All posts by sarbjit

14Mar/17
Modi

Statement on the 15th Anniversary of the Gujarat Genocide

South Asia Solidarity Group  stands in solidarity with the survivors of the Gujarat genocide 2002 in their search for justice.  On the fifteenth anniversary of the state-sponsored,  anti-Muslim  pogrom we are holding, on 17 March, a remembrance event for those who lost their lives. It is titled Modi, Hindu nationalism and the criminalisation of Muslims .

In 2002, the state government of Gujarat with openly genocidal intent, unleashed  a most brutal onslaught  upon the Muslim community. The proportions and stratagem of this assault outstripped  all previous communally- charged  pogroms against minorities in India.  The Gujarat  pogroms became a blue print of all the many horrific but carefully engineered attacks on minority communities in India which followed – with Gujarat described by the killers as the laboratory of the Hindu State.

The 2002  massacres have been repeated in smaller and more localised settings such as Kandhamal in Odisha, in 2008, (when Christians were targeted) and  Muzzarfarnagar in UP, in 2013, which led, as in Gujarat, to killings, rapes and mass displacement of Muslims.  All  attacks since then have been in the context of a renewed and heightened stage of majoritarian Hindu nationalist politics that has come to dominate the political landscape of the country, where religious  minorities  and historically oppressed social groups such as Dalits and women,  are facing brutal violence,  criminalisation and  exclusion.

Muslims have been specifically targeted and in the last 15 years there has been an unprecedented deployment of state terror aimed at keeping the community in perpetual fear, eliding them from the public spaces of democratic politics with the specific design of destroying the Muslim community’s  confidence in participating in the democratic process fully,  keeping them away from voting in elections,  or electing their favoured candidates.

In the recent assembly election in UP, for example, the BJP claimed to have created an ‘inclusive’ social coalition but this coalition which glaringly left out the sizable Muslim community was cemented through a shrill communal campaign led from the front by the Prime Minister Modi himself playing caste and community cards camouflaged as ‘nationalism’ and now increasingly as empowerment of the poor.

Day to day life is becoming increasingly difficult for Muslims with the police, and increasingly the judiciary, hounding and pursuing individuals and the Hindutva forces (among them the RSS, the parent body of the BJP) flourishing as never before, sanctioned and nurtured by the BJP.  The impunity with which these foot soldiers of Hindu fascism act,  the sheer belligerence that they exhibit publicly with all disregard for democratic norms, is evidence of how they are openly tolerated and  even wilfully encouraged  by the BJP.  It has led not only to  serious miscarriages of justice but disappearances, in the heart of the capital, as in the case of JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, lynchings as in the case of Mohammad Akhlaq, or the digging out of her grave and rape of a Muslim woman’s corpse.

Muslim men, particularly young men are under the constant heavy gaze of the anti-terror legal system, while the Muslim people’s cultural and religious lives are being constantly denied, disputed and infringed upon with threats to their lives.  Attacks on those who wear the hijab and terror attacks on mosques have risen on an unprecedented scale in the past fifteen years. At the same time Hindutva activists are attempting to foment communal violence by themselves desecrating Hindu temples and then blaming Muslims for it, as in Budhana in UP, in 2014,  or as in one recent case in Azamgarh, UP where an RSS member donned a hijab and threw beef at a temple

Hindutva forces are increasingly not only aided by the state but have penetrated it, entrenching themselves in all areas, from the police and judiciary to the structures of cultural production and school and university education. While history is being rewritten, and textbooks altered to incorporate Hindu, and specifically Brahmin supremacy, and misogyny, students who are demanding the rights and free speech enshrined in the Indian Constitution are being violently attacked by goons of the RSS’s student organisation the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) with the police standing by.

At the same time aligning itself to its neoliberal masters in the US and Europe, India has become an important proponent of the global war on terror and Islamophobia.

We register with deep foreboding  that significant sections of the educated middle classes, the so-called intelligentsia of India have  abdicated responsibility to defend democratic freedoms and the democratic culture of Indian politics.   There is no disquiet expressed even at the mention of India’s secular democratic constitution being undermined.  Instead, dazzled by the shiny new claims of neo-liberal economic ‘development’ many of these ‘intellectuals’ have become champions  of corporate plunder of India’s natural and labour resources.  The neoliberal march of the corporate and finance industries carries on unabated, benefiting from the authoritarianism which comes side by side with Islamophobia and the global war on terror.

Among the chief concerns that have occupied our minds at South Asia Solidarity Group in the past few years with regard to India has been the rise of Hindu fascism and inseparable from it a vicious authoritarian neoliberalism. We have campaigned and are continuing to do so about the plight of the beleaguered Muslim community, the continuing brutalities visited upon the Dalits, the stoking of sexual and other forms of patriarchal violence against women and the dispossession of Dalits and Adivasis of their land and assets by neoliberal corporate plunder.   In our event on 17th March we wish to focus on the threats that face the minority Muslim community in India in order to discuss how progressive South Asians can support a way forward.

Our hope relies on the very important and militant struggles that are being waged by people’s movements of Muslims, Dalits, women, students and workers against the Indian state and Hindutva forces.

South Asia solidarity also campaigns against Islamophobia and racism in the UK, against the efforts of the Hindu right in Britain to undermine the equality legislation that recognises caste discrimination amongst South Asians and against violence against women in UK. These involvements also inform our politics of solidarity with those resisting Hindutva and Neoliberalism in South Asia.

07Mar/17
ModiPhoto1

In commemoration of the 2002 Gujarat genocide

In commemoration of the Gujarat genocide, which took place during the week following 28 February 2002, we repost the details of a meeting on Gender and the Hindu Right which we organised in collaboration with the LSE Gender Institute and the Freedom Without Fear Platform on 3rd March, 2014. Watch these powerful and moving contributions from speakers on the Gender and Hindu Right panel.

Outlining the context of the meeting, Kalpana Wilson of South Asia Solidarity Group and the LSE Gender Institute emphasised that the targeting of minority women for appalling violence is not a side effect but absolutely central to the project of the Hindu right and how it operates. Linked to this, she said was the intensification of surveillance and control over women, the rise of ‘moral policing’ targeting students and other young people, and the invocation of the “protection” of Hindu women as a justification for violence against religious minorities and Dalits, including rape of women.

She also noted that Hindu right supporters here in Britain have been promoting the completely unfounded myth of ‘love jihad’ in British universities by students and this fits in with the agenda of the British state and its Islamophobia. While these groups are promoting the image of a so-called ‘Gujarat model’ of development the position of women in Gujarat where Modi has been Chief Minister since 2001 is abysmal – demonstrated by the sex ratio (2011 census) of 918 women per 1,000 men (below the already scandalous national average of 940), that hints at the magnitude of female infanticide, and the very high gender imbalance in school enrolments compared to all-India levels. Very high rates of domestic violence against women are accompanied by very low conviction rates in the state.

Kalpana Wilson


Nishrin Jafri Hussain, in a powerful and moving contribution spoke of the unimaginable brutality perpetrated on the bodies of Muslim women in the villages around Ahmedabad. Speaking in London for the first time Nishrin, whose father, the MP Ahsan Jafri, was brutally murdered in the 2002 anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat state, and whose family is waging an ongoing legal battle to bring Narendra Modi, who presided over the violence as Chief Minister of Gujarat, to justice showed a series of photographs of those who had been murdered, with many gaps for those of whom no photos exist. She told the meeting that the numbers of rapes were far more than those reported because these experiences were not only deeply traumatising and humiliating but that it was a taboo speaking about them.

She said that in the Gulbarg society where she grew up and the area around it every Muslim house had been burnt down and every family had lost loved ones – deep scars of these losses remain. She told the meeting that her father had been against the ghettoisation of Muslims and committed to living in a mixed Hindu and Muslim area even after the riots of 1969.

When his house where nearly 200 people were sheltering was attacked, and was surrounded by armed Hindu mobs, he had called for help to the central government to no avail. When he phoned Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister replied ‘ You are on your own Jafri, save yourself’.

Many in the audience had tears in their eyes as Nishrin reaffirmed her family’s commitment to bringing Narendra Modi to justice.

Nishrin Jafri Hussain


Angana Chatterji an anthropologist and leading human rights specialist, who convened a people’s tribunal in Odisha in 2005 spoke about her work documenting the experiences of sexual violence in Odisha, noting that ideologies of conservative patriarchy had been taken over and intensified by the Hindu Right across India in a series of attacks on women in minority communities Christian, Muslim, Adivasi and Dalit over the years.

Angana Chatterji


Meena Kandasamy an oppressed-caste feminist and writer spoke about the way the language and discourse of Hindutva is conveniently utilised by fanatical Hindu upper caste groups like the Pattali Makkal Katchi, in Tamil Nadu or other caste organisations to construct Dalit men as the “Other” and create a myth similar to that of ‘love Jihad’ that they deceive Hindu upper caste girls by “making” them fall in love. The idea that once such a formula of love-jihad is deployed it can serve to function to contain, and threaten, women’s independence.

Meena Kandasamy

The meeting was as one student who attended it described it, ‘both deeply disturbing and a call to action’ and the organisers announced that the campaign internationally to bring Modi to justice would continue.

22Mar/16
Ambedkar statue LSE

What took place at the LSE Students Union India Forum

Saunvedan Aparanti

When I saw the following details for the LSE debate on Facebook, I knew I had to be part of it as the Kanhaiya Kumar JNU phenomenon has awoken the revolutionary in me and I believe we are witnessing something in India that hasn’t been seen since the Indian independence movement.

‘The events at Jawaharlal Nehru University that led to the arrest of Mr. Kanhaiya Kumar have become the source of the latest political controversy in India. But who’s right and who’s wrong? Is this a simple question of nationalism vs. free speech? Or is there more? What of the role of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (right-wing all India student organisation)? And is there still a place for sedition laws in contemporary India?
Come find out about this and pose your questions to our panelists, who will shed light on both sides of the debate.
Details-
Moderator: Mr. Suhel Seth
Speakers: Dr. Sambit Patra (National Spokesperson, BJP); Mr. Sachin Pilot (Member of Indian National Congress); Mr. Manish Sisodia (Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Aam Aadmi Party)’

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20Feb/16
2marchphotos

Fighting Caste Discrimination and the Hindu Right in India and Britain-Panel Discussion

 

In India the suicide of Dalit research scholar and activist Rohith Vemula has led to a massive movement against caste discrimination and violence, highlighting both the continuing institutionalized violence of caste at all levels of Indian society as well as the particular determination of the current Modi government and its associated stormtroopers of the Hindu Right like the RSS and the ABVP to crush Dalit political assertion and demands for basic rights.

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29Jan/16
Dr Gautam Sen

Casteist Belligerence and abuse from UK Hindutva leaders at caste legislation debate

On 23rd January, at a debate on UK’s caste legislation organised in Leicester, senior Hindutva figures in the UK hurled insults at Babasaheb Ambedkar the author of the Indian Constitution and openly promoted what they called the ‘position of Brahmans’. Organised by Vichar Manthan a forum for propagating Hindutva ideology, the debate involved two speakers Mr Satpal Muman (CasteWatch UK ) who argued for the implementation of UK’s anti-caste discrimination and Dr Prakash Shah (Queen Mary, University of London) who argued against the anti-caste discrimination law. The debate was chaired by Anuja Prashar former executive board member of the Hindu Council of UK (HCUK)and regular contributor to India Inc a Hindu Right financial and propaganda outlet whose CEO is Manoj Ladhwa (Narendra Modi’s main PR man the UK). Prashar ensured that the challenges to Dr Shah were kept to a minimum, even preventing Mr Muman from taking on his arguments. Continue reading