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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 32, August 5, 2023

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Aug 5, 2023

Saturday 5 August 2023


Letter to the readers Aug 5, 2023

It’s been three months that widespread ethnic violence in BJP-ruled Manipur has led to nearly 60 thousand people being rendered homeless and yet no discussion and stocktaking has taken place in the Parliament. It is very creditable that opposition parties jointly went on a delegation to Manipur and have been steadfast in their demand for a discussion in Parliament. The Supreme Court while hearing a petition on Manipur recently described the situation there of complete constitutional breakdown. Repeated looting of state armouries is a very worrying sign of the growing confidence of private militias [1]. In the past week, Mewat [2], Haryana another BJP ruled state saw communal clashes that then had spill-overs in Delhi, Gurugram/Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal, etc with far-right Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad rallies and road-block protests, etc. [3] These communal tensions in BJP-ruled states of Manipur and now Haryana are signs of a build-up of violence as we move towards coming legislative elections later this year and the general elections in 2024. Some observers say this year the tensions began in March 2023 in North India giving examples of a Hindu Ekta rally in Faridabad, Haryana [4], where far-right leaders gave hate speeches against Muslims & Christians; and soon after in April 2023 at the Hindu religious festival of Ram Navami –there were violent clashes in at least six states including West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar. Religious events & festivals are increasingly violent with marchers often seen carrying swords or weapons. [5] Over recent times, hard-line right-wing vigilante groups have transformed religious events to take out provocative rallies and hold public meetings where hateful inciteful & communal slurs are propagated, with calls for an economic boycott of minorities. Whenever the BJP governments are confronted they take distance from the street power of ‘Hindutva activists’ saying they are autonomous entities, but it is obvious that these are no freewheeling actors but are part of a Hindutva agenda to sharpen social divisions for politico-electoral gain. The abject failure to protect citizens from mobs and street militia in Manipur or to take action against armed religious processions raises questions over political manipulation (and possible holding back) of police by state governments. This failure or complicity is emboldening right-wing groups in many states across India [6]. Nobody seems to have calculated the enormous losses to the economy due to communal tensions. The recent violence around the big real estate and tech hub of Gurgaon has led to hundreds of migrant workers fleeing [7] [8]. These workers worked in factories, homes, shops, and fields and now the gated elites of Gurugram who never take a stance against communalism are feeling the pinch and complaining. Sudden conflict-induced migration and displacement create huge social injuries for which people have no recourse [9]. While progressives and social democrats call out the failures of governance of right-wing BJP governments, they must make their own governments take special measures and protection for victims rendered jobless and homeless due to communal violence. We should be very worried over the dramatic hate crime that took place on 31st July by a railway police force constable who shot his superior and then shot three Muslim passengers on the Mumbai – Jaipur train [10] [11]. He can be heard on video recorded on the train “If you want to live in India, you must vote for Modi and Yogi.”. This is a very serious instance of politico-ideological influence leading to a hate crime by police officer. The railway police and all police and paramilitary authorities must take this as a warning and do all to keep a watch on officers taking an anti-constitutional turn. The railways must pay compensation to the families of passengers who lost their lives in a hate crime by a railways officer.

We invite readers to see the larger social picture behind the BJP-ruled India, they would do well to remember that the Hindutva right-wing ideological moto as spelled out by its founding ideologues was "Hinduise all Politics and Militarise Hindudom! and that is what is going on every day and taking us away from the direction of a secular republic.

August 5, 2023 —HK

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