October 04, 2015

The Poison Spreads

THE pace of communalisation has quickened in the past few weeks, both through the official level and by the Hindutva outfits on the ground. Soon after the “Samanvay Baithak” of the RSS held in the first week of September, the minister for culture, Mahesh Sharma came out with a series of pronouncements regarding cultural pollution by western values and about restoring Indian culture based on the thinking established in the Gita, Mahabharat and the Ramayana. The minister declared “We will cleanse every area of public discourse that has been westernised and where Indian culture and civilisation needs to be restored – be it the history we read, our cultural heritage or our institutions that we have been polluted over the years.” One of the targets for such cleansing is the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, which according to the minister is going to be revamped. The RSS has now come out against secularism itself. Manmohan Vaidya, the all India Prachar Pramukh of the RSS has said the very concept of secularism is irrelevant in the Indian context. So far the Hindutva forces had adopted LK Advani’s attack on “pseudo-secularism” to defend their communal ideology. But now the RSS is emboldened enough to question secularism itself. The ominous talk of cultural cleansing by the minister of the government is already underway at the ground level. After the killing of Prof. Kalburgi in Dharwad, the Hindutva outfits have targeted KS Bhagawan, noted writer and rationalist. He has been warned that he will be the next target and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has started filing cases against him for offending religious sentiments. In Maharashtra, the first arrests for Govind Pansare’s murder are of people linked to the Sanathan Sanstha, an extremist Hindutva organisation which believes in using violence and has been earlier involved in bomb blasts cases. Both in Goa and Maharashtra where this organisation operates, BJP leaders and the Shiv Sena have come out in support of the Sanstha. The communal poison spread is now manifesting in acts of gruesome violence. At the official level, ban on beef has been imposed in some of the BJP governed states and the Hindutva brigade is now whipping up communal frenzy by targeting innocent Muslims. In a village in Dadri, which is just 50 kms from Delhi, a mob attacked the house of a Muslim family on the false charge that beef was eaten in the house. The head of the family was beaten to death and his son critically injured. A few days earlier in a village near Kanpur, another Muslim man was lynched by a mob after rumours were spread that he was a Pakistani terrorist. The standard tactics of inciting communal violence are being practiced. In Jharkhand, on the day of Eid, a meat piece was found outside a temple in Ranchi. Using this, the Bajrang Dal and other Hindutva organistions called for a bandh and some clashes erupted. Meat was found outside temples in three other districts of the state. The opposition to targeting intellectuals and cultural personalities and resistance to communal provocations is also developing. It is heartening that the secular democratic and progressive forces have come together in Karnataka to protest Kalburgi’s murder and to support writers like Bhagawan and to defend the right of free speech. In Ranchi, the Left and secular forces intervened immediately and organised a peace march and foiled the attempts to spread the communal violence. Given the multi-pronged effort to advance the Hindutva project, it is essential to mobilise all the secular and democratic forces to fight back this offensive. The Political Resolution of the 21st Congress of the CPI(M) called for the broadest mobilisation of the secular and democratic forces to fight the danger posed by the communal forces. It called for joint platforms for a wider united movement against communalism. The unity which is being forged in defence of intellectual freedom, democratic and secular values comprising intellectuals and other citizens must be carried forward. Similarly, in different spheres there is need for building broad platforms to mobilise all the secular and democratic forces.