The coming to power of Modi in 2014 gave a signal to the so called fringe groups that now it is their Government and they can get away with their hate speeches and action with ease. It was a total uninhibited show by the RSS Combine as for as spreading hatred, the foundation of violence, is concerned. While even during previous UPA regime, RSS combines leader lead in Hate speech, now it is a total dominance of theirs’ in matters of spreading hate. The NDTV report is very revealing on the matter.

“90% of hateful comments made during the NDA's current terms are by BJP politicians. During the NDA period, a total of 44 political leaders made hateful comments. Of them, 34 politicians, or 77%, are from the BJP. 10 leaders, or 23% of the offenders, are from other political parties, including the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal.” The communal issues were regularly thrown up. Vinay Katiyar of BJP said temple has to be built up in Ayodhya. He said this at a time when the matters are lying in the court. On similar lines RSS Supremo Mohan Bhagwat has been declaring that the temple will be built in his life time.

The incidents of mob lynching in the name of Cow, beef have been skyrocketing. While Mohammad Ikhlaq and Junaid are few names stuck in the memory; there are many, who have been attacked by hysterical mobs on the pretexts of skinning, killing, trading cows. The statistics of IndiaSpend@ shows these acts of violence have gone up with Modi sarkar. According to the data collected by IndiaSpend, based on the content analysis of media reporting, “Muslims were the target of 51% of violence centered on bovine issues over nearly eight years (2010 to 2017) and comprised 86% of 28 Indians killed in 63 incidents. As many of 97 per cent of these attacks were reported after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May 2014, and about half the cow-related violence — 32 of 63 cases –were from states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), recorded until June 25, 2017.”

The emotive issues related to Nationalism have been dominating the scene. Mohan Bhagwat of RSS said early March 2016 that “Now the time has come when we have to tell the new generation to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ (Hail Mother India). There is no such slogan in our Constitution, while some prefer to follow the slogan, Jai Hind, without any reservation.

The issue of love jihad has been taking horrible turn. On December 6, 2017; gruesome murder of a poor Muslim laborer Ifrazul Khan, shook the nation. His killer Shambhulal Regar not only hacked him to death, burnt him, got the whole incident videotaped and uploaded it. Killing of Afrazul by Shambhulal Regar has been inspired by the social media propaganda about love jihad by divisive forces and shows the brutality to which hate created by this ideology can penetrate the vitals of society. Regar has support from sections of society and funds were raised for his family which shows that the degree of hate is not superficial. It is making deeper inroads with the all pervading Hindu nationalism. PUCL report on the incident says that Shambhulal was “a clone of the RSS hate factory and indulged in the gruesome hate crime.” Frightened by the crime many Bengali immigrants have left for their state.

In the case of conversions to Hinduism in Agra (10 December 2014) nearly 350 pavement dwellers-rag pickers and other destitute sections were promised that if they participate in the religious function they will be given the ration card and BPL cards. This was done by the Bajrang Dal activist and the Hindu Janjagriti Samiti both outfits affiliated to RSS. The process is part of Ghar Vapasi campaign.

In a subtle encouragement to the criminals the Prime Minster has been generally keeping quiet for a long time on ‘hate crimes’ and then blurts bland statement which in a way does not reprimand the criminals, who are inspired by his own ideology. On completion of six months in power, Yogi Government brought out a brochure related to the tourism development. The booklet omits to mention the biggest tourist spot of UP Taj Mahal. Some leaders of BJP went on to label Taj Mahal as a symbol of foreign rule and a shame on Nation.

The issue of film Padmavati was very curious. Even before the film was released there were protests, even without seeing the film. It was said that film is an insult to Rajput honor. As such the film is based on a novel, a fiction, Padmavat. Padmavati is not a historical character she is creation of fiction. Fact is; the film distorts is the presentation of Khilji, who is shown to be a barbarian, running after women and devoid of culture, while historical accounts tell us he was a cultured king, who not only built Hauz Khas but also streamlined the market mechanism of trade in Delhi.

As hate speech and statements related to history, which demonize Muslims, is on the rise, the communal violence also went up, showing this in year 2017, which saw a rise of 17%, (from 703 incidences in 2016 to 822 in 2017). Kasganj violence came as a new pattern of instigating violence. A group of ABVP-VHP workers entered the Muslim locality armed with weapons, shouting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and giving anti Pakistan slogans. They wanted the Muslims, who were celebrating Republic Day to make way for their rally to pass through that narrow lane and violence followed. Similarly the Kathua rape and murder will remain a matter of deep shame. Here in addition to the patriarchal notion, communalism was the factor.

The assertiveness of so called fringe groups, the increasing hate speech, is leading to an atmosphere where the sense of insecurity among the religious minorities has gone up. The appeal of Archbishop of Delhi Couto to observe fast is just a small reflection of the sense of helpless, which the minorities are perceiving with Modi Sarkar, which is pursuing its agenda of Hindu Rashtra.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

Strife Torn Kashmir: Longings for Peace

Ram Puniyani

The Green of the valley has been regularly witnessed the blood of militants, Kashmiris, personnel from armed forces and now even those of tourists. In the month of May (2018) earlier this year a school bus was stoned leading to the death of an eleven year old child. This is the background in which Mehbooba Mufti the Chief Minister of Kashmir, sitting on the heap of a coalition, which is ideologically spilt down to the last, requested for a unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir in the holy month of Ramadan. Kashmir lately has witnessed increased violence as Central Government, which is calling the shots in Kashmir has adopted the iron fist policy substituting the earlier one of being part sensitive to the grievances of local population. It is during this period that the fake encounter of Burhan Wani unleashed a series of protests, and the disgruntled and alienated youth intensified their favorite method of protest, ‘stone pelting’. Now the frustration levels of the protesters are so high that they are not scared of the consequences of the repressive steps of the state.

The earlier UPA era of ‘dialogue with firm handling’ has given way to the muscular, hyper nationalist high handed attitude, which in turn has increased the incidences of violence in the valley. So far in 2018, forty militants, twenty four soldiers and thirty seven civilians have lost their lives. While PDP earlier was talking separatist language, it tied up with Hindu nationalist BJP, which has been asking for abolition of article 370, the autonomy clause, for the sake of grabbing power. BJP as such is wearing its anti minority stance on its sleeves and is out to undermine the Muslim majority of the state. Mehbooba Mufti is in the catch 22 situation, neither can she exercise the policies which can sooth local sentiments nor is she able to counter the high handed Hindutva policies of its ally BJP. While the major implementation of the high handed attitude is from the center, Mufti seems to be a mute witness barring probably the lone example of Kathua rape and murder where she could assert and the BJP leaders had to bite the dust.

The present scenario, worsening by the day, may affect the tourism, which is the prime source of revenue in the state. The plight of average Kashmiri needs all the empathy as with BJP rule in the center matters have taken an adverse direction. The simmering discontent, which came out in the form of stone pelting is worsening by the day due to lack of mechanisms of democratic protests and the possibility of dialogue from the authorities. Chief Minster has been calling for dialogue but she has been overruled by the BJP, as its interests are to keep up the intimidating dominating attitude for its electoral and divisive Hindu nationalist goals.

Most of the times; all the blame of discontent is passed on to the instigation from Pakistan alone. The fact is that Kashmiris are dissatisfied due to multiple factors, role of Pakistan being just one of these. The Al Qaeda clones are another and the attitude of the army is not helping the matters in any way. Army’s basic duty is to protect the borders from the enemies. Here a civilian area is under army’s control from decades. Army’s attitude was exemplified when Farooq Ahmad Dar, a weaver, who had come to cast his vote, was used as a human shield and army is trying to defend the action of the officer who subjected a civilian to such an ignominy.  He was tied for over five hours and now he stands to live with humiliation all his life. Can such attitudes let the people live their lives in the normal way in such a situation? Earlier there were articulations about autonomy to state assembly, as promised in the treaty of accession; it’s no more on the mind of those in the power. The central hallmark of democracy is the process of dialogue, which is missing in the state. Many earlier leaders had attempted to bring peace; Vajpayee’s famous doctrine was aiming at peace, progress and prosperity in the Valley by bringing in the spirit of Insaniyat (Humanity), Jamhuriyat (Democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Identity of the people of Kashmir). It also aimed at improving relations with Pakistan. Mehbooba Mufti is reminding the present rules of Vajpayee doctrine, but her plea seems to be falling on deaf ears.

UPA II undertook a major step by appointing a team of interlocutors. Dileep Padgaonkar, M M Ansari and Radha Kumar. They undertook extensive interaction with diverse groups within the state and submitted their recommendations, which were basically asking for promoting autonomy of state assembly, dialogue and improvement of relations with Pakistan. The report is lying deeply ignored. It is time that this report, the last major step at reconciliation on the issue, is revived to bring in peace in the Valley. The BJP’s role in the alliance has been very negative and has marginalized the Muslim community in a Muslim majority state. Can Mehbooba Mufti assert herself to articulate the democratic aspirations of the people of Kashmir are the question we need to ask. The anger of people against Mufti has grown immensely. The ceasefire declared by the Government is a welcome move and it needs to be backed up by humane policies to restore peace in the valley.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED