14Jan/18

Stand Together Against Modi’s Violence and Hate!

Say No to India’s Descent into Fascism!

Republic Day Vigil at the Indian High Commission

26 January 2018, 5.30pm – 7.30pm

Indian High Commission

The Aldwych, London WC2B 4NA

As the Indian state gets ready to celebrate Republic Day with a show of military hardware and xenophobic nationalist rhetoric, we stand with the many, many Indians who today are rising in grief and rage against the violence and hate choreographed by the far-right Hindu supremacist Modi regime against its own people. We pledge to resist India’s descent into a Republic of Fear.

This year has seen a continuation of the epidemic of mob lynching in which Muslims have been the main target. Whether the pretext has been claims of eating beef, cattle trading, so-called ‘love jihad’ or simply travelling while Muslim, these attacks have been instigated and organized by the network of vigilante groups and paramilitaries linked to the ruling BJP government and the openly fascist organisation which inspires and directs it, the RSS. Those who have been brutally murdered range from 15-year-old Junaid beaten to death in a train in UP, to Pehlu Khan lynched by cow vigilantes on a Rajasthan road.

Their deaths have been met by resounding silence from the Prime Minister, justifications from his ministers, and waves of celebration from the army of hideously abusive online right-wing trolls, many of whom are followed by Narendra Modi, the man who himself oversaw the 2002 genocide of Muslims in Gujarat when he was Chief Minister.  On December 6, millions of people witnessed the horror of Afrazul Khan, a migrant worker from Bengal, being hacked to death and burnt alive in Rajasthan, with the carnage being sickeningly videoed and circulated online by the perpetrator and his 14-year-old nephew. That the perpetrator Shambhulal was very far from a mentally disturbed lone wolf was confirmed by the celebrations of his crime and the protests against his arrest organized by the Hindu right wing organizations linked to the government, culminating in the replacing of the Indian flag by the saffron flag (representing Hindu supremacist  power) atop the High Court building in Udaipur. Equally chilling was the fact that the murder was clearly pre-planned to take place on the anniversary of the demolition by RSS footsoldiers of the historic 16th century Babri Masjid (mosque) in 1992.

December 2017 saw the continuation of attacks on Christians which have involved brutal assaults on churches and pastors, with the authorities colluding in the persecution of people celebrating Christmas in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, where carol singers were first attacked by Hindu right-wing groups and then arrested by the police.

This year has also seen the intensification of attacks on Dalits, and brutal attempts to crush their ongoing resistance to caste oppression, by the forces of the Hindu right. In UP where the rabidly communal and casteist hate preacher Yogi Adityanath was made Chief Minister in March 2017, we witnessed the burning of Dalit villages and the sexual assaults on Dalit women by upper caste mobs in Saharanpur. This was followed by  the arrest of Chandrashekhar Azad (Raavan) the leader of the Bhim Army, a Dalit Human Rights Group. While Chandrashekhar Azad was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court on November 2, with the court observing that charges against him were “politically motivated” , the very next day the Uttar Pradesh government slapped the National Security Act (NSA) against him in an effort to silence him.

Most recently, as 2018 began, Hindu right wing terror groups carried out attacks on thousands of Dalit families who had gathered at Bhima Koregaon village in Maharashtra to commemorate the 200th anniversary of a battle which is central to Dalit identity.. Instead of arresting the key organisers of this violence (one of whom is a close associate of Modi) the police have carried out a witch hunt of  Dalit youth and children, beating them up and arresting them on fabricated charges and telling their parents that these minors will be in prison for years.

Meanwhile the Modi government is ruthlessly seeking to silence all those who dissent from its agenda of creeping fascism.  The cold-blooded assassination on 5 September 2017 of the courageous journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bangalore, who had fearlessly criticized and exposed the BJP and its associated groups, brought thousands onto the streets in mourning and protest. While the mainstream media have become loyal mouthpieces for the Modi government, whipping up hysteria against all those who criticize the government, alternative critical media outlets like The Wire have been threatened with massive lawsuits when they expose the terror unleashed by the Modi regime and its endemic corruption. We learnt too about the suspected murder of Justice Loya, the judge who dared to insist that Modi’s right- hand man Amit Shah appear in court in the Sohrabuddin murder case. And now the interference by the Modi-appointed Chief Justice in the investigation of Justice Loya’s death has led four of the five senior-most Supreme Court judges to take the unprecedented step of holding a press conference to  warn of the ‘danger to democracy’ posed by the Modi government.  Meanwhile, BJP leaders like Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde have openly stated their intention to get rid of the Indian Constitution drafted by Ambedkar and its basic principles of liberty equality and fraternity, replacing it with the caste supremacist and misogynist principles of Manusmriti!

At the same time in Kashmir, where the people have long been fighting for their right to self-determination in the face of acute state repression and military occupation, atrocities have further escalated. The BJP, now also sharing power in Srinagar, has shed all pretence of constitutional governance, treating Kashmiris as virtual prisoners of war, and even a tentative recognition of the humanity of Kashmiri youth by a government official  is treated as seditious.

As India descends rapidly into open fascism, we cannot afford to remain silent.  We must stand by those whose very existence is under threat. We must show our solidarity with the thousands taking to the streets in India in protest against mob lynching, atrocities on Dalits, assassinations of dissidents and the Islamophobic, caste supremacist far-right regime of Narendra Modi.

#NotInMyName  #ResistTheRepublicOfFear #NoToFascismInIndia

Organised by South Asia Solidarity Group www.southasiasolidarity.org @SAsiaSolidarity and SOAS India Society

05Nov/17

Partition, Patriarchy and the Politics of Memory: film screening and discussion

Partition, Patriarchy and the Politics of Memory: film screening and discussion

Saturday 11 November 1.00 pm

Unite the Union, 33-37 Moreland St, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 8BB

Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters) screening and discussion with Humaira Saeed (Nottingham Trent University) and Amrit Wilson (South Asia Solidarity Group)

Including a photo exhibition titled ‘The Uprisings of 1857’ from 12pm.

Khamosh Pani (Dir. Sabiha Sumar, 2003, 101 mins), a film in Punjabi with English sub-titles, is a winner of 14 international awards. Set in a village in Pakistan during the Zia era, it is about the long shadow of Partition on women’s lives.

 

Today, as the forces which fuelled Partition 70 years ago are once again becoming extremely powerful, we reflect on some contemporary resonances of the film across South Asia, including in India under BJP rule.

Humaira Saeed teaches English Literature at Nottingham Trent University. She is the author of Persisting Partition: Affect, Memory and Trauma in Women’s Narratives of Pakistan (London: Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2018), and is beginning work on a new research project tentatively entitled “Exploring Dissident Sexuality in Postcolonial Texts”.

Amrit Wilson is a writer and activist on issues of gender, race and imperialism in Britain and South Asia. She is the author of Finding a Voice (London: Virago, 1978) and Dreams, Questions, Struggles: South Asian Women in Britain (London: Pluto, 2006) and a member of South Asia Solidarity Group.

The exhibition ‘The Uprisings of 1857’ will also be on display from 12.00pm onwards so do join us early if you can! Tea, coffee and snacks will be provided. Organised by South Asia Solidarity Group www.southasiasolidarity.org Twitter: @SAsiaSolidarity

Please join our Facebook event page here: South Asia Solidarity Group.

Supported by Unite the Union.

Hear Kalpana Wilson speak on India’s 70th Independence Day on 15 August 2017

 

 

20Oct/17

Gauri Lankesh ¦ PUBLIC MEETING ¦ Tuesday 24th October, 7pm UAL

Stand Up to the Murder of Dissent in Modi’s India!

Stop the Killings of Journalists!

“….we are living in such times that Modi Bhakts and the Hindutva brigade welcome the killings… and celebrate the deaths …. of those who oppose their ideology, their political party and their supreme leader Narendra Modi. I was referring to such people because, let me assure you, they are keen to somehow shut me up too”

– Gauri Lankesh, assassinated 5 September 2017, Bangalore

Event details:

  • Room G05, University of the Arts London (UAL)
  • 272 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EY

Speakers include:

  • Rana Ayyub, journalist & author of ‘The Gujarat Files’ (via Skype)
  • Abbas Nasser, journalist, Al Arabi TV, formerly Al Jazeera
  • Nitasha Kaul, Kashmiri writer and academic
  • Tim Dawson, President, National Union of Journalists
  • Plus Video message from anti-communal activist Teesta Setalvad

India has become a country where Hindu supremacist gangs can lynch and rape freely and without any fear of punishment, where children, women and men are brutally killed for what they eat, who they love and simply for who they are, where history is rewritten demonising Muslim rulers and where, while unemployment and farmers suicides are soaring, corporates and business people close to the ruling BJP are able to reap massive profits. Against this background those who dissent, or even simply report the unvarnished truth, are being specifically targeted, dismissed from their jobs, attacked and now increasingly killed. India is 136th among 180 countries in terms of freedom of the press and journalists are reported to be in more danger in India than in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

On 5 September, Gauri Lankesh, a well-known journalist and human rights activist was assassinated outside her home in Bangalore, as she returned from a day’s work. An outspoken critic of the Hindu supremacist BJP and its myriad off-shoots, she was a tower of strength for younger progressive journalists and activists. She was also a feminist who spoke and wrote about the attacks on women by the Hindutva forces and she had continued to write and speak out undeterred by, threats, defamation charges brought by BJP politicians and jail sentences. She had commented in November 2016 on the killing of scholar and rationalist writer M.M. Kalburgi and writer and the death of critic U R Ananthamurthy : ‘We are living in such times that Modi Bhakts and the Hindutva brigade welcome the killings… and celebrate the deaths of those… who oppose their ideology, their political party and their supreme leader Narendra Modi. I was referring to such people because, let me assure you, they are keen to somehow shut me up too.’ Lankesh’s death too has been celebrated with ghoulish comments on social media from Modi’s supporters including those whom he follows on Twitter.

In the few weeks since her murder two more journalists have been killed, Shantanu Bhowmick in Tripura, and senior journalist K J Singh in Punjab. Others like Hindustan Times editor Bobby Ghosh have lost their jobs, in his case after Narendra Modi himself spoke to his newspaper’s proprietor. Countless others have received death threats including high profile TV anchors and print journalists.
Join us in solidarity with Indian journalists and dissenters!

More details: Follow @SAsiaSolidarity,

Facebook: South Asia Solidarity Group

www.southasiasolidarity.org  #IAmAlsoGauri

Clip of India’s Independence day protest

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16Aug/17

Open Letter to the President of India on Independence day

Our demands to the President of India

The President of India

Shri Ram Nath Kovind

Rashtrapati Bhavan

New Delhi, Delhi - 110004

Your excellency,

We the undersigned are extremely distressed and concerned that during the last three years,  India has become a country where Hindu supremacist gangs can lynch and rape freely and without any fear of punishment, where children, women and men are brutally killed for what they eat, who they love and simply for who they are. On this 70th anniversary of independence, India has become a Republic of Fear where justice, democracy and the basic right to life lie in tatters, and the Constitution of Dr Ambedkar is violated daily with the government’s blessing. The fact that Prime Minister Modi, and those closest to him, have  refused to condemn these incidents and focused instead on targeting any dissent as ‘anti-national’ and on whipping up exclusionary and violent Hindu nationalism is further cause for deep concern about India’s future. PM Modi’s highly Islamophobic comments about retiring Vice-President Hamid Ansari, after he dared to suggest that Muslims felt increasingly insecure in India, are just one recent example.

We demand that the BJP government put an end to the violence against Muslims, Christians and Dalits and indict not only the perpetrators of these horrific crimes but those, including senior politicians of the BJP, who have instigated communal and anti-Dalit violence.  

We demand the immediate resignation of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who has been one of the most virulent promoters of hate and has callously tried to evade responsibility for the deaths of nearly 70 children in a government hospital in his longstanding constituency. 

We demand the immediate release of Dalit leader Chandrashekhar and his colleagues who were arrested in the wake of protests against the attacks on Dalits in UP.

Those who have been murdered in the current epidemic of mob lynching, which are inspired and directly orchestrated by Hindu far-right organizations closely linked to the BJP and its parent body the RSS, include 16 year old Junaid (lynched in Ballabhgarh, Haryana), 15 year old Swapnil Sonawane (lynched in Thane , Mumbai ), Zafar Hussein (lynched in Pratapgarh, Rajasthan), Maan Devi (lynched in Agra, UP), Laljibhai Sarvaiya (lynched in Ankolali, Gujarat), Pastor Sultan Masih (murdered in Ludhiana, Punjab), Pehlu Khan (lynched in Alwar, Rajasthan), Mohammad Akhlaque (lynched in Dadri, UP) Asghar Ali (Ramgarh, Jharkhand), Otera Bibi (Murshidabad, West Bengal) and many others.


While violence against Muslim and Christian communities has been increasing since the early 1990s, and upper caste atrocities on Dalits are a longstanding phenomenon, there has been a massive escalation in both since Modi and the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014. Emboldened by the victory of the BJP, Hindu supremacist gangs with links to the ruling party, or in some parts of India directly set up by the state, are the chief perpetrators of these abuses which are occurring unchecked. Some of the types of extreme violations affecting Muslims, Christians and Dalits include:

  • Lynchings of Muslims and Dalits, and stripping, flogging and public humiliations. These terrible acts of violence are taking place across India, including in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Assam and even in the outskirts of the national capital, Delhi. To start with the pretext was often that the victims have eaten beef, or slaughtered cows, or are transporting cows in order to slaughter them. The perpetrators are Hindu-supremacist gangs of so-called Cow Vigilantes. In the vast majority of cases, they have been neither punished nor condemned by the government. Instead the police have often charged the victims and BJP state governments have given tacit encouragement to the violence by making statements and announcing policies which call for harsh penalties for cow slaughter. While this violence continues, more recently there have been attacks which do not claim any motive other than sheer religious hatred. Christians are also under attack. Here the scale of violence is demonstrated by the figures for 2016 alone: 10 people were killed and over 500 members of the clergy or community leaders were physically attacked. The recent launching of a campaign against Christian conversions by Jharkhand’s BJP government, which misleadingly invokes Gandhi, appears to be an ominous prelude to more violence against the Christian minority.
  • There is a horrifying rise in the rapes, mutilation, acid attacks and other forms of violence, often followed by murder, of women and girls of all communities, but Dalit women and girls and those from religious minorities are being specifically targeted. Among recent cases are two Muslim women raped and their relatives killed after being falsely accused of eating beef in Haryana and the gruesome gang rape of the recently buried body of a Muslim woman in UP. In 2016 alone, 34 Christian women including nuns were raped, molested or beaten. Some of the worst violence against Christians is taking place in Chhattisgarh which has long had a BJP government.
  • Muslim or Dalit and so-called 'lower-caste' men in relationships with, or married to, Hindu or upper-caste women have been brutally attacked or murdered by mobs. In the case of Muslim men these murders are being instigated and justified by the baseless trope of 'love jihad' according to which Muslim men abduct and have relationships with Hindu women only to convert them to Islam
  • Many areas, particularly in UP, but also elsewhere, have seen attempts at ethnic cleansing with threats and attempts to displace long-established Muslim communities. 2013 saw a pogrom in Muzaffarnagar UP which had a chilling similarity with the genocidal killings of Muslims which took place in Gujarat in 2002 when Modi was Chief Minister of the state. In Muzaffarnagar some 50,000 people were displaced, many were children. As human rights organisations have noted, the attacks in both Muzaffarnagar as in Gujarat were deliberately engineered by Hindu supremacists
  • The appointment of Yogi Adityanath as Chief Minister of UP, India's most populous state, in March 2017 has further emboldened those perpetrating communal and caste violence in UP, which is also spilling over to other states. Adityanath has a record of hate speech and has several criminal cases pending against him. He stated in 2005: “I will not stop till I turn UP and India into a Hindu rashtra (state)” Since he became Chief Minister, Hindu supremacist groups and in particular the Hindu Yuva Vahini a violent youth organisation founded by him, have engineered a series of attacks on Muslims and Dalits. Recent incidents include burning and looting of Dalit homes by upper caste mobs in Saharanpur who shouted 'the police is with us, the administration is with us', and the lynching of an elderly Muslim man in Bulandshahr on the pretext that he helped a relative elope with a Hindu girl.

In the last few days, nearly 70 young children died in UP in a government hospital in Gorakhpur, which was Yogi Adityanath's own constituency.  We are appalled that the Chief Minister has tried to justify the recent deaths, saying it is ‘normal’ for children to die in August, and has ordered the police to organise Janamashtami celebrations on a ‘grand’ scale when people are in mourning for the avoidable deaths of so many children.  Meanwhile, the central and UP government and their captive media are focussing on whether or not pupils in Muslim schools will recite Hindu nationalist slogans for Independence Day, and have outrageously called the children’s deaths a ‘distraction’ from these ‘real’ issues!

The cases mentioned above are only a small indication of what is now a human rights emergency with religious minorities and Dalits under attack as never before. But resistance is also growing, as in the protests led by women in Jharkhand after Asghar Ali’s murder, and the massive #NotInMyName demonstrations against mob lynching taking place in cities across India as well as internationally in London and elsewhere. On the 70th anniversary of India's Independence, we will not remain silent and allow the forces of the Hindu right to transform India into a Republic of Fear.

Yours sincerely

Nirmala Rajasingam

South Asia Solidarity Group

Satpal Muman

Castewatch UK

SOAS India Society

Santosh Dass

Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance

Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK

Eugene Culas

Voice of Dalit International (VODI)

Sajjad Hassan

Together 4 Good

14Aug/17

Amrit Wilson: Gender & Partition

This article is based on a talk given by Amrit Wilson of South Asia Solidarity Group at the event Decolonising Partition: 70 Years On, hosted by Consented at Birkbeck University of London, 30th July 2017

Amrit Wilson

For us in the South Asian diaspora, history is not only about exploring our roots, though that too, it is about understanding the present and accessing finding ways forward. It is encouraging then that there are now a number of projects in the UK collecting oral histories of Partition. In many cases, those who speak about their experiences and explore their memories are women. These narratives are important and unique because they relate to a specific type of experience – of leaving behind your home and the base of your life, not once but twice over. I gained an understanding of these second separations, this second sense of loss, through the interviews I recorded with South Asian women back in the 70s when they first came to Britain.

When we examine and reflect on these women’s narratives which have been, and are still being, collected in Britain about Partition, a number of things become clear. Firstly, that there can be no non-gendered way of understanding that period; secondly, that these narratives  told through women’s voices demolish the notion that women in South Asian communities were simply symbols of honour and lacking in agency; and thirdly, that to fully understand these experiences we need to also examine colonial, as well as South Asian, patriarchies.

It is crucial, however, that we locate this new research against the rich body of work done in South Asia itself. Too often the research done in India and elsewhere in South Asia is ignored, invisibilised by British historians and academics. We in the diaspora must not do the same. We must embrace it. We need to examine the writings of Urvashi Bhutalia, Kamla Bhasin, Ritu Menon and Veena Das, among others, and watch remarkable documentary films like ‘Stories of the Broken Self’ in which women who experienced Partition reflect on what happened to them and how they felt and still feel.

It is clear that the trauma of these terrible experiences still haunts the lives of those who experienced it. The memories have not faded, even though they try to push them aside and live their lives. As Nusrat, a woman living in Pakistan, explains in the Stories of the Broken Self (quoted by Humaira Saeed in her fascinating thesis Persisting Partition: Gender, Memory and Trauma in Women’s Narratives of Pakistan):

‘None of this is written in any of our history books. [pause] We have never read about it, never thought about it. [pause] Why are we only concerned with ourselves, our own selves? [pause] My children tell me “Ammi, forget about it, we want peace,” especially my grandchildren. And I say, “Yes, so do I”.’

For a decolonial understanding of the various political forces of that period, we need also to understand the events which led up to it. The reasons for Partition cannot be understood without examining 1857, the First War of Independence or ‘the Mutiny’ as it is called dismissively in British history books. It was an uprising on an enormous scale across what is now Northern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh which lasted over two years and required the British to bring colonial troops from other parts of their Empire to finally subdue it.

At the core of the uprising were about 95% of the Colonial Indian army, the Sepoys, who were mainly Hindu. In addition there were not only members of the feudal aristocracy, but vast numbers of peasants and unemployed crafts people whose livelihoods had been destroyed by the economic restructuring central to British colonialism.

Despite this broad demographic, as Kalpana Wilson writes in her book Race, Racism and Development – Interrogating History, Discourse and Practice, British historians – most recently William Dalrymple in The Last Mughal – have portrayed 1857 as a battle between Islam and Christianity, even while conceding that the great majority of Sepoys were Hindus. Dalrymple fails to mention the use of rape as a colonial weapon or the sheer staggering scale of this, and ignores the work of highly respected Indian scholars like Rajat Kant Ray (cited in Wilson’s book), who noted that the uprisings saw people of different religions who shared a syncretic culture consciously unite to fight the colonizers in the name of Hindustani Independence.

1857 was also, in a variety of ways, a watershed for British colonial policy. After 1857, Muslims were portrayed as invaders and denied administrative jobs. Both Hindus and Muslims were encouraged to think that their religion was under threat.

These divide and rule policies culminated in the partition of Bengal along religious lines, in 1905 – a key event in terms of the later partition of India, because while Bengal was reunited in 1911 after mass protests, strikes, and even assassination attempts, the damage had been done.

Sure enough, the very next year saw the emergence of two communal organisations, the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha. Neither of these organisations ever played any part in the anti-colonial struggle. The Hindu Mahasabha eventually morphed into the Jan Sangh party, which became the BJP, and many of its leaders were also leaders of the RSS, the fascist organisation which is the ideological parent of the BJP and is ultimately responsible for the current horrendous violence going on in India, including mass lynching, rapes and ethnic cleansing.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the Muslim League, is often referred to as the originator of the two nation theory which was the ideological base of partition. In fact, sixteen years before Jinnah came up with it, V.D. Savarkar had formulated such ideas and advocated the division of India in his essay, Hindutva’. Savarkar, then in the Hindu Mahasabha, was soon to become one of the leading theoreticians of the RSS.

The details of British callousness and bungling around the actual division of land between India and Pakistan, which led to an enormous loss of life overall, are perhaps slightly better known, although contemporary  films like Viceroy’s House and recent articles in the British press manage to tiptoe round this aspect of colonial history.

Briefly, partition was due to take place in August 1948, but it was brought forward by a year because the colonialists, aware that they were about to be kicked out, were eager to leave. Rumours of the divisions of Punjab and Bengal had spread like wild fire, causing panic, since people did not know which side of the border their homes would fall. And these rumours were fed, inadvertently, perhaps, by the British government. For example, it was public knowledge that Wavell, the outgoing Viceroy, had suggested a ‘rough border’ before he handed over to Mountbatten in February 1947.

When Partition was finally officially announced in June 1947, the lawyer charged with drawing the exact boundaries, who had no knowledge at all of India, was given only 5 weeks to complete this incredibly difficult task. The border was eventually announced after both countries were independent on 17 August!

Partition saw the largest cross-border mass migration in recorded history, affecting 12-14 million people, but the British had made no plans or arrangements of any kind for the future of the two countries. As historian Stanley Wolpert wrote in his book Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India, ‘No Viceregal time had been wasted in planning for the feeding and housing and medical needs of ten million refugees.’ There were few security measures taken, with the army also divided between the two countries.

Partition saw the most gruesome and sadistic violence against women. Women were gang raped; their bodies were mutilated. They were also killed by their own families because patriarchy decreed that to die was better than being ‘dishonoured’ .This happened to both Muslim and Hindu women. These outcomes of partition were events staggering in both their scale and their cruelty.

Why did this happen? Women’s bodies are used as the ultimate weapon of wars everywhere. But those of us who are involved with fighting violence against women are familiar with the echoes of this sadism and misogyny in our South Asian communities in this country. Why is patriarchy in our countries so brutal?

Some clues are provided by Nirmala Banerjee, another Indian academic invisible to British writers, who examined the period in the 19th century when the British de-industrialised India, in order to turn it into a source of raw materials. Towns and cities were destroyed and people pushed back onto the land. In other words, society was pushed back from emerging capitalism to a distorted form of feudalism. From this emerged the particular type of violent patriarchy which still persists in South Asia today.

The history of Partition allows us to understand the violence-ridden climate of India today. How else would we make sense of the lynchings, murders and rapes of Muslims which are happening on such a massive scale? Is it a coincidence that while Savarkar campaigned for a Hindu Rashtra back in 1923, now, almost 100 years later, under Narendra Modi and BJP we are beginning to see the implementation of this Hindu Rashtra. Ethnic cleansing and gender violence are central to this project. Tanika Sarkar has analysed this as follows: ‘The pattern of cruelty suggests three things. One, the woman’s body was a site of almost inexhaustible violence, with infinitely plural and innovative forms of torture. Secondly, that their sexual and reproductive organs were attacked with a special savagery, and third, that their children, born and unborn, shared the attacks and were killed before their eyes.’ (Sarkar, 2002)

This was written about the Gujarat massacre of 2002. But Gujarat, as the Hindu supremacists announced at the time, was ‘a laboratory for the Hindu Rashtra’, into which India is gradually being transformed.

As I said at the beginning of this talk, the point of history is to understand the present. But once we begin to understand the present, you are impelled to action. We cannot stay silent!

I would urge you to join the protests on 15 August in solidarity with the victims of the mob lynchings and rapes which are constantly occurring all over India today.