October 18, 2019

India: Political Hinduism has won the day in Kashmir | Anand K Sahay

The Asian Age

Political Hinduism has won the day in Kashmir 

by Anand K Sahay

The ugly truth our citizens in Kashmir have been confronted with since the first week of August continues to grow hideously in size.
Security personnel patrol the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Jammu on Friday. (Photo: PTI)
 Security personnel patrol the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Jammu on Friday. (Photo: PTI)
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.
At such a time it ceases to matter that the Supreme Court should be unseeing and should conduct itself in unhurried, complacent fashion, mindful only of the technical routine, superficialities, and of the urge to be seen on the same page as the government, as though nothing exceptional occurred on August 5 and imagining that nothing came apart in Kashmir on that fateful day.
Thus, it is of little consequence to the top court that around 250 habeas corpus writs, many of them in respect of children, should lie with the J&K high court, practically unattended. A habeas corpus writ denotes urgency. However, at the current rate, their disposal could easily take a year or more.
By then the world for the people of Kashmir would have altered forever, with Kashmiris becoming indifferent not just to India but to the idea of India, to the foundational values of our republic in which they had placed their trust 70 years ago, instead of simply stepping over the line and joining the Islamic republic next door.
The ugly truth our citizens in Kashmir have been confronted with since the first week of August continues to grow hideously in size. The message they receive, subliminally, is that in their case the very idea of justice is no longer in the landscape of the possible.
This impression is reinforced by the fact that the country’s top court has not just waffled on habeas corpus, it has postponed hearing the constitutional petitions that challenge the Narendra Modi government’s jettisoning of the core of Article 370 and creating two Union territories out of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, a decision which takes effect on October 31, to mid-November, in order to be overly-solicitous of the government and give it one more month to frame its reply.
By then the decision to dissolve the state of J&K would, in effect, have become irreversible, making the constitutional challenge mounted against it pointless and irrelevant. This Supreme Court would be remembered in judicial annals for abetting the current goings-on, and overlooking the constitutional view that a state of the Indian Union cannot be dissolved.
An ordinary recitation of the facts should shake the government out of its slumber, but this seems too much to expect in the present case. This is because the government’s propaganda has prevailed, and that fills the government with hubris.
But the facts won’t go away — namely, that around 4,000 people in Kashmir — professionals, businessmen and politicians of every shade, and not just the separatist Hurriyat Conference — have been locked up. The Valley’s Juvenile Justice Committee has informed the Supreme Court that as many as 144 children were booked under the draconian Public Safety Act.
After weeks of shutdown, schools have been ordered open because the government is keen to advance the new surrealism that life is back to being normal. But children do not attend, partly out of fear of the men in uniform who are now thought to number a few hundred thousand in the Valley, and partly because, for Kashmir, quiet disobedience has emerged as the new paradigm of protest.
The matrices of defiance are changing when gun-toting men in uniform populate every street of every town in the Valley. At the present juncture, Kashmiris are unlikely to present themselves as objects for target practice.
In the eyes of sympathetic and unsympathetic observers alike, the Kashmir arena is apt to resemble a vast military encampment rather than a platform that instils amongst the populace greater security awareness and raises hopes of economic development in conditions of peace, the big promise made by New Delhi and touted internationally.
Mobile phones and the Internet still do not work 60 days on, and people are unaware of events taking place only metres from their homes. Landline phones have indeed been restored, but not many people have these outdated instruments. Severe restrictions in Kashmir, some of which will draw human rights concerns, are not Opposition propaganda, as some high political executives have maintained. They are frighteningly real.
But in the rest of the country, people are ignorant of the history and the current reality. With high-pitched, violent, religion-based nationalism being presented by the highest in the land, a whole new vocabulary is purveyed through the pliant sections of the media which reminds us of Orwell’s 1984.
Thus, Article 370 of the Constitution, which has been scrapped for all practical purposes, has been falsely converted into a “temporary” provision in public perception (and this is being canvassed abroad) by those at the highest levels of government, and is thus presented as a fit case for abrogation. Two judgments of the Supreme Court — the first by a constitution bench in 1968, and the second by a two-judge bench in 2016 — which have emphatically pointed out the opposite, are being suppressed. The Apex Court too is silent on this.
In order to kowtow to the political bosses, the media refuses to make a critical analysis because the people of Kashmir, doubtless on account of their religion (which is bad-mouthed by adherents of today’s dominant ideology), are practically been seen as “the enemies of the people” of India, and are therefore deserving of no consideration, let alone the protections available to all as a matter of right in a democracy.
A little-known fact is that the official doublespeak, dutifully reproduced especially in the television media, was being beamed to the people in the Valley day in and day out, right through the communications clampdown. In Kashmir, the people saw themselves being demonised everyday by high-pitched television anchors who assumed the mantle of religious warriors, not journalists discharging their professional responsibility with scrupulousness.
It seemed as if shades of the normative ethos of the Third Reich — which targeted people of a particular faith — and the Russian gulag — when Big Brother decided that being locked up, beaten, and denied basic rights — was best for the people, had been resurrected.
A perceptive Kashmiri fruit-grower said to this writer recently, “Over the years, the Valley has protested many actions of the government in New Delhi. But it is for the first time that the people of Kashmir have been depicted as antagonists of the people of the rest of the country. The story has been converted into people against people.”
In 1947, the dominant Hindu political elements in J&K did not urge Maharaja Hari Singh to merge his kingdom with India. Instead, they acquiesced in his ambition to try and remain independent. When that gambit failed after the attack by Pakistani raiders, the monarchy was ended, and political power passed to the people via Sheikh Abdullah’s National Conference, the Hindutva outfits violently agitated for Kashmir to be dissolved into India.
Seventy years on, that communal goal has been realised, riding roughshod over the Constitution. The so-called rationale of security and economic development being trotted out is for the birds. Political Hinduism has notched its most significant victory in independent India, surpassing the Ayodhya demolition.

October 17, 2019

India: Among the urban poor, two strands of Hindutva mobilisation are emerging | Badri Narayan (17 October 2019)

The Indian Express

Among the urban poor, two strands of Hindutva mobilisation are emerging

The RSS and its various affiliates enter slums through running schools, organising medical camps, etc. RSS shakhas are also expanding their footprint among the urban poor by giving them a “Hindu” identity.

B R Ambedkar often expressed how the Indian village was the setting for the discrimination of Dalits, and that they should migrate to cities. Dalits do suffer from the myriad oppressions heaped on them by dominant castes and along with other marginal sections of society, have migrated to cities, towns and kasbahs and settled mostly in slums. They constitute about 17 per cent of the country’s urban-dwelling population. In Uttar Pradesh, slum dwellers constitute about 14 per cent of the urban population, according to the 2011 census. Most of them are poor and from marginalised sections.
Slums have emerged as sites for the practice of Hindutva politics. We are habituated to viewing this section of people as subjects who desire and demand houses, jobs, ration cards, medical treatment, etc. But they also aspire towards creating small temples in their bastis, where they can assemble, worship and share their joys and sorrows (sukh-dukh) with their neighbours. With economic betterment, slum dwellers are also aspiring for religious empowerment. Dalits and other marginalised people residing in slums are becoming increasingly aware of their religious identity as Hindus.
The RSS and its various affiliates enter slums through running schools, organising medical camps, etc. RSS shakhas are also expanding their footprint among the urban poor by giving them a “Hindu” identity. Small Hindutva organisations with various names such as Hindu Yuva Vahini and Hindu Rakshak Sangh have been working in the juggi-jhopari colonies in various UP cities.
These two types of organisations have differing strategies. On the one hand, the RSS and some of its affiliates are working among the urban poor through “sewa” and “sahyog”. On the other hand, various small Hindutva outfits are trying mobilise these slum-dwelling populations through an aggressive Hindutva discourse. The RSS-generated discourse is aimed at reshaping their identity as “Hindu Nagrik”, by inspiring them to imbibe and perform various Hindu sanskaras. In contrast, the other organisations are trying to produce a proud identity as Hindus among Dalit slum dwellers.
The tone and tenor of these two Hindutva-based campaigns is producing two different political cultures. These may overlap, but they also diverge into two streams of Hindutva identity. The first positions itself as a “soft Hindu” identity, while the second is a proponent of an aggressive Hinduism. At times, the RSS looks uncomfortable with the presence and growing influence of these smaller, aggressive Hindutva outfits. The Sangh appears to have some difficulty in handling these groups. One may find conflict and contestation between these two streams of Hindutva politics.
Both kinds of outfits help to create a political ambience that likely helps a party like the BJP. But they are producing two different kinds of Hindutva subjectivities: The first wants to appropriate the communities in these slums within its own Hindutva frame; the second does not tolerate any difference in identity and culture.
It is certainly the case that only a thin line separates the two political cultures emerging in the slums of UP. But both these strands are working separately. Some people, who form the backbone of the smaller groups, may have been part of an RSS shakha at some point in their lives, but they have now evolved their own ways of functioning.
At one point, slums were considered a space for radical Ambedkarite and Left politics. That appears to be changing in UP. From the initial years, when Kanshi Ram used these sites to evolve Bahujan politics, they are now turning into Hindutva spaces.
The transformation of these social locations from the BSP’s “blue” to saffron is taking place at a rapid pace. Since Hindutva groups use religious identity as an important axis of social, political and cultural mobilisation, they have managed to link the economic aspiration in UP’s slums with religious empowerment.
Today, in the slums, one can view well-organised programmes featuring chants of the Sunder Kand Path and Hanuman Chalisa. The RSS is also working towards building small temples dedicated to Hindu deities.
Both types of Hindutva organisations see religious conversion as a threat in these societies and view their work as antidote to the same. They claim that their efforts are strengthening Hindu society.
This article first appeared in the October 17 print edition under the title ‘Saffron in the slums’. The writer is professor, Govind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad

October 16, 2019

India - Ayodhya: Sunni Waqf Board Will Drop Babri Land Claim if Other Mosques Are Guaranteed Protection

Sunni Waqf Board Will Drop Babri Land Claim if Other Mosques Are Guaranteed Protection

The surprise development came on the last day of the hearings, which saw the five judge-constitution bench of the Supreme Court reserve its judgment.

 [. . .]

October 14, 2019

India: RSS on Women - For Dummies


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English Article- Gandhi Anniversary and his ideological opponents

Gandhi Anniversary: An Occasion to Gain legitimacy for Some Ram Puniyani The media is full of articles and videos on the occasion of 150th birth anniversary of the ‘father of the nation’, Mahatma Gandhi. While there is a genuine attempt by most to recapture the teachings and path of Gandhi as relevant to contemporary India, there are those also those who are using the occasion to increase their own legitimacy. This is done be a clever maneuver of picking bits and pieces from his writing or incidences and also by quoting him partly leaving out the part critical to those quotes. This is true about Hindu nationalists; the RSS combine in particular. While on one hand in a clever move they have picked up Gandhi as the symbol of cleanliness drive, leaving out his core message of communal amity, on the other now attempts are on to show that Gandhi was impressed by the discipline and lack of divisiveness in RSS. RSS Supreme leader, Mohan Bhagwat, writing on the RSS website says, “Gandhiji... visited a shakha near his place of residence in Delhi during the tragic days of Partition. He spoke to the swayamsevaks in the shakha. Its report was published in the Harijan, dated September 27, 1947. Gandhiji expressed his joy over the discipline of the Sangh swayamsevaks and complete absence of divisive feelings of caste and creed in them." To begin with the Harijan issue mentioned here is dated 28th September and not 27. Then while the quote is correct it leaves out the background and the further caution which gives the real portent of the quote. Here Gandhi is recounting his visit to RSS in Wardha along with Jamanalal Bajaj, saying that these were his impressions in 1936. Since then the organization has grown. Then he adds, “But in order to be truly useful, self-sacrifice had to be combined with purity of motive and true knowledge. Sacrifice without these two had been known to prove ruinous to society.” Gandhi had visited the RSS shakha on 16th September, in the backdrop of many complaints from Muslims. The meaning of the quote in the background of those complaints and the sentence following the part quoted by Bhagwat, gives the true picture of what Gandhi meant to convey to the volunteers of RSS Shakha. This was not the first time that he had talked about RSS. In Harijan on 9th August 1942, Gandhi writes, “I had heard of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its activities; and also know that it was a communal organization”, this was in response to the slogans and some speech against ‘other’ community, about which a complaint was made. In this Gandhi is referring to the drill of RSS volunteers, who shouted that this Nation belongs to Hindus alone and once the British leave we will subjugate the non-Hindus. In response to the rowdyism indulged by communal organizations he writes, “I hear many things about RSS. I have heard it said the Sangh is at the root of all this mischief.” (Gandhi, xcviii, 320-32) Rajmohan Gandhi in his book Mohandas (page 642) points out that “After independence, in the context of Delhi violence, Gandhi confronted the RSS chief Golwalkar, with reports of the RSS hand in Delhi violence, Denying the allegations Golwalkar also said that RSS did not stand for killing the Muslims. Gandhi asked him to say so publicly. Golwalkar said Gandhi could quote him on this. Gandhi did this in his prayer talk that evening, but he told Golwalkar that statement ought to come from him. Later he told Nehru that he did not find Golwalkar convincing.’ The most accurate perception of Gandhi on RSS is brought forward by Pyarelal, his secretary. He narrates an event in the wake of 1946 riots. A member of Gandhi’s entourage had praised the efficiency, discipline, courage and capacity for hard work shown by the RSS cadres at Wagah, a major transit camp for Punjab refugees: “Gandhi quipped back, ‘…but don’t forget, so had Hitler’s Nazis and the Fascists under Mussolini’. Gandhi characterized RSS as a communal body with a totalitarian outlook.” (Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi: The Last Phase) The need for RSS to show that they were on the right side of Mahatma is cosmetic. RSS combine propounds ‘exclusive Hindu nationalism’, in contrast to Gandhi’s ‘all-inclusive Indian Nationalism’. Still they need to get the legitimacy from the greatest Hindus of his times, Gandhi. Gandhi is also the figure most well known in India and globally. As impact of RSS is on the rise, it wants to draw further strength by associating with names whose ideology was at cross purposes with their own. Sardar Patel, Subhash Chandra Bose are the major figures with whom RSS is trying identify, despite core differences in the type of nationalism propounded by them and the likes of Patel and Bose. Gandhi the tallest figure of freedom movement, was killed by one of the Pracharak’s (propagators) of RSS, Nathuram Godse. Godse’s was a well-planned ideological assault of Hindu nationalism on Indian nationalism The major attempts of RSS have been to recreate a historical narrative of nationalism. In this they began with presenting medieval history as the period of oppression of Hindus by Muslim invaders, by trying to project that Hinduism is native religion and Islam and Christianity are foreign religions. The attempts to do all the ideological acrobatics to prove that Aryans were the natives has been another of the forceful exercises in operation. To cap it all the achievements of science and technology are also presented to be having their roots in this land. The crux of the matter boils down to glorify the so-called Hindu past along with the values of caste and gender hierarchies prevalent that time. To identify with Gandhi is yet another step in this direction. These ideological manipulations have picked up with greater intensity during last few years. We do need to save Gandhi from the distorted forms in which he is being presented. We do need to focus on his struggles against injustice, and inclusive humane approach to problems of the nation and society.

October 13, 2019

Hindi Article-Gandhi Anniversary and his ideological opponents

गाँधी जयंती के बहाने अपनी छवि चमकाने की कवायद -राम पुनियानी इन दिनों देश राष्ट्रपिता महात्मा गाँधी का 150वां जन्मदिन मना रहा है. इस मौके पर गांधीजी के बारे में मीडिया में बहुत कुछ लिखा और कहा जा रहा है. कुछ लोग तो ईमानदारी से गांधीजी की शिक्षाओं और उनके दिखाए रास्ते को याद कर रहे हैं और आज की दुनिया में उनकी प्रासंगिकता पर जोर दे रहे हैं परन्तु कुछ अन्य लोग, इस अवसर का इस्तेमाल अपनी को छवि चमकाने और अपनी स्वीकार्यता बढ़ाने के लिए कर रहे हैं. इसके लिए बड़ी कुटिलता से बापू के लेखन, उनके जीवन और उनके कथनों के चुनिन्दा हिस्सों का प्रयोग किया जा रहा है. इसमें सबसे आगे हैं हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी - विशेषकर संघ परिवार. संघ परिवार ने पहले ही गांधीजी के सांप्रदायिक सद्भाव के मूल सन्देश को किनारे कर उन्हें केवल साफ़-सफाई का प्रतीक बना कर रख दिया है. अब यह दिखाने का प्रयास किया जा रहा है कि आरएसएस के अनुशासन और उसके स्वयंसेवकों के बीच एकता से गांधीजी बहुत प्रभावित थे. संघ की वेबसाइट पर उसके मुखिया मोहन भागवत लिखते हैं, “विभाजन के तुरंत बाद के त्रासद दिनों में महात्मा गाँधी, दिल्ली में उनके निवासस्थान के नज़दीक संघ की शाखा में पहुंचे. उन्होंने स्वयंसेवकों से बात की. उनकी इस यात्रा की रपट हरिजन के 27 सितम्बर 1947 के अंक में छपी. गांधीजी ने संघ के स्वयंसेवकों के अनुशासन पर ख़ुशी जाहिर की और कहा कि उन्हें यह देख कर बहुत प्रसन्नता हुई कि स्वयंसेवकों के बीच जाति आदि की दीवारें नहीं हैं.” पहली बात तो यह है कि हरिजन के जिस अंक को भागवत ने उद्दृत किया है, वह 27 नहीं बल्कि 28 सितम्बर का है. यह उद्धरण सही है परन्तु इसकी पृष्टभूमि के बारे में भागवत कुछ नहीं बताते और ना ही वे यह बताते हैं कि गांधीजी ने इसके आगे क्या लिखा. दरअसल, गांधीजी सन 1936 में वर्धा में जमनालाल बजाज के साथ आरएसएस की शाखा की उनकी यात्रा के बारे में बात कर रहे हैं. वे लिखते हैं कि तब से आरएसएस और बड़ा संगठन बन गया है. आगे वे कहते हैं, “परन्तु (किसी भी संगठन के) वास्तविक रूप से उपयोगी होने के लिए, बलिदान की भावना के साथ-साथ, पवित्र उद्देश्य और सच्चा ज्ञान भी ज़रूरी है. यह साबित हो चुका है कि इन दोनों के बिना, केवल बलिदान समाज को नष्ट कर देता है.” गांधीजी, मुसलमानों की शिकायतों के बाद 16 सितम्बर को इस शाखा में पहुंचे थे. इस तथ्य से कि यह यात्रा शिकायतों के बाद की गयी थी और इस से भी कि भागवत ने गांधीजी की रपट के जिस हिस्से को उद्दृत किया है, उससे बाद उन्होंने क्या लिखा है, यह साफ़ हो जाता है कि गांधीजी, दरअसल, संघ से स्वयंसेवकों को क्या सन्देश देना चाह रहे थे. यह पहली बार नहीं था कि उन्होंने संघ के बारे में कुछ लिखा हो. हरिजन के 9 अगस्त 1942 के अंक में गांधीजी लिखते हैं, “मैंने राष्ट्रीय स्वयंसेवक संघ और उसकी गतिविधियों के बारे में सुना है और मुझे यह भी पता है कि वह एक साम्प्रदायिक संगठन है”. गांधीजी ने यह टिप्पणी उन्हें भेजी गई एक शिकायत के बाद की थी, जिसमें एक विशिष्ट धार्मिक समुदाय के खिलाफ नारे लगाए जाने और भाषण दिए जाने की बात कही गई थी. गांधीजी को बताया गया था कि आरएसएस के स्वयंसेवकों ने कसरत के बाद इस आशय के नारे लगाए कि यह राष्ट्र केवल हिन्दुओं का है और अंग्रेजों के जाने के बाद वे गैर-हिन्दुओं को अपना गुलाम बना लेंगे. साम्प्रदायिक संगठनों द्वारा किए जा रहे उपद्रवों और गुंडागर्दी पर प्रतिक्रिया देते हुए उन्होंने लिखा, “मैंने आरएसएस के बारे में कई बातें सुनी हैं. मैंने सुना है कि इन गड़बड़ियों की जड़ में आरएसएस है (गांधी, खंड 98, पृष्ठ 320-322)”. स्वतंत्रता के बाद, दिल्ली में हुई हिंसा के संदर्भ में राजमोहन गाँधी (मोहनदास, पृष्ठ 642) लिखते हैं, “गांधीजी ने आरएसएस के मुखिया गोलवलकर से हिंसा में आरएसएस का हाथ होने संबंधी रपटों के बारे में पूछा. आरोपों को नकारते हुए गोलवलकर ने कहा कि आरएसएस, मुसलमानों को मारने के पक्ष में नहीं है. गांधीजी ने कहा कि वे इस बात को सार्वजनिक रूप से कहें. इस पर गोलवलकर का उत्तर था कि वे उन्हें उद्धत कर सकते हैं और गांधीजी ने उसी शाम प्रार्थना सभा में गोलवलकर द्वारा कही गई बात का हवाला दिया. उन्होंने गोलवलकर से कहा कि उन्हें इस आशय का वक्तव्य स्वयं जारी करना चाहिए. बाद में गांधीजी ने नेहरू से कहा कि उन्हें गोलवलकर की बातें बहुत विश्वसनीय नहीं लगीं.” गांधीजी का आरएसएस के बारे में क्या आंकलन था, इसका सबसे प्रामाणिक सुबूत है उनके सचिव प्यारेलाल द्वारा दिया गया विवरण. प्यारेलाल लिखते हैं कि सन् 1946 के दंगों के बाद, गांधीजी के काफिले के एक सदस्य ने पंजाब के शरणार्थियों के लिए वाघा में बनाए गए ट्रांसिट कैंप में आरएसएस कार्यकर्ताओं की कार्यकुशलता, अनुशासन, साहस और कड़ी मेहनत करने की क्षमता की तारीफ की. इस पर गांधीजी ने कहा, “यह न भूलो कि हिटलर के नाजी और मुसोलिनी के फासीवादी भी ऐसे ही थे”. गांधीजी मानते थे कि आरएसएस का दृष्टिकोण एकाधिकारवादी है और वह एक साम्प्रदायिक संस्था है (प्यारेलाल, महात्मा गांधी: द लास्ट फेज, अहमदाबाद, पृष्ठ 440). आरएसएस यह सब केवल यह दर्शाने के लिए कर रहा है कि उसे व उसकी गतिविधियों को गांधीजी पसंद करते थे. संघ परिवार, संकीर्ण हिन्दू राष्ट्रवाद का पोषक है जबकि गांधीजी, समावेशी भारतीय राष्ट्रवाद के पैरोकार थे. परन्तु फिर भी, संघ अपने समय के महानतम हिन्दू से सर्टिफिकेट चाहता है. गांधीजी निश्चित रूप से दुनिया में सबसे प्रसिद्ध भारतीय हस्ती हैं. जैसे-जैसे संघ का प्रभाव बढ़ता जा रहा है, उसका प्रयास है कि वह अपने को ऐसे महान भारतीय नेताओं से जोड़े जिनकी विचारधारा उसकी सोच के विपरीत थी. वह सरदार पटेल और सुभाषचंद्र बोस से भी स्वयं को जोड़ना चाह रहा है. यह इस तथ्य के बावजूद कि पटेल और बोस की विचारधारा, संघ की सोच से ज़रा भी मेल नहीं खाती थी. गाँधीजी, स्वाधीनता आन्दोलन के शीर्षतम नेता थे और उनकी हत्या, संघ के एक प्रचारक नाथूराम गोडसे ने की थी. गोड़से की कुत्सित हरकत, हिन्दू राष्ट्रवाद का भारतीय राष्ट्रवाद पर सुनियोजित वैचारिक हमला था. संघ, राष्ट्रवाद का एक नया आख्यान रचना चाहता है. वह भारत के मध्यकालीन इतिहास को मुसलमानों द्वारा हिन्दुओं के दमन के काल के रूप में प्रस्तुत करता है. वह यह दिखाना चाहता है कि जहाँ हिन्दू धर्म, भारत का अपना है वहीं इस्लाम और ईसाई धर्म, विदेशी हैं. वह यह साबित करने के लिए भी जबरदस्त उठापटक कर रहा है कि आर्य, भारत के मूल निवासी थे. यहाँ तक कि विज्ञान और तकनीकी की हर उपलब्धि को वह प्राचीन भारत की देन बताने पर आमादा है. मूलतः वह भारत के कथित गौरवशाली हिन्दू अतीत और उस समय विद्यमान जातिगत और लैंगिक असमानता का महिमामंडन करना चाहता है. गाँधी से जुड़ने का प्रयास, इसी दिशा में एक कदम है. पिछले कुछ वर्षों में संघ की इन वैचारिक कलाबाजियों में और तेजी आयी है. हमें गांधीजी के विचारों को विरूपण से बचाना होगा. हमें गांधीजी के अन्याय के विरुद्ध संघर्ष और राष्ट्र और समाज की समस्याओं को मानवीय तरीकों से सुलझाने के उनके प्रयास को प्रकाश में लाना होगा. (अंग्रेजी से हिन्दी रूपांतरण अमरीश हरदेनिया)

October 12, 2019

India: Mob murders by any name - Editorial in The Telegraph - 12 October 2019

The Telegraph

Mob murders by any name

Bhagwat’s focus on the Western origin of the concept of lynching deftly skirts the fact of growing hate crimes in recent times
By The Editorial Board

Published 12.10.19, 1:24 AM

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat (centre) in Nagpur on Tuesday. Also seen in the picture is Shiv Nadar (second from left), the HCL founder and chairman

Naming is blaming, or even shaming, according to the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Mohan Bhagwat. Speaking on the RSS’s foundation day in Nagpur, Mr Bhagwat deplored the grafting of Western concepts onto the expanding Indian practice of mob-killing. It is unacceptable to use the word, ‘lynching’, for what he sees from his cloudy heights of morality just as ‘isolated incidents of violence’. This suggests that the RSS and its ideological cohorts are not yet satisfied with the growth in the number of mob-murders of members of the minority community, underprivileged castes and other vulnerable, solitary beings perceived as deviant, whether in gender orientation or mental stability. These killings become branded by the Western word, ‘lynching’, so that they can be wielded to shame India and Hindu society, and cause divisions in the diverse society that the RSS loves.

Mr Bhagwat’s point is well taken. Had the convicted mob-killers of Alimuddin Ansari ‘lynched’ the coal trader last year under the alibi that Ansari was transporting beef, the Union minister of state for civil aviation would not have garlanded them. That he did garland them proves the unmistakable Indian flavour of their killing. The minister reportedly also told the BBC that he and the Bharatiya Janata Party were paying for their legal expenses. Given the practised deftness of such incidents, there is no need to defame Hindu society with Western nomenclatures: lynching is the name of things that happen in other countries, or among other religions, as Mr Bhagwat proclaimed, they are not part of this country’s traditions.

Instead, it is important to get the name right for the killings being made traditional in recent times. Should these just be called hate crimes? Or would that make Mr Bhagwat anxious to protest his love for the diverse populations of this country? Love must be clouding his vision — rose-tinted glasses are a Western notion too, more’s the pity — for the ‘isolated’ incidents of violence he has deigned to notice amount to the steepest rise in mob-killings since 2016. According to Amnesty International India’s interactive tracker, from January to June this year, 181 incidents of alleged hate crimes have been recorded, with the greatest number of mob-killings presumably being caused by the fact that the victims were Dalit, with the second highest number of victims being from the largest minority community. Members of other minority groups, of caste, community, and gender, make up the rest of the targets. Mr Bhagwat is so upset about improper naming that the fact that innocent individuals are being killed by mobs who have nothing to do with the dispensation of justice in court seems to have escaped him. He is busy blaming those who shame Hindu society by using Western names for Indian killings, yet he cannot acknowledge that mob-killing is the most damning attribute of any society. He can barely see it, after all.