Honoring Hate: Public Felicitation of Riot Accused

    By Ram Puniyani,

    Communal violence has tormented our country, more so from last three decades in particular. From the decade of 1980s its form has taken very menacing proportions and the country bleeds from time to time with the death of innocents, and at the same time takes place political ascendance of those behind engineering the violence. As such this violence does not begin with the weapons or the strong arms. It begins in the mind, with the idea of ‘hate’ for other community. This Hate is constructed around the falsification of history and the present, both, as per the contingency of the communal force. Communal forces translate this Hate through local idiom, to spread the violence in particular areas. The nature of violence is not static; it keeps changing its form, from place to place and with the time. Beginning as an urban phenomenon, now it is being reached to small towns and villages. Those instigating the violence are the ones’ who benefit from it politically and electorally. The key to involve the foot soldiers into the acts of violence is to put in their minds the fright minority community. This fright of the minorities has been successfully propagated and made the part of the understanding of large sections of society. The result is that those spreading Hate also claim to be saving ‘their community’ ‘their religion’ and that’s how they emerge politically taller after the bloodshed and violence.

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    In a political rally which was later addressed by the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Nov 21, 2013, two BJP MLAs, who are alleged to be instrumental in spreading Hatred against minorities by giving the Hate speeches revolving around the theme of ‘the honor of our daughter-sisters is in danger’ from the religious minorities. One of them uploaded a video clip on face book, which showed the brutal killing of two youth by a Muslim looking crowd. As such the clip was from Pakistan, it was projected as being the one which happened in Muzaffarnagar. These two BJP MLAs Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana, accused of inciting communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, were felicitated on Thursday (Nov 21) at the rally in Agra.

    As a part of clever strategy the felicitation of these ‘Hate mongers’ was done before Modi took the stge. Both these MLAs are currently out on bail. How do we understand this public celebration of the accused? On one hand their role in the violence and on the other their felicitation?

    In recent times we have seen the three major carnages, Delhi anti-Sikh, Mumbai and Gujarat Anti Muslim and Kandhmal Anti-Christian. The two leaders who were behind the violence in Mumbai and Gujarat, emerged as the Hindu Hriday Samrat (emperor of Hindu hearts), after their role in the violence. The first one is late Balasaheb Thackeray. His role in the Mumbai violence was chronicled by Srikrishna Commission report. This report indicted him of leading the violence like a General. The report points out ” From the conversation which could be heard [by Yuvraj Mohite, Mahanagar Reporter, at Thackray house during the riots], it is clear that Thackeray was directing Shiv Sainiks, Shakha Pramukhs and other activists of Shiv Sena to attack the Muslims, to ensure that they give tit for tat and ensure that ‘not a single landya (a derogatory word used for Muslims) would survive to give the evidence’ [vol.ii, Page 173-174] While the report aptly describes his role which deserved severe punishment, in popular psyche he was successful in projecting that it is due to him and his boys (Shiv Sainiks), that Hindus were safe. And so he started being called Hindu Hriday Samrat. The violence paid rich dividends to his party Shiv Sena, it came to power in Maharashtra Assembly along with their ally BJP, after the violence.

    As per Gujarat carnage, no official report has come out yet, but the major Citizens Tribunal report, coordinated by Citizens for Justice and Peace, outlined the role of Modi led state in the violence. Similarly the international women’s tribunal summarized the situations as follows, “…the various arms of state were complicit both in the initial attacks on Muslim community as well as the later continuing violence. The state and central Government both played a major role in Gujarat violence causing sexual violence to women, destroying property and killing members of Muslim community. The acts of continuing violence and denial of all rights to Muslim community could not have happened without the complicity of the state and its institutions. The role and functioning of Gujarat Government has directly been influenced by the penetration of Sangh Parivar. This fact underlies the conduct of the state before, during and after the peak period of the pogrom.” (www.onlinevolunteers.org/gujarat/reports/iijg/2003/fullreport.pdf)

    It is after this massive carnage that Modi became more firmly entrenched in the seat of power in Gujarat and the tottering BJP Government in Gujarat gave way to the authoritarian Modi led BJP Government, firmly in saddle in Gujarat. What a contradiction? The same understanding applies here. While a critical observer can see the role of Modi and company in the violence, the popular perception which was constructed that it is due to Modi that Hindus, Hinduism has been saved and the minorities have been shown their place. It is after this that Modi also started being addressed as Hindu Hriday Samrat.

    In anti Chriistian violence in Kandhamal, two BJP leaders Manoj Pradhan and Ashok Sahu amongst others played the role of instigating the violence and lo and behold they also went up on the political ladder, won the elections. One recalls, Maya Kodnani, who is currently undergoing the jail term for her role in Gujarat carnage, also rose to be the Minister in Modi’s Cabinet after her role in the carnage. Punish the crime and be rewarded.

    There is another aspect of this felicitation meeting which one can register. The Muzaffarnagar accused were felicitated before Modi came to the stage. It was a well timed maneuver. There was a twin strategy involved in this move. On one hand it was to give the message to Hindu community, about the communal intentions of RSS-BJP and on the other to keep projecting Modi on the plank of development agenda. With the Parliamentary elections on the political sky RSS-BJP-Modi are adopting a multi pronged strategy. The major one is the ‘development’ image of Modi. They presume his role as the one presiding over Gujarat carnage has to be put under the carpet. His so called ‘Gujarat model, the myth of development of Gujarat has to be aggressively sold in the electoral market. At the same time a polarizing communal violence has to be kept alive. Not only in Muzaffarnagar, in Bihar after BJP left the coalition with Neetish Kumar, there has been a series of communal violence in Bihar. At yet at another level, the polarizing impact of terrorist violence has also been utilized in other places and lately in Bihar. At yet another level, the issues of Ram Temple, the so called Hindutva agenda has to be kept in the backdrop to ensure the support from BJP’s constituency.

    We are in for times where the communal forces are making an all out effort to come to power. Their strategies are obvious. What we need is not the identity based polarization and the promotion of ‘Hate other’ through moves like honoring the riot accused, what we need is to overcome the polarizing impact of communal hate speech and communal violence. What we need is to affirm the roots and values of amity between different communities.