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Manipur situation 'being compared' in Europe with what's happening in Syria, elsewhere

By Our Representative 

A civil society discussion in New Delhi organised in the wake of the screening of a documentary ‘Maharashtra in the Wake of Hate’ has saw highlighted how the Holocaust in Fascist Germany did not begin in gas chambers but with hate speech”, even as comparing the silence of Indian state authorities with the emerging view in Europe that the Manipur situation is similar to what is happening in Syria and other conflict areas across the world.
Sponsored by Karwan-e-Mohabbat, Babloo Lointongbam Singh, an anthropologist and a senior peace activist from Manipur, said, “The European Parliament is ready to pass a resolution to help Manipur but the Prime Minister of India has nothing to say” even as expressing concern over the elimination of civil societies in the state. “The vacuum created by the absence of civil societies is being filled by the right-wing religious groups”, he said.
The discussion on the theme ‘Mazhab Nahi Sikhata…Weaponising Religion: Maharashtra, Manipur, Uttarakhand, and Ram Navami Procession’, at the Jawahar Bhawan Auditorium, moderated by bureaucrat-turned-civil rights leader Dr Harsh Mander, who said the documentary  screened on the occasion reflected the phenomenon of hate speeches and connected hate speech instances to the rise of right-wing ideology in the past few years across states.
Directed by Karwan Media fellow Imaad-ul-Hasan on the series of hate speeches delivered at more than 60 rallies organised by a coalition of Hindutva groups, Sakal Hindu Samaj, in the last few months, and the ensuing communal violence, showcased the brutality of the violence that occurred as a consequence of these speeches, administrative complicity and police inaction.
Loitongbam, sharing his experiences from the on-ground violence in Manipur, explained the history of the conflicts among the Nagas, the Kukis, and the Meiteis; and how each of these groups has been used by the Indian state to curb the uprisings and insurgency led by the other groups. He claimed, “Manipuris amount to 0.4% of India’s population but 64% Manipuris have been booked under the anti-terror law UAPA even before the BJP government came to power.”
Journalist Anmol Pritam, a journalist with “Newslaundry” who has documented politics behind the instances of Love Jihad in Uttarakhand, narrated how a local incident of kidnapping was manipulated and turned into a campaign against Love Jihad by local Hindu groups because one of the accused was a Muslim. It led to economic boycott and targeting of Muslim traders and their shops by the local trade association, who enjoy support from local BJP leaders.
Anmol also spoke of the role of Swami Darshan Bharti, founder of the right wing Hindutva organisation Devbhoomi Raksha Abhiyan in fomenting hate and violence against the Muslim community in Purola town of Uttarakhand.
He stated, “Nearly 40 to 45 Muslim families left the village after their shops were attacked and there are merely 300-400 Muslim families living in the area. Local newspapers and media persons also played an important role to agitate the Hindu population by publishing news reports about Love Jihad.”
Amitabha Pande, retired IAS officer, highlighting the larger implications of hate speech and how it locates itself in the larger right-wing Hindutva ideological framework, spoke of the shared cultural history of Hindu-Muslim relations in the Indian subcontinent and how we have come to the times today where the Hindu identity is being defined in terms of its hatred of the Muslims.
He claimed, violence today is deliberate and planned, arguing that “the Hindu of today is a creature of Hindutva and Hindutva is the religion of the nation state. Muslims as well as all other groups that stand against the injustices of the ruling government are the convenient other.”
Apoorvanand, professor of Hindi literature at the University of Delhi, emphasised that the hate violence being orchestrated in Indian society today is structural and organised, regretting, this is being wilfully ignored by the judiciary. He illustrated the ongoing psycho-social pogrom against the Indian Muslims by various state and non-state actors, noting, only an equal rule of law in the country alone can ensure that the prejudices of the majority do not materialise into hate violence against minorities.
Neera Chandhoke, former professor of political science at University of Delhi, underlined democracy is possible only if there are responsible citizens. She said that in today’s politics of spectacles we are becoming well versed into a shared language of hatred which has turned us from citizens to mere subjects that are a mute audience to the performance of violent communal spectacles.

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