Janhastakshep: A campaign against Fascist Designs, Delhi
Delhi University Unit
“Communal polarization is not the sole prerogative of the openly communal organizations, but is practiced by all mainstream political parties in India”, reads the invitation to the Panel discussion by the delhi university unit of Janhastakshep on Communalism and State: The Hashmipura Genocide, 1987. Chairing the discussion, Professor Saroj Giri, from Delhi University’s Political science Department, set the tone for the discussion, in his inaugural address by talking about how almost every political party in the country has played the communal card for electoral gains, though the modalities of inflicting violence on the minorities have evolved over the years. He put forth that even the self-proclaimed ‘secular’ parties have chosen not to talk about such communal incidents for fear of losing out on the majority vote bank. To this, Sagnik dutta, journalist with the Frontline added that it is important to look into the long-term economic consequences of the tragedies like the Hashimpura genocide. Most of the victims were the sole breadwinners of the family. Female members of the victim’s joint families, who have dared to take up income generating activities face additional problems of the family patriarchs. Dr. Aparna of Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) provided useful insights on how the political class of every hue uses communal mobilization, overtly or covertly. This was evident in the case of the Hashimpura genocide, which was carried out by the Provisional Armed Constabulary of UP. According to her, the legislations themselves are anti-people and have been framed in a way to designate the minorities as second class citizens. The final panelist, Ish Mishra, Professor of Political science at Hindu college traced the history of communal polarization by various governments in the Indian polity. He argued that the communalism was on the defensive until 1980s. The massive victory of the Congress under Rajiv Gandhi in the aftermath of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms led to the tactic of communal mobilization as the most convenient instrument of electoral engineering. Ever since, all mainstream parties including the so-called secular and socialist parties have used it as a tactic to win elections, the most systematic use being made by the BJP-RSS first in Gujarat in 2002 and repeatedly thereafter. All the panelists agreed upon the fact that there is one common thread that runs across all such incidents – that these should not be termed as riots, and rather state-sponsored violence against the minorities. They reiterated that there was an urgent need to modify the education system to produce individuals who possess a scientific temperament and for the non-state actors including the media to act responsibly.
Coordinator, DU JANHASTAKSHEP.