Integrated development, politics and social empowerment in India and beyond

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Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

The Muzaffarnagar riots are another terrible blot on India’s democracy and integrity. To kill innocent people in cold blood for some petty political gain is barbaric. The Samajwadi Party bears prime responsibility for inactivity in the face of gathering storm warnings

The Politics of Hate and Divide

The Muzaffarnagar riots are another terrible blot on India’s democracy as a fake “Muslim terror” video goes viral and is exploited by communal parties.

By B G Verghese

Deccan Herald, 15 September, 2013

The Muzaffarnagar riots are another terrible blot on India’s democracy and integrity. To kill innocent people in cold blood for some petty political gain is barbaric. The Samajwadi Party bears prime responsibility for inactivity in the face of gathering storm warnings. It took stern action to prevent the 84-kos parikrama yatra around Ayodhya, slyly suspended a young, innocent SDM for allegedly vitiating communal harmony by itself playing the communal card, and then allowed Muzaffarnagar and the adjacent countryside to burn for days.

The caste politics of the BJP and Ajit Singh’s RLD also played out in a bid to break the winning but weakening Muslim-Jat combination in Western U.P in the hope of electoral gain. It allowed a Muslim panchayat and then a far more provocative mahapanchayat organised by the Bharatiya Kisan Union at which incendiary speeches were made by BJP, Congress and other party leaders. Hindus were instigated to violent retaliation for an incident that was videographed in Sialkot, Pakistan two years ago but now morphed to transplant a scene of “Muslim terror” in Muzaffarnagar. The fake video went viral on Facebook and was reproduced in some Hindi dailies even as the State tried to block its circulation. There is dangerous mischief afoot and the origin and trajectory of the fake video need to be traced.

The VHP has a take on this too. The joint general secretary of its Meerut branch, Chandra Mohan Sharma, told the “Hindu” that on August 27 a Muslim boy teased a Hindu girl, triggering tension. A fake video of this “incident” was screened at the mahapanchayat at which the need for Hindus to protect their young women was stressed, fuelling passions. The VHP’s regional secretary at Meerut, Sudarshan, accused the SP government of being partial to Muslims. The U.P Bajrang Dal chief, Balraj Singh spoke of a “wider conspiracy”. He accused the Muslims of circulating the fake August 27 video to terrorise Hindus and cause them to leave their homes “in panic and fear” like the Kashmiri Pandits. “Like in Kashmir, Muslims want to take over the State. They want to take over Hindu property and Hindu women through ‘love jehad’ … order to expand the Muslim population, using Hindu girls as machines”. To this bit of vicious nonsense Sudarshan added that the mahapanchayat was followed by “a Godhra” and “what happened after that was a reaction on the lines of post-Godhra in Gujarat. The Hindus did not sit back….Victory will be ours. The Sangh’s work is to unite the Hindus, to protect our temples, women, cows, Ganga, our religion”. (The Hindu, September 11, 2013, Delhi edition).

This extensive quote is the Sangh Parivar’s credo which was repeated in slightly different terms at the RSS-BJP meeting in Delhi on September 11, also attended by Praveen Togadia, the VHP chief, to discuss their “core agenda” of Hindutva. According to Manmohan Vaidya of the RRS, Nitin Gadkari “spoke of the Ramjanambhoomi movement and temple construction, Article 370, cow protection, saving the Ganga and a common civil code”.

Enter Narenrda Modi, crowned the BJP’s prime ministerial face on September 13, and exemplar of the Gujarat 2002 “action-reaction” theory in which the “action” is contrived – in executing which pogrom he was ably backstopped by Advani as Union Home Minister. Advani once again expressed his protest at this premature elevation of the man before the autumn elections in four states by boycotting the BJP parliamentary board meeting. But he was ignominiously ignored though damned with faint praise.

The BJP taunt asking the Congress to name Modi’s opponent at the 2014 hustings is a bit of tomfoolery that only a trivialising media and empty minds find crucially important. If this is the BJP’s “programme”, then heaven help it. The Congress has a PM whose parliamentary term extends to 2019 or thereabouts. There is no compulsion in the Party to make a new announcement here and now.

The BJP has entered a new phase with the RSS actively in command and Hindutva as its masthead. This ploy has backfired in the past as it divides the nation even though it might consolidate a section of Hindus. Others, including many in the corporate world, realise this but believe Modi’s “development card” will triumph. Their calculus is problematic as development and investment must be postulated on long term social stability which is what Hindutva undermines, apart from being regressive in itself.

If the BJP believes in a uniform civil code, which is so vital for gender equity and equal opportunity, what prevents it from introducing it in any state it rules? The UCC is perfectly constitutional, leaves personal laws untouched, and is in the Concurrent List. Failure to do so is a monumental piece of humbug as it will be stoutly, even violently opposed by the sants and swamis, mullahs, and right wing orthodoxy who want to perpetuate male domination and the supremacy of a conservative clergy that lives in the medieval age. The charlatan godman, Asaram Bapu’s arrest for alleged rape has been attacked by the VHP as “a conspiracy to erode faith or shraddha of Hindu followers”. The BJP “demands” a UCC only as a stick with which to beat the Muslims who have not had the wit or gumption to call their bluff.

Sadly, the Congress has consistently led the charge against the UCC to win cheap communal votes in the name of a bogus “secularism” at the cost of the nobler constitutional value of Fraternity. The shame of it! The BJP is not the only party hugging communalism. The Calcutta High Court has just struck down the Trinamool Congresses’s payment of a monthly honorarium of Rs 2500 to 25,000 imams of mosques and Rs 1000 per month to 13,000 muezzins through the Wakf Board at a cost of Rs 162 crores in the past year. This is Mamata Bannerjee’s communal largesse even as she extends her hand to the Union for financial packages for Bengal.

Meanwhile an anti-manual scavenging bill has been passed by Parliament, and not for the first time. The noisome practice continues for lack of funding, regulation and public interest. Very recently, upper caste students in Kendrapara in Odisha prevented Dalit students from offering prayers to Ganesha and beat them up. This continuing anti-Dalit mentality is still widely prevalent. What pattern of “development” will address this problem?

Finally, in J&K, the separatist protest against the Zubin Mehta concert fooled nobody by its synthetic anger based on a total non sequitor. The alleged LET attack on the CRPF barracks at Shopian in Kashmir on the day of the concert was the standard default option of the jihadis. Some innocents may also have sadly died in the crossfire, leading to protests, bandhs and hartals in which the Hurriyat has gleefully joined. Will an independent inquiry be now permitted? The last Shopian “killing” is still hanging fire after the AIIMS viscera report rubbished the complainants’ case. The J&K High Court has been sitting on the matter for the past two years. Fear and blackmail by a small handful of small men has all too often held the State to ransom. They thrive on violence and hate peace. Poor fools!

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