Two Encounters with the Right Wing: Anonymous
February 10, 2013
Guest post by an ANONYMOUS student of DU who is afraid, not of the Right Wing, but of the university administration. We can be very proud of our democracy.
I have never been so scared of being a minority before. Today I saw two Kashmiris (a girl and a boy) being chased by a mob in what was to be a silent protest. I don’t know when and what circumstances will bring me to running from a mob to save myself. No one deserves to live in fear. Not me, not the two Kashmiris, not even a fiend.
Said a friend who witnessed the saffron mob at Jantar Mantar.
Today, no one can tell me that India is democratic, that India is secular. Today no one can tell me that India is free. Today I saw a glimpse, just a glimpse of what Hindutva truly is, and it was terrifying.
I went to Jantar Mantar for a silent protest against the hanging of Afzal Guru and for the abolition of capital punishment. We reached a little late, and by the time I reached, the number of people had reduced considerably. Why? Because the police had rounded up and detained a bus-full of protesters, mostly Kashmiri, and taken them to the police station.
When we got out of the metro station, all I could hear was cries of Bharat Mata ki Jai interspersed with Pakistan Haye Haye.
Bharat Mata ki Jai, because a man has been hanged. Not for his crimes, if they even exist, but for his identity.
Bharat Mata ki Jai, as we murder Indian Muslims, because that is our idea of nationalism.
Bharat Mata ki Jai as Muslim women and men are chased by a mob of saffron and hit with broken glass bottles, even as they try to escape, some of them crying.
Bharat Mata ki Jai as the police silently watches this brutality, this violence, and becomes complicit to it.
Bharat Mata ki Jai as the leader of this mob stands by, looks upon these people being cornered and beaten and instructs his charges, ‘mat chhodna choro ko, mat chhodna balatkariyon ko, maaro saalo ko’, just like we see in those films, read in those reports about Gujarat 2002, about Bombay 1992, about Delhi 1984.
Where is this democracy then? Is it in the media that left as the right wing forces arrived? Is it in the police that tears posters, arrests anyone who looks Kashmiri? Is it in the state that locks down an entire state to make sure that there is no resistance? Is it in the quiet acceptance of a Muslim girl who says, ‘they will never see us as Indians’? Is it in our compulsion to write anonymously because we are scared of being targeted?
At one point, my friend said that she is not used to this, because she has not seen this kind of violence. So I said, don’t worry, none of us are used to it. And then I realised, I don’t want to become used to it. I refuse to get used to it. I’m new to this, but I never want to feel anything else in the face of what I saw today.
I don’t remember things being like this in Delhi. Maybe because I was too young to go out, or maybe because Hindutva violence is on the rise. Either way, we are moving towards a state which is not democratic, but is fascist. A state of suffocation, of stifled and choked out voices.
And Habib Jalib’s words come to mind.
Haq baat pe korray aur zindaan, batil ke shikanje main hai ye jaan
Insaan hain ke sehme bethe hain, khoon-khwar darinde hain raqsaan
Har shaam yahan shaam-e-weeran, aaseb zada raste galiyan
Jis shehr ki dhun main nikle thay, woh shehr dil-e-barbad kahan
A protest was staged on the 6th of February against the invitation to and speech by Narendra Modi in Sri Ram College of Commerce. A protest unlike any that Delhi University has seen in a while. In our university we saw extensive barricading, and water cannon tanks for the first time in many years. The sheer number of police personnel was disturbing.
But let’s just say that the police numbers, the water cannon and teargas equipment, the barricading of a university road are legitimate. Let’s not muddy the waters too much on this account. Let us even accept, given the scenario, the use water cannons and the lathicharge.
What I do not accept as legitimate is the sickeningly communal and sexist nature of the police. Protesters were surrounded on all sides by the saffron brigade, NDTF, ABVP and others. Even on the other side of the barricade, the side where only the police was supposed to be. Or are the barricades not for all students and teachers?
Even on top of the water cannon, where an ABVP activist could wave a pro Modi banner, show us the middle finger, and miraculously avoid detention. The police likes to be lenient it would seem.
We saw their leniency with the nine students who were beaten up, some hit on the head by lathis and detained without any sort of paperwork. We saw their fairness with the students who were first hit by them and then thrown into the ABVP crowd to be further beaten up. We really did see their kindness and concern when they forewarned the right wing groups about the use of water cannons, asking them to move aside and assuring them that they would not be harmed.
And who can accuse them of being patriarchal sexual harassers? We saw their concern for the women protesters when they asked women to stop protesting because we are too weak, ‘aap kar bhi kya paaoge, bas energy waste ho rahi hai’. And of course, in their kind advise to refrain from such unwomanly activities (‘aap aurat kahaan ho?’) otherwise, ‘jaisa Gujarat ki auraton ke saath hua, waisa hi aapke saath bhi hoga’.
If anyone really enjoyed the protest with a sickening high, it was the police. They enjoyed hitting protesters with lathis, they laughed while doing so. They hit people who weren’t even breaking barricades, students who had turned the other way. They enjoyed the sight of women protesting, they celebrated it through blowing kisses, with blatant stares, with calls to come closer, with active groping. They enjoyed listening to the threats of ABVP activists (‘yeh rod tumhare andar ghusa doonga jaise Gujarat mein kiya tha’), evident from the fact that none of them face any action today.
They believed wholeheartedly in their cause, in their duty, as tools of Hindutva, as servants of Modi (‘abhi bas yeh haal hai, jab Modiji Prime Minister honge toh dekhna kya hota hai).
And today, counter FIRs have been filed against protesters, for a number of charges including the possession of deadly weapons. What deadly weapons? Hands? Maybe the posters, or perhaps the mud at their feet?
That day the university was truly witnessed as a space where communalism, patriarchy and repression were blatantly exercised, where the idea of democracy, of freedom, of secularism, of gender equality were violated thoroughly, thrown aside and forgotten by all authorities.