Rise! Resist! Liberate!
Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF)
6th December 2013
History will not let us forget the 6th of December. Today, we stand at the brink of another year, which will expose to the world this farce that calls itself the largest democracy. The Indian subcontinent has witnessed this experiment with ‘democracy’ for over sixty-seven years. Then again, it has been fifty-seven years since Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s death (mahaparinirvana) and twenty-one years since the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Both these milestones reveal the real agenda of the ruling elite within this carefully crafted regime handed over by the colonial state to the Indian big bourgeoisie. This agenda spells neither the annihilation of caste nor the secular fabric of Indian society.
Instead, the fascist fangs of Hindu majoritarianism masquerading as patriotism at the time of Partition have been nurtured, and now openly tear apart the oppressed and minority communities in the name of safeguarding Hindutva. Meanwhile, the system of caste has found deeper roots within our society, gradually wedging open ever-expanding holes in the fabric of an internally differentiated society.
It is not an accident of fate that Ambedkar’s mahaparinirvana and the demolition of the Babri Masjid coincide. We must remember the days of violence that preceded the demolition of the masjid and all the days since where it has been perfected as an electoral weapon in the hands of the sangh-giroh. After Partition, the chant for a Ram Mandir at the Babri Masjid had begun. The right wing had been preparing itself in the image of the protectors of the Hindu-rashtra and all that it stood for as part of the struggle for Ramjanmabhoomi. The Congress government had already laid bare its fascist credentials with the Emergency under Indira Gandhi’s regime and then once again with the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots in and around Delhi.
Thus, the opening of the gates of Babri Masjid by Rajiv Gandhi in 1990 followed the programme of the Congress of diving society along sectarian lines to further its class and caste interests and provide a crucial fillip for communal forces. This was paralleled with the opening of the economy for neoliberal reforms that utilized these fractures in society to create a loyal urban base among the newly emerging Hindu middle class. Though the blueprint for communal violence was drafted and developed by the leaders of the RSS-VHP and implemented by the BJP cadres in the closing months of 1989 in Bhagalpur, Uttar Pradesh, the beneficiaries cut across party lines and included the traditional Hindu landed elites.
The violence saw the systematic targeting of Muslims, the destruction of their lives and livelihood, and their large scale displacement resulting in a dramatic demographic reorganization in the affected states. The collusion of the state authorities in breeding violence and the subsequent participation of the police and the armed forces were clear for all to see. Both the BJP state government of Uttar Pradesh, and the Congress central government, built the stage for the open assault on the minority community in Ayodhya in the December of 1991. L. K. Advani’s rath-yatra’s expansive route and agenda and the free rein of the karsevaks confirmed these assertions and revealed the premeditated violence in more ways than one over the two years leading up to the demolition.
The world was watching as the Babri Masjid was attacked by karsevaks inebriated with communal fervour and a sense of impunity, fracturing society along the lines of religion even as comprador forces prepared the ground for foreign direct investment into the country. It would be remarkable if anyone still believes that the demolition and the consequent violence were spontaneous or unplanned. By 1992, even as the violence spread to cities known as economic nerve-centres of the country like Bombay, Kanpur, Surat, Ahmedabad and Delhi, its fangs grew as it consumed land, property, livelihood, and countless lives and left divided, ghettoized communities in its wake.
The destruction of the economy of the minority community, specifically the burning of mills owned by Muslim traders, leaves no scope for speculation on the true agenda of the violence. The subsequent restructuring of society confirmed this as it provided fertile ground for economic reforms that promised a deluge of capital for the new urban elites taking up positions of power within the neoliberal economy. Thus, the march towards a fascist state continued alongside the ascendance of this urban workforce that invoked patriotism in defence of the economic policies of the state. In the countryside, this communal-fascism found its staunchest supporters among feudal landed elites in states like Bihar. Here, Bhumihars formed militias to assert their feudal exploitation over land and resources and brutally attacked dalits who dared to resist.
Besides the massacres in Bathani Tola in 1996, Laxmanpur Bathe in 1997 by the Ranveer Sena, with the active patronage of the state forces, these caste-based militias spread to the districts of Jehanabad, Nawada, and Aurangabad and specifically targeted dalit women and children to ensure complete submission of these oppressed communities. The nature of violence changed form and extent and found its fullest expression in the February 2002 in the state of Gujarat. The magnitude of the pogrom brings to light the roots of fascism within the subcontinent. In the past, it was common occurrence for the state to be partial towards the Hindu mobs. But Gujarat in 2002 stands witness to the open and unapologetic participation of the state apparatus in the form of the administration, the executive in the form of the state government with BJP’s Narendra Modi at the helm, right down to the constabulary in the perpetuation and justification of the riots.
The active mobilization of the widest section of classes and castes in the violence, the systematic targeting and isolation of the minority community, and the manufacturing of a theater for violence through communalized spaces are marked departures from the general pattern of riots witnessed in the subcontinent. The experience of Gujarat became the model for the communal-fascist State to reorder society to fit its needs. The threat of violence was enough to ensure electoral victory. The decade that has followed has shown us the ways in which the state apparatus continues to defend and justify the deliberate (in)action during the communal riots.
This definitive model of violence was adopted by various governments to appease the dominant electorate. Despite its claims as a secular party, the Congress, in competition with right wing opposition BJP, has overseen some of the worst communal riots over the years. From Gopalgarh in 2011 and Bhilwara in Rajasthan to Dhule in Maharashtra in early 2013 as part of state governments, and as mute spectators during the most recent riots in Muzaffarnagar as part of the central government, the Congress has clearly announced its class and caste interests. Thus, even as the Congress government deceitfully reaches out to the minority communities in some states, it burns the oppressed and marginalized dalits and adivasis alive in others.
Even as Gujarat government defends the encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan in 2004, the Samajwadi Party of Uttar Pradesh ensures the murder of Shaheed Khalid Mujahid in 2013. Even as the struggles for land and resources and against corporate loot continue over two decades in central India, especially against Naveen Patnaik’s regime in Orissa, the ostensibly Left CPM led state government orchestrates bloody assaults on protestors in Singur and Nandigram to establish an SEZ for the TATAs in 2007. Even as protests take place in Delhi and across the country for laws to protect women from being attacked and raped, women like Soni Sori fight the system from within a jail in Chhattisgarh as it repeatedly raped her while she is under the custody of the police and the law constituted by the State.
Even as the frequency of riots in Uttar Pradesh grows and finds expression in Pratapgarh, Faizabad, Bareilly, Lucknow, Allahabad, Kosi Kalan and finally in Muzaffarnagar in 2013, the violence expands form to include mass displacement from land and eventual appropriation by ruling elites, loss of livelihood and repeated assaults on women and children to demoralize the already devastated minority and other oppressed communities. Today, this model for a fascist state has found sympathizers amongst the very class that stands to benefit from a polarized electorate and fractured society- the comprador elite eyeing the immense resources of the country. The relations between the state and corporations and its complete disregard for the vast majority of people in its path to ‘development’ is reflected every time it signs MOUs to exploit the mineral rich hills of Central India.
Since state sponsored extra-judicial vigilante groups like Salwa Judum failed to displace adivasis, the Indian State under the rule of the current Congress government has undertaken the task of clearing the ground for corporations through a war on people codenamed ‘Operation Green Hunt’. In the name of religion and caste, the landed ruling elite has inflicted indescribable horrors on dalits and adivasis, be it in Laxmanpur Bathe or Jehanabad in 1997 in Bihar, Ramabai Colony in 1997 or Khairlanji in 2006 Maharashtra, Kandhamal in 2008 or Bolangir in 2012 in Orissa, Paramakudi in 2011 or Laxmanpur in Andhra Pradesh and Dharmapuri in 2012 in Tamil Nadu.
The brutality with which nationality struggles in the North-East and Kashmir are crushed by the armed forces needs to be seen alongside the Indian State’s utilization of the very same colonial laws like AFSPA legislated by the British for the colonization of the subcontinent. These laws provide impunity to the armed forces as it rapes and murders hundreds of women in Kunan Poshpora in 1991, Manorama Devi in Manipur in 2004, Asiya and Nilofer in Shopian, Kashmir in 2009, in the name of protecting sovereignty. Despite these overtures of a communal-fascist state, the Indian State feebly continues to assert its secular credentials from time to time, most vociferously before elections. It should come as no surprise that with every instance of violence the ruling elite under the banner of RSS-VHP, Bajrang Dal, or as parliamentary parties like BJP, Congress, SP, BJD, AIADMK, or CPM, or in the form of feudal militias like Ranvir Sena in Bihar, has vied for electoral positions and won. By creating a regime of fear, these fascist powers create spaces for themselves within the mammoth structure that fancies itself a democracy.
Today, the nature of the state is exposed to us. In the wake of the Lok Sabha elections next year, the country is being sliced open, divided on communal and caste lines, and served up to the highest and bloodiest bidder. The architects of communal discord use socio-economic fissures to break not just the palpable unity across communities, but attack the social, economic and cultural backbone of the minority and marginalized communities and all symbols of their progress. These symbols are seen as threats and prime reasons for the growth of the Hindu rashtra. Fascists like Narendra Modi are openly declaring themselves as the inheritors of Congress leader Sardar Vallabhai Patel’s legacy.
This historic inheritance of communal-fascism feeding neoliberal globalisation is gladly shared across parliamentary parties. The recent violence in Uttar Pradesh has decisively set the agenda of the ruling class for the days to come. The role of rumours and rabble-rousing rhetoric during riots and the role of the media in reporting the communalised opinions, the subtle distortions and the clever misinformation in these tense situations show us that the ruling government is in cahoots with the neo-fascist forces egged on by corporate media that sensationalises and caricatures human tragedy.
The poor, the marginalized, the landless, the dalits, the women and the minority community suffer at the hands of the ruling classes. It is up to us to expose these agents of death and their vested electoral interests feeding the imperialist aspirations in this semi-feudal, semi-colonial state. On this day, faced with the legacy of Ambedkar and the brutal face of communalism we must decide which side are we on. We must ask ourselves the question that Ambedkar once asked – You must have the courage to tell the Hindus, that what is wrong with them is their religion – the religion which has produced in them this notion of the sacredness of Caste. Will you show that courage? RDF stands in solidarity with revolutionary struggles in the country, calls for the annihilation of caste, and demands the rebuilding of Babri Masjid on the same site!
G N Saibaba