Vol. XLII No. 05 February 04, 2018

Students’ Struggle against Communal Violence & Politics of Hate

Vikram Singh

INCIDENTS of communal violence and hatred have increased manifolds in India in recent times. The idea of a secular, democratic republic is under attack by the very forces ruling at the Centre. The idea of those who are leading the regime in this country is an idea which wages war against the constitutional values itself. The brutal murder of Mohammad Afrajul and the circulation of a video of his killing is one of the most horrifying experiences in the recent past. What is more dangerous is the kind of support for this heinous act that poured in from local people and also fund collection drive for the communal killer. During one such mobilisation, the mob hoisted the saffron flag at the gate of a district court. This reflects the dangerous environment created by the saffron family using public machinery.
It is in this context the SFI has launched a nationwide campaign, ‘Aman Ka Ailan’, against communalism from January 26 to February 14, 2018. As part of this campaign, a national convention of students against communal violence and hate politics was organised on January 30, the martyrdom day of Mahatma Gandhi, at Parsi Anjum Hall in New Delhi. The convention was attended by more than 200 delegates and was inaugurated by Professor Ram Puniyani of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. SFI president V P Sanu presided over the convention.
Prof. Puniyani, during his inaugural address, underlined the kind of environment created in India on false pretexts. It is portrayed that all violence is done for religion, but this has nothing to do with religion. He narrated that in the past, emperors fought wars for wealth and power, and not for religion, but today these wars are being projected as fights for religion between Hindu and Muslim emperors, which is wrong. He explained that the RSS, which is trying to rule India through the BJP, has nothing to do with religion as Hindutva is different from Hinduism, but is  doing politics of religion. He appealed to the students to wage a strong struggle against this regime, based on correct understanding of history which they are trying to distort and rewrite.
The convention discussed that by creating a sense of fear and danger, with an “active” silence of the central government, the Sangh Parivar’s criminal elements are continuing their assaults on every democratic right of the citizens of this country. Thirty-five-year-old Umar Khan is the recent victim of the politics of hatred in the name of cow vigilantism. A series of such murders has taken India to a dark era where no values of modernity can survive. There have been several attempts to incite violence in the entire country right from burning churches to demolition of mosques, every attempt is being made to create an environment of terror. Gauri Lankesh, a noted journalist and vocal critic of the RSS’s communal politics, was shot dead at her residence in Bangalore. The incident had shocking similarities with the earlier killings of anti-superstition crusader Narendra Dabholkar and veteran left activist Govind Pansare in Maharashtra, and M M Kalburgi in Karnataka. This clearly points to the fact that these murders are not isolated incidents but a part of a larger attempt by the Sangh Parivar to silence the dissenting voices against their politics of hatred and violence.
There have been a series of attacks on Dalits after the BJP assumed office at the Centre and in many of the states. From Una in Gujarat, Saharanpur and Dankaur in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to the recent incident of mob violence against a large gathering to commemorate the Bhima Koregaon Battle in Pune in Maharashtra, the attacks against Dalits have increased manifolds as the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) also reports an increase of 44 per cent.
What is evident from these attacks is the police in these states have booked the victims under various acts of the IPC, whereas the culprits of the saffron brigade are roaming scot free. These are not isolated incidents rather are much organised form of violence and this is also to be noted that all these incidents have been orchestrated in the states where the BJP at the helm of affairs.
The assaults on all marginalised communities continue unabated in the current regime of the saffron brigade. The attacks on indigenous tribes of our country have also increased. The National Crime Records Bureau reports a sharp increase in the cases of violence against women. In this month of January in Haryana, a BJP-ruled state, has witnessed more than 10 horrific incidents of rape. The farce of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ is now exposed as the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its state report which says that the scheme has not been able to achieve its objectives. Derogatory remarks against women by ministers and officials of this government is not new but what is more important to be underlined is RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement on women that they are meant to do only household chores and raise children, and to earn and run the family is the task of a man. This is important in the context that the RSS’s political arm, the BJP, is unfortunately at the helm of affairs at the Centre and many states at this juncture.
Movies have become another target for the saffron brigade. Three movies have been attacked recently in which two were not even released. It has constantly been proved that no artistic or cultural production is safe from the sectarian, narrow-minded, communal Hindutva brigade. ‘Padmavati’, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and ‘S Durga’ directed by Sanal Kumar, were threatened to not allow to be released.
Now the RSS is openly implementing its agenda. Such a situation forces us to rethink the claim of being the largest democracy in the world. A nation is being shaped with mere symbolism and rhetoric, not the lives of its own people or an atmosphere of inclusiveness. The student community cannot be unaffected of these trends; we have to own the responsibility to initiative an alternative discourse against the divisive efforts of these communal forces.
There is a continuous attack on education and educational institutions today under the patronage of the BJP government at the Centre. During the last three-and-a-half years, the attacks on democracy on campuses and attempts to crush the democratic cultures in educational institutions are among the most talked about and discussed developments. Attacks on JNU, HCU, FTII and IIT-Madras were highlighted throughout the nation, and featured prominently in media debates. These assaults met with popular resistance by students. The agenda of communalisation of education has been taken forward further. The Rajasthan Minister for Primary and Secondary Education issued a direction asking all schools in Jaipur to get their students attend a five-day Hindu spiritual and service fair. There were a VHP stall in the fair which distributed pamphlets in the name of ‘Love Jihad’.
Central Ministers are propagating theories against the established science and scientific temper. Earlier also we have witnessed these kinds of statements by several ministers, including the prime minister. Minister of State for Human Resource Development Satyapal Singh is latest in this group and is directly related to education of India. He claimed that the theory of evolution put forth by naturalist Charles Robert Darwin was “scientifically wrong”, and advocated that it should be changed in school and college text books. People like him who are responsible for propagating unscientific idea and against rational thinking cannot do better to Indian education system. This convention demands the resignation of the minister.
The overall environment of hate, violence and divisive politics is also affecting the student community. The Sangh Parivar is trying to divide students on identity lines. This phenomenon is reflected in educational institutions where organisations such as the ABVP are hell bent to polarise campuses on communal grounds. This is the need of the hour to understand this threat and have to own the responsibility to fight against the saffron family and save our constitutional values. Through the convention, the SFI resolved to unite the students on the basic issues of education, and strengthen the unity of all progressive, democratic forces against the communal politics of saffron family.