As new year draws closer, there is an increase of tensions on caste and communal lines. The Naseeruddin Shah affair has not yet subsided and another instance of repression took place in Mumbai. The dashing dalit leader Chandrasekhar Azad who was invited to address a rally on December 29, wanted to use the opportunity to visit Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Memorial in Mumbai at Chaitanya Bhoomi. But his maiden visit was turned into a nightmare by unconstitutional detention at his hotel followed by a ride in the city in a police van! After a three hour ride, he along with some north Indian colleagues were deposited at Malad East hotel. According to a report ‘ Why was Dalit Leader Chandrasekhar taken for a Late Night Ride by Mumbai Cops?’ Written by Sabrangindia published on December 28, 2018, several Bhim Army colleagues including Ashok Kamble were detained/ arrested by the police. This reflects the hindutva forces and their supportive authorities continued measures of repression.
Meanwhile, the Pune Bhim Army Chief Datta Pol said that all preparations are done for the Bhim Army Chief Chandrasekhar Azad alias Ravan’s rally in Mumbai pending permission. (Bhim Army Rally: All preparations are done, rally will be held as planned, says Pune Bhim army chief, Ani, 29, December 2018, in.news.yahoo.com). He said that stage is ready on ground, banners and advertisements are ready. People have faith that this rally will happen as planned, he said. Chandrasekhar Azad is planning to hold a rally in SSPMS Ground in Pune on December 30.
Rise in violence
Caste and religion related hate crimes are rising alarmingly. The polarisation has risen especially in U. P which leads in communal violence related incidents. In the Vinod Dua Show Episode 11, discussing trends of violence, he exposes the apathy of rulers in states like UP, Karnataka and Gujarat quoting the figures provided by government in Lok Sabha. In the year 2015, 751 incidents of communal violence took place killing 97 persons and injuring 2264. In 2016 , 706 incidents with 86 dead and 2321 injured and in 2017, 822 killed and 2384 injured. Report released by Amnesty International a London based NGO, reveals the number of crimes committed against marginalised sections in India. (Amnesty list out, caste violence tops charts: UP, Gujarat record highest hate crimes, updated July 17, 2018, timesnownews.com) . The data from 2015 to 2018 were documented. According to the report, in 2015, 240 cases of mob lynching were recorded. In 2017, the number was 212 and in 2018 till july, 98 cases have been reported. 9 cases of cow violence, 66 cases of caste related and 26 cases of religion related crimes, 34 cases of gender related violence and three cases of honor killing were reported in 2018 till july.
Atmosphere of anger and fear
Therefore, anguish and anger about present atmosphere is justified to a large extent. The attempt to curb minorities, muslims and dalits from expressing their dissent is very dangerous as it further escalates tensions between upper castes and lower castes. The marginalised dalits, backward castes and muslims are being forced to live in perpetual fear of being lynched at any time. This trend may continue well into the next year.
It is very likely that coming days and months would witness one of the worst forms of polarisation. People should not let things go out of control. They should try to combat communalism and religious bigotry through active discussions. Otherwise, the country may witness chaotic conditions.
The first part of next year might be crucial as the country braces for elections. Hate spreading politicians should be kept under check. Rumours should not be believed and false information should be detected quickly and effectively.
Awareness of communal harmony is crucial for peaceful atmosphere. Activists must hold meetings and seminars on the importance of tolerance, liberation from oppression, stress on secularism, socialism and ways to counter hate mongers and their divisive tactics for selfish gains.
Next year is going to be a litmus test for the people in upholding the constitutional value and democratic rights.
The writer from everywhere and anywhere hopes for better days ahead