Vinod Mubayi and Raza Mir


The triumphal drive of the Hindutva chariot, which began in May 2014, has been slowed  by the massive victory of the Grand Alliance in the Bihar election. The very Gandhian type of civil disobedience exhibited by Indian writers, artists, scientists and intellectuals who have returned very publicly their awards and honors in protest at the intolerant and thuggish acts of the Sangh Parivar has further tarnished the luster of the Modi regime; the poor fellow now has to run abroad to gather approbation from the likes of the British Tory Cameron or the hawkish Israeli Zionist Netanyahu.


But even as Modi’s star dims, his party will remain in power for at least another three and a half years and the Hindutva brigade’s capacity to inflict harm a la the Dadri lynching or the murders of the intellectuals Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi will remain undiminished and may even intensify. Street power has long been in the hands of right-wing Hindutva goons whether Shiv Sainiks or the Bajrang Dal or their murkier associates carrying out terrorist acts in organizations such as Abhinav Bharat. The police and other repressive forces under the state are clearly under the orders of their political bosses to treat the Parivar’s muscle men with kid gloves. Majoritarian sentiment inflamed by an obsequious media reinforces the tendency to blame victims for the violence inflicted on them: it is their style of dress, or their choices of food, their name or some other cultural marker that is responsible for inflaming the passions of self-appointed guardians of the majority’s so-called morality.


In this situation, the satyagraha resorted to by Indian intellectuals is an effective and necessary act of protest in awakening the conscience of the country to the egregious acts of Hindutva. But it needs to be bolstered by a wider effort that goes beyond passive acts as has been astutely noted by the veteran writer Sumanta Banerjee in a recent article in the Economic and Political Weekly:


“There is a need for “active resistance” that can supplement the traditional passive resistance in order to prevent the religious fascist forces from taking over our society… the IPC—Article 97—ensures every person the right to defend “his own body, and the body of any other person, against any offence affecting the human body,” as well as defend “property, whether movable or immovable” against “any act which is an offence falling under the definition of…criminal trespass.” Thus, going by the law, if the Sangh Parivar gangsters attack innocent citizens (for following different religious or social customs that do not conform to the parivar diktats), or violently prevent a person from wearing a particular dress or a tatoo, or vandalise exhibitions of paintings, or invade cultural shows (acts which amount to “criminal trespass”), citizens have the legal right to get together and resist them, without the need for approaching the police (which, in any case, acquiesces with the ruling party). It is about time that civil society groups (engaged in social movements, like the National Alliance of People’s Movements and the various human rights organisations) get together to draw up a common programme of action to counter the violent and divisive machinations of the Sangh Parivar. To pre-empt the parivar offensive in communally sensitive areas, they can set up peace committees in mohallas with representatives from every community (Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Dalit) who can intervene in local disputes and scotch rumours that threaten to spark communal riots. Along with this, squads of young people can be organised to resist instigations and assaults by the Sangh Parivar goons. They can guard premises where exhibitions are held, or theatre shows are put up—when they are threatened by members of the Sangh Parivar.”


Banerjee notes “an act of active resistance against Sangh depredations was demonstrated in Gurgaon on 24 October 2015. A gang of Shiv Sena mobsters came to disrupt a play by a group of Pakistani actors. The Indian hosts who organised the play and the audience, however, stood up in unison and chased them from the auditorium (Hindu, 25 October 2015). Such forms of resistance against the Sangh Parivar on the streets, marketplaces and the villages are needed to supplement the passive resistance by the intellectuals.  It is a combination of these two forms of resistance than can create a new space for public protest against the imposition of a fascist Hindu hegemonic order. It can reassure our people (disenchanted with Modi’s tub-thumping, disillusioned with the paralysis of the national Opposition parties, and reinvigorated by the victory of the Grand Alliance in Bihar) that there are still alternative means of organized resistance against the offensive of the Sangh Parivar.”


This appears to be advice that could be fruitfully followed by the many, many progressives all over the country who wish to put an end to the nightmare currently haunting India.

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