Skip to main content

Ironical? Hindutva is all 'fire and spite', as Muslim women become apostles of peace

By Sandeep Pandey*
On January 26, Republic Day, 2020, while protests simmered against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout India, a dozen North American cities also witnessed historic protests. Indian Embassies have been witness to protests in the past. But this time it was different.
In Washington DC, 800 Indian Americans, many of whom had driven hours from neighbouring states, assembled at lawns on south side of White House. Marching towards the Embassy, they were supported by police who stopped traffic at junctions to let the kilometre long march pass.
When they reached Embassy they were met by 20 to 30 supporters of CAA/NRC. Protestors report that pro-CAA/NRC rally appeared to be assembled by the Embassy as part of its duty towards the government.
The disparity in numbers seemed to suggest that the Sangh Parivar's juggernaut, on the roll since Narendra Modi came to power first time in 2014, might be losing steam in its most prosperous diaspora. In Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New York and San Francisco, protests were held outside the Indian Consulates, with Chicago claiming the largest attendance of 3,000-4,000.
The spirit of the protests was remarkable. Creative placards and slogans were used by protestors. They sang national anthem and 'Sare jahan se achcha..' Dalit rights activist Thenmozhi Soundararajan said, 'The CAA is an integral part of Modi government's strategy of creating a stateless Muslim population, that can be profiled, treated as second class citizens, and imprisoned in massive detention centres already being built in India.'
She further added, 'This project may start with Muslims but all caste oppressed communities are at risk as we are the communities in the crosshairs of Hindu nationalists,' advocating, 'The time to stop genocide is before it starts.'
If one were to ignore the location, one could imagine that the protests seemed to be taking place in India; the political speeches being made seemed grounded in Dalit and Muslim experience as well as authentically representing the angst of middle class Hindus who felt that the Sangh Parivar does not speak for their understanding of Hinduism.
Back in India, Shaheen Bagh is multiplying. There are more than two dozen ongoing protests in Delhi. In addition, small groups of Muslim women hold nighttime candle light demonstrations between two protest sites and youth raise 'Azadi' slogans. The mood is celebratory. The atmosphere is reminiscent of Durga Puja where every locality vies with the other in setting up their pandal.
There are tents set up wherever a group of Muslim women have organised themselves to come out on streets. Photographs of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr BR Ambedkar, Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad can be seen in almost every protest site indicating that people treat this movement as a second freedom struggle to free this country from forces which are bent upon taking away their freedom.
The Khureji site also has a portrait of Rohith Vemula, drawing inspiration from more recent icons who've sacrificed their lives fighting against forces which are a threat to democracy. The more elightened protests like the one at Chandbagh displays pictures of Fatima Shaikh and Savitribai Phule, two women who involved themselves in grassroots education of downtrodden communities for their empowerment.
But the real force of the movement is women who stay put at protest sites until late in the night or early morning. They are determined to see the struggle through.
Children can be seen sleeping covered by blankets and quilts next to their mothers.
Reversing common practices, such as keeping women behind curtains in Jamat-e-Islami meetings, or not letting them speak when men are present, women are in the lead and men are playing supporting role.
Young, educated women are in control of conducting the proceedings and men are standing on the side. Nobody would have imagined that India would see such a dramatic empowerment of Muslim women so soon.
The non-violent anti-CAA-NRC are not going to disappear in spite of best efforts, including one that of dialogue, by the government
And it is empowerment in real sense as each of the women coming to the protest, unlike traditional political meetings where common citizens are there just to swell numbers, can explain why they are there. They are raising slogans, singing songs and sometimes also making speeches.
Our democracy and Constitution, which at one point were under danger of being eclipsed by the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo, now seem to be in safe hands. The difference is now people don't expect the leaders to protect them; the people have come together to protect the democracy and Constitution from leaders.
As the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) or its ideological parent Rashtriya Swayansewak Sangh (RSS) became more desperate for a win in Delhi elections, immediately after being displaced from power in Maharashtra and Jharkhand, its leaders, including a central minister, raised slogans which unleashed gun wielding young men on streets who tried to sabotage what has been a very disciplined struggle against CAA-NRC so far or create a situation which could polarise the votes in BJP's favour at the last moment.
It is India's misfortune that for the first time after independence an organisation has captured political power which ideologically believes in violence and inciting people to promote itself politically.
The irony is that the Hindutva and the Western world construct Islam as an agressive religion. Hindus like to perceive their religion as a messenger of peace to the world. But currently Hindutva is all fire and spite whereas Muslim women have become the country's apostles of peace.
The non-violent anti-CAA-NRC are not going to disappear in spite of best efforts, including one that of dialogue, by the government. The ever enlarging protests are going to go on until either the CAA-NRC go or the government itself goes.
---
*With Socialist Party (India), would like to thank Sara Kutty for editorial help for this article. Contact: ashaashram@yahoo.com

Comments

TRENDING

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.

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.”

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.”

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.”

'Viability' of agricultural cooperatives vs govt proposed pro-corporate economic model

Dr Gian Singh* The farmer struggle started from Punjab against the promulgation of three agricultural ordinances by the Union government in June 2020 and the enactment of three bills by Parliament in September 2020 to replace these ordinances is unique in many respects. There is no other example of such a peaceful and democratic farmer struggle.

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.