March 28, 2020

Genealogy of a Pogrom: Reflections on the mob violence against Muslims in Delhi | Tanweer Fazal, The Baffler, March 26 [2020]


Communal violence is a structural given of Indian society. In seventy-odd years of independence, hardly a season has passed without murderous attacks on vulnerable castes and religious minorities—crimes that generally go unprosecuted. Even pogroms have a long history here. In Delhi in November 1984, nearly three thousand Sikhs (official figures peg it at 2,300) were butchered in just three days, as mobs incited by leaders of the Congress Party engulfed the city in the wake of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination.
Though the scale of the carnage was different, there are parallels between the events of 1984 and the horrific attacks on Muslims in northeast Delhi last month. In both cases, the state remained a bystander, while the perpetrators—drawn largely from among the foot soldiers of the ruling party—were allowed to wreak mayhem. However, in the state-led dominant discourse, the “de-nationalization” of the Sikhs had begun earlier, to counter the Khalistan movement for a separate Sikh homeland that had erupted in the 1970s. The movement gained sizeable support among the Sikh youth after Indian army’s Operation Blue Star (1984) to flush out militants from the Golden Temple collaterally resulted in killing of a huge number of pilgrims and destruction of the shrine. When the prime minister was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards as an act of revenge, the Congress Party flagrantly communalized matters. Eliminating a Sikh body was made into a kind of “national cause”—a means, no matter how grotesque, to reaffirm one’s patriotism.
The Delhi attacks likewise come in the wake of mass protests, with a proud and visible Muslim presence, against 2019’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which introduces a religious qualification for citizenship, offering undocumented migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan a route to naturalization, provided they are not Muslim. (In this it resembles the Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany and Law of Return of Zionist Israel). The CAA, coupled with the currently stalled National Register of Citizens, threatens to deprive a large section of India’s Muslims, now forced to scramble to find the right “papers,” of their citizenship entitlements. It represents yet another step in the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party’s decades-long campaign to denationalize Muslims. The powerful civilian resistance evidently upset the government. “Bharat Mata ki jai” (Glory to Mother India) and “Jai Sri Ram” (Glory to Lord Ram) reverberated in the air as armed Hindu men went around in the third week of February, punishing Indian Muslims for their opposition to Mr. Modi’s diktat.
The violence began on February 23, 2020, and continued unabated for the next two days: as stone pelting and intermittent skirmishes between pro and anti-CAA factions gave way to targeted attacks by armed Hindu gangs on Muslim lives, their homes, petty establishments, mosques, and madrasas. Credible accounts confirm that the marauders were allowed a free run and were even given an occasional helping hand by the police, arguably making the state complicit in the violence. Video images now floating across social media platforms capture the callousness of the officials and the participation of a section of the constabulary. Not a single shot was fired to restrain the mobs, even though the dead include a policeman.
For most of Delhi’s middle-class residents, the violence seemed to be happening at a distance, perpetrated on a shadowy populace who deserved it.
The slaughter strangely coincided with the state visit of President Donald Trump to the city—it was his interactions with Modi, not the mob attacks, that India’s television stations chose to cover—which now serves as an alibi for the city police to explain its state of inertia. As of this writing, the death toll has exceeded fifty, with several still missing, and many killings may remain unreported. Scores of others have been left brutalized, with severed limbs, gunshot wounds, acid burns, lost livelihoods, and scarred memories. (A fraction of those killed and injured are Hindu residents, as well.) Reports make it clear that this was a premeditated terror attack, not an impulsive outburst.
The Northeast district of Delhi, the main theater of violence, is a working-class neighborhood that has endured years of neglect and suffers from a scarcity of amenities. Nearly one third of its population are Muslims who either are daily wage earners or work in the low-paid, unauthorized sweatshops that dot the area’s congested lanes. There are others who over the years were able to establish their own shops, businesses, and trades—many of which were gutted in this communal fury.
The Northeast never features in representations of Delhi as a global city. The miserable Muslim poor have been entirely removed from the dreamworld of the middle class, an economic and spiritual apartheid whose depth was made evident by the shocking indifference with which a majority of Delhi-ites ignored this public pogrom. While the capital’s northeast district was burning, for the rest of the city-dwellers it was business as usual. Offices, shops, footfall in the malls and the theaters, schools and colleges, traffic snarls—the ingrained routines of metropolitan life remained unaffected. For most of Delhi’s middle-class residents, the violence seemed to be happening at a distance, perpetrated on a shadowy populace who probably deserved it.
This is not to suggest that middle-class Hindus have no culpability in what happened. For years they have been perpetrating hate from their living rooms and offices, spreading a continuous flow of venomously anti-Muslim online material: distorted images, rabid speeches, and disinformation meant to keep the pot boiling. Even as Muslims were being killed on the streets, WhatsApp groups of old schoolmates, resident welfare associations, citizen groups, and sundry other groups participated in the virtual propaganda war, tacitly registering their participation in the kill-fest. This cocktail of apparent apathy, even callousness, and hateful online messaging shows the extent to which majoritarianism has come to shape ordinary Indian/Hindu selves.

The BJP’s thumping victory in the general elections last year reflects the consolidation of right-wing hegemony in India. The party initially rose to prominence in the late 1980s, when it took up the cause of building a Ram temple in place of historic Babri mosque at Ayodhya (this is known as the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign). The eventual demolition of the mosque in December 1992, a crime in which several BJP leaders were implicated, only cemented the party’s newfound popularity among Hindus. The period also coincided with the liberalization of the country’s economy and the consequent expansion of the urban middle class, who became the BJP’s social base. Since then the party has advanced a two-pronged strategy—pathological nationalism that survives on minority-baiting on the one hand, and a fanatical neoliberal commitment to economic developmentalism on the other—that has come to find wider favor in the country, among both the affluent and the impoverished.
Asad Ashraf
Yet it would be a mistake to measure the BJP’s power in purely electoral terms. Its ultimate aim has always been to reconfigure India—which is nominally a secular, democratic country—along principles of racial purity, religious nationalism, and ethnically differentiated citizenship. In pursuing these goals, through both political and cultural projects, the party has brought about an astonishing change to Indian society, weakening governmental institutions, unleashing communal demons, eroding the rule of law. Today it would be at best a half-truth to describe India as a constitutional republic: for foundational ideas of democracy, freedom, and justice have been turned upside down. Vigilante groups and lynch mobs are free to kill Muslims and instill fear in the community. BJP leaders are allowed to openly spew hate speech, even calling for violence on the Muslim community. Television media parrots and amplifies the government’s communal line. In courts, justice has come to mean reparation for imagined historical wrongs on the Hindu community. For instance, last year the Supreme Court ruled that a Ram Temple should be built on the site of the Babri mosque.

The speed with which India has embraced such virulent forms of Islamophobia cannot be explained by the BJP’s propaganda alone. The party has taken root in soil that was already communalized. The loyalty of Muslims, India’s largest minority, has been held suspect in the majoritarian narratives ever since Independence and partition of the subcontinent in 1947. Equating religion with a form of a nationality, Hindu nationalist thinkers have presented Muslims as a fifth column for Pakistan.
Yet this portrayal of Muslims predates Partition. Its origins go at least as far back as the nineteenth century, when a modern “Hindu” consciousness was being forged in the crucible of colonialism. Drawing on British orientalist historiography, which presented Islam as a “foreign” religion, Hindu reformist thinkers came to imagine the modern nation of “India” as a spiritual homeland for Hindus, besieged by foreigners both European and Muslim. Over time they developed a baroque, hoary mythology about the so-called Muslim conquest, focused on the forceful abduction, violation, and conversion of Hindu women by Muslim men. In the early twentieth century, as colonial institutions based on communal representation were opened to the natives, a panic around shrinking numerical strength, not to mention physical and political potency, became entrenched in the Hindu nationalist imaginary.
This form of “othering” has found its most virulent expression in the discourse of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the cultural outfit which essentially controls the BJP. Founded in 1925 in Nagpur by a group of upper-caste Brahmins, and explicitly modelled on Mussolini’s fascist party, it is the oldest, largest, and arguably the most successful far-right group in the world today. The RSS instills in its cadre a ferocious hatred of Muslims, who are viewed as a barbaric internal enemy—fanatically driven by the sword, hypersexual, and bearers of divided loyalties. Writing in 1939, one of the organization’s longest serving chiefs, M.S. Golwalkar, laid down the conditions under which the Muslim could be accepted into India: they would be “wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment, not even citizen’s right.”
For the RSS, stereotyping and demonizing of the Muslim has served the equally important purpose of cementing the Hindu nation, beleaguered as it is by its own internal segments of hierarchically organized caste groups, cults, and sects. V. D. Savarkar, perhaps the most influential Hindutva ideologue, spelled this idea out in his 1923 tract, Hindutva: Who is a Hindu, a founding document for the far-right Hindu movement: “Nothing makes [the] Self conscious of itself so much as a conflict with non-self. Nothing can weld peoples into a nation and nations into a state as the pressure of a common foe.”

The Hindu right remained politically marginalized for the first four or so decades of Indian independence. Yet during this period, the RSS spread its communal venom at the grassroots level, indoctrinating youth at its schools, spiritual camps, and “shakhas,” or training units in villages and towns across the country. (The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a cultural organization that provides the shock troops for the RSS, also participated in numerous communal attacks across the country.) Things changed in 1990, when L. K Advani—a RSS graduate and the then BJP president—embarked on a Rath yatra (roughly “chariot pilgrimage”), traveling with followers across North India, holding politico-religious rallies at which he exhorted Hindu youth to join the Ram Janmabhumi campaign.
Advani’s Rath Yatra, which left a trail of communal killings and destruction in its wake, was finally abandoned when he was detained in Bihar by the state’s secular chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. But by that time his task had been more or less achieved—the forging of a new Hindu public for whom secularism, a constitutional guarantee, was reinscribed as minority appeasement towards Muslims. Indoctrinated into the Hindutva ideology, right-wing Hindus began to demand sovereignty of faith over state in matters related to Hindu religiosity. In this pernicious new discourse, any advance in the protection of minority cultures or demands of parity between Hindus and Muslims came to be dismissed as “pseudo-secularism” (this remains a popular term of abuse in right-wing Indian circles).

The persistence of communal violence in India has prompted two broad responses from liberal intellectuals, neither of them really satisfactory. One school, comprised largely of Gandhian and other anti-modernist thinkers, has come to question the very efficacy of secularism in the Indian context, underscoring—more or less—the concept’s foreignness. It is unreasonable, these thinkers argue, to expect the Indian masses to cast aside their religious attachments. Instead, they seek to recover an “ancient” tradition of authentically Indian tolerance, rooted in religiosity yet simultaneously secular, which they offer as an antidote to rising fanaticism. The weaknesses of this position are self-evident. In the first place, the “Indian tolerance” narrative is based on an idyllic past which never existed; episodes of communal violence, as historians like Christopher Bayly have showed, occurred even in pre-colonial India. More perniciously, this anti-secular argument caters to the Hindutva theory that Hindus are an innately “tolerant” people, led astray (probably by the bloodthirstiness of Abrahamic faiths). Indeed, the anti-modernists offered a counter politics uneasily reminiscent of nineteenth century Hindu cultural rejuvenation.
The police and security apparatus of the state has viewed minorities—be it Muslims, Dalits, Sikhs, or Adivasis (Indigenous people)—as the nation’s demonic other.
The other response comes from modernists and left-wing intellectuals, who insisted on a stricter application of the principles of secularism. They endorse something akin to the French practice of laïcité—an equidistance from all religions, a wall of separation between church and state, and the idea of a rootless, abstract citizenship. Under the cover of neutrality, however, this modernist approach frowns upon minority protection—such as affirmative action for Muslims and separate marriage laws— condemning these as illiberal and divisive. In an unfortunate way, this attitude too resonates with the Hindutva critique of the “pseudo-secular” state.
In any case, such discussions were largely limited to academia. Since independence, the Indian state’s actions have been governed by pragmatic considerations, rather than any lofty secular or constitutional principles. The Congress Party and other secular parties, which have ruled India for much of the past seventy-odd years, blended elements of both the contesting views: without really giving up on majoritarian rhetoric, they kept hopes in the system alive for the minorities. Thus, every incidence of violence against minorities, was almost invariably followed by institution of Inquiry Commissions, pronouncements of compensations, and assurances of justice—seldom if ever met. In sum, the Congress regime practiced a kind of ambivalent secularism, a half-hearted commitment, that made symbolic gestures towards the minorities when in distress while condoning communal violence at the ground level.
Worse still, entrusted with the task of securing the nation, the police and security apparatus of the state has viewed minorities—be it Muslims, Dalits, Sikhs, or Adivasis (Indigenous people)—as the nation’s demonic other, essentially sharing the attitude of the criminals they are tasked with restraining. The record of state complicity in communal violence is long and dismal. In Moradabad in 1980, the police opened indiscriminate fire on protesting namazis at an Eidgah leaving hundreds dead; in Hashimpura in 1987, police rounded up forty-two innocent men, and their decomposed bodies were fished out later from an irrigation canal; in Bhagalpur in 1989, violence raged on unabated for nearly two months, and the needle of suspicion pointed to the top brass of the city police, who delayed filing of First Information Reports (FIRs) against the real criminals, then filed FIRs against unknown persons—even when perpetrators were recognized by victims—conducted shoddy investigations, thus ensuring impunity; the Srikrishna Commission Report set up to investigate the Mumbai “riots” that followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, listed eleven incidents in which thirty-one police officers were found actively participating in violence targeting Muslim residents. And this is not even considering police complicity in the caste atrocities and land-grabs of Adivasi territory that are the ambient violence of modern India.

The malevolent pragmatism of the Congress Party has now given way to a more full-blooded, and brash majoritarianism under the BJP. We were given a taste of the BJP’s “handling” of communal violence in 2002, when the state of Gujarat, then overseen by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, witnessed a horrific, protracted anti-Muslim pogrom—an event widely understood as marking a turning point in Indian politics. The trouble is said to have begun when fifty-odd Karsevaks (RSS activists), returning from Ayodhya where they had been agitating for the Ram temple, were mysteriously burnt to death inside a train. This incident is supposed to have provoked three months of retributive attacks against Muslims, a reign of terror and unspeakable barbarism that left nearly two thousand dead, besides numerous others injured and uprooted.
The malevolent pragmatism of the Congress Party has now given way to a more full-blooded, and brash majoritarianism under the BJP.
Accounts of police officials and findings by citizen’s groups highlight how the rioters were allowed to take their revenge on ordinary Muslims. Indeed, this was probably the first time in modern India that the state made no pretense of neutrality and impartiality during the orgy of rape and killing. All through the pogrom, local police either watched as bystanders, or actively participated in the crimes, while the central reserve were prevented from deploying. In terms of logistics and mechanics of violence, Delhi in 2020 mirrors what was seen and observed in Gujarat in 2002. In both cases, the attacks were sophisticated—gas cylinders, usually in short supply, were aplenty and produced in advanced, used to burn down shops, houses, mosques and schools. Then as now mobs moved into the lanes and bylanes of localities with diverse populations, and with near immaculate precision, were able to distinguish what was Muslim from that which was not—which rebuffs the argument that the violence was spontaneous.
In the aftermath of the Gujarat brutality, Modi’s state government came down heavily on Muslims accused of burning down the train carrying RSS activists, trying them under the freshly minted anti-terror law, POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act). By contrast, the Hindus accused of arson and killing, on the other, attracted the provisions of ordinary Indian Penal Code. Muslims, who by far made up the majority of victims, were being framed as perpetrators simply on the basis of their religion.
The BJP response this time around has been more galling, if that is at all possible. After the killings in Delhi, there was not even the fig leaf of posturing from the ruling party: no imperative to assuage memories of brutalities, no assurance of reparations, little talk of relief camps for victims. Home minister Amit Shah’s remarks about the attacks in Parliament was illuminating. He offered no community segregated figures of death and destruction, placed the burden of igniting and inflaming violence on Muslim activists and anti-CAA protesters, and spared even a mention of leaders from the Hindutva camp, many of whom were caught on camera making incendiary speeches. In a nutshell, the BJP government imputed that Muslims inflicted violence upon themselves, as they did on some Hindus. Shah assured the Indian people that the perpetrators would be made to pay for their intransigence.

Riots in India have been typically followed by efforts to displace blame. And when the victims of violence are disproportionately Muslim, as is usually the case, attempts are made to justify the perpetrators’ crimes. “Every action has its reaction,” Modi infamously declared in 2002, implicitly blaming the Muslims for the savagery unleashed on them, while also subtly making a case that the Hindu violence was a just and spontaneous response.
Even mainstream politicians and commentators tend to occlude history when discussing communal attacks, reducing events to their immediate trigger: whether it is an allegation of cow slaughter, sacrilege of some kind, or an innocuous flare-up involving members of the two communities (from the early history of Hindu-Muslim violence, the nodes of incitement, which implicitly lay the blame on Muslims, have remained virtually unchanged.) A new paranoia of the Hindu right is “love jihad,” the idea that Muslim men lure innocent Hindu women into romantic relationships, and by extension, into global jihad (though this also reworks the staple of Hindutva trope of hypersexual Muslims). Yogi Adityanath, the BJP monk turned Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, called upon Hindu youth to entice a hundred Muslim women for each reported case of “love jihad.” Such narratives, invoking fear, terror, and horror of the other, are the routine precursors to conflict, a match that sets off a familiar flame.
The very sight of a Muslim has become an anathema to the Hindutva consciousness.
What is novel about the Delhi pogrom is that there was no identifiable trigger, though the BJP has made some efforts to concoct excuses in retrospect. After all, the anti-CAA protests, despite innumerable provocations (including threats from gun-wielding vigilantes) have remained adamantly peaceful. Constitutionalism has been celebrated; portraits of the document’s architect, Dr. Ambedkar, adorned the walls of various protest sites—a display which exposed the thinness of right-wing commitment to constitutional values. The protestors also have felt compelled to reaffirm their own patriotism, decking various occupations with the national flag, which amounted to breaking up the BJP’s vile monopoly over national allegiance.
But for the killers, who set out in the garb of pro-CAA protesters, such gestures meant little. No amount of patriotism would douse their blinding fury. No symbol of constitutionalism was sacred in their eyes. And indeed in India today, no longer do terrible crimes need be attributed to the Muslim to legitimate her brutalization. And no amount of structural humiliation—incarcerations, disenfranchisement, relentless economic marginalization—will satiate the Hindu right’s bloodthirst. The very sight of a Muslim has become an anathema to the Hindutva consciousness. It would appear the long-drawn project aimed at weaponizing the supposedly “Hindu nation” is at last complete.

Tanweer Fazal is professor of Sociology at University of Hyderabad. He works and writes on subjects of nationalism, community formation, minority rights, and collective violence. He is the author of ‘Nation-state’ and Minority Rights in India: Comparative Perspectives of Muslim and Sikh Identities (London; Routledge, 2015), Minority Nationalisms in South Asia (ed. London: Routledge, 2012) and The Minority Conundrum: Living in Majoritarian Times (Delhi: Penguin, 2020)

Delhi Communal Violence: Caste and Religion

Does Religion Matter? Communal Violence in IndiaRam Puniyani The carnage or to put it moreprecisely the anti Muslim violence in Delhi (February-March 2020) has shaken usall. Analysts are burning midnight oil yet again to understand the deepercausative factors of the same. One of the neglected aspects of analysis ofcommunal violence has been the one related to prevalent factor of Caste inIndian society. Caste is inherent in the scriptures called as Hindu scriptures;caste has been the rigid frame work of Hindu society, which has also penetratedinto other religious communities in India. The deeper connection between Hindunationalism or Hindutva and caste has been explored somewhat but not too many studieshave taken up the relationship between the communal violence and caste in India.Suraj Yengde (IE, Delhi Pogrom is an attempt to Divert attention from Government’sFailures, March 8, 2020) makes some points on this issue. Yengde points out, “Manyare still downplaying the Delhi riot as an affliction of Hindutva orHindu-Muslim binaries. It is neither. It is not religious but caste tensionsthat encourage such treacherous acts.”    He quotes from the Gujarat activist Raju Solanki, “in the 2002Godhra riots there were 2,945 arrests in Ahmadabad. Of these, 1,577 were Hindusand 1,368 Muslims. Among the Hindus arrested, 797 were OBCs, 747 Dalits, 19Patels, two Baniyas, and two Brahmins. The upper castes became MLAs, the restwere jailed. Also, it is not an accident that Dalits constitute nearly 22% ofthe total arrests in India; Adivasis 11%, Muslims 20% and OBCs 31%. More than55% of under trials also come from the same communities (NCRB 2015).” While this data is on the dot it must be stated that while castehas lot of role in the emergence of politics of Hindutva, in the resultantviolence the primary focus has been religion, here caste plays a role which issecondary in some ways. To trace the outline of the Hindu nationalism’s primemover RSS; one can definitely say that its formation and rise is primarily dueto the rising caste consciousness and the beginnings of struggles aimed at injusticesdue to the caste Varna System. While Hindu Mahasabha was already on the sceneas parallel and opposite to the Muslim League, these formations initially hadonly Kings and landlords. Later these formations were joined in by some elite,affluent sections of society. RSS in particular was a response to the ground level changesresulting in coming up of low caste/average people in social and politicalspace. It was the non-cooperation movement led by Gandhi and then the nonBrahman movement in Nagpur-Vidarbha area which disturbed the Brahmanicalsections, supported by landlord-kings, to take up the agenda of Hindu nation.The core articulation of Hindutva politics was to present the glorious ancienttimes, when Manu Smriti’s laws ruled the roost. These were getting a jolt now asthe efforts of Joti Rao Phule and later the campaigns of Ambedkar startedempowering the downtrodden dalits. This was a serious threat to Brahmanicalsystem. While this was the core an external threat was to be created to ‘unify’Hindu society. And here the Muslims, Muslim Kings rule came in as handy. It isthis anti Muslim tirade and actions which was the frontage for Hindutva, whilethe anti dalit-agenda was the real underlying motive. The whole of Shakha (RSSbranches) baudhiks (intellectual sessions) were structured around this. Thepromotion of communal historiography, the hatred for Muslims was the visiblepart of RSS training, while glorification of past is the fulcrum which in a wayis the code language for retaining the hierarchy of caste and also of gender. Practically also if we see the strengthening of Hindutva began onthe issue of a Muslim king destroying the temple of the birth place of LordRam, this campaign got its vitriol after the implementation of Mandal Commissionin 1990. The anti Muslim Hate and promotion of values of caste and genderhierarchy are synthesized by Hindutva politics. That’s as far as the politicalagenda of Hindu nationalism goes. As far as communal violence is concerned, ithas been an anti Muslim work through and through. All the statistics shows thatvictims of communal violence are primarily Muslims, around 80% of victims being Muslims. TheseMuslims do come from all sections of Muslims, more from the poor. The caste comes into operation in the mechanism of riotproduction. Hindutva politics, through its extensive network has been workingrelentlessly among dalits. The recent book by Bhanwar Meghwanshi, “I was a KarSevak”, brilliantly describes the mechanism of co-opting dalits into the agendaof sectarian politics. RSS has floated innumerable organizations, like SamajikSamrasta Manch, which work among dalits to promote Brahmanical values and tointegrate dalits into the scheme of Hindutva politics. They are made to act asfoot soldiers of Hindu nationalist politics.Those who spread hate through indoctrination and propaganda are safe in their cozyhouses or offices while the poor dalits are made to soil their hands with theblood of religious minorities. The face of Gujarat violence, Ashok Mochi, now talks of dalit-Muslim unity. The datacompiled by Raju Solanki and quoted by Yengde is the norm in the cases ofviolence in India. Those who are incited, those who are later charged withviolence are not the ones who give donations to RSS or support its variousactivities. Most of these do come from the sections of indoctrinated youth fromdowntrodden communities. Yengde has done a valuable job in drawing our attention to therole of caste in communal violence; the problem with his thesis is theundermining the role of ‘Hate against religious minorities’, which is the baseon which the violence is orchestrated. The extent and degree of indoctrination donethrough shakhas is very powerful and effective. This can gauzed from the experiencesof the likes of Bhanwar Meghwanshi, who tells us the difficulties he had toface to come to grips of reality of caste while overcoming the RSS propaganda.    

March 27, 2020

Hindi Article -Fighting with Corona Virus-No place for blind faith

कोरोना से लड़ाई में अंधश्रद्धा के लिए कोई जगह नहीं -राम पुनियानी इस समय (मार्च 2020) पूरी दुनिया, कोविड -19 वैश्विक महामारी से मुकाबला करने में जुटी है. चीन से शुरू हुई यह जानलेवा बीमारी विश्व के लगभग सभी देशों में फैल गई है. अपनी आबादी और आकार के चलते भारत के लिए इस बीमारी से लड़ना एक बड़ी चुनौती है. इस सिलसिले में कई कदम उठाए जा चुके हैं, कुछ उठाए जा रहे हैं और कुछ आगे भी उठाए जाएंगे. परंतु इस लड़ाई को और मुश्किल बना रहे हैं सत्ताधारी दल और उसके सहयोगी संगठनों द्वारा इस बीमारी के इलाज के संबंध में किए जा रहे अजीबोगरीब दावे. ऐसे दावे करने वालों की उनकी खोखली मान्यताओं में जुनून की हद तक आस्था होती है और उनके दावों को तार्किकता की कसौटी पर कसने वाले उनके दुश्मन बन जाते हैं. डा. नरेद्र दाभोलकर, गोविंद पंसारे और एम. एम. कलबुर्गी की हत्या इसी का सुबूत हैं. इस तरह के तत्वों को सम्प्रदायवादी राष्ट्रवाद के उदय से बढ़ावा मिल रहा है. प्रधानमंत्री नरेन्द्र मोदी ने रविवार 22 मार्च 2020 को पूरे देश में जनता कर्फ्यू का आव्हान किया था. यह आव्हान भी किया गया था कि इसी दिन शाम पांच बजे लोग डॉक्टरों और अन्य स्वास्थ्यकर्मियों की प्रशंसा स्वरूप और उनके प्रति कृतज्ञता ज्ञापन के लिए अपने घरों की बालकनियों में निकलकर थालियां व अन्य बर्तन बजाएं. इस आव्हान में कुछ भी गलत नहीं था परंतु कई स्थानों पर इसे एक दूसरा ही रंग दे दिया गया. जुलूस निकाले गए, जिनमें भाग ले रहे लोग शंख फूंक रहे थे, बर्तन पीट रहे थे और तालियां बजा रहे थे. जाहिर है कि इस तरह के जुलूसों से जनता कर्फ्यू के मूल उद्देश्य को ही पलीता लग गया. यह सब होने का एक कारण था यह विश्वास कि शोर मचाने से वायरस और बैक्टीरिया मर जाते हैं. महाराष्ट्र भाजपा की एक नेता शायना एनसी ने टवीट् कर पुराणों के हवाले से यह दावा किया कि शंख की ध्वनि, बैक्टीरिया और वायरस के लिए काल होती है. इसी तरह स्वामी चक्रपाणी महाराज ने गौमूत्र पार्टी का आयोजन किया जिसमें सभी मेहमानों को गौमूत्र परोसा गया. और उन लोगों ने गौमूत्र पिया भी क्योंकि उनका यह विश्वास था कि इससे कोरोना वायरस से उनकी रक्षा होगी. एक अन्य भाजपा नेता द्वारा आयोजित इसी तरह की पार्टी में गौमूत्र सेवन करने वाला एक मेहमान बीमार पड़ गया. असम से भाजपा विधायक सुमन हरिप्रिया ने कोरोना से लड़ाई में गोबर की भूमिका पर विस्तार से प्रकाश डाला. यह कतई आश्चर्यजनक नहीं है कि गौमूत्र, गोबर आदि के औषधि के रूप में इस्तेमाल की वकालत करने वाले सभी लोग भाजपा की विचारधारा से जुड़े हुए हैं. गौमूत्र के विलक्षण गुणों के बारे में भारतीयों को सबसे पहले सन् 1998 में एनडीए के सत्ता में आने के बाद पता चला. प्रधानमंत्री मोदी के एक निकट सहयोगी, गुजरात के शंकरभाई वेगड़ का दावा है कि गौमूत्र के सेवन के कारण ही वे 76 वर्ष की आयु में भी पूरी तरह स्वस्थ हैं. मालेगांव बम धमाकों की आरोपी और भोपाल से भाजपा सांसद साध्वी प्रज्ञा सिंह ठाकुर के अनुसार उन्हें स्तन कैंसर था जो गौमूत्र सेवन से ठीक हो गया. यह अलग बात है कि उनके डाक्टर के अनुसार उनकी तीन सर्जरी हुईं थीं. क्या यह मानने का कोई तार्किक कारण है कि गौमूत्र से बीमारियां ठीक हो सकती हैं? भारत सरकार ने गौमूत्र और पंचगव्य (गोबर, गौमूत्र, दूध, दही और घी का मिश्रण) पर रिसर्च के लिए एक बड़ी धनराशि आवंटित की है. कई केन्द्रीय शोध संस्थान, गौ-उत्पादों और भारतीय गाय की विशेषताओं पर शोध कर रहे हैं. चिकित्सा विज्ञान में किसी भी दवा की प्रभावोत्पादकता के परीक्षण के लिए जैव रासायिनक अध्ययन किए जाते हैं, क्लीनिकल ट्रायल होती हैं और दवा के प्रचलन में आ जाने के बाद भी लगातार उसके प्रभाव का अध्ययन और आंकलन जारी रहता है. गौ उत्पादों के बारे में जो भी दावे किए जा रहे हैं वे केवल और केवल आस्था पर आधारित हैं. उनके पीछे न तो कोई वैज्ञानिक तर्क है और ना ही कोई वैज्ञानिक अध्ययन. जहां तक गौमूत्र का सवाल है अन्य जानवरों के मूत्र की तरह उसमें भी वे ही तत्व होते हैं जिन्हें शरीर अनुपयोगी या हानिकारक मानकर उत्सर्जित कर देता है. गौमूत्र में लगभग 90 प्रतिशत पानी होता है. इसके अलावा उसमें यूरिया, क्रियेटेनिन, सल्फेट और फास्फेट इत्यादि होते हैं. गौमूत्र के चिकित्सकीय गुणों को साबित करने के लिए कोई क्लीनिकल ट्रायल नहीं किए गए हैं. ये सारे दावे आस्था और विश्वास पर आधारित हैं. कुछ तत्व केवल अपनी विचारधारा को दूसरों पर लादने के लिए गौमूत्र के संबंध में बेसिरपैर के दावे कर रहे हैं. दरअसल गौमूत्र, गोबर आदि का महिमामंडन, हिन्दू राष्ट्रवाद की परियोजना का हिस्सा है. हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी देश पर लैंगिक और जातिगत ऊँचनीच पर आधारित सोच लादना चाहते हैं. इसीलिए यह दावा भी किया जाता है कि प्राचीन भारत ने हजारों वर्ष पूर्व वे सारी वैज्ञानिक उपलब्धियां हासिल कर लीं थीं जो आधुनिक दुनिया ने पिछले सौ-दो सौ वर्षों में हासिल की हैं. प्राचीन भारत में विमान थे, टेलीविजन था, इंटरनेट था और प्लास्टिक सर्जरी भी होती थी. संघ का एक अनुषांगिक संगठन ‘विज्ञान भारती’ पौराणिक साहित्य में आधुनिक विज्ञान को ढूढ़ने पर आमादा है. इस एजेंडे का उद्देश्य है प्राचीन भारत को स्वर्णयुग के रूप में प्रस्तुत करना और पारंपरिक हिन्दू मूल्यों की सर्वोच्चता स्थापित करना. हिन्दुत्ववादी गाय का प्रयोग दो ढ़ंग से कर रहे हैं - एक ओर गाय के नाम पर लिंचिंग की जा रही है तो दूसरी ओर गौमूत्र और गोबर को चमत्कारिक दवा के रूप में प्रस्तुत किया जा रहा है. बाबा रामदेव का पतंजलि संस्थान गौ-उत्पादों पर आधारित कई तरह की दवाईयों का उत्पादन कर रहा है और नागपुर में गौविज्ञान अनुसंधान केन्द्र की स्थापना की गई है. कोरोना जैसी महामारी से मुकाबला करने के लिए सरकार और समाज दोनों को कठिन प्रयास करने होंगे. इस लड़ाई में अंधविश्वास और अंधश्रद्धा के लिए कोई जगह नहीं हो सकती. (हिंदी रूपांतरणः अमरीश हरदेनिया)

March 26, 2020

India: Violation of MHA Guidelines Corona Lockdown 'places of worship shall be closed for public' why no action against Adityanath

Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2020 at 08:58
Subject: (napmap) Violation of MHA Guidelines issued by NDMA under Section 6(2)(1) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005- Request action
To: , , , Preeti Sudan

14-40-4/1 Gokhale Road
Visakhapatnam 530002
Mobile: 91-9866021646
Email: eassarma[at]gmail.com


Shri A K Bhalla
Union Hoe Secretary

Dear Shri Bhalla,

I refer to your Ministry's Order No. 40-3/2020-D dated 24-3-2020 in which the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has invoked its powers under Section 6(2)(1) of Disaster Management Act, 2005 and imposed several restrictions on the activities of the citizens to prevent the spread of Corona Virus. Annexure to that Order has listed out the Guidelines for the restrictions in an unambiguous manner.

I have enclosed both the Order and the Guidelines for your ready reference.

The following news report suggests that Shri Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of UP had organised a religious event in which he had personally participated along with several others and installed the idol of Sri Rama at the Ayodhya premises, a few hours after the above cited MHA Order No. 40-3/2020-D dated 24-3-2020 came into force.


It appears from the news report and the pictures shown therein that there were several persons along with Shri Adityanath at the religious event referred. Apparently, the requirement of "social distancing", so crucial for preventing the spread of the virus, had also not been complied with.

Organising such a religious event involving a congregation of several persons, in my view, contravenes the MHA Order cited.

Item 9 of the Guidelines states as follows.

"All places of worship shall be closed for public. No religious congregations will be permitted without any exception"

In addition, the above mentioned event in UP also attracts Items 10 and 17 of the Guidelines, extracted below,

"10 All ocial/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ gatherings shall be barred

17 Any person violating these containment measures will be liable to be proceeded against as per the provisions of Sections 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management act, 2005, besides legal action under Section 188 of the IPC”

I find that several States have been invoking powers under the Disaster Management Act and taking stringent action against those contravening the lockdown restrictions. For example, the following news report referred to the Tamil Nadu government taking such action against those violating the restrictions.


In this connection, I have enclosed here a copy of my letter dated 24-302020 addressed to the Prime Minister, which is self explanatory.

Strict enforcement of the MHA Order cited is important for preventing any further spread of Corona Virus.

In my view, taking penal action against all those who violate the MHA Order, irrespective of their status, is necessary to reinforce the credibility of the action taken by your Ministry to impose a nationwide lockdown in order to contain the community transmission of the virus. Exemptions and relaxations will not only be illegal but they will also upset the principle that there should be no discrimination whatsoever in the application of the law of the land.

I hope that your Ministry will respect the letter and the spirit of the MHA Order No.40-3/2020-D dated 24-3-2020 and take urgent action in this matter.


Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma

Former Secretary to GOI



March 20, 2020

Hindi Article-Caste and Communal violence

साम्प्रदायिक हिंसा का धर्म से कितनासम्बन्ध है -राम पुनियानी दिल्ली मेंहुए खून-खराबे, जिसे मुसलमानों के खिलाफ हिंसा कहना बेहतर होगा, ने पूरे देश को हिलाकर रख दिया है. विभिन्न टिप्पणीकार और विश्लेषक यह पता लगाने का भरसक प्रयास कर रहेहैं कि इस हिंसा के अचानक भड़क उठने के पीछे क्या वजहें थीं. भारत में साम्प्रदायिकहिंसा के विश्लेषण में जिस एक कारक को लगातार नजरअंदाज किया जाता रहा है वह है जाति.जाति को उन ग्रंथों की स्वीकृति और मान्यता प्राप्त है, जिन्हें हम ‘हिन्दू धर्मग्रंथ’कहते हैं. जातिप्रथा, हिन्दू सामाजिक व्यवस्था का अविभाज्य अंग है, जिसकी चपेट मेंअन्य धार्मिक समुदाय भी आ गए हैं. जहां हिन्दू राष्ट्रवाद और हिन्दुत्व के संदर्भोंमें जाति के कारक का विस्तार से विश्लेषण और अध्ययन हुआ है वहीं साम्प्रदायिक हिंसामें जाति की भूमिका के विश्लेषण को काफी हद तक नजरअंदाज किया जाता रहा है. सूरज येंगड़ेने ‘द इंडियन एक्सप्रेस’ के दिल्ली संस्करण में 8 मार्च 2020 को प्रकाशित अपने लेखमें इस मुद्दे पर कुछ समीचीन टिप्पणियां कीं हैं. वे लिखते हैं, “दिल्ली के दंगों कोहिन्दुत्व व हिन्दुओं और मुसलमानों के बीच बैरभाव के संदर्भों में समझने के प्रयासहो रहे हैं. इसके पीछे इन दोनों में से कोई भी कारक नहीं है. दरअसल, इस तरह की घटनाओंके लिए साम्प्रदायिक नहीं बल्कि जातिगत तनाव जिम्मेदार हैं.”अपने लेख मेंयेंगड़े ने गुजरात के सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता राजू सोलंकी के विश्लेषण का हवाला दिया है.राजू सोलंकी लिखते हैं कि “सन् 2002 के गोधरा दंगों के सिलसिले में अहमदाबाद में कुल2,945 लोगों को गिरफ्तार किया गया था. इनमें से 1,577 हिन्दू थे और 1,368 मुसलमान.गिरफ्तार किए गए हिन्दुओं में से 797 ओबीसी थे, 747 दलित, 19 पटेल, 2 बनिया और 2 ब्राम्हण.इनमें से ऊँची जातियों के आरोपी तो विधायक बन गए और अन्यों को जेल के सींखचों के पीछेडाल दिया गया. यह मात्र संयोग नहीं है कि भारत में सन 2015 में गिरफ्तार किये गएव्यक्तियों में  से 22 प्रतिशत दलित, 11 प्रतिशतआदिवासी, 20 प्रतिशत मुसलमान और 31 प्रतिशत ओबीसी थे. जिन लोगों के विरूद्ध मुकदमेचले, उनमें से 55 प्रतिशत इन्हीं समुदायों से थे (एनसीआरबी, 2015).”इन आंकड़ों कीसत्यता को स्वीकार करते हुए भी यह कहा जा सकता है कि हिन्दुत्व की राजनीति के परवानचढ़ने में जाति ने महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभाई है. परंतु जहां तक साम्प्रदायिक हिंसा काप्रश्न है, उसमें जहाँ धर्म की प्रमुख भूमिका रहती है वहीं जाति दूसरा सबसे बड़ा कारकहोती है. हिन्दू राष्ट्रवाद के झंडाबरदार आरएसएस के संबंध में बिना किसी हिचक के कहाजा सकता है कि उसके उदय और उसकी ताकत में इजाफे का मुख्य कारण बढ़ती जातिगत चेतना औरजाति व वर्ण व्यवस्था से उपजे अन्याय और अत्याचार का प्रतिरोध था. आरएसएस के गठन केपूर्व ही देश में हिन्दू महासभा अस्तित्व में आ चुकी थी. यह संगठन मुस्लिम लीग का विरोधीतो था परंतु एक अर्थ में उसका समानांतर संगठन भी था. शुरूआत में इन दोनों संगठनों केसदस्यों में राजाओं और जमींदारों का बोलबाला था परंतु बाद में समाज के श्रेष्ठि संपन्नवर्ग के कुछ लोग भी इनसे जुड़ गए. आरएसएस का उदयमूलतः सामाजिक व राजनीतिक क्षेत्रों में आम लोगों और नीची जातियों के सदस्यों के प्रवेशकी प्रतिक्रिया था. नागपुर-विदर्भ क्षेत्र में ब्राम्हण-विरोधी आंदोलन और महात्मा गांधीद्वारा शुरू किए गए असहयोग आंदोलन से  ब्राम्हणवादीइतने भयातुर हो गए कि उन्होंने राजाओं और जमींदारों के समर्थन और सहयोग से हिन्दू राष्ट्रका झंडा उठा लिया. हिन्दुत्व की राजनीति के मूल में था प्राचीन भारत, जिसमें मनुसंहिता का बोलबाला था, का महिमामंडन. जोतिबा फुले और उनके बाद अंबेडकर द्वारा शुरूकिए गए अभियानों से दलितों का जो सशक्तिकरण हो रहा था, ब्राम्हणवादी ताकतें उससे भयग्रस्तहो गईं थीं.मूल मुद्दातो यही था परंतु हिन्दुओं को एक करने के लिए यह आवश्यक था कि उनके किसी ‘बाहरी’ शत्रुका अविष्कार किया जाए और इसके लिए मुसलमानों से बेहतर भला कौन हो सकता था? विशेषकरइसलिए क्योंकि मुसलमानों ने भारत पर लंबे समय तक राज किया था. इस तरह संघ का मूल एजेंडादलितों को दलित बनाए रखना था परंतु उस पर मुस्लिम-विरोध का मुल्लमा चढ़ा दिया गया. आरएसएसकी शाखाओं और बौद्धिकों में इतिहास को तोड़-मरोड़कर प्रस्तुत करना शुरू कर दिया गया.जहां मुसलमानों को प्रत्यक्ष शत्रु बताया गया वहीं प्राचीन भारत का महिमामंडन कर लैंगिकऔर जातिगत पदक्रम को वैध ठहराने का प्रयास भी शुरू किया गया. हिन्दुत्व के अभियान कोजिस मुद्दे ने सबसे पहले हवा दी वह था एक मुस्लिम बादशाह द्वारा कथित तौर पर भगवानराम की जन्मभूमि पर स्थित मंदिर को ढ़हाया जाना. परंतु इस अभियान ने सन् 1990 में मंडलआयोग की सिफारिशें लागू किए जाने के बाद जोर पकड़ा. हिन्दुत्व की राजनीति, मुस्लिम-विरोधके साथ-साथ जातिगत और लैंगिक पदक्रम को बनाए रखने का उपक्रम भी थी. हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादके ताकतों का यही एजेंडा है. जहाँ तक सांप्रदायिक दंगों का सवाल है, वे मूलतःमुसलमानों का कत्लेआम ही रहे हैं. आंकड़ों से यह साफ़ है कि सांप्रदायिक हिंसा केपीड़ितों में से 80 प्रतिशत मुसलमान होते हैं. वे समाज के सभी आर्थिक वर्गों सेहोते हैं परन्तु इनमें गरीबों की बहुतायत होती है. दंगों कोभड़काने में जाति की मुख्य भूमिका रहती है. हिंदुत्व के पैरोकार बड़े पैमाने परदलितों के बीच सक्रिय रहे हैं. भंवर मेघवंशी की हालिया पुस्तक, “आई वास एस्वयंसेवक” बहुत बेहतर तरीके से यह बताती है कि किस प्रकार दलितों को सांप्रदायिकहिंसा में शामिल किया जाता है. संघ ने सामाजिक समरसता मंच सहित कई ऐसे संगठनों का जालबिछाया है जो दलितों में ब्राह्मणवादी मूल्यों का प्रचार-प्रसार करते हैं और उन्हेंहिन्दुत्ववादी राजनीति का हिस्सा बना रहे हैं. दलितों का सांप्रदायिक दंगों में मोहरेकी रूप में इस्तेमाल किया जाता है. वे सड़कों पर हिंसा करते हैं जबकि नफरत फैलानेवाले, लोगों के दिमाग में जहर भरने वाले, अपने घरों और कार्यालयों में आराम सेबैठे रहते हैं. गुजरातहिंसा के चेहरे अशोक मोची अब दलित-मुस्लिम एकता के समर्थक हैं. राजू सोलंकी द्वारासंकलित आंकड़े, जिनका येंगड़े ने अपने लेख में हवाला दिया है, भारत में हिंसा कीकहानी कहते हैं. जिन लोगों को भड़काया जाता है और जिन्हें बाद में जेलों में ठूंसदिया जाता है, वे उन लोगों में से नहीं होते जो संघ को चंदा देते हैं और उसकीविभिन्न गतिविधियों का समर्थन करते हैं. सड़कों पर खून-खराबा करने वाले लोग होतेहैं पददलित समुदायों के गुमराह कर दिए गए युवक. सांप्रदायिकहिंसा में जाति की भूमिका को रेखांकित कर, येंगड़े ने एक महत्वपूर्ण काम किया है. परन्तुउनके विश्लेषण में जो कमी है वह है धार्मिक अल्पसंख्यकों के खिलाफ नफरत फैलाने केअभियान की भूमिका को कम करके आंकना क्योंकि यही हिंसा भड़काने का आधार होता है.शाखाओं के ज़रिये जिस तरह के गलत तथ्य और बेबुनियाद धारणाएं लोगों के दिमाग में भरीजातीं हैं, वे अत्यंत प्रभावकारी सिद्ध होती हैं. यह भंवर मेघवंशी के विवरण सेस्पष्ट है, जिन्होनें बताया है कि उन्हें संघ के दुष्प्रचार की धुंध से बाहर निकलकर जाति के यथार्थ को समझने में कितना वक्त लग गया. (हिंदीरूपांतरण: अमरीश हरदेनिया) 

March 16, 2020

India: In our history of communal riots, where does Delhi stand? Jyoti Punwani

Rediff.com » News » In our history of communal riots, where does Delhi stand?
In our history of communal riots, where does Delhi stand?
March 11, 2020 08:22 IST

'The humanity displayed by ordinary, lower middle class residents of north east Delhi -- Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs -- will be remembered perhaps even more than the evil wrought in the riots,' notes Jyoti Punwani.

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