'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
This blog is a source for intellectual exploration. It includes a list of alternative resources and a source of free books. The placement of an article does not imply that I agree with it, merely that I found it thought-provoking. There are also poems and book reviews. Texts written by me are labelled. Readers are free to re-post anything they like.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
Apoorvanand - Hindu Rashtra, village by village -Understanding Atali
Atali, the site of recent attacks on Muslims by their Hindi
co-villagers, is a metaphor for India. Or,a mirror India should look into, to
‘re-cognize’ itself. To know that it is gradually turning into a majoritarian
society. A society in which neighbors turn into strangers and yet keep feigning
/pretending affinity and love for each other. A nation with a Hindu
sensibility-zone and a Muslim sensibility zone.
The rites of passage are familiar. The majority has to be
persuaded and convinced that it has to graduate from its present complacent
position to a more respectable position of power, which was always its due but
which it could not get because of the policies of ‘appeasement of the
minorities’. After a long, sustained education, a ceremony, an event is
organized in which majority has to participate as one person. It has to be a
violent event in which blood would be shed. Had not Bhima drunk the blood of Kauravas?
Or, Draupadi untied her hair with a vow that she would tie it only after
washing it with the blood of Duhshasana?
A local cause has to invented to arouse the passion of the
masses. It can vary from place to place. There is also, however an
unmistakable commonness in all of them and they can be applied anywhere in
India. It could be loss of honour, or even the fear of it, of their daughters
at the hands of Muslims or a place of worship wrongfully usurped by Muslims or
the slaughter of a cow by them. Many a times all three are mixed.The ‘local’ of
the Hindus is both local and national at the same time whereas the Muslim
‘local’ is also part of a global project of Islamic hegemony.
Contrary to the popular understanding of 1947 fading away
from popular memory, it is now being invoked with a sinister creativity: Hindus
are convinced that it was their generosity which allowed Muslims to ‘stay back’
here. They must not forget it.The younger generation had inherited this mantle
of benevolence from their ancestors and resent the audacity of their
contemporaries on the other side, when they assert their right to equality. In
Haryana 1947 is recalled as the year of Mar-Kat (great
killing). Behave or we’ll do 1947 again, is the threat from the Hindus
that Muslims fear in 2015.
Hindus also envy the growing prosperity of Muslims,
particularly those from the ‘lower castes’, who in their popular imagination
have always been their dependents. That they can create an autonomous,
self-reliant and self-sustaining life network is a repugnant thought to them.
It also ends their tentativeness and gives them a worrying confident
In Atali the insistence of Mulsims to turn their make-shift
, temporary prayer-site into a brick and mortar mosque is seen as one such
unwarranted attempt by them to claim equal and permanent status in the village.
Hindus are happy to treat them as their subjects. It was repeatedly alleged
that Muslims have lived here on the generosity of Hindus for
generations and it is only now, with two Muslsim families having earned some
money that they are raising their heads. Hindus do not have any problem with
them as long as as they obey their diktat, one being that they build their
mosque on a site identified by Hindus, for which they are even ready to give
The ceremony of violence with mass participation of locals
is crucial. Once the masses get involved, they also become complicit. And
criminalized. By attacking and killing their neighbours for an entire
generation, a taboo is broken. They break free of the prison of their past. It
also achieves another purpose. Since they live in a society which is governed
by laws, they become criminal in its eyes and it can catch on them at a time of
its choosing.They turn into fugitives. It also splits their personalities.They
have committed violence but they cannot own it. Dishonesty and cowardice
combines in them and it keeps them in a permanent state of moral anxiety.
Minorities, betrayed by their neighbors have only modern
laws to protect them. They want to use it. It is a very strange situation as it
would land the majority in jail or in a long drawn legal process. The majority
feels that it is an unfair punishment for an act of momentary anger. The
insistence of Muslims to use laws is seen as their obstinacy, their refusal to
return to normal peaceful times and a further proof of their essential
The anti-Muslim violence in Atali points to another feature
of the organization of violence. Since people from neighboring villages also
participated in it, it becomes incumbent on the villagers to reciprocate the
help whenever such need arises in other areas. Or,in a more clever way, it
would be a mutuality: you attack my Muslims,we’ll take care of yours.
In Atali, and elsewhere too, the presence of the
known Hindutva organisations could not be established. What could be seen in
Muzaffarnagar,Trilokpuri, Bawana and now Atali is that the traditional
kinship networks are being activated and the identified organisastions like the
RSS, VHP , Bajarang Dal or even Durga Vahini prefer to remain behind the scene
and invisible. The presence and participation of women in the violence of Atali
is yet another indicator of a change in traditional social behaviour. When in
Atali, an old Hindu woman agitatedly asked us “Are you from the Mullas or one
It is a mystery as to how no one was killed in the violence
in Atali. Also the behaviour of the police force is not consistent.Muslims complained
that the police withdrew from the scene just before the violence started and
returned only after the mobs had left. But, they also said that they were human
and caring and rescued them and their children to safety. It has also been
noticed that the number of killings is dwindling. In Atali no one was killed.
Killing attracts international media attention for a disproportionate
amount of time. It is also impossible to dilute such cases. Killings are seen
as permanent loss whereas looting and burning of houses and properties can be
treated as accidents.
Police and civil administration may also change their
ways. They’ll allow the majority to express its anger but remain empathetic and
human to the victims in the aftermath. That will lend them more credibility as
arbiters and peacemakers. For example, it was difficult for the Muslims of
Atali to resist the attempt of the authorities to make them return to their
place and not insist on the arrest of the marauders. Their absence would
be treated as an aberration and is compensated by their later act of
kindness. How can one not trust the word of this police that it will act on
Has the majoritarian project adapted the Naxalite
slogan of the sixties of the last century to their purpose: ‘Surround towns
with villages’? What is now being done seems part of a strategy to surround
Muslim populations with Hindu enclaves. Or, as we were told in Atali, by some
Hindu residents was that the nearest village with a significant Muslim presnce
was at least five Hindu-dominated villages away. So, the idea is to make
the distance between Muslims localities longer and insurmountable. It
serves a dual purpose: it localises Muslims and universalises Hindus and
creates small ‘Hindu Rashtras’, which make the Indian Constitution a redundant
presence, which need not even be modified.
As in other cases, in Atali too, the Muslims were left to
themselves. No political party came to them once they were back.The Congress
party, villified for its ‘secularism’ took seven days to send its
representative to show its sympathy. Muslims sense that a Hindu consensus has
emerged in the parliamentary political arena where they do not matter anymore.
This politics, which had given them some assurance has now taken a different route.
Atali is a warning bell. Or, a siren which should alert us
of the impending danger facing Indian polity and society.We have ignored
earlier signals. What would be our response now?
(An edited version of this article was published by the
Indian Express on 24 June,2015)
NB - The systematic degradation of criminal justice in India continues unabated, in full view of the public. I place these links here only for the record, so that the thundering silence (with some honourable exceptions) of our political leaders and commentators may be pierced by a twinge of conscience - if such exists. It is of greater consequence for the public at large, the honest police bureaucratic officials and judges who still believe in the basic structure of the Constitution and the ideal of the rule of law. As for our government, we can only ask it purely rhetorical questions: why not let the courts decide whether the evidence is prosecutable or not? why are you afraid of a trial that can establish the guilt or innocence of these officers? Why have a justice system at all? Send the police and judges on long leave and hand it all over to the Bajrang Dal. But perhaps you need to keep up appearances.. DS
'Modi had 71 BJP MP's in Uttar Pradesh to choose from for ministerial office and he chose to make Sanjeev Baliyan, the MP from Muzaffarnagar, a minister of state. Baliyan was accused of violating prohibitory orders & promoting enmity between communities in Muzaffarnagar in September 2013. Thus not only did the BJP win western UP on the back of communal rioting, one of the riot-accused is now part of Narendra Modi’s first ministry