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‘Kashmir ho ya Guwahati, Apna desh, apni maati’: Mahtab Alam

January 17, 2011

This is a guest post by MAHTAB ALAM

The graffiti reads: '26 Janwari ko Kashmir chalein. Nivedak: Rakesh Kumar Munmun, BJYM'. Trans: 'Let's go to Kashmir on 26 January. Appeal by Raksh Kumar Munmun, BJYM.''

 

A policeman walks by a street in Kashmir, summer of 2010. Graffiti demanding azadi was all over the Valley this summer.

In Hazaribagh, one of the oldest cities of the newly formed state of Jharkhand, one is more likely to come across the word Kashmir than the name of the city itself these days. Kashmir, a place that most of the residents of Hazaribagh would have only heard of. At almost every nook and corner, teashop, wall of the city one would find an invitation to the ‘raashtriya ekta yatra’ from Kolkata to Kashmir to hoist the revered Indian flag at Lal Chowk. And this public invitation comes from none other than the youth wing of BJP, namely the Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha.

“26 janwari ko kashmir chalen” (Let us march to Kashmir on 26th January), reads a wall writing in a tea shop at the city’s busiest place, Inderpuri Chowk. At some distance away, another wall writing reads, rather screams, “Kashmir bachao, Desh Bachao” (Save Kashmir, Save the Country). Apart from the invitation, the ‘patriotic’ youth group of India seems determined to march to Kashmir as a poster reads,“ Lal Chowk Jayenge, Tiranga Fahrayege,” (We shall march to Lal Chowk, We will Hoist the Tri-colour). Another wall writing near the District Collectorate again invites you giving the reason—“Kashmir ho ya Guwahati, Apna Desh apni maati (Be it Kashmir or Guwahati, it’s our Country, it’s our land). The wall writings, posters, gates, banners and so on are so ubiquitous that for a moment you would have thought that the capital of Jharkhand or Bharat had been shifted to Kashmir.

What about other places in Jharkhand? Are such invitations seen there as well? Though this writer could not spot even one at public places both in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi and its nearby district Ramgarh, both of which he had visited recently, he was told that similar wall writings were sighted in different localities of these two districts, but only at few places. Later, this writer came to know that instead of the state capital Ranchi, Hazaribagh had been preferred for the campaign in the state. And the president of the youth wing, Anurag Thakur, in the presence of former Foreign Minister and MP of the city, Yashwant Sinha, attended a huge rally and claimed on 14th of this month (a day after this writer visited the city) that; “PoK will soon be (a) part of (the) Indian Territory”.

A poster of the BJP's 'Rashtriya Ekta Yatra': "Lal Chowk jayenge, Tiranga pherayenge"

The obvious question that arises is, why has so much importance been given to Hazaribagh? Looking into the history of the city, one would find the clue — it has been the most communally sensitive places in the state. “The district has got a history of communal riots and important festivals like Ramnavmi and Muharam are celebrated carrying strong communal sentiments,” reads the official website of Hazaribagh Police. Research also confirms this. A book titled Politics of Communalism: Historical Survey of Some Major Communal Riots, tells us that the first communal riot that had occurred in the city was in the year of 1935.

The crime profile of the city between 2003 and 2007 gives more clues as to why the Sangh Parivar and its allies chose Hazaribagh. According to data available on the Hazariabagh Police website, during the above mentioned period a total number of 1,542 cases under the category of ‘riot’ had been registered which are much more than cases of dacoity, loot and burglary. And every year, the numbers have been increasing.

Crime Profile of the District

S No Crime Head 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
01 Murder) 92 97 104 103 109
02 (Dacoity) 115 105 99 68 74
03 (Loot) 104 106 82 91 78
04 Burglary) 132 159 159 163 151
05 (Riot) 273 308 279 307 375
06 Theft) 425 432 420 518 497
07 Gen  Kidnapping) 35 28 51 61 73
08 Kidnapping for   Ransom 04 05 07 01 00
09 Rape 34 40 56 51 67
10 Arms Act) 47 39 46 33 25
11 Explosive    Act) 02 11 08 10 05
12 C.L.A  Act) 24 19 32 26 43
13 Miscellaneous) 1740 1898 2228 2498 2835
14 Total) 3027 3247 3571 3930 4322

[Source: Hazaribagh Police]

It is also important to note that last year after the Ayodhya verdict on 30th September, when the entire country was ‘peaceful’, Hazaribagh witnessed communal clashes. According to news reports, a minor clash between the two communities took place following the alleged tearing of a religious book in the Lohsingha locality of Hazaribagh,which left many injured. Within a month and a half on 12 November 2010, the city witnessed another round communal violence during Chhath festivities, leaving 25 injured.

Given the communal sensitiveness and history of Hazaribagh and cities similar to it, the Yatra passing through them leaves one fearing the consequences of the Yatra undertaken by BJP’s youth wing’s Godfather, Lal Krishna Advani. At the same time, while it
is yet to be seen whether the yaatris will be able to unfurl the flag at Lal Chowk, what seems sure is that different parts of the country might witness communal clashes and violence. But why should the ever great ‘patriotic’ party of India bother about the consequences and that too at the cost of ‘raashtriya ekta’ (national unity). And after all, it is the right time and the right way to ‘prove’ that Kashmir ho ya Guwahati, Apna Desh-apni maati’.

At least, that’s what the history of BJP tells us.

 

(Mahtab Alam is a civil rights’ activist and journalist currently based at Ranchi. He can be reached at activist dot journalist at gmail dot com.)

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 17, 2011 8:57 PM

    kashmeer ya BJP pe itna serious likhnay aur bolnay ka koi faida nahee hai.
    mujhe personally aisa lagta hai. lekin is maslay ko poori tarah nazarandaaz bhi naheen kar saktay.at last jo decision lenah hai wo kashmeer ke logon ko hi lena hai
    rahi bat BJP jaisi parties ki to un ki politics tabhi kamyab hoti hai jab us ka notice liya jaye. aur main stream media us ka bahut notice leta hai.

  2. January 17, 2011 11:12 PM

    I quote:
    …the president of the youth wing, Anurag Thakur, in the presence of former Foreign Minister and MP of the city, Yashwant Sinha, attended a huge rally and claimed on 14th of this month (a day after this writer visited the city) that; “PoK will soon be (a) part of (the) Indian Territory”.

    Are right-wing/conservative/extremist/narrow-minded/dictatorial/power-muscle broking forces that represent Islam and Hinduism really going to unleash terror on Kashmir or are they both conducting a drama in a bid to desperately revive their sagging currency in the region?

  3. Kabir Arora permalink
    January 18, 2011 12:19 AM

    Another act of stupidity will lead nowhere.

  4. cyrus permalink
    January 18, 2011 12:24 PM

    now who can get us freedom from BJP?

  5. Nazia Parveen permalink
    January 25, 2011 4:15 AM

    I dont give more importance to the religion & politics at this situation. However, we will have to choose a clear way by considering the reality some day. If it is a matter of nation and nationalism, I dont want to go pak way.

  6. partha sengupta permalink
    April 22, 2011 12:28 PM

    A very well written article indeed. I have been staying in hazaribag for the past 8 years and I am accustomed to the frenzy that infects at those times. Many people loose their life or limbs in the procession’s. I never understood the fruitfulness of religious processions in the first place. lack of education and opportunities may be the cause. Though we all have an inclination and sensitivity towards nationalism, we should desist from such campaigns as they are purely political in nature. Its a shame that this diverse country could not forsake its affliction towards religion,regionalism even after 63 years of independence. All these “din of insignificance” diverts our attention from the very basic issues of importance which have deliberately been overlooked by governments one after the another. corruption, application of IT for Public Distribution System, revamp of judicial system and many more…

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