‘We will not be silenced’

Harsh Mander
September 7, 2020

The Delhi Police believes that there was a conspiracy behind the communal violence in Delhi during the third week of February.

We agree.

But the actual conspiracy was a very different one from the one which Delhi Police is propagating.

The truth is that not just the Delhi 2020 carnage; no major episode of communal violence is spontaneous: it is always planned, organized and facilitated.

Such violence requires first the systematic creation of hatred. In Delhi we saw the build-up during the Delhi elections of a climate of hatred spawned by hate speech by senior leaders targeting the protestors against CAA NRC NPR. This was led from the front by the union home minister, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and several other cabinet and BJP party leaders. The outcome was the spread of unprecedented levels of toxic communal venom, unmatched in any previous election in Delhi.

But beyond the manufacture of hatred and the organization of the violence, the critical factor in any riot conspiracy is the role of the state, and particularly the police. No riot can go on for more than a few hours except if the government wishes for it to do so

There is massive evidence of the complicit partisan role of the police in the Delhi violence. I have spent a lot of time with the victim survivors of the Delhi carnage. I have hear hundreds of testimonies from them about the role of the police enabling, encouraging and actually indulging in hate violence.

The video of policemen tormenting four young men lying on the ground, among who Faizan subsequently died, is telling. The police while beating the men prone on the ground are taunting them by asking them to sing the national anthem; it was clear that they are punishing them for the protests, in which the national anthem had become an iconic symbol of the protests, of resistance, of unity and of solidarity.

This was the conspiracy behind the Delhi communal violence. It was a bid by the Indian state, aided by the Delhi police, to punish and crush the largest non-violent protests that independent India has seen.

The police story is quite the opposite. According to them, it was the anti-CAA-NRC-NPR protests which were the conspiracy, and that the non-violence of the protests was only a facade.

In pursuit of this story, every day the Special Branch of the Delhi Police, which normally investigates grave crimes like terror, is busy for the past months summoning mostly young people, and sometimes seniors, grilling them, intimidating them, and sometimes - as Umar Khalid has testified - forcing them create false evidence.

Large numbers of young people are today languishing in prison for months without bail in the name of this so-called conspiracy

We are gathered here today above all in the defence and solidarity with all of these young people

Yes, they and we did participate in the non-violent movement against CAA NRC NPR, and we are proud to have done so

During the protests some WhatsApp groups were made. Now every word exchanged in these groups are being examined with a defective microscope by the police, their meaning and context deliberately and mischievously misinterpreted, the truth ripped into shreds and reimagined to create the mythology of a conspiracy of hate, violence and insurrection.

There were significantly other WhatsApp groups that the police themselves admit to, wherein indeed people are actively calling for and organizing the violence on those dates. None of these are being the subject to any investigation of a conspiracy.

Our protests, and those of the young people now in our prisons, were to uphold the Constitution, and the idea of an inclusive and humane country of equal citizenship, which is the proudest legacy of our freedom struggle

The young people and we protested because we love our country dearly, and we seek to make this country better for all its citizens, of every religion, caste, class and gender, by holding the state accountable to stand by its duties to the constitution.

It is a travesty to describe this as a crime against the nation. Those who are seeking to create divisions and hate among us are those who are committing crimes against our country.

The objective of the government is transparent; to destroy the basic guarantees and freedoms of our constitution

The effort of the Indian state, facilitated by the Delhi Police, is to crush our voices, our dissent, and our struggles to uphold our constitution.

We declare here – and hope those holding highest office in the country hear us loud and clear – that the government will never succeed in silencing us, and will never succeed in taking away from us the dream we inherited from our freedom struggle, the dream of together building a country which is just, and equal, and kind.

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Ram Puniyani
October 15,2020

A Year ago, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat had stated (October 10, 2019) that Indian Muslims are happiest in the World due to Hindus. Now he goes on to say that most content Muslims are only in India. Not content with that he went on to state that “if there is any example world over wherein a foreign religion that ruled over the people of a country still exists there”, it is here in India. And further “"Our Constitution did not say that only Hindus can stay here; hereafter only Hindus will be heard here; if you want to stay here, then you have to accept the superiority of Hindus. We created a space for them. This is the nature of our nation, and that inherent nature is called Hindu". Wearing the hat of a historian he stated that many a Muslims fought for Rana Pratap against Akbar, exemplifying that people of all faiths stood together whenever there was an attack on India’s culture.  He labeled Ram Temple is a symbol of national values and character.

Most of these formulations are a ploy to deflect the criticism which RSS, as the patriarch of Hindu Communalism is facing currently, at home and also internationally. The plight of Muslims has been deteriorating at rapid pace during last few decades. Adding on to the violence against them in the wake of Rath yatras for Ram Temple, the mob lynching’s in the name of cow-beef, the social intimidations in the name of love jihad, ghar Wapasi have peaked during last few years. The cumulative intimidation of Muslim community did find its expression in the most democratic Shaheen bagh movement. The violence that took place in the aftermath saw the heavy loss of Muslim lives and great damage to their properties and holy places. The image of communalism as tormentor of weaker sections of society is going up, so probably Mr. Bhagwat is quoting Indian Constitution, which most leaders from his Parivar decry, criticize and call it as being unsuitable for India as it is based on foreign values. On the contrary Shaheen bagh movement showed the peak respect for the same when ‘Preamble of Indian Constitution’ formed its core slogan and ideology.

Undoubtedly, Indian Constitution wants a plural democratic India while RSS parivar wants a Hindu nation. For Indian Constitution religions are not foreign or native, they are universal and we have a full freedom to practice, preach and propagate our religion, we also have a freedom not to adhere to any religion.

The RSS Sarsanghchalak probably does not know that nationalism and religion were separate in the scheme of freedom movement of India where people from different religions and atheists participated with equal zest in fighting against the British rule. He may be unaware that in South East Asian countries the major religion is Buddhism, which originated in this land but is the major religion in those countries.

The communal view of History has been the mainstay of his organization, rather his Parivar’s politics. When he says that even Muslims participated in battle against Akbar, to save the Indian culture, he is taking the distortion of History to further level. In what way did Rana Pratap represent Indian culture? He was a King of Mewar. In what way the battle between Akbar and Rana Pratap was for Indian culture. Akbar, for that matter most of the Muslim kings, who ruled here, became the part of this land. Akbar in particular was for multi-faith society, that’s why he conceptualized Sulh-E-Kul (Harmony among religions). And as Muslim Hakim Khan Sur was part of Rana Pratap’s army (saving Indian culture!), so was Raja Mansingh leading the forces of Akbar! Quiet a garbled up exercise to project Rana Pratap as symbolizing Indian culture, forgetting Raja Mansing was leading forces from opposite side.

So far RSS history has been presenting Rana Pratap and Shivaji as heroes of Hindu nationalism, now probably they have learnt that both these warriors had Muslims in their army and similarly their rival Muslim Kings had Hindus also on their side. These battles have nothing to do as being for and against Indian culture. As such Indian culture flourished during this period leading Jawaharlal Nehru to call this as ‘Ganga Jamani Tehjeeb’ (Syncretism, pluralism at peak). The peak of this was Bhakti and Sufi traditions, which focused on humane aspects of life.

As far as Ram Temple being the symbol of national values and culture, we should recall Bhimrao Ambedkar’s ‘Riddles of Rama and Krishna’, where Ambedkar and later Periyar criticize the Lord for killing a Shudra Shambuk, when he was doing penance, killed Bali from behind and banished his pregnant wife Sita on mere suspicion. Symbol of Indian nationalism is freedom movement and Indian Constitution.

Indian Constitution gives equal citizenship rights to people of all religions, ethnicities, regions and languages. The problem is that communalism regards this as a Hindu nation and so Muslims and Christians are regarded as foreigners.  Accordingly earlier Sarsanghchalak M.S. Golwalkar in his book, ‘Bunch of thoughts’; calls them internal threat to the nation.

To call that Indian Muslims are happiest in the World due to Hindus or they are most content in the World, must a joke. In the light of the rising violence against them, the rising ghettoisation of the community and their declining political representation tells another tale. To cap it; now a section of media, which is part of the communal project, is coining words like Corona Jihad, Corona bomb and the last in the series is from Sudarshan Channel, which sees four odd percent successful Muslim candidates as Jamia Jihadis and others with them as a part of planned jihad to take over civil services!

Such statements like Indian Muslims are most content or happiest is like rubbing salt on the wounds of a besieged community, which is trying its best to live the values of Indian Constitution as witnessed during Shaheen bagh movement.

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