Vinod Mubayi and Raza Mir


The news continues to be bleak for progressive activists the world over, especially in India. Murderous attacks on minorities and the marginalized by savage mobs, calling themselves “gau-rakshaks” (cow protectors) continue unabated. The police, instructed by ruling BJP politicians, look the other way or harass and arrest the victims as happened in the case of the dairy farmer Pehlu Khan, lynched by a Hindutva mob in Alwar, for the “crime” of transporting a milch cow he had legally purchased.


But in an atmosphere redolent of 1930s Nazi Germany, Modi is the new Fuhrer and the majoritarian impulse to embrace him as the messiah who will take his followers to the Promised Land is strong. More evidence of this, after BJP’s electoral victories in UP and Uttarkhand, were provided by the BJP’s sweep of the municipal polls in Delhi, further weakening its political rivals the AAP and Congress. The tendency to believe in fact-free and reason-free thinking and ideas seems as strong among the Modi-bhakts as it is, according to recent polls, among Donald Trump’s supporters in the U.S.


The only fly in Modi’s ointment currently is Kashmir. A 7% poll participation in a recent by-election there completely undercuts India’s pretensions of political legitimacy in the state. Beyond naked force, for example using pellet guns that have blinded thousands of youth, the Indian government has had little else to offer. Clearly, a political solution is required that would need to involve Pakistan as well as a wider segment of Kashmiri opinion beyond the existing parties willing to play by the rules set by the Central government in New Delhi. But that would go against the new “nationalism” being assiduously promoted by the BJP regime where it is easy to be branded, and perhaps even prosecuted, as anti-national for disagreeing with government policy. In any event, Indo-Pakistan relations appear headed for a setback after an alleged Indian spy was awarded capital punishment.


It is especially important at this juncture for progressive and humanist activists to unite under a common minimum platform. Surely we can agree for the moment to put religious tolerance and human rights at the top of our agenda, and agitate and litigate against state-sponsored or state-tolerated violence against the marginalized, be they the tribals of Chattisgarh, the Muslim dairy farmers of India, the Shias of Parachinar or the Hazaras of Quetta?


It is fitting at this juncture to recall Sahir’s powerful poem Khoon Phir Khoon Hai (Blood, however, is blood) written on the occasion of Patrice Lumumba’s assassination in 1961.


Zulm phir zulm hai, badhta hai to mit jaata hai

Khoon phir khoon hai, tapkega to jam jaayega

Khaake sehra pe jame ya kaf e qaatil pe jame

Farq e insaf pe ya paa e salaasal pe jame

Tegh e bedaad pe ya laasha e bismil pe jame

Khoon phir khoon hai, tapkega to jam jaayega


Tyranny is but tyranny; when it grows, it is vanquished

Blood however is blood; if it spills, it will congeal

It will congeal on the desert sands, on the murderer’s hand

On the brow of justice, and on chained feet

On the unjust sword, on the sacrificial body

Blood is blood.  If it spills, it takes root.

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