Friday, November 6, 2015

janhastakshep - press release of meeting on attack on freedoms


Janhastakshep: a campaign against fascist designs

Press release                                                                           Dated: 6th November, 2015

Subject: Meeting against growing intolerance

Janhastakshep organized a well attended hall meeting on ‘Attack on Freedoms – A Growing Fascist Trend’ at Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi on the 5th of November 2015. The meeting was presided over by the noted academic and activist Prof Manoranjan Mohanty and addressed by a number of noted writers, poets and painters. Among those who addressed the gathering were Justice (retired) Rajender Sacchar, noted English short story writer and poet Keki N Daruwala, Sumit Chakravarty, editor Mainstream; Hindi writers and poets Sh Vishwanath Tripathi and Sh Pankaj Singh, General Secretary of Democratic Writers Association, Sh M M P Singh, writer and painter Ashok Bhawmik and the president of the Delhi University Teacher’s Association (DUTA), Prof Nandita Narain.

Addressing the meeting Justice Sacchar said that what the present government at the Centre was doing is in consonance with the nature of political forces it represents and was only to be expected. Condemning the manner in which the government has undermined the Constitution, he said that Secularism and Socialism were two pillars of our Constitution and cautioned that while there has rightly been much hue and cry on the undermining of Secularism, surprisingly very little is said regarding the undermining of Socialism in the country, even though the undermining of Socialism has directly facilitated the undermining of Secular fabric of the Indian society.

Sh Keki Daruwala emphasized that just as heresy is necessary for a vibrant religion, there can be no conceptualization of Democracy without Dissent. Attributing it to the intellectual and ideological bankruptcy of the Hindu Right, he said that due to their inability to mount an intellectual response to the debate raised in the wake of recent protests by eminent writers, poets, artists and scientists the Hindutva forces have chosen to smear these protests as a ‘Manufactured Debate’; likewise, poverty of intellect on their side has led them to label dissenting intellectuals as ‘pseudo-intellectuals’ and those believing in Secular values as ‘pseudo-secularists.’

Noted literary critic and Hindi writer Sh Vishwanath Tripathi described ‘Uniformity’ as an opponent of ‘Unity’. Prosperity of Indian democracy he said was synonymous with the prosperity of its diversity. Hailing the recent protests by scores of literatures and artists, he said that in their act they have lived the words of Munshi Prem Chand who described the role of a literature as the guiding torch of politics.

Recalling several instances from independent India’s history in his address, Sh Murali Mahohar Prasad Singh  thoroughly rubbished the smear campaign of BJP accusing the protesting writers of showing opportunism and claiming that they chose to remain silent in the aftermath of 1984 riots and after emergency. He recalled how the RSS cadre had actively participated  and helped instigate the anti-Sikh riots in 1984. Debunking the “Nationalistic” talk of BJP he said that for them the ‘Nation’ meant BJP and its Hindutva. There was no space in their conceptualization of ‘Nationalism’ for those not conforming to their view point. He recalled the words of Golwalkar wherein he had instructed the Hindus not to waste their energy in fighting against the British, but to concentrate on tackling three internal enemies – the Muslims, Christians and the Communists. The fourth enemy that can now be added to this is ‘Democracy’, said Singh.

Noted Hindi poet, Sh Pankaj Singh welcomed the 24 film personalities who returned their awards yesterday as the newest entrants to the growing list of ‘Anti-National’ artists in the country. He drew attention to the fact that Fascism prospers by rendering the people into ‘insecure’ individuals and to achieve this it destroys any sense of collective among them; it destroys everything that is beautiful about life including our dreams and sources of inspiration, and it is this tendency that explains the vigorous onslaught of the ‘Hindutva’ forces on the cultural, educational and scientific institutions of the country. Pankaj Singh pointed out that the present phase has been preceded by a long phase of economic policies in which every sense of societal solidarity and belonging had been undermined which directly paved the way for the present phase. He however expressed conviction that the present phase of resistance shall develop into a forceful struggle.

Sh Sumit Chakravarty in his address emphasized that the complicity of the State in the present attack on the democratic institutions had become much more direct than it had ever been in the past.

Noted painter Sh Ashok Bhowmik appealed that the intellectuals ought to come down from their high pedestals and become one with the common masses in order to take this message forward among the commonest of the common people.

DUTA president, Prof Nandita Narain drew upon the experience of teacher’s struggles to point out how the undermining of education, especially higher education in the country had led to generations of youth who were unquestioning, had very contorted motivations or were thoroughly disillusioned. This had rendered them susceptible to the communal virus in the society.

The meeting ended with the adoption of a resolution placing six demands from the Modi government.  


(Ish Mishra)


India is passing through a difficult phase marked by concerted attacks by the Hindu right to disrupt communal harmony and impose a uniformity of views in consonance with its own in different walks of life. The recent spate of murderous attacks on Muslims, writers, rationalist thinkers, political activists and dalits and the response of the official establishment to these has left peace loving, secular and democratic sections of the Indian society extremely worried regarding the direction in which India seems to be drifting precisely because there is increasing evidence of State connivance behind these attacks.
These events have not struck all of a sudden; and their nagging premonition has been around ever since the Muzaffarnagar riots were staged in preparation of the BJP campaign for ‘Ab ki baar Modi sarkar’ (this time vote for a Modi led government at the centre). With the accention of the Narendra Modi led government at the Centre the Hindutva forces have unabashedly unleashed their retrogressive social, economic and political agenda – beginning with bogey of love jihad, to ‘ghar vapsi’ and now the ‘holy cow and beef.’ These incidents have received the covert and overt support of various BJP / RSS leaders, and the prime minister himself has either maintained a benign silence or has issued statements reflective of a victim blaming approach.
In their attempt to decimate any voice of opposition to their designs the Hindutva goons have sought to instill terror by brandishing violence and mayhem against any and every voice of reason. A determined bid is being made to establish the ideological hegemony of the Hindu right over Indian society by undermining the integrity of the highest educational, cultural and scientific institutions of the country by imposing Hindutva cadres of dubious credibility in positions of authority in these institutions. All of this has only enhanced the tendencies of intolerance to people’s dissent which was already evident in the conduct of the different organs of the State and the behavior of some ruling class parties.
This gathering of writers, poets, painters, teachers, students, other intellectuals and workers sees the events of last more than year and a half as a conspiracy by the Hindutva forces to communally polarise the working masses and the intelligentsia of this country and browbeat the minorities, especially the Muslims, into submission through their divisive social agenda in furtherance of the retrogressive and anti-people economic agenda of the ruling classes that Mr Modi has sought to so vigorously peddle on his umpteen foreign jaunts.
In the foregoing context, this gathering wholeheartedly welcomes the protests staged by the writers, poets, film artists, painters, academics and scientists against this avalanche of intolerance that has been unleashed on the Indian people with State connivance. This expression of protest by these prominent personalities shall inspire the Indian masses for a long time to come. This gathering strongly condemns the personalized attacks and humiliation sought to be rubbed on these protesting intellectuals by the leaders of the BJP and RSS combine; and resolves to strengthen the voice of protest raised by these writers, poets, scientists and film artists.
Even as this gathering deliberates these important issues, it is disturbing to note that oppression is being unleashed on dissent by other political forces as well. On the 30th of October the Tamil Nadu police booked a popular folk singer of the ‘People’s Art and Literary Association’ (PALA), Com Shiva Raj aka Kovan from Tiruchirappalli for singing songs that were deemed defamatory to the Tamil Nadu government of AIADMK and its leader Jayalalitha. We unequivocally condemn this high handedness of the Tamil Nadu government.
This gathering, through its meeting demands from Mr Modi’s government that:
·        The attempts by the RSS and BJP cadres and leaders to polarize the society on communal lines, and attacks on the life and property of Muslims in this country should stop forthwith.
·        Acts of violence against persons, irrespective of their stature, caste or religion for articulating condemnation or opposition to the policies of the government in power should stop.
·        Justice should be expeditiously meted out to the victims various instances of violence that have been reported and the perpetrators be apprehended, tried and punished without ado.
·        The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi should act against the members of his council of ministers who have condoned these acts by making irresponsible statements exhibiting their sympathies with the Hindutva goons.
·        Prime Minster should defend the Constitution of the country in letter and spirit by which he swore to occupy his high office.
·        The slandering of the intellectuals who have returned State awards by the leaders of the BJP ought to stop forthwith.
·        We also demand that Com Kovan be released immediately by the Tamil Nadu government and all cases lodged against him be taken back.

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