society. The first past the post system was favoured in India because it is the easiest method toform stable majorities for legislative purposes and government formation. Though state power is the most organised and the key coercive power in all societies, and as long as there is no popular challenge, it also is the one enjoying maximum legitimacy, democratic forces should not confuse electoral politics or the state power constituted through elections as the be all, and the end all of popular politics. This is particularly so in India, where almost all elected governments indulge in corruption and unconstitutional use of state power. 

Once the authoritarian and communal right wing is firmly in the saddle, it is essential for democratic and secular forces to challenge their moral, and constitutional legitimacy at all public fora. Just because the largest number of people who voted have opted for the BJP and Mr Modi, does not mean we stop fighting against their anti-democratic and communal policies and actions. This principle of our democratic politics would hold true even if not just 31%, but the overwhelming majority of voters were to vote for the BJP and Mr Modi.

It was well known before elections that the big capitalists and corporate media were rooting for Mr Modi. Professional and bureaucratic elites, and urban and rural propertied, including urban middle classes, have overwhelmingly voted for the BJP. In fact in all recent elections, higher an Indian is in the class and/or caste hierarchy, more likely he or she is to vote for the right wing. The two and a half decades of neo-liberal economic policies have increased their prosperity much faster than the majority. They resented the social welfare and affirmative action policies of the UPA, related to rural employment, land acquisition, Panchayati Raj and access to food, even if these measures were half-hearted and badly implemented. They were specifically angry with the UPA’s so called policy paralysis and lack of governance. They wanted some one like Mr Modi who they think would boldly tweak and break rules and regulations in their favour. The propertied sections of our society have enjoyed decisive influence over state policy. However, it is for the first time that these sections have successfully managed to project their concerns as the dominant concerns of electoral politics, and marginalised the hitherto popular concerns related to welfare and social justice. 

Anti-democratic tendencies in popular culture 

This change has been tremendously helped by anti-democratic tendencies in the popular culture unleashed by the neo-liberal economic order. In a society with a thick presence of feudal past in family and community life, which has not yet fully grasped the significance of human equality and citizens’ rights, the mantra of market success at any cost has encouraged valorisation of personal gain, power, aggression, and rule breaking. This is the moral economy of neo-liberalism in which somebody like Mr Modi emerges as a natural leader. In this framework the right to life of the members of a religious minority, and the second-class citizenship forced on them, count for less than ‘development’. Analysts are calling the desire for a Gujarat style development as ‘aspirational’, without noticing its anti-democratic core. The neo-liberal moral world has a spread much wider than the direct beneficiaries of the new economy. It influences all those who can not visualise an alternative, and think they can be successful in the current order. 

The neo-liberal moral order in India has also fostered symbolic orthodoxy, a new type of religiosity, and non rational cultural preferences. The respectable and morally good behaviour in this world is increasingly ritualistic, based mainly on existing religious symbols. It gels well with the earlier upper caste discomfort with the limited secularism of the public sphere after independence. Since critical reflection is little valued in both the old and the new type of religiosity, they fails to connect with the liberal and left ideas in the domain of politics, culture and higher education. They resent the presence of anglicised liberal and left intellectuals in these domains, and disparage alternate life styles. On the other hand, a party like the BJP which freely uses religion in its politics swims like a fish in water in this moral world.

Arrogance and incompetence of UPA; opportunism by so-called non-communal parties

The price rise, corruption, and the arrogance and incompetence of the UPA leadership pushed many sections of the popular classes to profound dis-satisfaction. They had made up their mind to throw out the existing regime. Wherever a credible non-Congress, non-BJP alternative was available, as for instance in the working people neighbourhoods of Delhi, they voted for it. At other places the BJP benefited from their rejection of the UPA. By and large, the non-BJP parties failed to provide a coherent platform to popular classes. Their call to social justice rang hollow when they are run like family (SP, DMK) or personal fiefdoms (BSP), they have rarely led popular struggles of sections they claim to represent and have been taking voters for granted. 

The so-called non-communal parties reduced secularism to an ugly scramble for minority votes. Even though the Congress pioneered the rights based approach to social welfare in legislature, inconsistency and bad implementation meant that people saw these as last ditch efforts, adding to the perception of its mis-governance. Also, the party itself appeared wary of claiming credit even for legitimate cases like the adivasis of Niyamgiri stopping a multi-national mining giant, for the fear that it will further alienate the already angry propertied sections of the society. The success of the BJP and Mr Modi, is also a sign of the failure of traditional electoral politics.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

“भगवा उभार” से सबक : जो समझा वही सिकंदर

जावेद अनीस 


2014 का चुनाव कई मामलों में गेम-चेंजर रहा है, यह एक विचारधारा की जीत है। पहली बार कम से कम अगले 5 सालों तक देश की बागडोर पूरी तरह से एक संघ प्रचारक के हाथों में रहने वाली है। नरेंद्र मोदी को भाजपा संसदीय दल का नेता चुने जाने के बाद सासंदों को संबोधित करते हुए भाजपा अध्यक्ष राजनाथ सिंह ने कहा कि “इस चुनाव में भाजपा को मिली जीत ऐतिहासिक है... और इस जीत के बाद हम देश में आर्थिक, सामाजिक और सांस्कृतिक परिवर्तन लाने में सक्षम होंगें।” निःसंदेह इस बार के चुनाव परिणाम अपने साथ ऐसे बदलाव लेकर आया है जो भारत में नये युग के वाहक होंगें। स्वामी रामदेव के शब्दों में कहें तो यह “व्यवस्था परिवर्तन” है। इस बात को लेकर जहाँ एक तरफ देश की एक बड़े तबके में भविष्य को लेकर बहुत उत्साह नज़र आ रहा है, वहीँ दूसरी ओर ऐसे लोगों/तबकों की तादाद भी कम नहीं है जो आशंकित है और जिनका मानना है कि यह राजनीतिक बदलाव आम नहीं बल्कि एक विचारधारा की जीत है जिसका सीधा टकराव भारत की बहुलतावादी स्वरूप से है । यह चिंता भी जताई जा रही है कि इस देश में चीजें अब पहले जैसी नहीं रहेंगी और बहुत कुछ विपरीत दिशा में बदलेगा। 

जो लोग ऐसा नहीं मानते हैं उनके लिए एक कहानी है, जिसे पुरानी पीढ़ी की दादी,नानियाँ अपने पोते-पोतियों को सुनाया करती थीं, कहानी में एक अत्याचारी विलेन होता है जो ज्यादातर राक्षस या बुरा राजा होता है, इस विलेन के जुल्म और सितम से आम जनता बहुत त्रस्त होती है, जनता को मुक्ति दिलाने के लिए हीरो की इंट्री होती है , जो की कोई सुन्दर और बहादुर राजकुमार होता है, हीरो अत्याचारी विलेन को पराजित करके उसके प्राण लेने की कोशिश करता है लेकिन हैरतअंगेज रूप से वह मरता नहीं है , तब कोई नजूमी या साधू हीरो को बताता हैं कि दरअसल विलेन के प्राण किसी ख़ास परिंदे में कैद हैं । मोदी और संघ के मामले में भी यही बात लागु होती है , मोदी के प्राण भी संघ में कैद हैं ।

भविष्य में कितने अच्छे या बुरे दिन आने वाले हैं इसको लेकर काफी बातें हो रही हैं। लेकिन इसके साथ इस बात को भी समझने की जरूरत है कि आखिर एक ऐसी विचारधारा का प्रतिनिधित्व करने वाली शक्तिओं को इस देश की राजसत्ता तक पहुचने का मौका कैसे मिल गया जिन पर दक्षिणपंथी और पुरातनपंथी होने का लेबल लगा है ? आखिर इस बार ऐसा क्या हो गया कि मुल्क की उभरती युवा पीढ़ी और मध्यवर्ग को संघ का एक 64 वर्षीय अधेड़ प्रचारक सपने बेचने में कामयाब हो गया? जबकि उसके बरक्श “कट्टर सोच नहीं युवा जोश” की बात करने वाला एक युवा नेता पूरी तरह से नाकाम साबित हुआ है। 

पिछले कुछ दशकों से विश्लेषक भारतीय राजनीति का जाति,धर्म और क्षेत्र के आधार पर आधारित आकलन करते आये है। मोदी की मौजूदा जीत विश्लेषण के इस फ्रेमवर्क से बाहर जान पड़ता है, चुनाव नतीजे के दिन राजनीति विज्ञानी हिलाल अहमद ने किसी चैनल पर चर्चा के दौरान टिप्पणी करते हुए कहा था कि इस चुनाव में विजेता पार्टी और उसके साथी संगठनों द्वारा जो प्रक्रिया चलायी गयी है और जिस तरह के नतीजे आये हैं वे अभूतपूर्व हैं उनको समझने के लिए हमारे पास अभी “टूल” ही नही है। इसी बात को आगे बढ़ाते हुए कहा जा सकता कि वाहक मानी जाने वाली वामपंथी ताकतें भी समय की नब्ज को पहचानने और बदलाव की आकांक्षा को संबोंधित करने में नाकाम साबित हुई है। यहीं नहीं इतना सब हो जाने के बाद भी वे अभी भी "जोड़" के फार्मूले से "घटाव" का सवाल हल निकलने में मशगूल नज़र आ रही हैं। जाहिर सी बात है कि ऐसा करने से जवाब का गलत आना तय है ! शायद वामपंथ द्वारा बार-बार दुहराए जाने वाले एतिहासिक गलतियों की वजह भी यही है, लेकिन हैरत तो इस बात की होती है कि एक प्रतिगामी विचारधारा समय के हिसाब से अपनी मूल विचारधारा से समझौता किये बगैर अपने राजनीति में बदलाव करती है और अपने लिए नयी रणनीतियां बनाने में कामयाब होती है। समाज और राजनीति विज्ञान के आलिम इसका गहराई से विश्लेषण कर रहे होगें। समाज का एक तालिबइल्म होने के नाते मुझे फौरी तौर पर कुछ मोटी बातें समझ में आ रही है जिन्हें साँझा कर रहा हूँ। 

जो समझा वही सिकंदर 

चुनाव प्रचार के दौरान कांग्रेस पार्टी ने अपनी उपलब्धियों को लेकर “भारत निर्माण” सीरीज के विज्ञापन जारी किये थे जिसमें तत्कालीन सरकार द्वारा 10 साल पहले के भारत को मौजूदा समय से तुलना करके समझाने की कोशिश की गयी थी, कि देश में विकास और बदलाव हुआ है और चीजें पहले से बेहतर हुई हैं। निश्चित रूप से तथ्य इस बात के गवाह हैं कि यूपीए के पिछले दस सालों के कार्यकाल में काफी कुछ बदला है। इस दौरान भारत दुनिया की तीसरी सबसे बड़ी अर्थ-व्यवस्था बना है, यही दस साल सबसे तेज विकास दर के साल रहे हैं। 
लेकिन इन्हीं दस सालों में और भी बहुत कुछ बदला है, इस दौरान मध्य वर्ग का दायरा बढ़ा है, बड़ी संख्या में एक नयी पीढ़ी सामने आई है जिसने पहली बार वोट दिया है। इन्हीं दस सालों में ही सूचना स्रोतों की बाढ़ सी आ गयी है। अभूतपूर्व रूप से जनता के पास दुनिया भर की सूचना आदान–प्रदान करने वाली विभिन्न तकनीकों की रीच बढ़ी है, टी.वी. चैनलों सोशल–मीडिया, इन्टरनेट, मोबाइल, व्हाट्स -अप जैसे जनमाध्यमों की पैठ कस्बों को पार करते हुए गाँवों तक हुई है, जिसके नतीजे में जनता का मानस और अपने आसपास की चीजों को देखने का नजरिया भी बदला है। जनता अब पहले से ज्यादा “कम्यूनिकेटिव” हो गयी है। अब वह अपने नेता से “साइलन्स” नहीं “कम्युनिकेशन” की उम्मीद करने लगी है, भले ही इस “कम्युनिकेशन” में उसकी भूमिका “रिसीवर” तक ही सीमित रहे। विडंबना है कि इन सब बदलावों की वाहक रही कांग्रेस पार्टी ही इसे समझने में चूक कर बैठी।

वहीँ मनमोहन सरकार का काल (विशेषकर उनका दूसरा कार्यकाल) गैर-जवाबदेही, निराशा, दंभ और निक्कमेपन का दौर साबित हुआ है। इस दौरान भ्रष्टाचार के पिछले सारे रिकॉर्ड तोड़ डाले गये, मंहगाई हर रोज नए मुकाम तय कर रही थी, ऊपर से तत्कालीन हुक्मरान इस पर मरहम लगाने के बजाये अजीबोगरीब बयान दे कर जले पर नमक छिड़क रहे थे, जनता के बीच नेतृत्व को लेकर चिढ़ और भ्रम बना हुआ था। इसका परिणाम यह हुआ की जनता इस सरकार को बोझ मानने लगी और किसी ऐसी विकल्प के तलाश में थी जो उन्हें इस सरकार से मुक्ति दिखा सके। जनता में गुस्सा किस कदर था इसका अंदाजा इस बात से लगाया जा सकता है कि आखिर के तीन वर्षों में मनमोहन सरकार के खिलाफ देश भर में अभूतपूर्व जन-आन्दोलन हुए जिसमें बड़ी संख्या में लोग भ्रष्ट्राचार, महंगाई और सुरक्षा को लेकर सड़कों पर उतर आये। लेकिन इसको लेकर भी मनमोहन सरकार और कांग्रेस पार्टी के नेतृत्व का रवैया, ठंढा और दंभी ही रहा।

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lesson for the Saner Segments of the Margins

- Ravi Sinha

The margins just got bigger. Many among those who customarily inhabit the centre have been pushed to the periphery. They are not my concern. There are analyses galore about why and how this has happened. I am not going to add one more to those. Margins exist on all sides. They encircle the political mainland from left and from right. Some might say there are no margins on the right. Everything on that side is mainstream. In any case, I will have little to say about the margins on the right.

My concern is with the left-side margins that now harbour the entire Left, although it is perhaps too soon for much of the traditional Left to acknowledge that. They are not likely, in any case, to listen to those of us who have spent a lifetime on the margins – partly because of our own follies and frailties but also because we have refused to succumb to the unsavory demands of the times. It is, after all, not our fault that we are born in a valley of historical time where the descent on the slopes of past glories has already come to an end and the ascent to the future ones is yet to begin.

The adjective “saner” in the title is an evaluative term and one could be accused of being judgmental and arrogant. Either one should spell out the criteria underlying such evaluations or admit that the judgment is a subjective one. I will begin with the second option for the simple reason that I do not wish to be pedantic about counting criteria that can be discerned, in any case, from what I have to say. Of course, one does not even need to point towards the lunatic fringe that lives by hurling accusations of revisionism, treachery and worse at everyone else. Whether one likes it or not, they too are part of the Left. I cannot say that they are not my concern. But they are almost hard-wired for not understanding the world as it is and thoroughly incapable of reflection and self-reflection. I do not expect them to draw any lessons from anything except for petty and selfish ends or for picking up an internecine fight.

Let me begin with what to expect in the aftermath of May 16. There is much talk about how bad it is going to be. Of course it is going to be bad, but not necessarily in the expected ways, although that too might happen. There should not be any doubt that the people of India, in their wisdom, have given a massive mandate to a person and a parivar capable of the diabolic. It is not helpful to conveniently change the meaning of the term “mandate” and say after the victory of the brutes that two thirds of Indians did not vote for them. There is no point consoling ourselves that they did not win the elections; the incumbents lost it. Nor should we draw much comfort from the fact that the horse of Ashwamedh was stopped in the far out kingdoms in the east and the south where local deities had their own divine powers. We are not entirely wrong when we attribute the victory to money-power and the corporate-controlled media. But, then, we also have the task of reconciling this with our faith in the wisdom of the people who can be thus navigated.

It is to be plainly accepted that it is a resounding victory. It has been, as the man himself acknowledged in his victory speech, in the making for sixty years and it has taken the “labour” and the “sacrifices” of four generations. The six decade long march of today’s victors has left a trail of riots and carnages and steeled hundreds of thousands of men and women to have the capacity and the stomach for medieval barbarity. The question is – will they continue to do the same after this decisive victory?

The answer has to be in the negative. There could always be a riot here or a riot there. It cannot be ruled out in a society like ours. But the victors do not have to continue with what they were doing before the victory. Non-occurrence of riots in Gujarat after 2002 is a telling story. In fact they do not even need to repeat in rest of the country their experiments with Gujarat, where – to take just one accomplishment of theirs as an illustrative example – Hindus and Muslims can no longer live in the same neighborhoods.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Is Past a Foreign Country?: Thinking About Adam Ajmeris in Saffron Times

- Subhash Gatade

"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” - L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between

Sixteen year old Shahwan, from Ahmedabad, who is still waiting for his Class X results, was extremely happy that day, when India’s electorate gave its verdict. He hugged his Ammi and went out in his Mohalla along-with his brother Almas, yelling ‘we have won’, ‘we have won’. And not only Shahwan and his family members but one could witness similar joy in the houses of Mohammad Salim Hanif Sheikh, Abdul Qayyum Mansuri alias Mufti Baba and several others.

Interestingly Shahwan’s tremendous joy with tears flowing down the eyes of his Ammi Naseem (40) had nothing to do with the fact that Mr Narendra Damodardas Modi, had delivered a ‘historic victory’ to the BJP.

Shahwan and his mother. File photo: Indian Express
It was a strange coincidence that the day India’s electorate decided to give a mandate to the Modi led BJP to rule the country for coming five years also happened to be the day when Supreme Court of India in a historic judgment overturned a controversial decision take by him as home minister. It was related to the prosecution of those arrested for Akshardham attack under now lapsed Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).

Perhaps not very many people would remember today how Akshardham Mandir in Ahmedabad was attacked by two terrorists killing 37 people and injuring several others way back in September 2002. It was reported that both the terrorists were killed by commandos on the spot itself. Shahwan’s father Adam Sulaiman Mansuri alias Adam Ajmeri, a poor mechanic along-with four others were arrested from Shahpur and Dariapur areas of Ahmedabad in August 2003 by the anti-terrorism squad of the Ahmedabad police for their alleged role in the attack. The sixth accused was nabbed from Uttar Pradesh a few days later. The lower courts sentenced Adam and another person to death for his ‘heinous role in the conspiracy’ which was later confirmed by the Gujarat high court. Remaining four accused were sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life.

Pulling up Gujarat police for framing “innocent” people in the particular case a bench comprising of Justices A K Patnaik and V Gopala Gowda held that the prosecution failed to establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt and they deserved exoneration from all the charges. The bench nixed their confessional statements being invalid in law and also said that the prosecution could not establish they participated in any conspiracy. After perusing evidence and lower court judgments, the SC bench underlined how the story of prosecution crumbles at every juncture. According to Indian Express ( 17 th May 2014) the bench blamed the home minister for:
“clear non-application of mind granting sanction,” since it was based neither on an informed decision nor on an independent analysis of facts..The court said the sanction was hence “void” and not a legal and valid sanction under POTA.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Isn’t ‘illegal Bangladeshi’ Racist Shorthand for All Bengali Speaking Muslims in Assam?

- Bonojit Hussain

Note: A shorter version of this article was published in today's Calcutta edition of The Telegraph.

The fragile and unstable peace in Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) of Assam has once again been ruptured. The recent massacre of Muslims of East Bengali descent in Kokrajhar and Baksa districts of BTAD on 1st and 2nd May has already taken toll on 46 lives; with many people still missing, the dead count might go up.

This is not the first time that targeted ethnic violence has occurred in what is today BTAD. Through out the 1990’s armed Bodo groups have indulged in pogroms against Nepalis, Adivasis and Muslims and Hindus of East Bengali descent. But since the creation of BTAD in 2003, increasingly only Muslims of East Bengali descent are being targeted. Worst among all was the so-called ‘riots’ of 2012 where 108 people died. According to sources in Assam government, 79 were Muslims of East Bengali descent, 22 were Bodos and 4 were from other communities.

A lot has been written about the underlying causes of these recurring targeted killings and we need not dwell upon that here. (for an overview see Sanjib Barua, “Assam: The Politics of Electoral Violence”, Outlook Magazine, May 09, 2014). What should bother us all is how quickly discourse over the recurring massacres in BTAD is transformed into a debate on the question of illegal immigration from Bangladesh, wherein the victims are immediately labeled as ‘illegal Bangladeshis’. Even if the victims were ‘illegal Bangladeshis’, the barbaric act of killing 46 people in a span of 36 hours is a crime against humanity.

Poster in Kokrajhar district during 2012 riots. Photo: Bonojit Hussain
Like in 2012, immediately large section of Assamese society, a section of the national media and the BJP leadership raised the bogey of ‘illegal Bangladeshi’ to justify the killings and divert attention from the real causes of the massacre. Some even went to the extent of likening victims of the massacre with locust. Verbal attacks and abuses are also being launched on social media against anyone who dares question the hypocrisies of Assamese society. Recently an Assamese research scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University was subjected to threats and abuses by Assamese xenophobes, she was also asked to re-locate to Bangladesh owing to her sympathies for these ‘locusts’.

If one poses the question as to how these xenophobes know that Assam is being swarmed by ‘illegal Bangladeshis’, the answer is always about increasing visibility and numbers of Miyas (slur used to denote Muslim Bangladeshis) in urban clusters, new settlements in peripheries of forest land and settlements near river embankments. I argue this is a racist way of telling.

It is a difficult question to answer how many undocumented Bangladeshis are there in BTAD area let alone in all of Assam. However, it is impossible to refute that from 1901 to 1941, encouraged by the colonial administration, over 10 lakhs migrated and settled in Assam from East Bengal. The geographical area of present day BTAD would fall under what were Goalpara and Kamrup districts during the colonial era. So, it is worth mentioning that East Bengali Muslim peasants first settled in undivided Goalpara district, before they spanned out to other parts of western and central Assam. The decadal growth of population in Goalpara district had shot up by 30 % as early as 1901-1911 compared to 1.4 % and 2 % in the preceding decades respectively. In 1921-1931, the decadal growth of population of Goalpara dropped to 15.8 % because most of the suitable wasteland in the district had already been occupied by immigrants who poured into the district in 1901-1921, and that the immigrants had found a larger scope for settling in Kamrup and Nagaon districts. During 1921 to 1931 Barpeta subdivision of Kamrup district saw an enormous 69 % increase in population. Between 1901 and 1931, 4.98 lakhs East Bengali Muslim peasants are recorded in Goalpara district alone. Here, then, the question arises – Where are the descendants of the lakhs of Muslim peasants of East Bengali descent who settled in the region before partition? (for a detailed discussion see, Banajit Hussain, “The Bodoland Violence and Politics of Explanation”; Seminar Magazine, No: 640, December, 2012)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Adieu Comrade Mukul Sinha: Your Struggles Will Be Carried Forward

New Socialist Initiative (NSI) condoles the untimely demise of Comrade Mukul Sinha, an inspiring Trade Union leader and a leading activist of the anti-communal movement. At a crucial juncture in our country's history, when the forces of majoritarianism with due support from the corporate capital are on the upswing, the absence of Mukul Sinha would be felt more.

Founding member of the New Socialist Movement (NSM), Jan Sangharsh Manch and Gujarat Trade Union Federation Comrade Mukul Sinha started his social-political life as an activist of the working class movement and helped organise different sections of the working people in Gujarat. Since last twelve years he had become a leading voice of the anti-communal movement in Gujarat who dared to take up cases of victims of the 2002 carnage at great personal risk to himself.

Long live the glorious memory of Comrade Mukul Sinha.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Selective Symbolism and the Battle for Varanasi

- Subhash Gatade

Neelanjan Mukhopadhyay, author of a much discussed book on Modi, made few interesting observations about AAP’s (Aam Aadmi Party ) foray into the electoral politics of Gujarat. Underlining the fact that Kejriwal’s entry into the state – wherein he tried to put the government on the mat for its acts of omission and commission – did raise expectations, he maintains that the momentum did peter away slowly.

What is more important to note that when the electoral battle started the party did not field a single candidate from the minority community despite the fact that population of Muslims in Gujarat is more than nine percent. According to the state leadership of the party it did not ‘find any suitable candidate from the community’ to contest elections. Questioning this explanation Neelanjan says that it thus did not challenge the prevalent norm that ‘Muslims are not to be given tickets’ by the mainstream parties. (Modi ki Raah Chale Kejriwal, Deshbandhu, 30 April 2014).

Any neutral observer of the whole situation – who is familiar with the fact that there are places where AAP did field ‘outsiders’ to fight elections – would also be of the opinion that this explanation seems insufficient and perhaps there are deeper reasons involved in this decision. If at the political level it could bracket BJP as well as Congress at the same level by portraying their alleged proximity to the Adanis’ and Ambanis’ why did not it try to make another strong political point by giving ticket(s) to candidate(s) belonging to the minority community. (To put it on record, the BJP did not field a single Muslim candidate and Congress could muster courage to do it in only one constituency).

Why did it dither to do so?

Can we say that it was done to appear more ‘accommodating’ towards the ‘concerns’ of the majority community in a state which has been witness to a carnage more than a decade ago and a gradual silencing or marginalisation of minority voices ? Perhaps one can look back at its Delhi experience in fighting elections – where it trounced Congress from many of its safer seats, delivered a humiliating defeat to three term chief minister Sheila Dixit – but was later criticised for not being forthcoming on the menace of communalism. 

The absence of any candidate from the minority community from AAP (in Gujarat) would not have become a cause of concern if Arvind Kejriwal would not have decided to contest against Narendra Modi himself from Varanasi and the nuanced messages of his own campaign with rich symbolisms would not have become obvious. Media has already given coverage to the fact that the campaign formally started with Arvind’s ‘holy dip’ in the Ganges and is supposedly surging ahead with a bag of promises, the prominent one being to declare Varanasi as a ‘holy city.’ And as we go to the press one finds reports appearing in press that Kejriwal had gone for a ‘Ganga Aarti’.The AAP manifesto for Varanasi elections declares that

"Varanasi will be developed as the spiritual capital of the world and hence it will get the status of a holy city."

Close watchers of the Varanasi situation may tell you that it has been an old demand raised by the conservative forces from time to time but to no avail and AAP’s electoral campaign has definitely added new ‘glamour’ to it.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Protest Held in Delhi Against Gruesome Massacre in Bodoland

New Delhi: 07/05/2014

A protest outside Assam Bhawan in New Delhi was organized today by New Socialist Initiative (NSI) against the gruesome massacre of Bengali speaking Muslims in Bodoland (Assam). According to latest official reports, 44 people have been killed, the majority being children and women. Death toll are further expected to rise considerably. 

The banner in Bodo language reads "Bodo people want peace not blood"
Apart from large numbers of student activist and teachers from Delhi University, JNU, Jamia; representatives of National Alliance of People's Movement (NAPM), Jamia Teachers' Solidarity Association (JTSA), Coalition for Nuclear disarmament and Peace (CNDP), All India Students' Association (AISA), Bhumi Bachao Andolan, Kudai-e-Khidmatgar, Focus on Global South, People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS), Jagori, Stree Mukti Sangathan, Association of Students' for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK), Jamia Students' Solidarity Forum (JSSF), Save Democracy and Repeal APFSA Group (SDRAG) and JNU Students' Union participated in the protest.

During the 2 hour long demonstration the protesters also submitted a memorandum address to Mr. Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister of Assam, which was received by Officer on Special Duty (OSD) of the office of Resident Commissioner. While condemning the massacre in strongest possible term, through the memorandum, the protesters demanded the following from Assam government:
  • A high level judicial enquiry be instituted, as state (Assam) security forces have utterly failed to prevent the massacre and can not be relied upon to carry out fair and thorough investigations. 
  • Adequate compensation and rehabilitation package be provided to families of deceased and injured. 
  • Secured relief camps with adequate standards be provided to the victims till they feel confident to return to their villages.
  • FIR be registered against Pramila Rani Brahma for her inflammatory public remarks. 
  • Since it has come to light that guns belonging to forest department have been used in the massacre and involvement of forest guards have been suspected, investigate the possible involvement of official and executive members of the forest department of Bodoland Territorial Council. 
Through speeches and slogans protesters also highlighted the deplorable fact that while innocent civilians are massacred, certain sections of media and society have twisted the issue and are raising the bogey of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants to cover up the causes of the violence. 

The protesters also condemn the attempts of Assam government to divert attention from its utter failure in protecting lives of people by declaring that it is mulling to arm Bengali-speaking Muslims in BTAD area with licensed guns and has asked for applications from villagers. Protesters asserted that the need of the hour is to de-arm BTAD completely instead of arming further.

Speaking to media, New Socialist Initiative (NSI) representatives clarified that NSI does not demand that BTAD be scrapped. They pointed out that historically Bodo community has been one of the most oppressed community in Assam and the genuine democratic aspirations for greater political and economic autonomy of ordinary Bodo people should be respected. However, the genuine aspirations of the Bodo people have been completely hijacked by the politics of power mongering and of vested interests which can further only further it's interest at the cost of the rights of other ethnic groups as is being done for a decade by pitting ordinary Bodo people against similar non-Bodo people of the region. They stressed that instead of demanding that BTAD be scrapped, the demand should be that of revision and reworking of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) Accord under which BTAD came into existence and is governed; so that democratic aspirations of all section of population in BTAD are upheld and gets realized.

Several leaders from the ruling Congress Party (both in Assam and outside) have opined that the Bodoland massacre is a direct outcome of Narendra Modi's never-ending diatribes against "illegal Bangladeshi migrants"; many on the left also thinks that to be the case. When asked by the journalists during the protest, NSI representatives pointed out that to see this massacre to have stemmed out of Modi's diatribes would amount to gross simplification of otherwise deep-rooted and complex causes behind the massacre. However, they also asserted that Modi's diatribes have created a political environment where it became easy for a section of the society and media to attempt and justify the massacre along communal lines by raising the bogey of 'Bangladeshis'.

Below are few more photographs are the protest:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Condemns the Gruesome Massacre in Bodoland (Assam): Statement by New Socialist Initiative (NSI)

New Delhi; 07/05/2014

New Socialist Initiative (NSI) strongly condemns the gruesome massacre of Bengali speaking Muslims in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) in Assam, which has witnessed the resurgence of the ugly head of ethnic violence. As per latest official reports, 44 people have been killed, the majority being women and children, while several have been injured and many are missing.

On the evening of 1st May at 7.30 pm, 8 armed Bodo youths riding on 4 bicycles entered a house in Narasinghbari village in Baksa District and fired gunshots. The next day (2nd May), allegedly 40 Bodo militants surrounded 77 houses in Narayanguri village in the same district and fired indiscriminately. Until now 36 dead bodies have been found. According to district administration 15 people are still missing, among them 12 children and 3 women. Simultaneously, in Balapara village in Kokrajhar district at around 12.30 am on 2nd May, armed Bodo youths killed 8 people. The survivors in Baksa district told that the death toll will substantially increase as the militants killed and threw the dead bodies into the Beki River that flows through the area.

Bodies of victims outside Kokrajhar Police Station
Even though the Assam government and BTAD administration blame National Democratic Front of Bodoland’s Songbijit faction for the carnage, survivors and people from the affected communities have refuted the government’s claim and asserted that former cadres of Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) were involved in the massacre. They strongly feel that the ‘planned’ massacre was a reprisal for not voting for the Bodo People’s Front (BPF) candidate Chandan Brahma, who is a powerful minister in the Assam State government, in the Lok Sabha election for Kokrajhar constituency held on 24th of April. Chandan Brahma is in the fray against, among others, sitting BPF MP Sansuma Khungur Bwismwithiary who is contesting as an independent candidate this time. The media statement given by Pramila Rani Brahma, former Minister in the Assam Government and present BPF MLA from the Kokrajhar East constituency, on 30th of April in which she accused the Muslims of not voting for Chandan Brahma, reasserts the survivors’ claims. Ms. Brahma’s speculation amounted to dividing the populace on the basis of religion and is in violation of the law as it amounts to promoting hatred, ill-will or animosity on the basis of religion. Survivors have also intimated that the attack was carried out under the leadership of Amiya Brahma, Ranger of Basbari Forest Range, and that the assaulters used .303 rifles belonging to the Forest Department. Since the massacre, Amiya Brahma along with several forest guards and former militants were arrested for involvement in the massacre. 

Naba Saraniya, a former commander of United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the non-Bodo consensus candidate of Sanmilita Janagosthiya Aikkyamancha (SJA) which is an amalgamation of at least 20 ethnic and linguistic groups that form 74% of the total population in the BTAD areas, is widely tipped by poll analysts to win the election. People from the affected communities have also affirmed that they voted en masse for Mr. Saraniya. Despite perceived threats of violence, voting amongst non-Bodos is reported to be about 65% and in certain pockets where non-Bodos are a majority, voting percentage even crossed the 90% mark. The likely victory of a non-Bodo candidate is a significant change in the politics of the region in which the BPF and its predecessors had strongly dominated for the last couple of decades.

It should also be noted that before the violence on the 1st and 2nd of May, tensions had begun to strongly manifest in the region. Since the 25th of April, hundreds of Muslim people from the villages under the Harbhanga polling booth had been harassed by the police. This was done in allegations over the death of police personnel on election duty the day before, owing to a rumor of an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) being rigged. 

The tensions that were evidently building up since the polling day (14th April) culminated in the massacre of 1st and 2nd May where perpetrators resorted to extreme violence, entering into indiscriminate killings including women, children and the elderly. The worsening of the situation in the region was either not comprehended or left to chance by the state administration. Despite tensions building up, the inability to prevent the massacre brings to fore the utter failure and short-sightedness on part of the Assam Government. It is condemnable that to divert attention from its failure Assam government is mulling arming Bengali-speaking Muslims in BTAD area with licensed guns and has asked for applications from villagers. Forest minister Rockybul Hussain told media on Sunday that for their self-defense, Bengali speaking Muslims villagers should be given licensed arms by the state government. He has been quoted to have said that, “Since the home department in Bodoland area is under the state government, the government can provide licensed arms if anyone applies for it.” The minister and the Assam government should know better than others that the need of the hour is to de-arm BTAD completely rather than arming it further.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Protest Against Massacre of Bengali Speaking Muslims in Bodoland (Assam)

New Socialist Initiative (NSI) calls upon all progressive and democratic minded individuals and organisations to join us and raise our voice against the massacre of Bengali-speaking Muslims that it still unfolding in Bodoland (Assam). The death toll has already reached 32 and still counting.

Protest against Massacre of Bengali-Speaking Muslims in Bodoland (Assam)

3 pm, 7th May (Wednesday), 
Assam Bhawan, Sardar Patel Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi

2nd May: Bodies lying in a vehicle outside
 Kokrajhar Police Station
In what seems to be a post-poll revenge killings in all probability, on 1st May at 7.30 p.m., 8 Bodo youth armed with fire arms riding on 4 bicycles entered a house in Narasinghbari village in Baksa Dist. inhabited by Muslims and asked, whom did you vote for, and before getting any answer they fired shots and killed 3 persons and injured two. At 12.30 a.m. on 2nd May (night of 1st May) in Balapara village part I, 20 armed militants entered and fired indiscriminately on 5 houses and killed 8 people which include 3 women, two old persons and 3 children (aged: 3, 8 and 12 years), who had obviously not even voted. On the same day (2nd May), 40 militants surrounded 77 houses in Narayanguri village (the last village before Manas National Park) and fired indiscriminately. 20 dead bodies have been found so far, 8 had to be hospitalised and 31 are still not accounted for. This has led to exodus of Muslims to safer places.

It is worth noting that a day before the massacre, Pramila Rani Brahma, Minister for Agriculture in Assam from Bodo People's front (BPF) who represents Kokrajhar East Constituency gave an interview to media on 30th April claiming even before the results of Lok Sabha elections are out that this time Muslims did not vote for the BPF and therefore their candidate Chandan Brahma was not likely to win.

It is further worth noting that he 16th General election for Lok Sabha concluded in Assam on 24th April. From Kokrajhar constituency, the candidate of Bodo People’s Front, a party of former militants, was Chandan Brahma and was opposed by a non-Bodo candidate Naba Saraniya, a former commander of ULFA, backed by the Sanmilita Janagostiya Aikkyamancha (SJA), an amalgamation of at least 20 ethnic and linguistic groups based in Bodoland. The Bengali speaking Muslims of Bodoland apparently voted enmasse in favour of Naba Saraniya.

For facebook event page click here
Contact: 8860304908, 9999773268, 9013074979, 9911078111