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February 15, 2020

Hindi Article-Are Adivasis Hindus?


Are Adivasis Hindus? Forthcoming Census and RSS campaign Ram Puniyani Currently massive protests are going on against NPR, NCR and CAA. At the same time we are going to begin the process of decadal census in 2021. Already RSS is active in promoting NPR, NCR and CAA. At the same time RSS wants that Adivasis should register themselves as Hindus rather than ticking the column of ‘Others’. As per their spokesperson in the 2011 census many Adivasis groups ticked that column because of which the population of Hindus came down to by 0.7 percent point to come down to 79.8 %. This has sent signals to this Hindu nationalist organization and is planning to ensures that Adivasis tick the column of Hindus in this census. As such RSS has a very clever attitude in defining the term Hindu. The first formulation was by Savakakar who said that all those who regard the land east of Indus as their Holy land and Father land are Hindus. This left out Muslims and Christians, and brought all others in the ambit of Hindu fold. From the decade of 1980s due to electoral compulsions they have been trying to articulate that all those who are living in India are Hindus. Murli Manohar Joshi stated that Muslims are Ahmadiya Hindus and Christians are Christi Hindus. Recently there was a controversy when they restated that Sikhs are not a separate religion but are a sect of Hinduism. Many Sikh organizations stood up to say that Sikhism is a religion by itself and recalled the book of Kahan Singh Nabha, “Hum Hindu Nahin” As far as Adivasis are concerned in contrast to what is being planned by Hindu nationalist RSS, many Adivasis groups have been meeting from last couple of years to demand just the contrary. As per them there should be a column where they can tick their identity of Adivasis. There are active campaigns among Adivasis groups to uphold their Adivasi identity in Census. As per them in the first census which was conducted in Independent India, the column, Aborigines, was there, which was later removed forcing them to club themselves with other religions. After 1951 in addition to Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jain and Buddha, the column ‘others’ was also there which was removed in 2011. Even during British period if you look at the censuses of the British era (from 1871 to 1931); there was provision for tribes to choose Aborigine as an option. There are nearly 83 religious practices being followed by Adivasis. Few major of these are Sarna, Gondi, Punem, Adi, and Koya. What they share in common is that they are animists, worship nature and spirit of ancestors; do not have priestly class or Holy Scriptures and Gods and Goddesses characteristic of the broad Hindu pantheon. RSS as per its political agenda of Hindu Nation regards them as Vanvasi. They pontificate that they have been part of Hindu society who were driven away to forests to escape the forcible conversion being done by the Muslim invaders. This concoction is contrary to the interpretations based on the studies from population genetics. The Hindu nationalist argues that Aryans have been the original inhabitants of the country from where they spread to other parts of the World. The book by Tony Joseph, ‘Early Indians’ tells us that away from the race theory, we are all mixed up. The first inhabitants in our land were the ones who emigrated from South Asia over Sixty thousand years ago. The Indo-Aryans came here nearly three thousand years ago and they pushed the aborigines to the forests and hills and that’s what constitutes the Adivasi community of India. Hindu Nationalists like all the nationalists who construct their nationalism around their religion claim to be the most original inhabitants of the land, and their interpretations of past are molded according to that. RSS right from beginning has not been using the word Adivasi, it calls them Vanvasi. As per its agenda it wants them to be part of Hindu fold, despite Adivasis themselves saying that they are not Hindus, they have beliefs and practices which are far away from Hinduism in whatever form. To enhance its political reach from the decades of 1980s in particular its work in Adivasis areas has been intensified. While ‘Vanvasis Kalyan Ashram’, part of RSS Combine which was formed much earlier, it was in the decades of 1980s that their work was jacked up by sending more Pracharaks in Adivasi areas. We see that in Gujarat, Dangs and nearby area, Swami Aseemanand, in MP, centered around Jhabua-the followers of Asaram Bapu and in Orissa Swami Laxmananad stationed them. They saw Christian missionaries working in the field of education and health as an obstacle to Hinduization of Adivasis. Their propaganda against Christian missionaries led to the ghastly murder of Pastor Graham Stains. It was this propaganda which led to anti Christian violence in various forms, the most horrific being the Kandhamal violence of 2008. In order to culturally co-opt them into the fold of Hinduism they began series of religious congregations, Kumbhs. Shabri Kumbh in Dangs and many other Adivasis predominant areas created an atmosphere of fear, Adivasis were asked to be part of it, saffron flags were distributed and they were made to put it in their houses. Two religious icons were popularized in these areas, one was Shabri and other was Hanuman. To cap it all, Ekal Vidyalayas, started spreading RSS’s interpretation of history in these areas. The other angle of the whole thing is that Adivasis are living in the areas rich in minerals, which the BJP supporter Corporate World wants to take over. World over aborigines have similar pattern. They are animists and what they practice is a culture as such. Many have converted to other religions out of their choice for sure, but finally in these matters what is important is the self perception. Hemant Soren the Chief Minister of Jharkhand pointed out that “Adivasis are not Hindus. ”Keeping that in mind; the column of Aborigines needs to find its place in our census forms.

February 13, 2020

Are Adivasis Hindus?


Are Adivasis Hindus? Forthcoming Census and RSS campaign Ram Puniyani Currently massive protests are going on against NPR, NCR and CAA. At the same time we are going to begin the process of decadal census in 2021. Already RSS is active in promoting NPR, NCR and CAA. At the same time RSS wants that Adivasis should register themselves as Hindus rather than ticking the column of ‘Others’. As per their spokesperson in the 2011 census many Adivasis groups ticked that column because of which the population of Hindus came down to by 0.7 percent point to come down to 79.8 %. This has sent signals to this Hindu nationalist organization and is planning to ensures that Adivasis tick the column of Hindus in this census. As such RSS has a very clever attitude in defining the term Hindu. The first formulation was by Savakakar who said that all those who regard the land east of Indus as their Holy land and Father land are Hindus. This left out Muslims and Christians, and brought all others in the ambit of Hindu fold. From the decade of 1980s due to electoral compulsions they have been trying to articulate that all those who are living in India are Hindus. Murli Manohar Joshi stated that Muslims are Ahmadiya Hindus and Christians are Christi Hindus. Recently there was a controversy when they restated that Sikhs are not a separate religion but are a sect of Hinduism. Many Sikh organizations stood up to say that Sikhism is a religion by itself and recalled the book of Kahan Singh Nabha, “Hum Hindu Nahin” As far as Adivasis are concerned in contrast to what is being planned by Hindu nationalist RSS, many Adivasis groups have been meeting from last couple of years to demand just the contrary. As per them there should be a column where they can tick their identity of Adivasis. There are active campaigns among Adivasis groups to uphold their Adivasi identity in Census. As per them in the first census which was conducted in Independent India, the column, Aborigines, was there, which was later removed forcing them to club themselves with other religions. After 1951 in addition to Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jain and Buddha, the column ‘others’ was also there which was removed in 2011. Even during British period if you look at the censuses of the British era (from 1871 to 1931); there was provision for tribes to choose Aborigine as an option. There are nearly 83 religious practices being followed by Adivasis. Few major of these are Sarna, Gondi, Punem, Adi, and Koya. What they share in common is that they are animists, worship nature and spirit of ancestors; do not have priestly class or Holy Scriptures and Gods and Goddesses characteristic of the broad Hindu pantheon. RSS as per its political agenda of Hindu Nation regards them as Vanvasi. They pontificate that they have been part of Hindu society who were driven away to forests to escape the forcible conversion being done by the Muslim invaders. This concoction is contrary to the interpretations based on the studies from population genetics. The Hindu nationalist argues that Aryans have been the original inhabitants of the country from where they spread to other parts of the World. The book by Tony Joseph, ‘Early Indians’ tells us that away from the race theory, we are all mixed up. The first inhabitants in our land were the ones who emigrated from South Asia over Sixty thousand years ago. The Indo-Aryans came here nearly three thousand years ago and they pushed the aborigines to the forests and hills and that’s what constitutes the Adivasi community of India. Hindu Nationalists like all the nationalists who construct their nationalism around their religion claim to be the most original inhabitants of the land, and their interpretations of past are molded according to that. RSS right from beginning has not been using the word Adivasi, it calls them Vanvasi. As per its agenda it wants them to be part of Hindu fold, despite Adivasis themselves saying that they are not Hindus, they have beliefs and practices which are far away from Hinduism in whatever form. To enhance its political reach from the decades of 1980s in particular its work in Adivasis areas has been intensified. While ‘Vanvasis Kalyan Ashram’, part of RSS Combine which was formed much earlier, it was in the decades of 1980s that their work was jacked up by sending more Pracharaks in Adivasi areas. We see that in Gujarat, Dangs and nearby area, Swami Aseemanand, in MP, centered around Jhabua-the followers of Asaram Bapu and in Orissa Swami Laxmananad stationed them. They saw Christian missionaries working in the field of education and health as an obstacle to Hinduization of Adivasis. Their propaganda against Christian missionaries led to the ghastly murder of Pastor Graham Stains. It was this propaganda which led to anti Christian violence in various forms, the most horrific being the Kandhamal violence of 2008. In order to culturally co-opt them into the fold of Hinduism they began series of religious congregations, Kumbhs. Shabri Kumbh in Dangs and many other Adivasis predominant areas created an atmosphere of fear, Adivasis were asked to be part of it, saffron flags were distributed and they were made to put it in their houses. Two religious icons were popularized in these areas, one was Shabri and other was Hanuman. To cap it all, Ekal Vidyalayas, started spreading RSS’s interpretation of history in these areas. The other angle of the whole thing is that Adivasis are living in the areas rich in minerals, which the BJP supporter Corporate World wants to take over. World over aborigines have similar pattern. They are animists and what they practice is a culture as such. Many have converted to other religions out of their choice for sure, but finally in these matters what is important is the self perception. Hemant Soren the Chief Minister of Jharkhand pointed out that “Adivasis are not Hindus. ”Keeping that in mind; the column of Aborigines needs to find its place in our census forms.

February 10, 2020

Hindi Article- Manufaturing Hate-Anurag Thakur: Shoot the traitors


गोली मारो सालों को: हिंसा और घृणा का निर्माण -राम पुनियानी नोएम चोमस्की, दुनिया में शांति की स्थापना के लिए काम करने वाले शीर्ष व्यक्तित्वों में से एक हैं. कई साल पहले, वियतनाम पर अमरीका के हमले के समय उन्होंने ‘सहमति के निर्माण’ का अपना अनूठा सिद्धांत प्रतिपादित किया था. उनका कहना था कि अपनी नीतियों और निर्णयों को वैधता प्रदान करने के लिए राज्य, जनमत को अपने पक्ष में करने के लिए सहमति का निर्माण करता है. अमरीकी सरकार ने वहां के लोगों के मानस को कुछ इस तरह से परिवर्तित किया कि वे फ्रांसीसी औपनिवेशिक शासन से मुक्ति पाने के लिए संघर्षरत वियतनाम पर अमरीका के क्रूर हमले को औचित्यपूर्ण मानने लगे. आज के भारत में हम देख रहे हैं कि धार्मिक अल्पसंख्यकों के खिलाफ ‘नफरत का निर्माण’ किया जा रहा है और इसका उद्देश्य है भारतीय प्रजातंत्र और संविधान को कमज़ोर करना और हिन्दू राष्ट्र के निर्माण की राह प्रशस्त करना. यह काम कई तरीकों और कई स्तरों पर किया जा रहा है. इसका प्रकटीकरण अल्पसंख्यकों के विरुद्ध हिंसा के रूप में होता रहा है. इसका भयावह और कुत्सित स्वरूप हमनें मुंबई (1992-93), गुजरात (2002), कंधमाल (2008) और मुजफ्फरनगर (2013) में देखा. इसी का एक और प्रकटीकरण था गौवध या गौमांस भक्षण को लेकर हुई लिंचिंग की घटनाएं. इसी के साथ, मृत जानवरों की खाल उतार रहे दलितों के साथ हिंसा और इनकी हत्या भी इसी का नतीजा थे. ‘सहमति के निर्माण’ की इसी प्रक्रिया के नतीजे में, हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादियों के अनवरत दुष्प्रचार ने शम्भूलाल रैगर के दिमाग में इतना ज़हर भर दिया कि उसने अफराजुल खान नामक एक मुस्लिम युवक को जिंदा जला दिया और इस वीभत्स काण्ड का वीडियो भी बनाया. कई लोगों ने उसकी इस बर्बर हरकत की प्रशंसा भी की. उसे भड़काया था लव जिहाद को लेकर चल रहे दुष्प्रचार ने. अब इसी दुष्प्रचार के और भयावह नतीजे हमारे सामने आ रहे हैं. हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी संगठनों से जुड़े युवा अब निहत्थे विरोध प्रदर्शनकारियों पर गोलियां चला रहे हैं. भारत सरकार में मंत्री अनुराग ठाकुर ने दिल्ली में एक सभा को संबोधित करते हुए कहा कि “देश के गद्दारों को गोली मार दी जानी चाहिए”. इसके मात्र दो दिन बाद, 12वीं कक्षा का एक विद्यार्थी पिस्तौल लेकर जामिया पहुंचा और ‘ये लो आज़ादी’ कहते हुए सीएए के विरुद्ध प्रदर्शन कर रही भीड़ पर एक गोली दाग दी. गोली जामिया मिल्लिया इस्लामिया के एक विद्यार्थी को लगी. संयोगवश, यह घटना ठीक उसी दिन हुई जिस दिन नाथूराम गोडसे ने महात्मा गाँधी को गोली मारी थी. ऐसी ही एक अन्य घटना में, एक युवक ने ‘यहाँ सिर्फ हिन्दुओं का राज चलेगा’ कहते हुए शाहीन बाग के निकट हवा में गोलियां चलाईं. यह घटना उस स्थल के पास हुई जहाँ नागरिकता संशोधन अधिनियम के खिलाफ लम्बे समय से शांतिपूर्ण प्रदर्शन चल रहा है. यह भी अनुराग ठाकुर के भड़काऊ भाषण का नतीजा था. यह साफ़ है कि हिन्दू राष्ट्रवाद की विचारधारा से प्रेरित इन युवकों की ये हरकतें, भारत में धार्मिक अल्पसंख्यकों और विशेषकर मुसलमानों के खिलाफ लम्बे समय से चलाये जा रहे नफरत फैलाने वाले अभियान का नतीजा हैं. इसकी जडें उस मुस्लिम और हिन्दू राष्ट्रवाद में हैं, जिसे अंग्रेजों ने फूट डालो और राज करो की अपनी नीति के अंतर्गत बढ़ावा दिया था. भारत में आज यह सामूहिक सामाजिक सोच का हिस्सा बन गया है कि मुस्लिम शासकों और मुसलमानों ने हिन्दू मंदिरों को नष्ट किया और तलवार की दम पर देश में इस्लाम का प्रसार किया और यह भी कि इस्लाम एक विदेशी धर्म है. राममंदिर आन्दोलन ने इस धारणा को और मज़बूत किया कि मुसलमान मंदिरों के विध्वंसक थे और औरंगजेब, टीपू सुल्तान व अन्य मुस्लिम बादशाहों और नवाबों ने हिन्दुओं को जबरन मुसलमान बनाया. देश के विभाजन, जिसके पीछे मुख्यतः अंग्रेजों की नीतियाँ और सांप्रदायिक राजनीति थी, के लिए भी मुसलमानों को कटघरे में खड़ा किया गया. कश्मीर में असंतोष और हिंसा, जिसके पीछे क्षेत्रीय और नस्लीय मुद्दे हैं और जो अमरीका की पाक-समर्थक नीतियों का नतीजा है, के लिए तक आम मुसलमानों को दोषी ठहराया गया. यहाँ तक कि अल कायदा जैसे संगठनों के उदय के लिए भी भारत में रह रहे गरीब मुसलमानों को दोषी मान लिया गया. अनवरत सांप्रदायिक हिंसा के चलते, ये धारणाएं लोगों के मन में घर करने लगीं. हिंसा के कारण मुसलमान अपने मोहल्लों में सिमटने पर मजबूर हो गए और इससे अंतर्धार्मिक रिश्ते और कमज़ोर हुए. अलग-थलग कर दिए मुसलमानों के पास अपना पक्ष रखने का मौका ही नहीं था और पीड़ितों को दोषियों के रूप में प्रस्तुत किया जाना लगा. यह नफरत, जिसे मुंहजबानी प्रचार, मीडिया और स्कूली पाठ्यपुस्तकों के ज़रिये हवा दी गयी, धीरे-धीरे व्यापक समाज की अल्पसंख्यकों के प्रति दृष्टिकोण की निर्धारक बन गई. पिछले कुछ वर्षों से सांप्रदायिक ताकतों ने सोशल मीडिया के ज़रिये नफरत फैलाने के अपने अभियान को और तेज कर दिया है. स्वाति चतुर्वेदी की पुस्तक ‘आई वास ए ट्रोल’ बताती है कि नफरत फैलाने के लिए भाजपा सोशल मीडिया का किस तरह इस्तेमाल करती है. व्हाट्सएप विश्वविद्यालय, समाज को समझने का उपकरण बन गया है और ‘दूसरे से नफरत’ करो की भावना दिन दूनी रात चौगुनी गति से बढ़ रही है. समाज को बांटने के लिए फेक न्यूज़ का इस्तेमाल भी तेजी से बढ़ा है. शाहीन बाग का आन्दोलन देश को एक करने का आन्दोलन है परन्तु उसे राष्ट्रद्रोहियों की करतूत बताया जा रहा है. एक भाजपा नेता ने जहाँ ‘गद्दारों’ को गोली मारने की बात कही वहीं दूसरे का कहना था कि शाहीन बाग में एकत्रित ‘लाखों लोग’ घरों में घुसकर बलात्कार करेंगे. देश की हवा में ज़हर घोल दिया गया है. और इसी ज़हर से बुझे शम्भूलाल रैगर जैसे लोग एक निर्दोष मुसलमान को जिंदा जलाना पराक्रम का काम मान रहे हैं तो 12वीं कक्षा का विद्यार्थी विरोध प्रदर्शनकारियों पर गोली चला रहा है. मूल मुद्दा है वह नफरत, गलत धारणाएं और पूर्वाग्रह जो सामूहिक सामाजिक सोच का हिस्सा बन गए हैं. इनसे विभिन्न धार्मिक समुदायों के बीच प्रेम और सौहार्द का भाव, जो स्वाधीनता आन्दोलन का नतीजा था, समाप्त हो रहा है. इससे बंधुत्व की उस भावना को पलीता लग रहा है जो हमारी राष्ट्रीय विरासत का हिस्सा है. गाँधी, भगतसिंह और आंबेडकर इस बंधुत्व भाव के वाहक थे. उनके मूल्यों की पुनर्स्थापना की जानी आवश्यक है. सांप्रदायिक ताकतें जिस तरह का ज़हर समाज में फैला रहीं हैं, उससे मुकाबला करने की ज़रुरत है. हमें, दरअसल, उन गलत धारणाओं पर प्रहार करना होगा जो नफरत को जन्म देतीं हैं. यह काम सामाजिक संगठनों और राजनैतिक दलों - दोनों को करना होगा. और उन सभी लोगों को भी जो भारतीय संविधान और स्वाधीनता आन्दोलन के मूल्यों में आस्था रखते हैं. और यह काम बिना किसी देरी के और पूरी निष्ठा और मेहनत से किया जाना होगा. (अंग्रेजी से हिन्दी रुपांतरण अमरीश हरदेनिया)

Manufacturing Hate: Anurag Thakur - 'Shoot the traitors'


Manufacturing Hate and Violence: Anurag Thakur’s ‘Shoot the Traitors’



Social organisations and political parties need to cultivate Indian fraternity again.



Ram Puniyani



Noam Chomsky is one of the leading peace workers in the world. In the wake of America’s attack on Vietnam, he brought out his classic formulation, ‘manufacturing consent’. The phrase explains the state manipulating public opinion to have the public approve of it policies—in this case, the attack of the American state on Vietnam, which was then struggling to free itself from French colonial rule.

In India, we are witness to manufactured hate against religious minorities. This hatred serves to enhance polarisation in society, which undermines India’s democracy and Constitution and promotes support for a Hindu nation. Hate is being manufactured through multiple mechanisms. For example, it manifests in violence against religious minorities. Some recent ghastly expressions of this manufactured hate was the massive communal violence witnessed in Mumbai (1992-93), Gujarat (2002), Kandhamal (2008) and Muzaffarnagar (2013). Its other manifestation was in the form of lynching of those accused of having killed a cow or consumed beef. A parallel phenomenon is the brutal flogging, often to death, of Dalits who deal with animal carcasses or leather.

Yet another form of this was seen when Shambhulal Regar, indoctrinated by the propaganda of Hindu nationalists, burned alive Afrazul Khan and shot the video of the heinous act. For his brutality, he was praised by many. Regar was incited into the act by the propaganda around love jihad. Lately, we have the same phenomenon of manufactured hate taking on even more dastardly proportions as youth related to Hindu nationalist organisations have been caught using pistols, while police authorities look on.

Anurag Thakur, a BJP minster in the central government recently incited a crowd in Delhi to complete his chant of what should happen to ‘traitors of the country...” with a “they should be shot”. Just two days later, a youth brought a pistol to the site of a protest at Jamia Millia Islamia university and shouted “take Azaadi!” and fired it. One bullet hit a student of Jamia. This happened on 30 January, the day Nathuram Godse had shot Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. A few days later, another youth fired near the site of protests against the CAA and NRC at Shaheen Bagh. Soon after, he said that in India, “only Hindus will rule”.

What is very obvious is that the shootings by those associated with Hindu nationalist organisations are the culmination of a long campaign of spreading hate against religious minorities in India in general and against Muslims in particular. The present phase is the outcome of a long and sustained hate campaign, the beginning of which lies in nationalism in the name of religion; Muslim nationalism and Hindu nationalism. This sectarian nationalism picked up the communal view of history and the communal historiography which the British introduced in order to pursue their ‘divide and rule’ policy.

In India what became part of “social common sense” was that Muslim kings had destroyed Hindu temples, that Islam was spread by force, and that it is a foreign religion, and so on. Campaigns, such as the one for a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Rama to be built at the site where the Babri masjid once stood, further deepened the idea of a Muslim as a “temple-destroyer”. Aurangzeb, Tipu Sultan and other Muslim kings were tarnished as the ones who spread Islam by force in the subcontinent. The tragic Partition, which was primarily due to British policies, and was well-supported by communal streams also, was entirely attributed to Muslims. The Kashmir conflict, which is the outcome of regional, ethnic and other historical issues, coupled with the American policy of supporting Pakistan’s ambitions of regional hegemony, (which also fostered the birth of Al-Qaeda), was also attributed to the Muslims.

With recurring incidents of communal violence, these falsehoods went on going deeper into the social thinking. Violence itself led to ghettoisation of Muslims and further broke inter-community social bonds. On the one hand, a ghettoised community is cut off from others and on the other hand the victims come to be presented as culprits. The percolation of this hate through word-of-mouth propaganda, media and re-writing of school curricula, had a strong impact on social attitudes towards the minorities.

In the last couple of decades, the process of manufacturing hate has been intensified by the social media platforms which are being cleverly used by the communal forces. Swati Chaturvedi’s book, I Am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Digital Army, tells us how the BJP used social media to spread hate. Whatapp University became the source of understanding for large sections of society and hate for the ‘Other’, went up by leaps and bounds. To add on to this process, the phenomenon of fake news was shrewdly deployed to intensify divisiveness.

Currently, the Shaheen Bagh movement is a big uniting force for the country; but it is being demonised as a gathering of ‘anti-nationals’. Another BJP leader has said that these protesters will indulge in crimes like rape. This has intensified the prevalent hate.

While there is a general dominance of hate, the likes of Shambhulal Regar and the Jamia shooter do get taken in by the incitement and act out the violence that is constantly hinted at. The deeper issue involved is the prevalence of hate, misconceptions and biases, which have become the part of social thinking.

These misconceptions are undoing the amity between different religious communities which was built during the freedom movement. They are undoing the fraternity which emerged with the process of India as a nation in the making. The processes which brought these communities together broadly drew from Gandhi, Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar. It is these values which need to be rooted again in the society. The communal forces have resorted to false propaganda against the minorities, and that needs to be undone with sincerity.

Combating those foundational misconceptions which create hatred is a massive task which needs to be taken up by the social organisations and political parties which have faith in the Indian Constitution and values of freedom movement. It needs to be done right away as a priority issue in with a focus on cultivating Indian fraternity yet again.

February 08, 2020

India: Atmosphere of fear: When your musical dafli raises suspicion - Editorial, The Times of India, 8 Feb 2020

The Times of India

Atmosphere of fear: When your musical dafli raises suspicion

February 8, 2020, 3:00 am IST TOI Edit in TOI Editorials

In a bizarre case, an Uber driver in Mumbai took his passenger to the police because he believed him to be anti-national. The passenger in question was 23-year-old Jaipur-based poet Bappaditya Sarkar, who was in the city for a poetry reading session at the Kala Ghoda Festival. Though the police let Sarkar off after routine questioning, they advised him to avoid carrying around his musical dafli and wearing a red scarf as times weren’t good.

The incident clearly shows the high level of suspicion that is plaguing society. According to political philosopher Francis Fukuyama, poor societies are those where a high level of distrust prevails. Unfortunately, our politicians these days are not doing a great job of promoting trust as a social virtue. At a time when political rhetoric has become highly polarised, hate and anxiety are filtering down to people. In the Delhi election campaign, even chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was branded as a terrorist by political opponents, including a Union minister. Politicians may see such rhetoric as par for the course. But their words continue to have huge impact on ordinary people.

Take the example of “love jihad” rhetoric. Once upon a time even the NIA was deputed to chase this chimera, but junior home minister G Kishan Reddy said in Parliament this week that no central agency has reported any such case. In reality, conservative animus against interfaith marriages has been converted into a political tool that ends up stirring anxiety and hate. And it’s not just ordinary people but the whole state machinery that gets affected, dispensing injustice instead of justice. This is precisely why politicians need to be extra careful, and not invoke imaginary enemies. In social media driven times whatever they say is multiplied manifold, leading to unintended consequences. Polarising political rhetoric presents a bigger threat to social harmony and trust than ever before.


This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.

February 06, 2020

India: Assam told to free non-Muslims from detention camps: says Minister of State in Parliament | News report 5 Feb 2020

Assam told to free non-Muslims from detention camps: MoS in Lok Sabha
Prabin Kalita | TNN | Updated: Feb 5, 2020,

Read more at:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/73958268.cms

‘Can you identify Bangladeshi by looking at face’: Karnataka HC slams state

The News Minute
The BBMP demolished many huts in a settlement in Bengaluru over suspicions that illegal Bangladeshi immigrants stayed there.
news Court Monday, February 03, 2020 - 19:47
"By looking at the face of a person, can one be identified as being a Bangladeshi national?” questioned Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, slamming the state over the demolition of settlements in Bengaluru over suspicions that illegal Bangladeshi immigrants stayed there. 
The High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar told that state that it will have to rehabilitate those affected by the demolitions.
The court was hearing the plea filed by the People's Union for Civil Liberties which challenged the demolition of migrant settlements in Bellandur and Whitefield in the city on January 18 and 19.
In a previous hearing, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) distanced itself from the demolitions. On Monday, the state, which was represented by Advocate-General Prabhuling K Navadgi also maintained that it did not have anything to do with the demolition.
Further, he questioned the misuse of power at multiple levels during the process through which the demolition was carried out — the police officer who wrote to the landowners, as well as the BBMP carrying out the demolition. “On the suspicion that they are Bangladeshi, will the police take law into its own hands and write to the owner, and the BBMP act?” he asked.It had turned out that many residents in the migrant settlement were from states like Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and even Karnataka.
CJ Oka also questioned why the police officer is still in service. “The fact that the state has protected the officer shows that all is not well,” he quipped.
He stated that since the problem began with the state, it must take measures to rehabilitate them — either monetarily or otherwise.
He also tore into the authorities, questioning them as to on what basis the people were declared to be Bangladeshi. He stated that nothing seemed to indicate that the police officer visited the site to identify Bangladeshi immigrants.
“Door-to-door survey by a competent authority must be done. Proper verification needs to be carried out,” he said.
“No date was set by the BBMP for demolition. The stand of the state government is that they have not done it. Prima facie, it is impossible to accept that the occupants vacated on their own,” the CJ said.
Lawyers representing the owners of the land where the shanties were razed maintained that those who were squatting on the property left after they “politely requested” them. “Who will believe that people left because they were politely requested to?” the CJ quipped.
The court will pass its final order in the case on February 7.
Read: Who demolished migrant huts claiming Bangladeshi infiltration? BBMP says it didn't
After video claims 'Bangladeshi immigrant' settlement in Bengaluru, BBMP razes 100 huts