Mainstream, VOL LIII No 50 New Delhi December 5, 2015
Anti-Fascism Front Launched
Sunday 6 December 2015
The Fasivad Virodhi Manch, an Anti-Fascism Front, was launched at a public meeting and press conference New Delhi’s Press Club of India on November 19, 2015. The meeeting was addressed by Ashok Vajpeyi, John Dayal, Ali Javed, Apoorvanand, Ram Sharan Joshi, and Shabnam Hashmi.
The Manch was formed after a series of meetings over the past two months as one of the many efforts to counter the onslaught of the fascist forces. The FVM will work in collaboration with other platforms and initiatives that have been recently formed. The activities of the FVM will complement the activities of other initiatives. The FVM will initiate work in Delhi initially. The FVM is an open platform for all those who believe in these values.
Prominent activists, writers and other intellectuals have signed the Formation Statement of the Manch. These include Syeda Hamid, Zoya Hasan, Ajay Kumar Singh, A.R. Shervani, Badri Raina, Dinesh Mohan, Dunu Roy, Cedric Prakash, Irfan Engineer, John Dayal, K Satchidanandan, Kamal Chenoy, K.N. Panikkar, Peggy Mohan, Rahul Roy, Saba Dewan, Zakia Sonam, and others.
The following is the Formation Statement of the Manch.
The multi-pronged attacks being unleashed on the democratic rights of citizens and secular values enshrined in the Constitution of India are deeply perturbing.
In order to weaken Indian democracy, the administrative, legal, scientific and educational, structures created during the past sixty years are either being demolished or tempered. The fascist onslaught has left these institutions permanently damaged and shows the direction in which the present regime is likely to push the country.
The Sangh has realised that large-scale violence attracts international media attention, and therefore now, meticulously planned high-intensity localised violence coupled with high-pitched hate campaigns is used across India to polarise the people and further marginalise the minorities.
The Sangh’s own campaign to malign, isolate, criminalise and target Christians and Muslims, inciting mobs to commit violence against them, has been overlooked by the Central and State Police forces. Never in free India has the public discourse been so poisoned by MPs and Ministers of the elected ruling alliance. BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj labels madrassas as ‘hubs of terror’ and exhorts Hindu women to bear four children. He calls Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s assassin, as a ‘patriot’ and ‘martyr’. Another BJP MP Yogi Adityanath says: ‘For every Hindu converted, 100 Muslim girls will be converted as retaliation.’ Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti describes those who do not worship Ram as ‘haramzade’ or bastards. A Shiv Sena MP force-feeds a Muslim canteen functionary during his roza fast. Another, Sanjay Raut, calls for the disenfranchisement of Muslims.
The new government is intolerant of civil society and dissent. Organisations are systemati-cally targeted, maligned and harassed. NGOs have been subject to direct and indirect intimidation. Select activists have been indivi-dually targeted.
During the past one-and-a-half year we have also witnessed an unprecedented multi-pronged attack on scientific temper, rational thinking and scientific establishment of the country. This includes providing credibility to myths and superstitions, official platforms for anti-science activities, budget cuts and crippling scientific institutes by political interference.
There are serious efforts to undermine diversity and pluralism and convert India into a mono-cultural, standardised society. Should the idea of cultural chauvinism and nationalism succeed, it would be nothing short of a death knell for all that India stands for.
There is significant retreat of the state from its responsibilities to the poor and disadvan-taged populations of the country. This is reflected in savage budget cuts in public spending in the social sector, including education, health and nutrition, the dismantling of labour protections in the name of labour reforms, worsening of agrarian distress through systemic neglect of small-farm agriculture, weakening of environmental protec-tions, and the dilution of protections to land-owners from compulsory land-acquisition. The central thrust of the government policy is seen as facilitating big business at the expense of India’s poor and working masses.
There is a seamless integration and adoption of the policies of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh by the NDA Government entirely dominated by the Bharatiya Janata Party. This has led to almost total impunity, seen in the failure to act in cases of speeches by Sangh leaders to incite violence against Muslims and Christians.
The meddling with the judicial system at the highest level threatens to foreclose the one option that is left to the citizens to challenge, stop and reverse this trend. The welfare network is rapidly being demolished, many policies changed at the behest of the corporate sector.
During last few months the intensity of the divisive agenda of the Sangh combine has gone up tremendously. Human right defenders, writers, poets, activists, rationalists are being attacked, targeted and killed. The recent Dadri incident of lynching a man after spreading rumours of beef-eating, followed by a number similar incidents, the burning of a Dalit family in Faridabad has numbed all of us. The damage done in the last one year to India’s ethos of secularism, communal harmony and freedom of expression may be irreparable.
The India we are part of belongs equally to all persons who make it its own—no matter what their religious faith (or the lack of it), their gender, caste, class, language, physical abilities and sexual orientation. The bedrock of the Indian Republic is the promise that all its citizens can find space in which to practise their beliefs and cultures, and live freely, confident they will be equally protected by the law of the land.
In a country with some 4693 communities and over 415 living languages, each community is bound to have its own customs, including dietary choices. Individuals may also follow practices different from the ones followed by the majority of their community. Any attempt to impose a uniform belief or practice, on either individuals or communities, is antithetical to the freedom enshrined in the Constitution. It is the state’s responsibility to ensure this freedom.
There is an urgent need for various groups, individuals, artists, intellectuals, activists and citizens in general to respond to the conditions prevailing in the country and build a strong resistance against the fascist onslaught.
It is time that we, all those committed to values of pluralism, democracy and equality, need to stand together to protest against the erosion of the values of our Constitution. The very Idea of India, democratic, secular and compassionate, is under threat with these policies which are being unleashed in an aggressive way. We need to uphold the values of Secularism, which has been the cementing factor of our Freedom Movement, which has been the core spirit of our Indian Nation.
We are launching today the Fasivad Virodhi Manch to build resistance against attacks on the rich and diverse nature of the Indian nation. It is conceived as a platform to resist the attacks on our constitutional values, rationality, democracy, communal harmony, freedom of expression and secularism.