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Centre must remove Tripura governor Tathagata Roy for justifying act of vandalism in the state

By Battini Rao*
The tiny state of Tripura in the north-east of India witnessed unprecedented violence and vandalism by supporters of BJP/IPFT alliance after its victory in recent elections. According to a report ("The Indian Express", 7 March), 87 of the 90 CPI(M) offices in Bishalgarh subdivision near Agartala have been ransacked, and many CPI(M) supporters are living huddled in the party office in main town under police protection. Tripura Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) has stated that violence was also widespread in West Tripura and Gomti districts.
"The Telegraph" quoted CPI(M) state secretary as saying that personal properties of the party's leaders were also attacked. A statue of Lenin in a college in Belonia town was demoslished by BJP supporters. Videos of the demolition received widespread publicity in social and conventional media.
What is most shocking is that such acts of public violence have got public support from the highest constitutional authority in the state, its Governor Tathagata Roy. While the BJP supporters were on rampage, he reportedly tweeted ‘What one democratically elected government can do, another democratically government can undo'. The Modi government appointed governor appears to be ignorant of the basic condition that in a democratic order, no government, much less a political party has any right to unleash public violence against anyone, including its political opponents.
Since its beginnings, ideology and practice of public violence and vandalism have been integral to Hindutva politics. These are seen as legitimate tools to achieve the goal of a Hindu Rashtra. RSS and its front organisations have organized and participated in communal riots against religious minorities, including ones during 1947.
Hindutva ideologue Savarkar narrowly escaped conviction in the Gandhi murder case on technical points. Hindutva organizations were responsible for the most shameful act of public vandalism in post- independence India, the destruction of Babri mosque in Ayodhya in 1991.
The success of BJP under Modi has emboldened its supporters to indulge in acts of violence and vandalism more widely. Crowds have entered and killed minorities in their homes after rumours of ‘beef eating’ were purposefully spread. ‘Gaurakshaks’ have assaulted and killed farmers, cattle traders, and Dalits engaged in skinning dead animals.
Minority migrant workers have been killed, burnt, and the entire sordid act filmed with loud proclamations against ‘love jihad’. Videos of such assaults are circulated widely, supposedly as a record of success of Hindutva followers against their enemies. Open or covert encouragement for these acts comes from the highest quarters. Modi regularly follows people on Twitter who gloated over the murder of Gauri Lankesh, a staunch critic of Hindutva.
Following the demolition of Lenin statue in Tripura, H Raja, the BJP general secretary in Tamil Nadu, wrote an Facebook post expecting similar treatment for statues of Periyar, whom he called a casteist. As if on cue, a Periyar statue was vandalized in Tirupattur town the next day.
The current spate of vandalism against public statues has included attacks on statues of Ambedkar in Meerut (UP) and Tiruvattuyur (Tamil Nadu), and a statue of Gandhi in Kannur (Kerala). In an act of retaliatory vandalism, a statue of BJP ideologue SP Mukherjee was blackened by a group of students in Kolkata. It is significant that leaders like Lenin, Periyar, Ambedkar, and Gandhi, fought against injustice and inequality, in one form or another.
Lenin, the leader of Russian revolution, was a great votary of independence of colonies from imperialism, and had praised mass character of India’s freedom movement. It was no accident that revolutionary patriots like Bhagat Singh appreciated him greatly. Periyar and Ambedkarfought against caste inequities within Hinduism. Vandalism of their statues is a result of still prevalent caste hatred. Vandalism of public statues is a deliberate act meant to attack public rights of others. Needless to say, it has no place in a democracy.
Targeted violence, as seen in Tripura, cannot be dissociated from wider processes of change. Public violence against the weak and vulnerable, poor, minorities, Dalits, women, adivasis, migrant workers, etc. has been a regular feature of Indian society. The success of BJP under Modi has brought a new significant element in the form of sharper ideological and political justifications for violence.
While the politics of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ justifies violence against minorities, liberals and leftists, the discourse of so-called ‘development’ justifies forced dispossession of urban poor, adivasis and farmers. People of India should realise the violent core of the RSS/BJP ideology, and the way policies of BJP governments in center and state are turning India into a more violent and lumpenised society, in which democratic rights of every Indian are under greater threat.
People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) demands that those who indulged in post election result violence and vandalism in Tripura, and attacked statues of Lenin, Amdedkar, Periyar, Gandhi and SP Mukherjee, be brought to justice. It also demands immediate removal of state governor Tathagata Roy. People like him who do not appreciate even basic requirements of a democratic order have no right to hold any constitutional post.
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*Convener, People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS)

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