Skip to main content

BJP attempt to polarize North East on communal lines "fails" to cut ice with people

Counterview Desk
New Socialist Initiative (NSI), a collective claiming to be committed to creating a society free of economic deprivation, gender, caste, national and racial oppressions, and ecological degradation, has said that failure to introduce the “communally motivated” Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in the Rajya Sabha after it was hurriedly push through in the Lok Sabha suggests the ruling BJP’s “game” to communally polarize the North East has failed.
In a statement, NSI has said, through the Bill, the Government of India (GoI) had decided to engage in a politics of religious polarization, arguing that it is the Muslim immigrants who are the real enemy. The BJP rulers “told the public that the excluded Hindus (irrespective of whether they are Indian citizens or Bangladeshi refugees) need not worry because the government will be bringing an enabling constitutional amendment for them soon.”
“Amazingly, within one hour of the submission of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) report, the Cabinet approved it and in the very next day, the Citizenship Amendment Bill was pushed through the Lok Sabha”, NSI says, adding, “Unfortunately for the BJP, this brazen attempt to divide the people on the basis of religion didn’t cut ice in Assam and the rest of the North East.”
It underlines, “Contrary to expectations of the central government, even more militant protests have broken out in Assam and other North Eastern states this time, against the bill. As one former BJP worker from the region has put it, ‘They wanted to turn Hindus against Muslims, they’ve turned Hindus against Hindus’.”

NSI note on citizenship Bill:

New Socialist Initiative stands in solidarity with the people of Assam, Tripura and the other North Eastern states in their heroic struggle against the communally motivated Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). It was only because of the resistance of the people that the government couldn’t table the Bill for voting in the Rajya Sabha after surreptitiously passing it in the Lok Sabha.
This is in fact a victory for all the progressive and democratic forces of the country, who have been fighting to save and expand the secular character of the nation. While the danger still looms large and there is a strong possibility that the government may try to bring back the bill in the upcoming budget session, the mass resistance of the people has demonstrated very clearly that the evil designs of the fascists in power will not go unanswered and that the people will fight back with all their might.
Perhaps it is a testimony to the success of the peoples’ resistance and the frustration of the fascist rulers that the Assam police slapped sedition charges against three prominent personalities of the state, who have been leading the mass resistance against the CAB in the state. Marxist literary critic Dr. Hiren Gohain, KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi and senior journalist Manjit Mahanta have been booked under Sections 120(B), 121, 123 and 124(A) of the IPC.
In Tripura, numerous protectors have been beaten up by the police and the state government has prevented civil society delegations from neighbouring states from visiting and meeting the injured. We appeal to all the left, democratic and secular forces of the country to condemn such fascist attempts to muzzle democratic dissent and raise their voice in solidarity with protesters.
Although granting unconditional citizenship to all the Hindus of the world has always been a fantasy of the RSS, there is a local context to the urgent manner in which the CAB has been pushed through in the parliament. In Assam, an exercise to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has been going on for the past few years. The exercise seeks to identify the genuine citizens of the country and thereby exclude illegal foreigners living in the state.
In July 2018, the draft NRC was published and around 40 lakh people found their names excluded from the draft list. Out of these 30 lakh have now reapplied and they await final processing of their applications by the NRC authority. While initially it was thought that most of the excluded belong to the Bengali Muslim community, and Amit Shah even went to the extent of declaring these 40 lakh people as termites, gradually it was discovered that a substantial number of Hindu Bengalis have also been excluded.
For understandable reasons, the issue created much furore in the country. But instead of tackling the issue sensitively, the government decided to engage in a politics of religious polarisation. The BJP government argued that it is the Muslim immigrants, who are the real enemy. They also told the public that the excluded Hindus (irrespective of whether they are Indian citizens or Bangladeshi refugees) need not worry because the government will be bringing an enabling constitutional amendment for them soon. In fact, such an amendment was already in the pipeline for some time.
In July 2016, the central government had tabled a Citizenship Amendment Bill, according to which non-Muslim refugees coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan without valid travel documents would not be treated as illegal migrants. But due to stiff opposition in the parliament as well as streets of Assam, it was referred back to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) for wider public consultation. But now, as the NRC debate came to the forefront, BJP expressed its determination to pass the bill at any cost. Even before the consultation period was over, the government forced the JPC to file a final report, despite vigorous protests of the JPC members.
Amazingly, within one hour of the submission of the JPC report, the Cabinet approved it and in the very next day, the Citizenship Amendment Bill was pushed through the Lok Sabha! Unfortunately for the BJP, this brazen attempt to divide the people on the basis of religion didn’t cut ice in Assam and the rest of the North East. Contrary to expectations of the central government, even more militant protests have broken out in Assam and other North Eastern states this time, against the bill. As one former BJP worker from the region has put it, “they wanted to turn Hindus against Muslims, they’ve turned Hindus against Hindus.”
It should also be noted that while the North Eastern states are witnessing strong opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the prevalence of confusion around the objectives and provisions of the bill has proved to be a stumbling block in the process of building a strong movement against the bill in the rest of the country.
More than ever, it is necessary to say it loudly that the bill has nothing to do with humanitarian concerns for the minorities in the neighbouring countries, and is all about the plan to build a Hindu Rashtra out of India. The bill very cleverly divides the citizenship seekers into two categories based on religion and excludes from its purview all non-Muslim majority countries in the neighbourhood. Rather than breaking barriers and helping the oppressed and the persecuted, the bill in effect will further solidify artificial barriers and increase religion based distrust and hostility in the entire South Asian region.
In fact, it will lend a helping hand to the religious fundamentalist forces in neighbouring states to project their Hindu minorities as untrustworthy and agents of India, just like the Hindu fundamentalists have been projecting the Muslim and the Christian minorities of India as foreign and untrustworthy.
As a socialist platform NSI believes in the ideal of free movement of people, ideas and solidarities across national borders. We strongly believe that the problems of communalism, religious fundamentalism, economic deprivation and ecological disaster in our region can be successfully addressed only at the level of the entire South Asia, with voluntary coming together of different nations of the region.
It is a matter of much regret that in recent times there has been a consistent rise in conflict and distrust between different states of South Asia and we have allowed our politicians to indulge in fantasies of hard borders. Consistent bullying of smaller countries of the region by successive Indian governments is also a fact. But despite this, it is undeniable that a regime of people to people free exchange between different countries will be best for everyone.
In fact, what we need is a bold vision, which would ensure progressive relaxation in the movement of people, commodities and resources across national borders in the entire region. This vision should also entail radical curtailment of defence expenditure by all the neighbouring nations, substantial state investment in basic public amenities and decommodificaion of all major arenas of the economy necessary for a decent human life. NSI believes in building a society where migration is voluntary and which creates no refugees.
NSI also believes that we need to commit seriously towards sustaining the diversity of cultures in our country and the entire South Asian region. This requires that adequate constitutional safeguards and protections must be provided, consolidated and extended to all communities which find themselves politically, economically, and socially vulnerable in their respective regions.
It is an undeniable fact that in many parts of the North East and especially in Assam, migration of people from Bengal induced by the British rulers drastically altered the demography of the region, so much so that the Assamese and other indigenous communities found themselves outnumbered in their land. This led to a long drawn out conflict and mutual distrust between the migrant and the indigenous communities and helped create a regime of what political scientist Sanjib Baruah has termed as ‘durable disorder’.
NSI believes that such problems can be addressed by providing adequate and well thought out constitutional safeguards to the Assamese community and strengthening the already existing safeguards for other indigenous communities. To be sure, special care should be taken while designing such constitutional safeguards so that they do not strengthen archaic notions of ‘pure ethnic homelands’. Proper constitutional safeguards will assure the small and vulnerable communities about their future and pave the ground for easy passage of radical policies on immigration and intra-regional cooperation.
Our commitment towards migrants, refugees and citizenship-seekers do not have to come in conflict with our commitment towards protecting the culture, identity and politico-economic life of the already existing small and vulnerable communities. In fact, they can complement each other. A compact association of South Asian nations, with free movement of people, ideas and commodities can be founded only on the basis of respecting and protecting the diversity of the region.
It is noteworthy that while on the one hand the present Indian government seeks to divide refugees on the basis of religion, on the other hand, it has turned the clause 6 of Assam Accord (originally designed to protect the Assamese and other indigenous communities) into a complete joke. This is a sure shot recipe to disaster.
NSI reiterates its solidarity with the people of North East in their struggle against the Constitutional Amendment Bill and appeals all the left, democratic and secular forces of the country to initiate a strong movement against divisive designs of fascist rulers. There is nothing irresistible about fascism; it can be fought and defeated.

Comments

TRENDING

Australia least prepared to fight Hindu 'extremism', admits diaspora NGO group

Tiranga rally in Sydney: Cause of stir among diaspora By Our Representative  The Australian Alliance Against Hate and Violence (AAAHAV) has said that Australia is “least prepared” to counter the allegedly “rising threat of Hindu far right extremism”. Calling upon politicians, federal and state governments to “urgently recognise the threat far-right Hindu extremism”, it asks “to take concrete steps to address this threat.”

Young environmentalist's arrest 'sinister', even parents not told of her whereabouts

By Our Representative  The Coalition for Environmental Justice in India (CEJI), a civil society network, has said that it is “highly disturbing” that Disha Ravi, a young woman climate activist from Bengaluru was “picked up” in what is referred to as a “closely guarded operation” of the Delhi police. Disha, 21, has been remanded to police custody for five days after she was taken from Bengaluru to Delhi.

Mukesh Ambani's earnings during Covid 'can lift' 40% informal workers out of poverty

By Dr Gian Singh*  The Inequality Virus Report released by Oxfam, a non-profit organization, on January 25, 2021 on the growing inequalities in different parts of the world, sheds light on the growing economic, educational, healthcare and gender inequalities in India. The report has revealed that the wealth of billionaires has increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown period in the country.

US forensic revelation enough evidence to release Sudha Bharadwaj, others: Civicus

Counterview Desk  Civicus, a Johannesburg-based global alliance of civil society organisations and activists claiming to have presence in 175 countries with 9,000 members and working for strengthening citizen action, has sought immediate release of Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in 2018 under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

'Bird, take me flying with you too!' Being Devangana Kalita

By Ashley Tellis*  I first met Devangana Kalita in a first year English Honours classroom in which I entered to teach Charles Dickens’ Hard Times in Miranda House, Delhi University, in 2008. She was one of the smartest students in the class – Devangana smiled the most and had the brightest twinkle in her eyes of the girls in the class. A middle class girl – Kalita comes from a family in upper Assam, the Kalitas along with the Brahmins dominate Assam (the Bamon-Kolita nexus as it is called) – in an elite all women’s institution known for a feminist, rebellious history. Like all institutions, it was repressive; like all all-women institutions, particularly so. But Miranda House had met its match in Devangana. She organised, protested, all within the democratic tradition resisted. The seeds of Pinjra Tod, the group Devangana was to eventually co-found, and which now finds her jailed for as absurd a reason as inciting a ‘riot’ were already sown in that first year. By the third year, they

20% of FIRs against journalists in 2020 alone, targeted attacks in 2021 'too many to count'

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls “alarming rise in state repression and clampdown on news outlets and journalists” that “expose” the anti-people nature of the establishment, India's top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has demanded “immediate release of arrested journalists, withdrawal of arbitrary charges and protection of media persons facing threats.”

Whither right to food? Social security scheme allocation for woman, child 'reduced'

Counterview Desk Pointing out that women and children have been ignored in the Union Budget 2021-22, the advocacy group Right to Food Campaign (RtFC) has said that the Government of India should have taken into account the fact that even after the lockdown was lifted, distress among marginalized communities continues, with people having lower incomes and reduced food consumption.

NAPM extends support to Indian, Aussie citizen groups 'opposing' Adani ventures

#StopAdani action in Australia  Counterview Desk  The civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), extending solidarity to the global campaign by the Youth Action to Stop Adani (YAStA), held in recently in Australia and India, has said that the effort was to bring more attention to the struggle aboriginal, indigenous peoples, farmers, working class and other oppressed communities against allegedly anti-people multinational corporate conglomerates.