RISING COMMUNAL POLARISATION – A THREAT TO INDIA’S FUTURE:Justice A K Ganguly

Thank you and good evening Mr. Dubey, Dr. Faizan Mustafa and the rest of the speakers. I will try to be very brief, within ten minutes I have to conclude. Now, the point is that this communal polarisation is doing great harm to India, I entirely agree and I first say and let me make it clear that this communal polarisation is a weapon of exploitation. Let us understand it first.

When India was made a secular country, it was part of the vision of the framers to make India a secular country because they wanted to create equal citizenship, equal society. This decision to make India a secular country was a part of the decision to make India a democratic country and to make India a welfare country. I don’t agree with the suggestion, of Dr. Faizan Mustafa, that let India become a Hindu Rashtra. I strongly object to this suggestion because if India becomes a Hindu Rashtra, which is the design of some of the persons who are in power now, then India will lose its identity and India will lose its democratic credentials. What is secularism in Indian context? Our secularism is not the secularism we think of in the American constitution as a clear separation between the church and the state. We are on the other hand fostering the idea of secularism for having equal respect for all religions and the constitution has given power to the state to usher in social reforms in order to get rid of religious superstitions. My time is short at disposal, but you know in all cases of entry into temple especially Hindu temple, the Supreme Court has till now, till the last judgment in the Kerala Sabarimala case have allowed the entry contrary to the principles of religious autonomy. This has been done on the principle of social reform.

So, this religious bigotry which has been sounded in three judgments of Supreme Court, which have (been) soundly criticised in my book ‘Hindu Law and the Constitution’, first is the Hindutva judgment, second is the Manohar Joshi judgment and the third is the Ismail Farouqui judgment which was also the case relating to the demolition of Babri Masjid. In the first case I have said that Indian ethos is multiple ethos, you cannot equate ‘Indianism’ with Hinduism. If you do that then you will completely rob India of multi-cultural-linguistic diversity which is recognised in the constitution. The next judgment which is given by Justice Verma, the learned judge said the call to build Hindu Rashtra in Maharashtra, making Maharashtra the first Hindu Rashtra was the call given by Manohar Joshi, despicable but it is not a corrupt practice. I wonder how could the learned judge say so. If it’s a despicable thing, what’s the meaning of despicable? that something which cannot be exempted and by saying so he made Manohar Joshi the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, (how can it not be a corrupt practice). The third judgment is even more curious, where the learned judges said that offering Namaz in a mosque is not a part of Islam. How can he say that? On what ground? But, that was what it was said. That was a majority judgment in Ismail Farouqui case and my book has categorically criticised it. When the present judgment came on the Babri Masjid demolition I said it’s a strange judgment because what are you doing? You are giving legitimacy to the demolition of a mosque. It has been established that there was no Hindu shrine under the mosque, there might be some shrine but not a Hindu shrine, and the mosque was standing for 500 years. For muslim its his right under Article 26 to preserve it, to administer it and that right is a fundamental right only subject to public order, morality and heatlh. Nobody can say that maintaining a mosque is opposed to public law, morality and health. You will be surprised to know that the reason judgment of the constitution bench of the supreme court, there is no discussion on Article 26. Its an atrocious judgment. I have spoken against it in various places. It’s a judgment which you will find very difficult to swallow.

So, the secularism which has been provided is what is known as ameliorative secularism. It is for the benefit to the society, benefit of the country. It is coming out of the spirit of India. You cannot demand a Hindu Rashtra and say it is India, because India is a secular country even before the constitution. Secularism was inherent in India. If you see the majority, the Hindus they have the highest regard, they cannot be Hindu unless they are tolerant. They have the highest regard for the faith of every other person around them. Muslims, there’s no question of muslims leaving the country, they are very much part of the country as a hindu. As I have said repeatedly, this method of polarisation is a weapon of oppression. This is the same way the British divided and misruled us. It’s the same way how the present rulers are trying to divide India and trying to give us a sense of false security and false happiness.

When I find that a person, for eating a particular flesh, is beaten up and sometimes beaten to death. Its hardly a redress for a person for marrying out of love, affection and respect for each other. Where does the religion come in. You see, normally poor people don’t have the luxury of religion and the religious divide is mostly giving the benefit to the rich and affluent. We will always find throughout history that the clergy has been a close associate of the monarchy. The same thing here but you have to change and that was changed under the constitution. We cannot reverse it. After 70 years of independence, of the maturing of democracy we cannot reverse it, we should not reverse it. We should resist all attempts to reverse it. As a judge has taken the oath to abide by, to uphold the constitution every individual, every citizen has to take that oath. To uphold the constitution means the secular constitution, the socialist constitution. Secularism cannot exist if there is no socialism and democracy. These three concepts are intertwined. One cannot exist without the other. Therefore, you want to reverse the secular tendencies you are also going to injure the other two features of the constitution. We have to uphold our constitution, we have to uphold our secular credentials, we have to uphold our democratic credentials to live in a socialist country. That’s my view, I think I have concluded on this note, and let us take this pledge on the eve of republic day. Thank you for giving a chance for sharing my views. Thank you.

RISING COMMUNAL POLARISATION – A THREAT TO INDIA’S FUTURE: Prof. Faizan Mustafa

Thank you very much sir for giving me an opportunity to express my views. Many years ago, when I was admitted to Aligarh Muslim University, they didn’t had ragging but they had something which was called ‘introduction’. Seniors will call juniors, raise all kinds of questionsand the question put to me was ‘explain India in one word’. I said ‘diversity’. So, I thought that I had fully satisfied my seniors and my introduction will end but then one of my seniors said, No, give one more word, as he had another word in mind rather than diversity. Then, I said ‘tolerance’ and that was the end of my ‘introduction’. I am at loss to see where we have reached. We have reached such a stage that when the new members in Lok Sabha take oath you get slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and you get slogans of ‘Allahu Akbar’. This is not the kind of India which the framers of Indian Constitution had envisaged. I think we need to appreciate that we had huge communal riots all over, pre-partition, post-partition, partition was absolutely flawed because nations are not created in the name of religion and should not be created, and the way Bangladesh was created within 25 years proves that religion has nothing to do with the nation. Nevertheless, at the time of framing the constitution when we had all the power in the world and no one could have prevented the framers of the constitution from declaring India a Hindu Rashtra, they decided in their wisdom to be a secular state. Of course, today many people say that the word ‘secularism’ was debated and rejected, true, because of the framers of the constitution thought that it was so obvious that it need not be stated specifically in the constitution of India. Similarly, the word ‘federal’ is not there in the constitution but the Supreme Court has said that federalism is the basic structure of the constitution. The word ‘judicial review’ is not there in the constitution, word ‘separation of power’ is not there in the constitution but all of them have been held to be the basic structure of the constitution. In 1973, before Mrs. Gandhi through 42nd amendment in 1976 got the word ‘secularism’ inserted, Supreme Court had said that secularism is the basic structure of the constitution. Why did we at that point of time, when we had all the power and every justifiable reason to make India to be a Hindu Rashtra, didn’t make Hindu Rashtra. Because, though our country was divided in the name of religion, we went for secularism because secularism is the core of the modernity. We wanted to progress, we wanted to create scientific temper. I know that many religious people are there in the audience, but let me say it bluntly, that after all, all religions are backward looking in the sense, they all are old. Hindu religion is 10,000 years old, Christianity is 2000 years old, Islam is 1400 years old. We are talking of a futuristic India, after all for any religion you need to look backward, but India of 1950s wanted to look forward. Therefore, we said that while people will be free to follow whichever religion they want, state will not have any religion of its own. State will maintain equidistance from all religions. State shall be religion neutral. Why, because even it is not in the interest of the state to be a theocracy. If a state has a particular religion as the state religion, it is neither in the interest of the state nor in the interest of the religion. If there is a state religion state shall dominate that religion, state will try to put its views in that religion and dominate that religion. So, for the autonomy of the religions, it is in the interest of the religions that we adopt two sword theory. Of course, we could not get that far that we adopt the Jeffersian wall of separation in India, nevertheless, we said we believe historically in ‘sarv dharm sambhav’, we believe in tolerance of all religions, state will not have any religion, people will follow whatever religion they want.

Mr. Dubey referred to ‘conversion’, when the word ‘propagate’ was discussed in the constituent assembly, the Christian members specifically insisted that word ‘conversion’ should come in because ‘conversion’ is there in the clauses of International Covenants on Human Rights. Yet, we assured them that ‘propagation’ will itself cover ‘conversion’. Then you got Swatantrata Party governments in Orissa, MP, these were the governments of the feudals and they passed Anti-conversion laws. Then you got a Supreme Court judgment, a very regressive judgment saying propagation doesn’t include right to convert. Even if you look at the Sri Lankan constitution which gives Buddhism a prominent place, yet its freedom of religion specifically includes that you will have a right to adopt a religion of your choice. But our Supreme Court said that you may communicate whatever your religious doctrines are but you cannot convert. India’s greatest constitutional writer H. M. seervai has said that this judgment is productive of great public mischief and must be over ruled. Today, when we have liberalised Article 21 & 14, there is no reason that the Supreme Court should not review this judgment.

Coming forward, at the time of drafting of the constitution we opted for spirit of enquiry, scientific temper, modernity and didn’t allow religion to dictate us but Indians are essentially religious. Since, Indians are essentially religious, there we people who started this mixing of religion with politics. Whatever politicians may do I don’t mind because it is the job of the politician to get power and to get power they do all kinds of things and that’s why in the entire world today democracies are dying, democracies are in danger, what we saw on 6th of January in United States should serve as a serious warning to all modern democracies that just having elections doesn’t meaning your democracy is successful, democracy is good but majoritarianism is not. If you have hatred for others, if you polarise your society its not good. You don’t need military coups anymore, there will be no military dictator who will take over power by replacing an elected head of a state. Today, the danger of democracy is not from the bullets but it is from ballots. Political parties are not properly performing the function of gate keepers of democracy. They are nominating people for top positions who can polarise, who can get them votes. I can excuse politicians because they are selfish, they are power hungry but what about the judiciary? I think that the greatest impetus came from the supreme court’s judgment of Hindutva. Here was a political party making an electoral promise in election speech that if we are voted to power, we will Maharashtra as the first Hindu state, and our Supreme Court is saying since Hindutva is not a religion it is not a corrupt electoral practice because Hinduism is a way of life. True, Hinduism is a way of life but for that matter every religion is a way of life. In any case if you look at Hinduism more closely it has all the characteristics of a great religion, is indeed a great religion. Therefore, I feel this judgment of the Supreme court gave legitimacy to mixing of religion with politics. Narsimha Rao tried to separate the two, but failed then this whole Babri Masjid movement, where in my opinion, the muslims also committed a mistake, they couldn’t realise how much communal poison is there amongst the people, at least after the demolition of Babri mosque in 1992 could have worked out some kind of a solution. When you have such kind of communalism then by just believing in rule of law, trying to solve the problem through courts of law is not a solution. If the majority community believes that this is the exact place where Lord Rama was born, even though there is no Sanskrit inscription whatsoever proving it that’s why the SC said that neither the ASI report said that Lord Rama was born here and a Ram temple was demolished to construct a Babri mosque, but this insistence that we will just get a court judgment and no indulgence in bargain shouldn’t have been made. Shankaracharya tried it, Ali Miya has also written about it, I think that there was some blunder committed by the muslim leadership of the Babri Masjid Action Committee which didn’t appreciate and see the writing on the wall. We are still not seeing the writing on the wall, we are still into protection of personal law etc. I think that today we have reached such a situation that I had to write in The Hindu that let us have a Hindu rashtra. Mr. Dubey referred to it, Mr. Puniyani referred to it that there is a feeling of frustration because, psychologically speaking, what hurts the human beings the most is the feeling of being unwanted. Now, that feeling has been taking place amongst many people, this is how much forward we have moved in our communalism. As Harsh Mandar would say, in 2002 Gujarat if at any locality there was some serious communal incident committed there were 3-4 other people who rose to the occasion, protected muslims and tried to save them. In the last 20 years or so we have become indifferent, the way young people have been lynched, old people have been lynched I think we must now accept that communalism has reached its zenith and nothing will convince the hardcore soldiers of Hindutva except declaration of hindu rashtra. Not many secularists will accept it but I think we should start some conversation as to what kind of hindu rashtra we want. Okay, have hindu rashtra. If the lives and property of the people are to be protected then a state declaring something as state religion is not a big deal. In any case, if I state practically for all purposes that we are tilting towards a particular religion, what is there in seeing that we are a secular polity and secularism is the basic structure of the constitution.

I think now we need to discuss what are the models of secularism. One model of secularism is total separation of church and state (French and American model). The other model is the jurisdictional model, the model which UK had adopted. The queen of England is the defender of the faith, she is the head of the Anglican church but freedom of religion is there, rights of the minorities are there. I have said it that once India becomes a Hindu rashtra, the Hindutva supporters will be the most frustrated. Because, if they think that all these 20 crore muslims will disappear from India, there are living in fool’s paradise. Even in hindu rashtra muslims will have all the fundamental rights. Can right to life be denied to them? No. Can right to equality be denied to them? No. Can freedom of religion be denied to them? No. So, they will have all the rights. What will you write at best? That the Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister of India, the President of India will not be a non-Hindu? Write it, if that helps in healing, helps in bringing peace. But, look at Pakistan where it is written in the constitution that Pakistan is an Islamic state but everyone who is born there becomes its citizens. The personal law of non-muslims is constitutionally protected. If you are a Hindu Rashtra you will not have a uniform civil code. So, I personally believe that if India has to become a Hindu Rashtra it cannot become a hindu rashtra like Saudi Arabia, it can’t even become a Hindu Rashtra like Pakistan. It has to think of a model like Greece, think of a model like Sri Lanka or think of a model where in the constitution you merely say that Hinduism is the dominant cultural heritage of India. But for all practical purposes, muslims are going to be here, there mosques are going to be here, they are going to have freedom of religion, you still cannot discriminate against because Article 15 is there even in Pakistan’s constitution. Afghanistan is an Islamic state but religious persecution is specifically prohibited in the constitution. In Bangladesh, originally secularism was one of the four principles on which Mujib ur Rahman created the country and then you got a military general who removed it, now, their Supreme Court has restored it and after the Supreme Court restored secularism, they again amended the constitution and brought in secularism. I personally feel that what Ram Puniyani ji is saying, we need to now create bridges. Unfortunately, we have seen lot of bloodshed on this earth in the name of religion. If we want peace, I think there cannot be a lasting peace unless there is peace between religions and within religions. Look at Pakistan, Sunni muslims are killing shias, shias are killing Sunnis, in Iran, Syria, Afghanistan where muslims are killing muslims. We also have lots of conflict between Shivaiites and Vaishnavaiites. So, personally I feel that if we want to move forward we have to try to create some kind of mechanism through which people see that muslims are going to be here. They had an option to leave this country in ’47, they exercised the option of staying back. So, they are here out of their free choice. If they didn’t go to Pakistan in ’47 why will Pakistan accept them today. Which country can accept such a large population. They have to be here as an equal citizen and let us therefore return to the constitutional values. What are the constitutional values? Our preamble we are talking of justice – social, political and economical we need to give them to everyone. We are talking of dignity of each individual. Somebody referred to UP ordinance, UP ordinance has nothing to do with religious minorities, of course the way it is being implemented muslim men are being harassed are subjected to all kinds of illegal arrest, but the law is basically compromising the agency of Hindu women against the Hindu culture as well. If we look at our hindu culture our women had the right to choose their spouse, we had a swayamvar of Ram and Sita, so Sitaji selected Ram. Of course there was a kind of competition. Draupadi got Arjun out of free will.  So it compromises the agency of Hindu women, it treats them not as ordinary dignified human being by saying that they cannot appreciate that muslim men are misusing them and cannot make a right choice. I think it should not be the muslims or secularists who should be opposing the ordinances but the Hind women should come forward. Because, ultimately it is going to take away their freedom to choose spouse.

Finally, the last thing that I want to speak. On the one hand we want uniform civil code on the other hand we are bringing such atrocious laws. Special marriage act is the uniform civil code, special marriage act talked of interfaith marriages.

India has to remain a modern, progressive, liberal and secular country, the responsibility is on the majority community. In a democracy as Chief Justice Lethman of Australian High Court has said that the test of a successful democracy is the amount of protection enjoyed by the minorities. The majority can take care of its interests on its own. Now this whole bogey of minority appeasement, muslim appeasement is all nonsense. So, let the majority community see the danger. They are going to be worst affected. Once violence enters our social life, today it is a muslim tomorrow it will be a dalit thereafter will be somebody else. I think, let us rededicate ourselves on this Republic Day to the high constitutional values. The values of our constitution are beautifully written in our preamble. We want fraternity, we have not emphasised this word ‘fraternity’ enough. We cannot achieve justice, equality or anything if our society is divided. Let there be unity in diversity. Let each and every individual have a dignified life and let everyone get equality of status and equality of opportunity.

This whole business of othering, business of religion being used for political purposes will ultimately harm India as a country. I believe each one of us has great love for our motherland, for, we don’t exist if our country doesn’t survive. If we want to see prosperous, strong, powerful India which will have some moral standing in the world, then, we must uphold our constitutional values and communalism has already done a huge damage to us because our country was partitioned in the name of religion. If it again leads to violence, division, polarisation we will have another big human tragedy on cards. Thank you very much.    

RISING COMMUNAL POLARISATION – A THREAT TO INDIA’S FUTURE : Justice Sukumaran

Good evening. I come from Kerala I belong to Kerala. It has the greatest tolerance towards other religions. I only want to say Kerala is in the real sense absolutely secular. We had a saint social reformer Narayanaguru, who said whatever be the religion that man be good, in a sense it has been imbibed by all people of Kerala. That is why in spite of a complaints of dominance of minorities we live in absolute harmony. Christians were converts, essentially from other Hindu religious sects, so do many of my muslim brothers. But they have never been intolerant. This is the success of Kerala. I don’t want to elaborate many things which have been stressed by people, and on apprehensions expressed. The apprehensions may be there, but the apprehensions and even partial reflection would have given way to liberal thoughts in other continents. But for that to work, absolute grassroot level work is necessary. This also requires teaching enlightenment to the judicial functioning as well. This is Krishan Iyer and this is Mathew, both were absolutely secular in their outlook though one belonged to the majority community and the other to the christian community. Both were elitist and enlightened people. You get enlightenment by education. Kerala had it in plenty. We are thankful to the Christian missionaries because they gave access to the schools and educational institutions, they made hygienic in our habits. This is not to be denied. We need not be unnecessarily proud of our own culture but we should be open to receiving good things from other cultures and other countries. That process should continue, then won’t be any issue to live in Asia without any fear or apprehension about the denial of right to life enshrined in the constitution. Thank you

RISING COMMUNAL POLARISATION – A THREAT TO INDIA’S FUTURE : Dr. Ram Puniyani

Good evening friends. Main hindi mein baat karunga. Abhi Muchkund Dubey sahib ne bahut hi sundarta se pura chitr hamare saamne rakh diya hai ki aaj hamare desh ke jo halaat hai sampradayikta ke badhne ke kaaran, uske kaaran hamara bhavishya kitne andhkar mein hosakta hai aur hamare lok tantr ke jo mukhya mulya hain svatantrata, samta, bandhuta aur nyay isme hamara izzat se jeena ka adhikar hai, wo sab par kitna khatra hai unho ne bahut ache se batadiya hai.

Main thodi koshish karunga ke jo khatra badha hai aur badhte jaraha hai 6 saal se particularly, communalism jo ke duniya me alag alag dharmo ke naam se aati hai jaise Pakistan me Islam ke naam par ake Pakistan ki jo barbadi ki wo hamare samne hai, ajkal budh dharm ke naam par Sri Lanka aur Myanmar me bhi chal rahi hai, America me iske kuch tukde hain jo Christian fundamentalism ke naam par ate hain aur Bharat me ye jo hindu dharm ke naam par sampradayikta badhti jarahi hai , pehli baat main spasht kardun ke ye amr abhi dubey sahib batarahey the ke 20 shatabdi ke sab se mahaan hindu Mahatma Gandhi they aur ye bhi sath me jodna chahunga ke wahi vyakti the jo ek bahut bade secular vyakti they jinho ne sabhi dharmo ke mulyo ka aadar kiya, sabhi dharmo ke logo ke prati sneh, prem se jod kar bharat rashtr ki Kalpana ki aur bahut mazbuti se bharat rashtr banaya.

Ab ye jo sampradayikta ka sawal hai, sampradayikta jo bharat me hindu dharm ke naam par chal rahi hai iska hindu dharm ke naitik mulyo se koi lena dena nahi hai. To main short me itna batana chahunga ki iska jo uday hua, vikas hua un logo ke madhyam se hua jo bharat me jab swatantrik prakriya ubhar rahi thi, india as a nation in the making horahi thi yaha ke jo daqyanusi puratanpanti log the jinka sambandh zamindaro se tha, dharm guruon se tha wo logo ko is baat se taklif hui ke kaise sab log azadi ke andolan se jud rahe hain aur azadi ke andolan ki jo mukhya dhara hai wo sab ko samanta se le kar jaane ki koshish kar rahi hai. To khair, ek taraf ye ek mukhya dhara thi jisme sabhi dharmo ke logo ne barabari se hissa liya aur musalmano k ek tabqa muslim league me chala gaya aur hinduon ka ek tabqa hindu Mahasabha aur RSS me chala gaya aur in logo ne apne apne dharm ke naam par aise muddo ko samne rakha hamare Jeevan ke issues se utna sambandhit nahi the.

Ek bahut pyari ghanta ke saath apni baat shuru karunga aur jaisey dubey sahib ne bataya ke kaise Ram Mandir ki trajectory hui aur jo chronology, ye jo shabd hai aaj bahut popular horaha hai, dekhte hain ke courts aur judgments ka jo haal hua uske bawajood Supreme Court ne maana ke December 1949 me jo murtiyo ko masjid me rakha gaya wo ek apraadh tha. Supreme Court ne ye bhi maana ke jis jagah par masjid thi jisku toda gaya ye ek apraadh tha. Ye aur baat hai ke qanoon ulta kar diya gaya, apradhiyo ko inaam diya gaya. Laikin ye Ram Mandir ka mudda abhi tak khatam nahi hua aur ye mudda un cheezo se juda nahi hai jo hamare roti, kapda, makaan, bijli, sadak aur pani se juda hai. Isliye bhavnayo ko khada kiya hai, paida kiya hai aur ism ek alp sankhyako ke khilaf nafrat ka mahol paida kardiya gaya hai. Aur wo nafrat ka mahol itna hai ke, rashtrapati se lekar bahot bade bade log isme chanda derahe hain ye ham nahi jaante laikin koi issue nahi hai par iske saath saath aap (dubey) ne jo baat kahi hai wo chintajanak hai. Chande ke naam pe usi algav vaadi rajneeti ko aage badhaya jaraha hai, masjido par hamle kiye jarahe hain, logo ke beech atank phailaya jaraha hai. Ye jo hindu dharm ke naam par rajneeti chalti hai, aur bhavnayo ke saath kaise khilwad kiya hai aur pichle 6 saal se (khaas taur se warna pahle 100 saal se hi ye sampradayikta hai) isne apni jadein itni gehri kardi hain ki iske bare me angrezi me kehte hain ‘the process of othering’ of musilms aur christians. Ye bhi ham na bhulein ke ye keval musalmano par hamla nahi hai. Hindu rashtrvad ke teen aadharo ko apke samne rakhunga

Musalmano ke othering bahut hogaya hai isi ke saath saath piche 15-20 saalo se dekhen to isaiyo ke khilaf bhi dushprachar chal raha hai jaise ke dharmantran ke naam par chal raha hai. Apne (Dubey ji) ne pahle hi batadiya hai ke dharmantran hamara adhikar hai aur usme main ye ek jodunga ke sab se bada dharmantran jo 20th shatabdi me hua tha wo hua tha Dr. Ambedkar dwara, unho ne lakho anuyaiyo ko lekar dharmantran kiya tha. Christians ke khilaf bhi ye ‘otherisation’ ki prakriya ki gayi aur ye prakriya khaas taur par dharmantran ke naam par hi ki gayi. Pastor Graham Greenes ka jalaya jana aur uske baad kandhamal ke dange usi prakriya k eek bhaag tha.

Pichle 7, 8 saalo me aur 2014 ke baad jo cheezein badhi hai unme ek ‘lynching’ hai. Ye lynching gay ke naam par ho rahi hai. Ek taraf beaf ke export me desh upar chalta gaya aur usi beaf ke naam par 100 musalmano ki hatya hui jisme usme zyada hatyaein 2014 ke baad hui. Aur isme keval musalman hi affected nahi hai usme ek dusra bada tabqa bhi affected hai jo ke yahan ka dalit samaj hai. Una me jo ghanta hui wo hamein pata chali, uske alawa aur kitni ghatnayein hui ham nahi jante. Is rajneeti ke shikar na sirf musalman aur christians balke dalit bhi hain.

To ek beaf ke naam par hua to dusra ‘love jihad’ ke naam par hua. Musalman, Christian aur Dalit ke baad unka chautha shikar hai jo love jihad ke naam par kiya jaraha hai. Love jihad ke naam par prachar kiya jaraha hai ke kuch sangathan hain jo musalmano ko training derahe hain, paise derahe hain ke wo hindu ladkiyo ko akarshit karein aur musalmano ki jansankhya badhayein. Ye to ek dushprachar ki prakriya hai laikin ye sath hi ye prakriya hai hindu ladkiyo ke Jeevan par pratibandh niyantrit karne ki. Abhi UP me jo love jihad ke case ke bad jo cheezein ayi logo ne kaha, parents ko salah di ke apne ladkiyo par nazar rakho ke kis se milti hain aur unke mobile me contacts kya hain etc.

Aur main bhul nahi sakta wo Tanishq ka pyara sa ad, agarche ke main corporate world ke ad ke liye yaha nahi hun, par main vastav me batata hun ke tanishq ka wo ad bahut hi pyara advertisement tha, Ek hindu ladki musalman parivar mein sukhi rup se rah rhi hai uski god bharayi ki prakriya ho rahi hai to us ad ko kaise withdraw karna pada. Isse malum hota hai ke hamare samaj me sampradayikta kitni badh gayi hai aur samaj me jo ‘hinsak pravakti’ (the process of violence) ye itni badhti jarahi hai ke baat baat me log talwar nikal sakte hain aur khas taur pe alp sankhyako ke khilaf ho to police vyavastha kis prakar se kaam karti hai ham dekh sakte hain.

Ye jo sampradayikta ki prakriya hai iske do bhag main dekhna chahta hun. Ek to ye ham ko aise dekhne ko mila ke ram mandir ke naam par society ja kar chanda mang rahe hain aur board laga rahe hain ke inho ne chanda diya aur inho ne nahi diya. Kaun hamare saath hai aur kaun nahi hai is baare me ye lambi prakriya hai.

Pahli baat ke ye sampradayikta ki rajneeti alp sankhyako ko target karti hai. Isi targeting ko dekhiye ke 2014 se 2017 ke beech me ke jo mote taur par jo statistics bataun ga ke musalmano par hone wale hinsa, christians ke virodh me hone wale hinsa, striyo ke khilaf hone wale hinsa me qareeb me 25% ki badhotri hui hai. Ham keval ye maan ke na chalein ki sampradayik rajneeti keval musalmano ko target karti hai balke alp sankhyako ko bhi target karti hai. Usi ke sath sath dekhiye ke jo uska dusra nishana hota hai wo yaha ka dalit aur Adivasi samaj hai.

Dalit aur Adivasi samaj ke bare me jaisa main ne kaha ke ek to beaf ke mamle par in logon par bahut akraman hue adivasiyo ka kis prakar ka displacement aur unki zameeno par kis prakar ke qabze ho rahe hain hamare samne hai. Ye ab iska dusra mudda hai aur dalito ke bare me ham bahot vistar se baat kar sakte hain ke kaise ek taraf Ambedkar ki portrait to mala pehnana aur idhar se jo arakshan ki prakriya hai usku kaise kaise kamzor kiya jaraha hai.

Teesra, main ne uska ye uddesh bataya ke yaha ki jo mahilayein hain unke adhikar (right to choose life partner) ko kamzor karna hai.

Samaj me jo nafrat ka vatavaran hai aur usi ke sath sath hamare jo democratic institutions hain unke bare me sab kah rahe hain ki ye party ne un ko bhi barbad kardiya. Desh ko barbad kiya gaya ye dekhe baghair ke jo hamare democratic institutions kitne mazboot hue, unki autonomy (judiciary ki ho, election commissions ki ho ya investigative agencies ho) kitni aage badhi. Aaj un institutions ko khokla kardiya gaya hai. Nyay vyavastha ke bare me aap (dubey ji) ne kaha aur main us me keval ye jod dun ke us ke sath sath jo dusri vyavasthayein hain jo autonomous hona chahiyein jaise ke reserve bank, election commission un par bhi kis prakar ka dabau hai ye bhi ek prakriya hai.

Aur iska jo chautha aspect ham ko dekhna hai wo ye ke ek taraf sampradayikta badh rahi hai to dusri taraf corporate world ka power badh raha hai. Do naam sab ki zabaan par ate hain ke aaj wo kisano ka Krishi bill, jiska sab kisan virodh kar rahe hain, isliye wapis nahi liya jara ke iske peeche corporate world ke log hain jo nahi chahte ke wapis liya jaye. Isliye Sarkar itne bade pradarshan ke baad, main kahna chahta hun ke azad bharat me jitney andolan hue un andolano mein ek shaheen bagh aur dusra kisano ka andolan bahot uncha sthan rakhte hain jo lok tantr ki prakriya ko mazboot karne ki koshish samaj ki taraf se hui.

Ab is paristithi jis me aaj hain ye baat to clear hai ke ye dharm ka mamla to nahi hai. Bharat to wo samaj raha hai jaha alag alag dharmo ke log sadiyo se phalte phulte rahe hain, mil jul kar rahe hain, ye wo desh raha hai jaha bhati parampara me sant Kabir ko manne wale musalman bhi aur the baqi dharmo ke log bhi the, sufi santo ki dargah me jaane wale sab log the.

While I try to mix up in English, India has been a country where you see the mixed nature of our culture and the mixed nature is not only at the level of religion but at the level of culture, language with lot of syncretic and beautiful traditions. The peak of this was seen during the freedom movement when people of all religions unitedly stood with the father of nation to get us freedom from the British on one side and at the same time to ensure the new constitution with the values of liberty, equality, fraternity and justice comes up.

Today where we stand is actually a serious problem when in the name of religion emotive issues are raised like the birth of Lord Ram, destruction of his temple, beaf, live jihad etc. I would like to narrate one beautiful incident happened immediately after independence. The story relates to the Somnath temple. There was a demand from the people that Somnath temple was destroyed by Ghaznavi, I must add that it was destroyed not for religion but mainly for wealth which was housed in the temple, and the government should build the temple. At that time Mahatma Gandhi was alive and he said that building the temple is not the job of government, Hindu community is capable of building its temple. Jawaharlal Nehru, his discipline, went in the same direction to say that the participation of government in temple inauguration is No No. he went on to beautifully say at the time of inauguration of a dam that these are the temples of modern India. Adding on to that I will say not only irrigation, but development of education, development of scientific establishment, development of industries, development of public sector are what I think the temples of modern India are.

Anyway, the language is different now. There is more focus on issues which are related to emotions and that is dividing the society. Secondly, the infiltration in the public institutions is very heavy and the new normal which is coming up is very painful. Constitutions hasn’t been changed but there are demands from various quarters to undermine the constitution and see that it is changed. Many a times those things are happening that are totally against the values of constitution.

Friends, I will now say what do we do from here. As a forum we have a responsibility on our shoulders. I strongly feel that we have to operate at multiple levels like social, judiciary, supporting of social campaigns like farmers protest and shaheen bagh type events. The hatred which has been created in the society has to be neutralised. This hatred against religious minorities, which has become very deep, is to be countered.  To counter that I suggest that our forum also takes steps propagate the truth of our society which is a long task.

Now the time has come that if we want to save our democracy we operate at multiple levels and see that India’s future doesn’t go dark.

Thank you very much

The Year 2020: An Overview — Dr Zafarul-Islam

The year ended while we were still fighting a four-front war – Covid19, China, economy  and communal politics. On all these fronts we are clueless about the next move of the government. This situation has highly dented India’s place and image in the world today.

THE year 2020 was unusual in our recent history. Not only we grappled with an unprecedented epidemic, our country also saw during this year two of the biggest protest movements in our history.

Anti-CAA-NRC protests: The first was the anti-CAA-NRC movement across the country. This continued for more than three months and could be stopped only under the Corona lockdown restrictions. These protests were triggered by the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), piloted by Home Minister Amit Shah with a grandiose plan to marginalise Indian Muslim by snatching away citizenship of millions of them. This movement was spearheaded by ordinary people, especially by Muslim women who braved the cold weather and continued to protest at hundreds of sites across the country for over three months. The protests could be dispersed only using the Covid lockdown late in March 2020. While government refused to listen to the protesters or negotiate with them, administration and police everywhere, especially in BJP-ruled states, used draconian measures and violence to disrupt these protests. Huge fines were imposed on hundreds of protesters disregarding legal procedures. 

Farmers’ protest: Towards the end of the year, we faced farmers’ protest against the pro-corporate and privatisation policies of the Modi government. Protests started in various states in the wake of the passage of three thoughtless agricultural laws passed in May 2020. When Modi government refused to listen to them, the protesting farmers came to Delhi where they are still camping at the borders since last November. There are no signs that they will budge until their demands are met. Modi government is ready to defer the controversial laws for 1.5 years but the farmers are adamant on their total abrogation. Like the anti-NRC protests, the farmers’ protests too are popular and spontaneous with no role of political parties.

Delhi riot: The year also saw a major communal riot in the north-east district of Delhi in the last week of February 2020. These were engineered by some BJP and Hindutva leaders while a high-profile state visit by the US President was midway. No action has been taken against people like Kapil Mishra who planned and ignited the riots in order to end the anti-CAA protests. Police has failed to take action against the real planners, instigators and executors of these riots. Instead, it is blaming the victims and anti-NRC protestors for plotting and carrying out the riots.

Communal Riots in 2020: Low Numbers Only A Deception

IN 2020, India witnessed 10 communal riots claiming 59 lives as compared to 25 communal riots in 2019 claiming 8 lives according to the monitoring of centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS). There might be more than 10 riots but, here, the focus is on the riots reported in 5 newspapers monitored by CSSS.  In fact, there are new patterns emerging in communal riots which are insightful in understanding the decline in the number of communal riots.

In 2020, the major riots that took place in north-east Delhi in February and Ujjain, Indore and Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh are the telling signs of the times we live in. The patterns in these riots point towards the overreach of the authoritarian State in targeting the Muslim community. Earlier, the institutionalised riot system (IRS) was carefully constructed where riots were engineered and orchestrated at available trigger points.

There was comprehensive planning and extensive political mobilisation to trigger a riot. However, there was still some fear of prosecution and investigation into the communal riots, however weak and biased against religious minorities. But the State was not as blatantly and officially involved as witnessed today. The State no more pretends to be impartial.

India at 72: Vast Multitude of Citizens Wondering About Their Future

N the first year of the new decade, we’ll mark the 75 years of our Independence and 72 years of India as a Republic, but there are many questions, which assail the common Indian.

75 years after Independence and 72 years after India became a Republic, instead of feeling ecstatic and consolidating our achievements we are forced to ponder the question, whether our freedom fighters, leaders and constitution framers dreamt of India in its present form?

At present we are standing at a crossroads, where a vast multitude of Indian citizens are wondering about their legal standing and the future, besides feeling concerned about the continued secular and inclusive character of the Indian society. The largest majority of the country along with millions of illiterate, landless, backwards and a mass of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes have been forced to ponder over the question of their legal identity in the country, whose constitution’s preamble read: We, the people of India… Secular, Democratic republic and to secure to all its citizens…

The largest minority community in the country has been thrown many challenges in the last two years. Though confused and floundering, it was trying hard to come to terms with the harsh reality of being part of an India, which is being governed by the forces, which have always been considered inimical to it.

A large number of Indians believe this to be the doing of the right-wing government. But the moot question is, how did it happen and who allowed it to happen? Leading us to a more sensitive and ponderous question, whether India ever was a truly secular republic at all?

The largest minority community, though confused and floundering, is trying hard to come to terms with the harsh reality of being part of new India.

‘Love Jihad’, Conversions and Laws Curbing Freedoms

UTTAR PRADESH Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020, passed by UP on November 27, 2020, has set the ball rolling. On one hand many other BJP ruled states like MP and Haryana are activating their machinery to bring in similar law in their states, and on the other, at social level, many interfaith couples are being subjected to harassment, some of the Muslim men in particular are being put behind the bars.

This law has intentions which are out and out communal as already since the 1960s there have been anti-conversion laws. The new laws have goals which are sinister and have the potential of being misused to create social disharmony.

While the ordinance does not use the term ‘love jihad’, the foot-soldiers of the Hindutva nationalist politics are out in the open with apprehending Muslim man-Hindu girl couples, and subjecting them to increasing degrees of torture. In Northern states the phenomenon of intimidation and violence against such couples, the Muslim men in particular is surging. Gradually more couples are being brought into the spiral of moral policing and intimidations.

Modi’s Farm Laws Belittle Even Sardar Patel’s Bardoli Struggle

THE Indian Farm Reforms Laws of 2020 were rushed through the Parliament of India on September 27, 2020. The RSS-BJP government seemed to be in a hurry to impose these laws as the same were promulgated by the President of India as ordinances on June 5, 2020 as part of the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ (self-reliant India campaign), a favourite aphorism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for imposing a series of anti-people policies during the covid-19 pandemic.

The RSS-BJP government led by Modi and its cronies in and outside the government claim that the three agriculture laws were brought in with the exclusive vision of benefitting the Indian farmers.

On the contrary, millions of farmers protesting throughout the country and thousands of them sitting at the borders of Delhi with their families against these laws are unequivocal in declaring that these laws are the death-knell of the Indian agriculture. The farmers have presented irrefutable facts to prove that the Modi regime has brought these laws to facilitate entry of Modi’s corporate friends like Ambanis and Adanis into agriculture.

The Modi government through these laws planned to use the might of the Indian State in robbing Indian farmers of their lands and hearth which would destroy food security of the Indian people. The Modi administration’s commitment to the cause of Adanis and Ambanis seems to be so solid that retention of these laws has become an issue of personal honour and the prestige of the Prime Minister.

Is not it mysterious that all this is being done by Modi who adores Sardar Patel? The former presents himself as another ‘iron man’ in the shadow of the original ‘iron man of India’, Gujarat-born Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Modi’s love for Sardar should be seen and believed; the PM takes pride in having installed Sardar’s statue in Gujarat which is the tallest in the world. It was almost a personal project of Modi executed through the Chinese companies.  

Rising communal Polarisation, A threat to India’s Future : Prof. Muchkund Dubey

Thank you Salim Engineer, I would like to join you in welcoming those who have come to participate in this webinar. As you have pointed out, on account of the corona virus condition there has been a long hiatus between our last meeting and the meeting going on now. I think we are not able to meet face to face hence meeting online but this is the advantage that we are able to meet without incurring travel costs, lodging & boarding charges etc. and it seems that it may become a new norm which may be followed in future also. Since our last meeting the communal division in the country has widened conspicuously, and it is for anyone to see it. Although those who have fought, from the beginning, for bridging this communal divide are saying that this communal divide is getting farther and farther, the same thing is being said by foreign government and agencies interested in our country. I think the divide is perceptible mainly in certain forms like the rights of minority communities, particularly the 200 million muslims, are being violated in a variety of forms and ways. Secondly, their life and liberty is being put in jeopardy making them increasingly feel insecure in their own country. I think then, there is this question of erosion of their religion-based identity. Then, the law and order authorities are being deployed to suppress them when they try to air their grievances or fight against injustice and arbitrariness. This all has become quite evident in the minority community of the role which police is playing in the implementation of some of the legislations that have been adopted recently and which encroach the private domains of the minority communities. I am referring to what is happening in UP and Madhya Pradesh. So, in a variety of ways the communal divide is widening. Let me give an example. In the process of collecting donations and mobilising support for the construction of the Ram temple, there has been kind of pressure resulting in the instances of violence taking place. One obvious thing that I would like to highlight is that this is a deliberate, well planned and concerted effort and the thing which has been on the agenda of the ruling party. There seems to be an understanding as to what the central government would do and the state government ruled by it would support, and what the state government would do and the central government would just condescend without speaking about it. There is also some kind of a collusion with some sections of the media and the think tanks of this country.  So, this is a multi-pronged, well planned and concerted effort.

Now, I would like to point out that development, a term which the ruling class is using, is only a varnish to brighten the ugly face of communalism. The fact is that it is a doubt whether the development is really taking place as is being claimed. In fact, it depends on the measuring yardsticks that you use and the perspective with which you view it. But, in the process the communal division is a reality.

There are two purposes behind it. One, it (communalism) is a kind of machinery tool to come to power, remain in power and consolidate themselves in power. That is why you hear the slogan of ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’, ‘Saffron colour flying over all the states’. Two, the point which is of fundamental and more deeper concern, it (communalism) is an attempt to realise the tortured and apparently untenable dream of ‘Hindu Rashta’ in India. I am using the words ‘tortured’ and ‘untenable’ deliberately. ‘Tortured’ in the sense that it is not novel in the Indian conditions and it is ‘untenable’ because so long as India is to remain a pluralistic state which it would remain, there is no way it is going to become a reality. The forces of opposition will continue to spring up and at one stage or the other would come in the way of this idea taking shape.

Now, I would like to point out that development, a term which the ruling class is using, is only a varnish to brighten the ugly face of communalism. The fact is that it is a doubt whether the development is really taking place as is being claimed. In fact, it depends on the measuring yardsticks that you use and the perspective with which you view it. But, in the process the communal division is a reality. As I said earlier it is for all to see and is being seen by a vast number of us in this country and a large number of foreign countries. Even those countries regarding whom we claim to be friends and with whom we have strategic relationships like United States, many of the European Union countries, have pointed out at the events happening in India.

Now, I would like to dwell a little bit on this law of UP, Madhya Pradesh, the so called ‘Prevention of Forceful Conversion’. I think we have very distinguished jurists here and they would give more and authentic information on the subject, but to the best of my understanding, conversion should be a part of a major’s right because it is in accordance with the rights given in the constitution like the right  to pursue one’s religion, the right to life and the right to live the way you want. It is also in accordance with the right to expression since this is a powerful means to express yourselves. All these rights are being suppressed. I want to give just you one example from Gandhiji’s life, when he went to Africa for the first time, and was trying to settle in Pretoria and Nettle where he came under the pressure of his Christian friends (who had helped him in settling down in those places) and Muslims (Shaik Abdullah was his employer) to convert to Christianity and Islam respectively. It is interesting to read his autobiography ‘My experiments with truth’, where it is mentioned that he simply said that he would like to study them and subsequently he realised that he has to study his own religion also to understand it. He devoted a great deal of time and came to the conclusion that he should remain in his religion. So, the conversion is not something forbidden or which has to be outrightly rejected. As I said that it is a part of the basic freedoms all of us should enjoy under the Indian constitution.

Now, there are two more points I would like to make. One, in the title of today’s theme it is mentioned that ‘a threat to India’s future’, one could clearly see that in the extreme forms like conflicts and acts of violence that have been taking place recently and are likely to accelerate in future if there is no addressing of the situation. You cannot hold more than 200 million people, which is almost more than the whole population of at least half a dozen countries, under suppression, deny their basic rights as citizens and under a shadow of threat to their lives, which is the ultimate threat an individual can face. In the worst situation it would divide the country or cause violence resulting in de-stabilization and bringing all the development and progress to a halt or a slowdown. The other aspect in manifesting the unfolding of this situation is we can never be a prosperous and advanced country by alienating more than 200 million people. But the 200 million minority today is virtually alienated. One can palpably feel when he observes the situation from the sidelines and while interacting with the members of minority community. Even though the people are working in this situation but it is not the same as utilising the optimum capacity. When a nation cannot utilise its capacity to the optimal extent  and when almost 20% of its population lives under threat to its life, liberty, property, heritage, it will remain a place of disharmony, conflict and absence of peace. This is not the condition in which a country can grow, prosper let alone becoming a major country in the world and taking its right place in the community of nations.

I have some so much to say, especially in the context of what happened to Subhash Chandra Bose and we read in today’s newspaper the claim that Subhash Chandra Bose would have been happy to see the situation of today’s India. I have done some study of Subhash Chandra Bose and I was the chairman of people’s committee for celebrating his 100th anniversary and I have got a book published which was released by the then Chief Minister Mr. Jyothi Basu and there is a caption in this book titled ‘Netaji’s conclusion to communal amity and harmony’. I have no time to illustrate that, but I think that very few persons contributed to communal amity in a practical manner as Netaji did and I would like to include Jawaharlal Nehru in that. He was the chairman of the CWC committee which made the first and the most extensive recommendation on Hindu-Muslim unity. Most of it was bodily taken in the constitution documentation subject material. He used a very interesting word, which we generally use in international relations, in the ‘30s for communal harmony. He said that law would not do unless we have a policy of ‘rapprochement’ towards our muslim brothers. By quoting ‘rapprochement’ he meant deliberately taking steps to go near them, be near them, make them feel as honourable citizen of this country and give them the dignity of person and personality. I am saying this on the basis of my own research which I did before writing my paper.

Finally, just one topic to conclude. We have assembled here after such a long time in a situation which is galloping towards widening the division in this country. So, we have to think of concrete action that we may take through our forum. Earlier, we used to knock at the doors of the judiciary at the last resort and we used to get sturdy response from the judiciary but of recent there is a great deal of concern among those who are working in this field, at the attitude the judiciary has taken at such problems. The role that it presumes itself to have when dealing with communal and other similar situations, I think the higher courts today are detruding from grappling with the problem and doing something to prevent the drift towards greater divide in the country. Either by own suo-moto action or in response to the application made to them by various groups on various issues, I think they don’t want to touch the structural and fundamental issues involved in the situation. They want to deal with the law and order problem that may arise during the course of the implication of these legislations/measures.

I think this is matter of great concern and I hope that we will pay attention to that also and I would like to conclude with these remarks. I know I have been speaking for more than what I should have and we have so many other speakers also.