June 20, 2021

India: Re-visiting Maliana - Hashimpura Massacre - An online public discussion - June 20, 2021

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June 14, 2021

India: Bharat Bhushan on why is the BJP encouraging defectors from other parties before the coming UP assembly elections of Feb 2022

Business Standard, June 14, 2021

Why BJP welcomes turncoats under the benign gaze of RSS

Bharat Bhushan

Is Jitin Prasada’s exit from the Congress, eight months before the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, realistically a major gain for the BJP and a terrible loss for the Congress? Defeated in three consecutive elections, Prasada’s credentials as a popular Brahmin caste leader are weak. Neither is the BJP short of Brahmin faces in UP. To claim that his entry will correct public perception of the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath leaning excessively towards Thakurs and help the party electorally is an absurd spin.

So why is the BJP encouraging defectors from other parties in Uttar Pradesh?

The party needs to change the optics before the UP polls. After its West Bengal debacle and consequent erosion in the invincible image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP must once again demonstrate that it is a party attractive to power seekers. Defections from other parties help to showcase it as a potential winner and put potential challengers psychologically on the back foot. As the BJP loses political energy, weakening the Opposition makes it appear stronger.

However, pre-poll defections do not always work when the prevailing public mood is hostile. If the people are angry with a party, they tend to vote against the incumbent and care less about the opponent’s attributes.

The UP assembly elections, due next February, will take place under extraordinary circumstances. Almost every voter has either lost a family member, a relation or a friend to the pandemic. There is palpable anger against the BJP government. Images of people distraught outside hospitals for lack of beds and oxygen, river-bank burials and attempts by the local administration to snatch away saffron shrouds, or Ramnami Chadars from corpses to hide the dimensions of the tragedy are vividly imprinted in the public mind. If voter anger against Yogi and the BJP persists till the polls, then even a hundred defectors to the BJP will not help.

Criticism that the BJP stands to lose its ideological purity by promoting defections misunderstand the party. It is not a normal political party. It is a front organisation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) whose sole agenda is to create a ‘Hindu’ nation. The BJP is only a political instrument required in a democratic political system for achieving that goal. There are numerous other RSS fronts in the fields of education, history-writing, cultural reform among tribal communities, trade unions, beef militias, etc. which are united in their aim of homogenising Hinduism and chipping away at the diversity of the Indian Republic to conform to their majoritarian imagination.

As a political instrument, the BJP can be modified, altered and adjusted depending on the prevailing circumstances. The RSS will not come in its way as long as it increases its ambit of influence. It did not mind when its predecessor, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, merged with the Janata Dal to defeat Indira Gandhi. It got some brand rub-off from the other secular parties that merged with it to defeat Indira Gandhi. That made it somewhat kosher in the public mind. Although the public perception of the BJP changed, the RSS did not.

The BJP is allowed to shape-shift as needed: sometimes as an instrument of building a Ram Temple; a bastion against ‘minority-appeasement’; an effective military shield against an adversarial Islamic Pakistan; or as a party that believes in “Sabka saath, sabka vikas” (Development for all) and the harbinger of development and “achhe din” (a bright future). As long as the strategic goals of the RSS continue to be pushed forward incrementally using the state machinery, the BJP can refit, recast and reposition itself to effectively pursue that mission.

RSS ideologue Govindacharya was needlessly reviled for revealing the essential truth--that Atal Bihari Vajpayee was merely a mukhauta (mask) used by the RSS. So is Narendra Modi or any other BJP leader.

If the RSS were bothered about the ideological purity of its instruments, it would not have allowed the party to field defectors as candidates, induct them into the Council of Ministers in states where BJP has formed governments through defections. In Assam the BJP chief minister is a defector from the Congress and not from the RSS stable of politicians. Clearly, it suits the RSS to let the BJP grow beyond its ideological confines.

The RSS, the real political power seeker with a mission, is therefore, happy to operate with those with no RSS-antecedents like Yogi, Biswa Sarma or Suvendu Adhikari or encourage alliances with predominantly Christian not-averse-to-beef tribal parties of the North-east. Defections also allow the BJP to renew itself. Himanta Biswa Sarma has, for example, helped extend the reach of the party in the North-eastern states through alliances and defections.

The fortunes of the main national Opposition Congress will not be affected substantially by the defections of power-seekers, including that of Jitin Prasada. That is inevitable when the party has fallen on bad times and is unable to offer any prospect of power. In any case, the majority of those in the Congress are in the party not for ideological reasons but in the hope of power and pelf. Should the Congress come to power in Uttar Pradesh or even at the national level, “ghar wapsi” or reverse defections from the BJP are more than likely. Witness the return of the TMC defectors to the mother organisation in West Bengal.

To challenge the BJP effectively, the secular political parties, especially the Congress, must first understand its puppet masters and their political vision (even while it claims to be only a cultural organisation). Only then an alternative, secular, inclusive and democratic vision can be presented to the people.

For this the Congress party and others who want to challenge the BJP will have to strategically rethink their policies and programmes instead of waiting to constitute a Manifesto Committee two months before every election. That alone will provide their grassroots leaders with specific issues of public interest for political mobilisation. Merely promising free money and free food will not be enough as they can be easily outmatched by those already in power.

India: Fahad Zuberi on How Hindutva works to create polarised segregated cities | (Indian Express, June 11, 2021)

The Indian Express

How Hindutva works to create an urbanity of hate

Socio-political rhetoric creates polarised cities through legislation and polarised segregated cities further contribute towards divisive politics

Written by Fahad Zuberi
June 11, 2021 10:55:37 pm

Over several decades and generations, as we see in Gujarat today, such a political and legislative system produces cities that are very starkly segregated on communal lines. (Illustration by C R Sasikumar)

On May 28, 2021, 11 houses in close proximity to the Gorakhnath Temple in Gorakhpur were proposed to be acquired by the Uttar Pradesh Government citing reasons of security. Later reporting revealed that most of the residents had signed their consent on the proposal under pressure and fear from the state apparatus. These houses have been occupied by Muslim families for nearly a century and it is important for us to reflect on the fact that exclusively Muslim households were shortlisted for the construction of security posts and other facilities in the area.

Alarming as it is, the incident in Gorakhpur is a small scale example of similar strategies of homogenising urban neighbourhoods on communal lines that the government has been implementing in many other cities and states across the country. An imagined threat to law and order and safety of the inhabitant of these areas always fronts these strategies as their rationale.

Take for example the election rhetoric in Assam. Page 13 of the BJP’s manifesto for the assembly elections in Assam featured their promise to enact “appropriate laws” to curb “the menace of love jihad and land jihad” in the state. Although it is granted only three lines in the entire manifesto, the issue of “land jihad” was featured prominently in the Union home minister Amit Shah’s speech on March 26 in Guwahati. The party emerged victorious in the polls, and therefore, these laws are likely to be formulated and implemented.

“Land jihad” is a conspiracy theory in the Hindutva narrative that claims that Muslims are waging a religious war on Hindus by buying real estate in Hindu majority areas with the aim of dominating the neighbourhoods and gradually executing a Hindu exodus. Just like the rhetoric that created legitimacy for the “love jihad” law preceded the legislation in Uttar Pradesh, the rhetoric around “land jihad” gained pace in BJP’s election campaign in Assam. More importantly, just like there are no records or legal definitions of “love jihad”, the “menace of land jihad” also remains undefined and unrecorded and targets consensual real estate transactions between individuals.

While we have seen in Uttar Pradesh what a law against “love jihad” looks like, it remains unclear what would a law against “land jihad” seek to achieve and how will it try to do that? If, however, we want to understand what kind of laws work the narrative of “land jihad” in our cities, we must look at Gujarat.

Gujarat has unique legislation concerning the buying and selling of real estate in its cities. The legislation is called The Disturbed Areas Act, 1991, and restricts the exchange of real estate between people of two different religious communities. In the areas declared as “disturbed”, the exchange can only take place if an application for the same is approved by the district collector.

The law was enacted in 1991 and sought to prevent distress sale following an event of communal violence. Over time, however, areas that have not seen communal violence in several years continue to remain categorised as “disturbed” and the state has since added more areas to the list — sometimes without an incident of communal violence.

In Ahmedabad alone, over 750 areas are covered under the Disturbed Areas Act, 1991. Later amendments in the Act have made it much easier for the district collector to declare an area as “disturbed”. The amendments state that an area can now be declared “disturbed” on the basis of just a “possibility” of communal riot or polarisation (‘What has changed in Gujarat’s Disturbed Areas Act’, IE, October 19, 2020).

The Act — in its vague language — is widely used to prevent Muslims from buying properties in “Hindu dominated” parts of a city, thereby segregating neighbourhoods. It is also a tool of communal politics. For example, Sangita Patil, the MLA candidate in Gujarat Assembly Elections, 2017, promised her voters to get her constituency of Limbayat declared as “disturbed”. Upon winning the seat, she fulfilled the rather ironic promise and the area was declared “disturbed” in October 2017 in order to “…stop them (Muslims) from spreading into Hindu areas”. Similar impositions were done in posh neighbourhoods of Rajkot in January 2021, and in some cases, like that of Bhayli in Vadodara, residents themselves demanded that their area be categorised as “disturbed” after some Muslim families were allotted houses in Bhayli under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. The coming of Muslims in Bhayli was seen as a disturbance in the “peace-loving Hindu neighbourhood” (‘Residents demand Bhayli under Disturbed Areas Act, threaten to boycott polls’, IE, February 13, 2021).

The characterisation of minorities as the unwanted other forms the socio-political space that allows for legislations like the Disturbed Areas Act to operate. And in most instances, we see the narrative of “land jihad” — an unverified, undefined and unrecorded problem — as an integral part of the rhetoric. We see this in the manifesto of BJP and in Amit Shah’s aforementioned speech in Assam as well.

The promise to enact laws against land jihad features under the heading “Protection of Civilisation in Assam”. As the suffix implies “land jihad” is allegedly executed by Muslims and therefore, the “civilisation” of Assam needs protection from Muslims buying real estate. It also implies that it is the Hindu population of the state that has the first right over the land and Muslims buying land in an area of their choice is a religious war waged by an illegitimate outsider.

Amit Shah also accused Badruddin Ajmal, the leader of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), of “changing the identity of Assam through land jihad” again implying that the identity of Assam is not inclusive of Muslims and Muslims buying land in Assam morphs its identity into something that it is inherently not. In this context, the Union home minister also used the word “infiltrator” to refer to the perpetrators of “land jihad”, further characterising the minorities as unwanted others.

Over several decades and generations, as we see in Gujarat today, such a political and legislative system produces cities that are very starkly segregated on communal lines. Polarisation of the people through hate speech, riots and propaganda provides the social consent to create and operate communal legislations in the city. As legislations legalise communal identity as the qualifier of the right to live in certain areas of a city, the divide is executed into the built form — in neighbourhoods, roads, apartment buildings and even government housing — preventing people from living in diverse neighbourhoods and reducing the interaction between communities to a minimum while also denying minorities the right to buy properties in the neighbourhoods of their aspirations.

What we do not know, we fear, and increased segregation, followed by reduced interaction and lack of familiarity, perpetuate and promote communal stereotypes. The dirty other — created through propaganda and political hate speech — is reinforced and the built environment — now segregated — creates a more expansive space to incorporate and sustain legislations like the Disturbed Areas Act, 1991, and potential legislations like the one the BJP has promised to enact in Assam.

Socio-political rhetoric creates polarised cities through legislation and polarised segregated cities further contribute towards divisive politics. Intolerance is created and sustained through a form of structural violence that gradually produces geographies of alienation and segregation.

Recent developments in Gorakhpur, the BJP’s manifesto in Assam and the political rhetoric of “land jihad” in the election campaign imply that the party intends to export the aforementioned politics of the built form from Gujarat to other states of the country where it sees the opportunity to translate the politics of Hindutva into an urbanity of hate.

Zuberi is an academic and writes about politics, culture, architecture and city studies

June 10, 2021

India: Is BJP/RSS Strategically ‘Planting’ its People in Academia? A case of IIT Bombay

 Is BJP/RSS Strategically ‘Planting’ its People in Academia? A case of IIT Bombay

Allegations of planting ideologically driven favored people, in the academic positions were regularly made by the combined forces of BJP/RSS while it was in opposition. However, after obtaining power the BJP/RSS combine has unscrupulously planted its ‘own’ people with even more brazenness. During previous regimes the academic positions in institutions of excellence, such as, IIT were, generally, not interfered with. Moreover, the favoured ones never unabashedly flaunted their party based affiliations publicly. In the BJP/RSS regime shameless exhibition of partisan affiliation has been observed. [ . . ]

June 09, 2021

India: Reactionary caste mahapanchayats provide a platform to Karni Sena and its campaign justifying hate crimes [also to a section of the farmers agitation, but that doesnt make it progressive]

 The Quint

Rajasthan to Haryana, Karni Sena Chief’s ‘Hate Campaign’ Continues

Suraj Pal Amu, who had announced a bounty on Deepika Padukone’s head for Padmaavat’s release, is back in the news. 

Karni Sena Chief Amu addressing a mahapanchayat at Haryana’s Indri.

“Our boys are not guilty. They (Muslims) distort the pictures of our sisters and daughters. Should we not even murder them?”
Shri Ram Karni Sena Chief Kunwar Suraj Pal Amu

These words of Shri Rajput Karni Sena Chief Kunwar Suraj Pal Amu in a video that has gone viral on social media have stoked controversy. Amu, who had previously come to the limelight for announcing a reward for beheading actor Deepika Padukone over the controversy surrounding the film ‘Padmaavat’ is back in the news – this time for openly resorting to hate speech against Muslims.

In the latest video, Amu can be heard making a speech before a large assembly of people in Haryana, asserting his endorsement of the lynching of a local Muslim man that took place a few weeks ago.

Asif Khan, who hailed from Mewat’s Khalilpur Kheda village, was lynched allegedly by a mob of Gujjar men on the night of 16 May when he was returning home after buying medicines.

Asif’s cousin Rashid, who was present at the spot at time of the lynching said, “Unhone bola ‘Mulleh, tum logo mein se ek ko bhi nahi chhodenge’ aur ye bhi bola ‘tum sab se hum Jai Shri Ram bulvayenge’ (They said they will not leave any of us alive and also said they will make us chant Jai Shri Ram).”

They pulled Asif out of the car, thrashed him and killed him, Rashid said.

The three prime suspects in the murder case – Rohit, Pradip and Amit – have now been arrested, as per a tweet by the Nuh Police on 6 June.

What Did Amu Say?

Amu, who had addressed a large assembly at a Mahapanchayat held in Indri district of Haryana, could be seen validating the violence by the perpetrators of the Asif Khan murder case.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Karni Sena Chief Amu addressing a mahapanchayat at Haryana's Indri.</p></div>

Karni Sena Chief Amu addressing a mahapanchayat at Haryana's Indri.

(Photo: Twitter/ Kunwar Suraj Pal Amu)

"We will pound them. Whoever has the courage can try to stop us," he added.

Before beginning his speech, Amu can be seen asking “true and good Hindus” to raise their hands. After a show of hands from the crowd, he then enquires “if there was any child of Pakistan there, he should also raise his hand”. He further says, “Muslims are no one’s brothers. They’re all butchers.”

Amu, who posted the video on his Facebook page on 31 May, captioned it: “Thousands came for the Hindu Mahapanchayat at Indri (Nuh) today. One who submits to a crime is a greater criminal than the one who commits it. If anyone insults our Hindu religion, will you keep silent? Only true Indians comment.”


The Haryana BJP Connection

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Karni Sena Chief Suraj Pal Amu and Haryana BJP.</p></div>

Karni Sena Chief Suraj Pal Amu and Haryana BJP.

(Photo: Facebook/ Kunwar Suraj Pal Amu)

Born in an affluent Arya Samaj family in 1968 in Haryana's Sohna, Amu became an active member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at the age of 10.

A law graduate, he was a member of the RSS’s student wing – ABVP – and served as its member from 1985 to 1988.

Amu has held several posts in the BJP over the years.

He has served as the State Secretary, State Vice-President, and National Executive Member of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the party.

Significantly, he was made the spokesperson of Haryana BJP in 2013.

From 2014-2019, Amu served as the Chief Media Coordinator for BJP Haryana.
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Karni Sena Chief Suraj Pal Amu and Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar.</p></div>

Karni Sena Chief Suraj Pal Amu and Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar.

(Photo: Facebook/ Kunwar Suraj Pal Amu)

In 2019, he became the President of Shri Rajput Karni Sena, a Rajasthan-based interest group formed to protect and promote the concerns of the Rajput community. The interest group has been accused of incitement of a number of violent incidents in the past few years.

Most prominently, the Haryana BJP leader was arrested under IPC Section 506 (criminal intimidation) over his threats to the makers of the movie ‘Padmaavat’ in 2017.

In January 2018, after being granted bail in the case, Amu resigned from the primary membership of the party. On 8 October, almost eight months after this, Haryana BJP Chief Subhash Barala had reportedly refused to accept his resignation.

"For around 29-30 years I have held different posts in the party and its student wing. The last eight months were very tough for me to stay away from the party. However, I kept working with different social organisations. It is like a homecoming for me," Amu had said.


The ‘Padmaavat’ Controversy

In November 2017, Amu had announced a Rs 10-crore reward for anyone who would behead actor Deepika Padukone and filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali for making ‘Padmaavat’.

Amu had also lauded a Meerut man’s statement to award a Rs 5-crore reward for beheading Deepika Padukone and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. He said that the bounty would be doubled to Rs 10 crore.

His speech against the film had allegedly encouraged his followers to take up arms against Padmaavat’s makers. The Haryana BJP leader had then said that the families of those who committed to the deed would be taken care of, as he asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to strike down the film.

Alleging that the movie was disrespectful to the Rajput community, Amu also threatened to ‘break the legs’ of actor Ranveer Singh, who plays the role of Alauddin Khilji in the film.

Haryana’s BJP chief Subhash Barala had issued a show-cause notice to Amu for his incendiary comments.


Superintendent of Police Narendra Bijarniya, alluding to the viral video, told NDTV: "We have taken cognisance of this viral video and we will take action. None of the Mahapanchayats held in the district had prior permission of the administration."

The large assembly was held at a time when there is a widespread lockdown in the country in the aftermath of the devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

(With inputs from NDTV.)

June 07, 2021

Institutional Practices and the Making of the Hindu Other | Shelley Feldman (25 May 2021)

 in  Historical Sociology [25 May 2021]


In-Situ Displacement: Institutional Practices and the Making of the Hindu Other

by Shelley Feldman

*Professor Shelley Feldman Senior Scholar, Max Weber Kolleg for kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien, Universität Erfurt, Erfurt Germany.


This paper introduces the concept of in-situ displacement-displacement without mobility-as an analytic for understanding the place of Hindus in Muslim majority East Bengal, East Pakistan, and Bangladesh, a national formation that is best defined as one of a changing identification with Pakistan and India, and, subsequently, as a sovereign country in South Asia. Elaborating the contributions of Corrigan and Sayer on state formation and law, the paper highlights the importance of the judiciary as constitutive of the meanings that attend to belonging in the body politic. Evidence for this argument comes from court cases in the Dacca Law Review.