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Mainstream, VOL 60 No 43 October 15, 2022

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Oct 15, 2022

Saturday 15 October 2022

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Oct 15, 2022

In the past weeks there were a series of disturbing developments that were reported in the news. We recapitulate some of these here in public interest; First is an instance of a public flogging of Muslim youths by policemen in rural Gujarat in front of a cheering crowd [1]. Police are supposed to protect law and must observe rules they are trained for. Action must be taken over this blatant act of wrong-doing by the police as this can be read as clear instance discrimination against minorities. Second is a dangerous open call of economic boycott of Muslim minority in India by a Member of Parliament of the BJP [2]. The police should have acted immediately booked the parliamentarian, for sowing social discord, but this hasn’t quite happened as yet. As observance of secular rule of law erodes in India, there is vital need to protect norms of constitutional governance and to reclaim and reconstitute safeguards towards this. It is important that secular political parties and social movements stand-up and take up these issues with the Human rights Commission and with the courts if required [3]. The Ministry of Home Affairs has recently shut down an Islamist group and its fronts, its multiple office have been raided some of its leadership has been arrested [4]. The Popular Front of India has been banned but not the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), due to legal reasons The PFI Islamists have long been known to be associated with a violent attack on a professor in Kerala on grounds of hurting their religious sentiments [5]. In the past decades the socially regressive PFI and its multiple fronts have operated openly and acquired much social legitimacy (along lines of the RSS). The Human rights group PUCL has raised questions over whether the state is strictly following due process in its crackdown on the PFI Islamists. It is important to raise these questions of due process and to ensure democratic safeguards and that the police must follow procedures. The BJP government at the centre must clearly follow the law in an even handed fashion and should be shown the mirror for not taking action against far-right extremist Hindutva outfits and their associates who have been openly calling for violence and genocide against minorities; also all those who have been involved in incidents of lynching and inciting violence including hates speeches have not been moved against. Communalists of all brands are an equal threat to social peace and the authorities cannot be biased and one sided in acting against them. In the meantime the parties on the Left and democratic forces should keep clear social distance from Islamists or any communal and identitarian outfits. The progressives claim to support the current mass agaitation of women against the Hijab in Iran but choose not speak against it in India in the name of choice. It is absurd to lend support to regressive social customs and dress codes like the hijab promoted by reactionary forces — and package this as personal choice. Women rarely have had personal choice or autonomy on a range of issues that are powerfully imposed in the community or religious culture. The forces of Left should be clearly promoting and educating people to protect and defend individual rights and learn to make life choices that can go against the stream and regressive values in whichever community.

October 15, 2022 - HK

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